How [do you] get quiet people to speak up?
1. Figure out their passion in life. For example, I love science fiction, hiking, and late nineteenth to mid twentieth century American and Canadian history. When I find someone who knows a little (or a lot!) about these things I can’t help but to talk to them about it.
2. Give them time. Sometimes people are quiet in part because it takes them a little while to feel out new acquaintances. I respond much more quickly to people who are patient and kind while I’m warming up to them. This kind of courtesy and understanding speaks volumes about one’s character.
3. Accept no as an answer. One of the least helpful things one can do is push anyone into being more talkative. Being quiet isn’t a personality defect. I can’t speak for every quiet person but I know I’m much less likely to open up to someone who cannot take no for an answer.
4. Ask them what they think. There have been times when a group conversation moves so quickly that I have trouble getting a word in edgewise. While I’d certainly never expect anyone to do this I don’t mind being asked what I think.
5. Try a different medium. I’m fairly quiet on the phone and in person but much less so through email or instant messaging because I like to think about what I’m going to say before I blurt it out. It’s much easier for me to do this with the written word. This won’t be true for every quiet person, of course, but you still might have more luck if you change how you communicate with them.
Fellow quiet people, have I missed anything?
Everyone, what have been your experiences with encouraging (but not forcing!) quiet friends to speak their minds?