Are You Talking Enough? Should You Speak Up More?

should you speak up more

Here’s a question I recently received from a reader:

Once I’m with someone (even my friends) I always gets thoughts of “should we be talking more” and “am I talking enough” or “this is getting awkward”. How can I stop these thoughts from occurring?

This is a great question.

One of the biggest frustrations I used to have a couple years ago was being called quiet by people. It annoyed me so much whenever someone would say “Why are you so quiet?”

But the truth is, back then, I definitely didn’t talk enough.

I was too scared to speak up around people I didn’t know well … and often I just didn’t know what to say. My mind seemed to go blank.

So there’s really 2 different answers to your question:

  1. You can stop viewing silences as being awkward,
  2. You can learn to talk more if you TRULY are too quiet.

I’ll start with the first one…

First, Is The Silence Really Awkward Or Is It In Your Head?

Whether a silence is awkward or not often depends on WHO it happens with.

Silences can happen with strangers (people you don’t know well) and they can happen with close friends/family that you do know well.

Let me explain the difference between these two situations…

Silences With Strangers

Have you ever had a situation where you were talking to someone you didn’t really know that well and suddenly you ran out of things to say?

Maybe you just didn’t have much in common with this person so your mind totally blanked out about what to talk about next.

A big silence in conversation with someone you don’t know that well is almost always super-awkward. Especially if they can tell you are struggling to think of something to say.

In this situation, the solution is learning how to speak up more and not run out of things to say. (I’ll show you how to do this in a bit.)

And it’s usually better to end a conversation with someone you just met early if you can see you two don’t “click” than it is to keep going until you create an awkward silence.

Now let me move on to…

Silences With Close Friends or Family

If you often have silences happen with close friends or family, then you should know this is completely normal.

As I talked about in this article, friends allow silences to happen.

16848434_sIt’s completely normal to have gaps in the conversation if you’re spending a few hours with someone.

There’s just no way that most people can constantly talk for that long without becoming tired. (Introverts especially need some break time in conversations.)

In fact, if you’re trying to be friends with someone and you DON’T relax and allow silences to happen occasionally when you two are hanging out… if you are always trying to fill the silence, then they will probably be turned off.

Sometimes a fear of silence in this situation is simply revealing something about you. Maybe it’s revealing that you think you need to constantly perform and “appear interesting” for other people to still like you?

No, quit being a performer. By being comfortable in silences with people you know better, it communicates that you are not insecure.

But Maybe Your Life Is Just Boring?

Here’s another question I received from a reader that relates to this:

What should I talk about with a girlfriend I spend a lot of time with? We live together and spend lots of time together.

This also applies to family members or close friends. I might have this problem because of a routine and boring job process – I work in the office and with numbers, not people.

And he kind of answered his own question.

The reason why he doesn’t have much to talk about is because his daily life is simply boring. There’s not much variety or newness in it.

8646710_sIf you ever feel like you’re just living the same day over and over again, then it’s time to break the pattern.

The solution here is simple. Go out, make a goal to do at least one interesting thing a week at least.

Read a news website you find interesting and share what you read. Some people have boring lives but lots to talk about because they aren’t afraid to share their opinions about everything.

Get some kind of hobby or interest that includes interaction with people. That puts some variety in your life. And then share what happens.

Having a boring life is simply a decision you’ve made. Having a more interesting one is also a matter of making different life choices in how you spend your time.

Now that I’ve covered a few of the different situations and causes of silences, let me move into the second part of the article, which is…

Second, Learn To Talk More

If you’ve read this far and decided that in some situations you definitely DO need to talk more often (and the awkward silence is not just in your head), then here’s a few quick tips…

1. Learn Conversation Threading

Click here to watch my video teaching Conversation Threading. This is something I think all shy and socially anxious people should know. It’s a simple technique that can allow you to always know what to say next in conversations.

This technique is almost like “training wheels” for having conversations. If you’re struggling right now with

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, then you can start out by using this technique all the time.

As you get more social experience, you’ll probably find that you won’t be using Conversation Threading as often anymore, because your intuition and natural social ability will improve with practice. Eventually, you’ll just be talking to people based on what you feel like saying.

