How to Get People to Open Up
Some people may have trouble opening up to others due to different reasons, such as not feeling safe in an emotional way, going through negative experiences in the past, or coming from a conservative culture. However, there are certain things you can do to improve communication with a person that has a hard time sharing their inner self.
5-Minute Crafts has created this article with some useful tips that may help you get people to open up.
1. Listen attentively to any details at the beginning of a conversation.
Although this information may seem generic, it could provide the starting point for where you’re heading next. Therefore, it’s important to pay close attention to anything the other person mentions, such as their name or hometown.
After that, set a point of connection and use it to continue with the interaction. Include some details about yourself, but not too many. Just a small amount to help you keep the conversation alive.
2. Offer the other person a safe space.
Even if it’s difficult for a person to open up, everyone wants to be noticed and understood. In this case, active listening can be a good way to reassure someone that you’ll be there for them. However, keep in mind that empathy is key.
In other words, you can try with phrases that express a nonjudgmental acknowledgment of the person’s feelings, which could lead them to give their opinions on this.
3. Be careful with your questions.
Find a balance between asking questions that could be sensitive and looking like you’re investigating the other person, as this could lead them to pull away even more. Even though everyone wants to feel important and cared about, nobody wants to feel like they’re being interrogated.
Therefore, it’s advisable to be patient and listen whenever you ask a question. You can use the information you already have and start by posing general questions that aim for more details. However, remember to provide the other person with the necessary space so that they can share this information by using their own words.
4. Don’t forget about self-disclosure.
Without making the whole conversation about you, self-disclosure can be helpful when getting someone to open up. For instance, you can use statements in a way that encourages the other person to share their own experience. By involving them in your susceptibility, it may be less likely that they feel forgotten or silenced.
5. Pay attention to your body language.
Nonverbal cues play an important role in effective communication. Therefore, being aware of the signals you’re showing can be helpful in building trust and a sense of safety.
When interacting with the other person, keep in mind simple things like your tone of voice, eye contact, and authentic and friendly facial expressions.
6. If necessary, ask the other person what they need.
If nothing else seems to work, let the other person know that you value the relationship you both have and ask them directly what they need so that they feel confident around you. If you do so, remember to use active listening and nonverbal cues.
💡 Here, it’s advisable to keep in mind that consistency is crucial. People who have trouble opening up usually require more time to build trust and emotional safety. So, make sure you stay true and do what you say you will in order to help with these basics.
7. Know when to back off.
There could be times in which the other person may want to stop the conversation or may not want to answer a question. If this happens, and you notice that they’re uncomfortable when talking about a specific situation, leave the subject on hold and switch to a different matter.
💡 Even though it’s important to recognize your desire to deepen your relationship with the other person faster than they may want to, it’s advisable to reflect on your own necessity for information, keeping in mind that you may have to put your patience into practice along the process.