< Back to Soft Skills notes

92 Ways to Talk To Anyone

Cheap yet effective ways to improve communication


First Impressions

1. The Flooding Smile

When smiling at someone, pause first before visibly moving from neutral expression to “flooding smile.” This sends a message that your smile is in response to seeing them and giving them a positive impression that you find them special.

2. Sticky Eyes

Keep near-constant eye contact with the other person, even when they’re not talking. If you look away, do so slowly and reluctantly.

3. Epoxy Eyes

Same as Sticky Eyes, but keep watching the other person even when someone else is talking. A more subtle version of this is bouncing your gaze to your target when another person finishes speaking, showing you’re interested in their reactions.

4. Hang By Your Teeth

For better posture when entering a room, imagine an iron-jaw bit hanging from the door frame. Bite it and let it pull you up to a tall, strong posture. If this doesn’t work, imagine a string on your chest pulling your forward and upward, at around a 45-degree angle.

5. The Big-Baby Pivot

When being introduced to, or meeting someone, make a large pivot towards them. Point your body towards them, smile wide, and give your undivided attention. Another good way to subtly tell someone you find them special.

6. Hello Old Friend

When meeting someone, imagine you’re reuniting with a long lost friend. This helps position your body language and communication to be much more relaxed and familiar.

7. Limit the Fidget

Avoid fidgeting, scratching, squirming, or any related behaviors when talking with others. These give the impression you’re lying or being dishonest, even if you’re not.

8. Han’s Horse Sense

Always watch how your target is responding and reaction to a conversation. Adjust the topic, and your body language, accordingly.

9. Watch the Scene Before You Make a Scene

Visualize steps 1-8 in advance whenever possible to boost your confidence and improve execution.

Small Talk

10. Make a Mood Match

Try and detect your target’s mood by their voice and expression as early as possible. Matching this, even if just for a moment, will make you more persuasively.

11. Prosaic with Passion

Small talk and conversation topics are far less important than how you say it. More important is an empathetic mood, a positive demeanor, and passionate delivery. The content is fine as long as it’s not complaining, rude, or unpleasant.

12. Always Wear a Whatzit

At gatherings, wear something unusual so others have an excuse to approach you if needed. They can simply walk up and ask what that thing you have is, like an interesting button.

13. Whoozat

A great way to meet others at gatherings is simply asking the host to make an introduction, and possibly get some interesting info on them to use for icebreakers.

14. Eavesdrop In

If the above two tips can’t work, simply hover near your target and listen for a conversational opening. Once one arrives, jump in and say “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear…” They’ll be taken aback for a second but it’ll soon be forgotten.

15. Never the Naked City

People will ask where you’re from, and never give a one-word answer. Learn interesting facts about your hometown to keep the small talk going. If you can, choose the ones you share based on whose listening.

16. Never the Naked Job

Same as the above, but when asked about your profession. Have interesting details, facts, or anecdotes about your job on hand.

17. Never the Naked Introduction

When introducing two people, give one or both of them interesting facts about each other to push the conversation along. You can stick around or leave as you please.

18. Be a Word Detective

Listen to your target’s choice of words, since hints about what they want to talk about or other interests are bound to slip through. Change the topic to that as soon as you can.

19. The Swiveling Spotlight

Whoever is talking is the one with the spotlight on them. The more you can keep it shining on the other person, the more they’ll enjoy your company even if you say next to nothing about yourself.

20. Parroting

If you’re not sure how to continue a conversation, simply repeat the target’s last few words in the form of a question. This gets them talking again, and doing this enough can draw out extra information you’d otherwise not know where to look for.

21. Encore!

If you remember a story someone told you before and enjoyed recalling, ask them to tell it again for a suitable audience. Everyone loves an excuse to tell one of their best stories.

22. Accentuate the Positive

Earlier in a relationship, save the skeletons in your closet for later. Focus on the positive and hide the negative.

23. The Latest News…Don’t Leave Home Without It

Knowing the latest news helps you both always have a few conversation topics on hands, and not be left behind when others are discussing current events. It’s fine to just know the basics, or enough to contribute a few details.

Talking like an Important Person

24. What Do You Do…NOT!

Don’t ask someone “what do yo do?” Ask instead “how do you spend most of your time?” This lets people answer with their passions and larger interests, not just their job.

25. The Nutshell Resume

Take your audience into account when describing yourself. Choose whether to focus on your work, health, personal life, or other life interests. Have some simple self-introductions planned from different angles.

26. Your Personal Thesaurus

Sound smarter by looking up similar words to common ones you already know in a thesaurus. Substitute lots of different synonyms throughout your speech.

27. Kill the Quick “Me, Too!”

Don’t reveal things you have in common with others right away, or you come across as desperate. The longer you wait, the more impressed and positively affected the listener will be.

