How to Talk to People – Part 1: The Benefits of Conversation

Have you ever wished you could more easily talk to people?

Perhaps it’s that person you’ve taken a liking to, or you want to make more friends or network better. Or just not feel awkward in a room where you don’t know anyone. Or maybe you long to speak up when you hear a conversation that you have something to add to, but you don’t know how.

I used to be pretty shy, but gaming – among other things – helped me break out of my shell and talk to people. It’s changed my life in amazing ways.

It's okay if you're shy. You can still talk to people.
It’s okay if you’re shy. You can still talk to people.

If you’ve ever wanted to talk to people more easily, this series is for you.

And if you don’t see the benefits of talking to people, this article lists them for you. You’ll find many benefits for yourself, as well as others.

Have you ever had any of these thoughts?

  • “What’s the point of speaking up”
  • “Nobody cares what I have to say”
  • “I have nothing to talk about”
  • “They won’t like me”

Well, this article series can help you overcome all of those limiting beliefs. You’ll learn to strike up conversations easily which is a real confidence booster, in turn helping you get involved in even more conversations. It’s a bountiful cycle of confidence.

Lastly, if you’re already great at talking, this series also deals with listening. Are you as good a listener as you are a talker? If so, good work – this series will reinforce what you know. If you’re not sure, then come along and improve your confidence and conversations!

Ready to start? Okay, let’s talk about the benefits of talking.

The Benefits of Talking

There are too many benefits of talking to list, but we’re looking at 9 particular benefits today. Here’s the list, then we’ll delve deeper into each:

  1. Increase your confidence
  2. Increase your understanding of others
  3. Gain more control and be better understood
  4. Find things you have in common with other people
  5. Find out cool stuff you never knew before
  6. Discover opportunities you would have otherwise missed
  7. Improve existing relationships, build better new ones
  8. Build your reputation as a friendly and interesting person
  9. Make yourself and others feel good

1. Increase Confidence

Confidence can be hard to come, especially for introverts. But one of the funny things about confidence is the more you have the more you get.

It just takes baby steps to get there.

Can you recall a time you did something that took a lot of confidence, but once you did it you realised it wasn’t as hard or scary as you thought?

If you find talking to other people intimidating or challenging, doing more of it will make those feelings lessen. Soon, instead of fearing those conversations, you’ll look forward to them. And if you’re confident, you can help other people be confident too, without even trying.

2. Better Understand People

We all know not to judge a book by its cover, but we still do it too often.

Ever seen someone you judged to be a bit weird or mean or whatever, based on their appearance? Ever talked to them – or heard them talk – and completely reevaluated your perception?

"What a scary weirdo. Surely I'm not missing anything interesting by not talking to him..."
“What a weirdo. I won’t talk to him. Doubt I’m missing out on anything…”

How about when people assume things? Has anyone ever given you the cold shoulder over a misunderstanding? If they’d just talked to you, they would’ve better understood you and the whole thing could have been avoided.

Talking to people lets you understand them. Their needs, their talents, their motivations, their goals, their personality. And better understanding people lets you better interact with them.

3. Gain More Control & Be Better Understood

Do people assume you don’t have an opinion because you don’t speak up? Do you just go along with things? When someone asks your opinion do you often shrug or say you don’t mind when really you do have thoughts on the matter? You may not be in control and you’re probably not understood – sometimes, you’re completely misunderstood, which can be worse!

I’ve played roleplaying games before, where a player doesn’t seem to engage, doesn’t say much, but nods when you asked if they had fun.

You want them to enjoy themselves, but it’s hard to know what they want.

I had a player like that and found out – by talking to them – they loved stealth and stories of falling to the dark side. So I added more of that in!

If only they had told me sooner, they would have been sneaking around facing moral in-game choices much earlier.

Obi-Wan & Anakin
Everyone happy to play as Jedi? Obi-Wan: “Yep!” Anakin: “…”

Even things as simple as asking your boss for a raise, a promotion or a new project can work. Expressing yourself can remind them they should’ve given you that raise long ago, or remind them of a project they know about that you’d be perfect for. They just didn’t think of you til you asked! You’ll appear proactive, too; a great quality to have.

When you talk, you can make yourself better understood. And, in turn, that gives you more control.

