When we were kids, we always said whatever was on our minds and had yet to develop a filter.
As adults, getting people to talk without all the niceties learned in adulthood is like pulling teeth out. Even dates can begin to sound like job interviews.
It’s even worse when you’re shy and can barely initiate small talk, much less get someone to be candid.
People can approach you just fine, especially when they have their own agendas or feel obligated to start small talk.
The big question is how do you get someone to really tell you what they’re thinking and reveal who they are?
Here, we’ll teach you 14 psychological tricks to make anyone open up to you.
1) Maintain eye contact
The first important step in building rapport is giving nonverbal cues that you are listening to and interested in the other person.
The most important of these nonverbal cues is eye contact.
This means not just looking at somebody’s eyes, which comes off as intimidating if done too long, but also glancing between their forehead and cheeks.
Keeping your eyes on the person you’re speaking to tells them that you are giving them all your attention, communicating that you find them interesting and want them to talk more.
The comfort provided by your nonverbal communication would likely ease them into telling you things about themselves that are more sensitive and intimate.
2) Become a good listener
You’d be surprised to hear that people are more likely to find you more likable if you spoke less.
It’s your listening, not speaking, that defines the quality of your relationship or rapport with a person.
The more you make the other person feel heard and understood, the more likely they are to confide in you.
Active listening doesn’t just mean being quiet and nodding. It means showing a person you understand them by sharing your interpretation of what they say and asking questions.
It means being nonjudgemental and letting them feel safe with you. Make people feel glad that they opened up to you, and they’d open up to you more easily.
3) Notice good things about others
It is true that what you say about other people says more about you than it does about them.
When you show someone that you observe and appreciate their strengths, you indicate that you are a kind and friendly person.
And that’s not all.
A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that people will associate the adjectives you use to describe others with your personality.
This phenomenon is called spontaneous trait transference.
If you call others trustworthy and a good listener, then people will be more likely to perceive you as such.
4) Learn non-verbal clues
Did you know that nonverbal cues make up about 80% of human communication?
I guess it’s true that actions speak louder than words.
When you want to show others you are open to them and trustworthy, you have to say it with your whole body.
This means keeping your eyes on them, keeping a warm facial expression, and using a positive tone of voice.
5) Be honest, even when it’s hard
To get people to open up to you, you need to show people that you can be trusted.
That starts with being reliable and keeping others’ secrets between the two of you.
You have to be consistent with your words and actions especially when it’s about trust.
Sometimes, you can be frank to show that you are opening up yourself. This way, you’ll indicate to others that they don’t need to be formal or pretend to be nice around you.
You can even fill in your sentences with words like “honestly” or “actually” to emphasize your point.
Establishing trust is the first step to forming a good relationship with someone.
6) Be the light
You have more influence over another person’s mood than you think.
You can lift someone’s mood up not only by directly interacting with them but also with your nonverbal cues, like your facial expression.
When you want to start a connection with someone, it’s usually best to smile and project warm feelings so they feel more drawn to you.
A perky or relaxed demeanor will let people feel welcomed and peaceful around you.
7) Reveal your imperfections
In order to get someone to open up to you, you need to show that you are offering them a space for it. The simplest way to do this is to show some vulnerability from your side.
This can mean something as simple as revealing your true feelings about a certain topic. Showing your human side will help others to feel safe to do the same around you.
There won’t be a need to put up a wall against you as a stranger because you have lowered your walls and shown a willingness to be closer to them.
This trick makes others trust you and feel like whatever they say will be kept secret.
8) Let others speak about themselves
The core of being a good listener is giving someone the space to speak their mind safely.
There is nothing that humans enjoy more than being able to show their inner world.
The more you let someone talk to what they’re saying, the more they will like you.
This way, you’ll show them that you are somebody that their thoughts and feelings can take refuge in. You’ll allow them to reveal their true feelings.
When you give somebody this space, you make them happy, and they’ll associate that happiness with you.
9) Make others laugh
It goes without saying that making people laugh makes them happy. It’s easy to see why people really appreciate the company of somebody who knows how to be funny.
This doesn’t mean you need to learn how to be a stand-up comedian.
Jokes can be as simple as referencing an existing fun piece or putting an outlandish spin on an ordinary observation.
People feel good being around someone who shows them they can take it easy and laugh at life’s inconveniences.
10) Find common ground
One of the foundations of your relationship with someone is things you have in common. This can be anything from interests, beliefs, or even hating the same things.
Being relatable makes you approachable to people. You can do this by finding similarities you have with the other person.
Psychology has shown that the more familiar something is, the more people tend to like it.
By highlighting things you have in common, you are more likely to be treated as an old friend.
11) Use others’ names
Saying a person’s name doesn’t just get their attention; it also makes them feel like you really see them.
When you use someone’s name, you make them feel like they have your full attention.
Also, hearing their name makes people feel more respected and valued.
In other words, a person’s name is like a magic word that increases their appreciation for your presence. Just remember not to overdo it and come off as insincere.
12) Don’t assume just like that
It’s true that active listening involves repeating what the other person says in your own words. However, you’ll have to be careful to avoid making it sound like an assumption.
Getting the wrong idea about someone can be funny at best and offensive at worst. If you want someone to open up to you, you have to be ready to open your mind to them as well.
It’s hard to really know someone when you think, even on a cognitive level, that you already know them.
You need to eliminate your preconceived notions about people and prepare yourself to be proven wrong.
13) Smile from your heart
By now, you should already know the importance of nonverbal cues and body language when conversing with someone.
Smiling is a very important nonverbal cue because it shows someone that you are happy to see them and that you see them in a positive light.
It projects an absence of hostility on your end. A smile shows that you will be friendly and willing to accommodate them.
But make sure to smile from your heart and don’t try to fake it. There’s nothing worse than an insincere grin on someone’s face.
14) Know when to leave
You can’t learn to be charming and make people open up to you overnight.
The hard truth is that you’re not gonna get it right away. Many conversations will fizzle out or get awkward while you learn the art of socializing.
At this point, it’s good to know when to call it quits.
If you’re lucky, a person will just make an excuse and end the conversation for you.
Usually, if their eyes start wandering, their smile waver, or they start to get fidgety, then it’s time to either change the topic or bow out.
Alternatively, if you find that you’re the only one talking or carrying the conversation, then it’s time to let the interaction die with a graceful exit.
You can do this by excusing yourself and saying something along the lines of “Well it was nice talking to you, see you around.”
Making someone open up to you means making them feel safe around you.
Encourage others to be more candid with you by actively listening to what they’re saying and showing them they have your full attention.
You create a space for them to be open by being nonjudgemental and showing your own moments of vulnerability.
By learning how to be more open with others, you can form deep, meaningful connections that are fulfilling to both you and them.