28. Comm-YOU-nication

Start each sentence with “you” and sprinkle it throughout the conversation. It presses your listener’s pride button and makes them more receptive.

29. The Exclusive Smile

Try to form a distinct smile for different people, and include other specific gestures, emotions, or reactions for them as well.

30. Don’t Touch a Cliche with a Ten-Foot Pole

Don’t use cliches. ‘Nuff said.

31. Use JawSmith’s Jive

Look up good prose for speaking to specific audiences. They can come from speaker quotations, pearls of wisdom, or funny insights. They’re good, even if they’re common, as long as they don’t qualify as universal cliches.

32. Call a Spade a Spade

Try to avoid euphamisms for common items. You know the words for things, use them.

33. Trash the Teasing

Never make a joke at another person’s expense! Short-term laugh, but often long-term pain or consequences.

34. It’s the Receiver’s Ball

Always keep the receiver in mind when delivering news or other information. Know how they’ll likely react and mirror that reaction when passing them the news.

35. The Broken Record

When being asked about an unwelcome subject, give a basic, plannned response. If continually asked, keep repeating the same answer with the same tone, volume, and inflection. No matter how many times it takes.

36. Big Shots Don’t Slobber

Don’t slobber over, or mindlessly compliment, big shots you talk with. Talk about how much pleasure their work gives you, and if you single out an accomplishment make sure it’s recent. Involve others in the conversation if they’re nearby.

37. Never the Naked Thank You

Never just say “thank you.” Always follow it up with the specific thing you’re thankful for, with a framework like “thank you for X.”

Be An Insider

38. Scramble Therapy

Do something totally unexpected and out of routine once a month - a lecture, sport, event, or whatever. You get 80% of the insider lingo and questions. These can come in handy for different encounters later on.

39. Learn a Little Jobbledygook

Learn the insider languages of other professions to better communicate with its members. Speak to people in that profession, and research material for it too.

40. Baring their Hot Button

Before talking to people in a profession, know the hot buttons or major concerns for that profession. Know to touch on those items to heat up the conversation and make it interesting.

41. Read their Rags

Read industry blogs, magazines, or other research material to catch up on their lingo or major concerns, which helps to talk with them.

42. Clear “Customs”

When traveling abroad or dealing with any foreign culture, learn as much as you can about cultural do’s and dont’s. Cultural errors can lead to huge amounts of long-term pain.

43. Bluffing for Bargains

Know the industry language before making a related purchase. This will keep sellers from trying to fool and rip you off, and make them think they need to deal straight with you and offer fair deals.

Creating Fast Connections

44. Be a Copyclass

Watch your target’s body language and match their movements as closely as possible. This includes common gestures, movement speeds, rhythm of motion, and larger poses.

45. Echoing

Pick up on your target’s choice of nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc, and echo them back in your own words. This creates subliminal report.

46. Potent Imaging

Find out your target’s interests and base language metaphors around them. For example, someone who likes boating will like to hear about an idea “holding water” or a good plan “setting sail.”

47. Employ Empathizers

Sprinkle conversations with small phrases that show you’re listening and understanding what someone is saying. Phrases like “I see what you mean,” “that’s a lovely thing to say,” or “that’s a very fair point.”

48. Anatomically Correct Empathizers

Base your empathizers around your target’s primary sensory inputs. If they’re more visual and use eye/visual metaphors, then use the empathizer of “I see what you mean.”

49. The Premature “We”

Use the word “we” when talking about you and your target to subliminally plant the ideas of closeness and intimacy.

50. Instant History

Bring up special or memorable moments at a first encounter with someone. This helps create a sense of shared history.


51. Grapevine Glory

A better way to compliment someone than doing so directly is to give compliments to someone else that they hear indirectly through conversation. This avoids looking like a suck-up, and makes it seem like you’re sharing those compliments with the world.

52. Carrier Pigeon

Only share gossip when it’s good news about someone, including the listener you’re sharing it with.

53. Implied Magnificence

Add comments that presuppose positive assumptions about your target. Just don’t try to pair them with something negative, otherwise known as “negging.”

54. Accidental Adulation

If you do give more direct compliments, sneak them into larger sentences about other things. Keep them sneaky, and don’t use them in important sentences since that info may be lost amid the compliment.

55. Killer Compliment

When talking with a stranger, find a specific, unique trait you can compliment them on. At the end, make eye contact and deliver it right to them.

56. Little Strokes

Give little compliments to others when justified, like “nice job” and “well done.” Don’t leave them begging for recognition.

57. The Knee-Jerk “Wow!”

If someone does something praisable right in front of you, give a knee-jerk positive reaction.

58. Boomeranging

When you’re given a compliment, always give another one back showing thanks for it like “that’s very kind of you.”

