1. Some silence is okay. Don’t be afraid of it.
2. Ask them what they think of topic X if they haven’t spoken up yet.
3. Never comment on how quiet they are. I feel so awkward and self-conscious when people do this.
4. Give them time to respond. Sometimes it takes me a little bit to decide what I want to say.
5. Try to minimize small talk. There are so many other things in this world to discuss. We don’t have to limit ourselves to weather and sports.
6. Ask them what they’re thinking about. I can’t guarantee that every quiet person will enjoy this, of course, but I relish this question. It’s so much fun to share the weird, funny, and off-topic thoughts that are rolling around in my mind, especially when I know that general-you are genuinely interested in hearing about them.
7. Reduce background noise, if possible. I know that some people love having the television or radio on for hours at a time, but that kind of stuff irritates me. I’d much prefer to socialize somewhere that doesn’t require me to tune out so many other competing voices.