How to Make Conversation – 6 Tips for Introverted Personalities

The art of making small talk can be baffling and even frightening for people with introverted personality traits! Here are six tips for making conversation for introverts plus a bonus tip for being more likeable.

“In conversation avoid the extremes of forwardness and reserve.” ~ Marcus Porcius Cato “The Elder.” When you’re making small talk, you don’t want to be too direct or “nosy”, nor do you want to be too shy and retiring. The key to having a great conversation – whether you’re an introvert or not – is to strike a nice balance between being curious and being quiet.

By the way – 10 Interesting Things to Talk About With Your Girlfriend – is one of my most popular articles. See? You’re not alone.

The tips below explain it better; for more info on being comfortable with people, read How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. And, here are a few suggestions on making small talk for people with introverted personality traits…

6 Conversation Making Tips for Introverts

1. Be curious about other people. “People are flattered when you find them appealing – and they naturally reciprocate,” says Dr Ann Demarais, psychologist and co-author of First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You. Showing interest in others increases your likeability factor because it shows you’re confident. “And when you’re confident, you appear more attractive,” she says.

2. Follow up on bits of information. This is one of my favorite tips for making small talk because people often drop hints in their conversations! For instance, if someone mentions something about the price of gas, then ask what kind of car she has, or how often he has to gas up. People leave “breadcrumbs” in their conversational trails…you need only pick them up!

3. Follow up on your previous conversations. If an acquaintance mentioned a particular topic in the past (eg, a sick dog, job promotion, house for sale, etc), then bring it up now. This is an easy way for introverts to show their interest in others, and it increases your “likeability factor” – which helps you be more comfortable and less nervous when talking to people.

4. Really listen to what other people say. There’s no point in pretending to be curious about others if you don’t really care about them, or if you don’t really listen to them. In fact, it could backfire! To make small talk, develop a genuine, sincere attitude towards people. Listen to their words, and follow up on what your gut tells you to say or do next.

5. Smile with your eyes. If your face feels and looks pleasant and happy, your conversation partner will feel relaxed. A happy face looks approachable and friendly. To keep your face open and happy, think positive thoughts: recall your last vacation, a funny joke, or last night’s episode of “Two and a Half Men.”  Making conversation for introverts is easier if you’re happy and relaxed.

If you’re stuck conversting with someone you aren’t particularly interested in, read 6 Ways to Get Out of a Boring Conversation at a Party.

6. Share positive experiences. Making conversation is much more fun – even for people with introverted personality traits – if you talk about positive things. Discuss those things in the above tip (your last vacation, a funny joke, or last night’s episode of “Two and a Half Men”). Avoid negativity and complaining, because it stops small talk in its tracks – and it won’t make you a more likeable person.

7. Share your mistakes. Psychological research shows that people who make mistakes are more likeable than those who appear to be perfect. People who make mistakes are seen as more approachable and less judgmental than perfect people – so don’t be afraid to let all your introverted personality traits shine through! This will make people like you because they’ll feel you’re normal and human…just like they are.

Bonus tip for small talk: wear a light scent. Research from Northwestern University shows that a light lemon smell increases your “likeability factor.” You don’t have to smell like citrus to make people like you – any pleasant, barely perceptible scent is effective. A light scent may give you confidence, especially if you have introverted personality traits.

If you’re a lonely introvert who is ready to start dating, read 10 First Date Conversation Starters.

And if you have any thoughts on these tips for small talk, please share below…


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6 thoughts on “How to Make Conversation – 6 Tips for Introverted Personalities”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I agree — talking is draining for me, too! I’m good at making conversation, but don’t really like to. And I’d much rather listen than talk.

  2. I am extremely introverted but can make small talk appear very natural to the outside world, even though I detest it. The truth is I’d rather not talk in the first place as I find mostly any kind of talking very draining. Although there are exceptions when it comes to people I’m close to but even then I’m mostly very quiet. I don’t mind if people don’t talk to me as it tires me plus I don’t like talking about myself and get sick of the sound of my own voice in the end. I find small talk unnecessary as I don’t feel the need to verbalise my trivial thoughts. I prefer deeper, more meaningful conversations with only my partner or my family. I don’t feel I need friends but have lots of people who want to be my friend as I’ve been told I’m very approachable, (and easy to talk to!) :o( I quite enjoy people around me making small talk for a while, as long as I don’t have to be involved. I do like people. Though just from a distance! :o)

  3. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comments. One of my favorite tips for small talk — and I’m an introvert — is to ask questions about what the person has said. I’d much rather listen than talk, and am very curious about people….maybe sometimes I’m a little bit nosy….

  4. I really like the tip about letting your mistakes shine through. Often introverts think a conversation has to go perfectly in order to make an impression. But being imperfect takes the pressure off and makes the other person feel more comfortable.

    Also, don’t try to force conversation. Judge your moods; sometimes we try too hard, and the conversations that go the best are usually the ones we don’t plan. Introverts are often guilty of forcing themselves to be social even when they aren’t in the mood. It’s good to push your comfort zone, but do it when you are on top of your game and are feeling sociable.

    Great tips!

  5. My problem with making small talk is that I forget everything I learned when I’m actually in front of the person I’m trying to make small talk with! I’m an introvert and I get flustered and nervous easily. What works for me is to jot a few reminders on a piece of paper and look at that when I’m in the bathroom or when she’s in the bathroom, and then I can usually regroup.

    I like your tips, and will be making a new “cue card” with them!


  6. What a fun article!
    I love the breadcrumb idea and smile with your eyes.
    People are so interesting and we LOVE it when someone takes an interest in us.

    I also remember that if I am feeling “awkward” the other person may be too. So, get out of my own head and really “see” the person I’m talking with.

    :) Susan

    PS. All of these tips can be used for first dates too!