4. Find Things In Common

When I first saw my now-wife, I saw a quiet woman wearing The One Ring.

I started a conversation with her, knowing we had that shared interest. Turns out we had a lot in common and got along really well. We’ve been married for five years now, together for almost twice that.

They have one common interest to rule them all.

If she hadn’t worn that ring, maybe we wouldn’t have had that first talk.

Yet, people don’t usually wear conversation pieces and signs to indicate their interests. People who do, like pop culture mash-up shirts, you know you’ve got an in. But people who don’t, and are encountered outside a nerd haven like a convention, you don’t know what you’ve got in common with.

So talk. Ask. Find out. It’s the only way.

And once you find one thing – anything – in common, the rest of the conversation comes easier.

What’s awesome about it, too, is if you talk to someone outside your normal circles and find some common ground, you’ve expanded your social network and made a new acquaintance who might just turn out to be more than that, or lead you to even more new people.

5. Discover Cool New Things

In the last week I’ve learnt about a lot of cool games I’d never head of, as well as plant genomes, how to run a Kickstarter, that there is an Oculus Rift convention next week in L.A. and secrets about the Steam dinner at PAX.

How? I talked to people.

You never know what awesome stuff people know until you talk to them.

6. Discover Hidden Opportunities

Once, I got a free hotel for the weekend. How? By asking someone their weekend plans. They had won a hotel stay but were busy out of state, so they gave it to me – for free.

Ask an entrepreneur the best ways to grow business and I bet networking and word-of-mouth are right there at the top. I’ve found that myself.

Discovering hidden opportunities is like discovering cool new things that you can act on that give you some benefit. It’s hearing about job offers, deals, a party invite, a spare Steam key, something your conversation partner can hook you up with. It’s not greedy though. Opportunities like this flow naturally from conversation.

It's a secret to everybody... until you ask.
It’s a secret to everybody… if nobody ever talks to them.

Talking to people, and engaging with them, lets you discover hidden opportunities. They’re only hidden because you haven’t opened the conversation yet.

6. Build Better Relationships

Communication is key in any relationship, whether that be love, friendship, work or something else.

Relationships can’t grow without conversation. You get stuck and you’ve got things you want to express but you can’t get them across. The other person then doesn’t understand what you want from them and the relationship ceases to grow, and maybe even withers.

Let people know how you feel, what you’re thinking, and ask them, too.

Better relationships are very fulfilling. Like me, you may have had friends since high school who you think you know, and you do, but there’s a deeper level. Talking, in the ways I’ll show you later in this article series, can deepen and strengthen those relationships, old or new.

8. Build A Good Reputation

When you talk to people and create a rapport with them it builds your good reputation. They remember you and how nice it was to chat with you. They introduce you to their friends or business connections. You needn’t have an agenda, just a conversation.

Having a good reputation opens new conversation options.

Building a good reputation feels great and boosts your confidence even more. It’s pretty easy too,  especially when you use the tips I’ll give you in the next part of this series.

They’re not sneaky tips, either. You don’t need to manipulate anyone (including yourself) to have a good conversation. You get to feel good and help others feel good. And you get to relax!

Think you can’t relax in a conversation? Well, tune in next time to learn how. For now, let’s talk about the feeling good part.

9. Make Everyone Feel Good

When you make someone feel good, they associate you with that feeling.

I had a dog who was startled by a friend of mine wearing black. She hated that colour clothing for the rest of her life. She associated the feeling of fear with that colour clothing.

People aren’t that different. If you’ve had a good time at a movie, with a game or even at a restaurant, are you more likely to recommend it to a friend? Speak highly of it? Seek it out again? Trust recommendations made by the people who made the thing you like?

It’s the same with conversations.

Talking can make everyone feel good. And isn’t that a pretty noble cause?

Open Chat

So, that’s Part 1 of How To Talk To People. Now you know why to talk to people, in the next part of the series we’ll discuss how to do that. These tips will be simple but effective ways to really make talking to people fun, easy and beneficial for everyone.

If you’d like to talk more, there’s plenty of room in the comments below. Something to get us started: What are some more benefits of talking? When has talking resulted in some unexpected awesomeness for you?


When Jarrod's not writing about personal development through pop-culture, he's helping people like you reach their goals through fun, empowering coaching.

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