But until you get to that point, Conversation Threading is an invaluable tool to help you speak up more often in conversations and avoid getting a blank mind.

2. Voice Agreement and Make Small Comments

This first trick is something I figured out because I was constantly being called “quiet.”

I was always that guy who didn’t talk much. If there was a group conversation, I would be the one standing off to the side just listening to everyone else talk.

Often I even “zoned out” and just starting daydreaming, barely paying any attention to what everyone else was saying.

I realized after a while that if I wanted to stay involved in the conversation, then it was important that I make small comments often.

The easiest way to do this is simply to voice agreement.

Every so often, after someone said something, I would simply say “yeah” or “right” or “really?” or something else similar.

So, for example:

Joe: Have you guys heard of what happened to the Mayor of Toronto?
Me: No, what happened?
Joe: He was caught smoking drugs!
Bob: I can’t believe he got away with it for so long!
Me: Yeah I know!
Bill: Right now I wouldn’t be surprised by anything he did haha.

Making these types of small comments allowed me to STAY IN the conversation. Whereas before I would become invisible because I stayed silent, now that I was speaking up everyone knew I was there.

And by saying small things, I “warmed up” and was able to also speak up and make real comments much more often as well.

3. Make It Personal

If you find that a lot of your conversations are flat, boring and empty … and you have a hard time making connections with people that stick…. then this tip will definitely help you.

Basically, the idea is to GO BEYOND the surface-level content of your conversations.

Instead focus on what the content says ABOUT you and the other person.

What do I mean? Well, here’s an example of a bad conversation:

Bob: Looks like it’s gonna be cold today.
You: How cold did they say?
Bob: -10 degrees and snowing later.
You: Oh, it didn’t feel that cold walking here.
Bob: The wind isn’t too bad today.

This conversation is boring because there’s no self-disclosure.
Both people are not sharing anything about themselves — their
inner thoughts, feelings and motivations about the subject.

Here’s a good example:

Bob: Looks like it’s gonna be cold today.
You: How cold did they say?
Bob: -10 degrees and snowing later.
You: Oh, well I think it’s good that we’re finally getting snow. It’s really starting to feel like Christmas is coming.
Bob: Yeah, I think I might take my kids sledding if it’s not too cold. Otherwise it’ll be a good weekend to catch up on my favorite TV show, Breaking Bad.

Notice how much different and more interesting this conversation has become?

The magic words that changed everything are “I think.” Go back and noticed how both people said “I think.”

Using the words “I think” or “I feel” before saying something is an easy way to make sure you are making it personal. (This is a trick called “I Statements” I learned from David Hamilton.)

Another way to make conversations personal is through asking “why?”

So, continuing the conversation from before…

Bob: …Otherwise it’ll be a good weekend to catch up on my favorite TV show, Breaking Bad.
Me: I’ve heard a lot about that show. Why do you like Breaking Bad?
Bob: The characters, story and acting is incredible. It just keeps you hooked. When me and my wife first found out about the show, we ended up watching it for about 3 hours a day. We became addicted.

By asking the question “Why?”, you can dig past the surface content and learn something real about the other person. This is the easiest, most natural way to form connections.

People feel connected to those who understand them, their values and motivations.


So there you go.

I hope this article answered the question “Am I talking enough?”

First, I showed you how to diagnose if the silence really was awkward, then I showed you 3 quick tips to speak up more.

And if you want the learn more conversation tips targeted specifically to the issues shy and socially anxious people face, then make sure you check out my complete system. I’ve poured hundreds of hours, and years of my life into it, so take a look by clicking here.

About the author

Sean Cooper

I study all areas of psychology, sharing what works (and what doesn't) for overcoming shyness and social anxiety. After curing my own severe social anxiety I created "The Shyness and Social Anxiety System" to help others. This program has received stunning reviews from psychologists and people like you.

Now it's my life's mission is to help 25,000 people get the confidence, friends and romantic partner you want!

Read more about me here.

1 Comment

  • thanx! there’s a lot in that. One thing – I don’t like the question WHy so much. It can sound critical. I prefere “what”: What do you like about… what makes you think that… I prefer to receive “what” questions than “why”s. I really liked the rest of your suggestions. Thanx so much!!

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