59. The Tombstone Game

Ask important people in your life what they’d like engraved on their tombstone. Save it for more important, emotional moments and use it to embellish statements about love or appreciation.

Talking on the Phone

60. Talking Gestures

When on the phone, take all physical, nonverbal gestures and translate them into something verbal and slightly exaggerated.

61. Name Shower

Using names more often over the phne helps keep someone’s attention and reinforce a connection.

62. “Oh Wow, It’s You!”

When you first answer the phone, answer crisply and professionally. When you find out who it is, bring a burst of joy and happiness into your voice.

63. The Sneaky Screen

If you need to screen someone off the phone artfully, have someone else say they’ll put them through and then after say they’re unavailable. The caller will never take it personally, even if it is.

64. Salute the Spouse

Make friends with the secretary or anyone who typically answers someone else’s phone. Try to make friends with them. They control who talks to your target and often have their ear.

65. What Color is Your Time?

No matter how urgent a call is, always ask the target if it’s a good time to talk.

66. Constantly Changing Outgoing Message

For your outgoing message, keep it short, crisp, professional, and friendly. Change it as often as possible, even daily.

67. Your Ten-Second Audition

When you leave a message on the answering machine, keep it less than ten seconds. Treat it like a broadway audition you have a short time to nail.

68. The Ho-Hum Caper

When asking to talk to someone, casually use their pronouns instead of their name. It makes you sound like long-standing friends.

69. I Hear Your Other Line

When you hear other noises or calls on the other end of the line (dog barking, child crying, phone ringing), ask if the other person needs to attend to it.

70. Instant Replay

Record important business calls and replay them after, finding subtle mistakes or victories to better learn for the future.


71. Munching or Mingling

Don’t try to eat and chat at the same time at a party. Eating food is like a brick wall to decent, or any, communication.

72. Rubberneck the Room

When entering a party, stop in the doorway and slowly, dramatically survey the room.

73. Be the Chooser, not the Choosee

Don’t wait for potential connections and moments to pass by. At large gathering chat to as many people as you can, or at least the ones you think have the most potential for connections.

74. Come-Hither Hands

Remember to use open body language at gatherings. The biggest points to remember are your hands and wrists, presenting them as open with your knuckles facing away from the person.

75. Tracking

Pick up on small details of your conversation partner’s life, and refer to them like important news events. It creates a powerful sense of intimacy.

76. The Business Card Dossier

When given a business card or contact info from someone, use it to write notes from your conversation with them, like their favorite drink or hobbies. Reference it when you talk to them next.

77. Eyeball Selling

Keep your eyes focused on the partygoers body language, and keep your pitch and conversation tuned to what you pick up.

Sensitive Communication

78. See No Bloopers, Hear No Bloopers

Never acknowledge or make fun of, in any way, your target’s mistakes or bloopers.

79. Lend a Helping Tongue

When someone’s anecdote is interrupted, let the interruption play out before notioning the storyteller to resume it. Bonus points if you mention the last details they mentioned before getting stopped.

80. Bare the Buried “What’s in it For Me” (and What’s in it For You)

If you have an agenda for a meeting, be honest about what’s in it for both of you to avoid seeming manipulative.

81. Let ‘Em Savor the Favor

When someone owes you a favor, wait at least 24 hours before making them repay it. This lets them savor the joy of being generous.

82. Tit for (Wait…wait) Tat

Basically the same as the above - when someone owes you, wait before calling it in. It creates the impression you did their initial favor more out of friendship.

83. Parties are for Pratter

Never bring up tough moments or confrontations during parties. They’re sacred havens for fun times.

84. Dinner’s for Dining

Dinner and other meals are also safe havens and should not have any tough business brought up.

85. Chance Encounters are for Chitchat

Chance encounters are the third safe haven from all tough business.

86. Empty Their Tanks

When someone else needs to talk, let them talk until they’re done and tired. That’s when you can start bringing yourself into the conversation.

87. Echo the Emo

When someone is emptying their tank with you, be sure to also empathize with them and echo whatever their emotions are.

88. My Goof, Your Gain

If you ever make a mistake, find a way to spin your mistake in a way that your target will benefit from.

89. Leave an Escape Hatch

If you catch someone lying or being dishonest in any way, and you don’t need to confront them directly, don’t do it. Keep it in mind if needed, but otherwise don’t bring it back up.

90. Buttercups for Their Boss

If you want to appeal to someone, leave a positive note about them to their boss.

91. Lead the Listeners

When someone is speaking publically, try to be the first to give a positive response when they’re done (such as apploauding or public appreciation).

92. The Great Scorecard in the Sky

In any relationship with someone, there’s a scorecard of whose contributed most and whose withdrawn most. Good actions add to the scorecard, and negative actions take away from it. Always keep track of this “great scorecard” to know if you’re in deference to the other person and need to add a few points later on.