My problem

When I discuss things with people, I rarely bounce on what they say until something hits me because I just don't know what to say. I listen to them carefully, but since I'm not answering I just give off the impression that I don't care. Because of this, it's hard to get closer to people; they just flee thinking I'm not interested.

Currently, I'm living with a roommate who talks constantly and I'm not able to have an interesting discussion with her. She keeps coming back to discussions about some facts about her or her family. It's cool because she keeps trying, but it's also painful because I've always the feelings that what she says expects an answer just to keep her interest on the subject. However, I can't find anything to say.

What I want to achieve

I don't want to appear disengaged towards people I talk to. How can I convey my interest?


3 Answers 3


You ask:

How can I convey my interest [in what some one is talking about]?

There are three aspects to communicating your interest that I can identify.
1) listen to them. This involves looking at them, and other body language that conveys interest. 2) Contribute to the conversation.

From your post it appears you already do number 1 quite well, congrats believe it or not many people don't know how to listen. Its a valuable skill. So how can you contribute?

(I like lists) 1) ask questions. 2) make comments.

about 10 years ago I was starting to date, and develop friendships at a new school with new people and I found it very hard to contribute to conversations. They key that I found was that I just had to say the first thing that came to mind. Now some folks are going to read this and panic. They will probably say "what! you have to have some sort of filter!" And they are right. But right now you don't need to work on your filter you need to work on speaking up. So speak up. Say the first thing that comes to mind. Tell them what you think and ask questions about what they are saying. It shouldn't take too much practice for you to get good at it.

Good luck!

  • TY for your answer, I see what you mean. But as i'm most of the time listening (in group discussion too). I kinda have a good view of how people could react with my thinking. And i think that if I speak it out loud. It could ruin a lot of relation I have. Because i need times to work on my thought and present them in a more correct way to people. (but maybe it's a point for an other topic)
    – miyoku
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 12:12
  • @miyoku I think you'll be surprised how often other people think like you do in general. I also think you'll be very surprised how often people will forgive you for having a different opinion their own. If you are truly unable to speak your mind at all that seems like an unhealthy situation to me. Of course I'm speaking from a USA cultural perspective. Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 16:03
  • 2
    the only thing I could add is: make these relevant to the conversation. For instance, if the group conversation is about construction cranes, blurting out about the Academy Awards show or random politics would most be likely be somewhat off-putting. Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 17:34

First off, be an active participant even when you don't have anything substantive to say. Make sure to make eye contact, nod, and add small comments like "yeah", "cool", "that sucks", "I've heard that too", etc. to show that you're actually listening and not zoning out. (This is based on an American perspective, in other places people may be expected to listen more quietly. But here at least, it makes you seem more engaged.)

Secondly, come up with related questions/responses. If she's talking about a sibling, you can ask if she has any others, or if she misses them, or something. Or you can offer up relevant tidbits about your own family. If she brings up a topic you are more interested in, try to steer the conversation towards that so you can participate more easily: for example if she's saying how her family is from [somewhere cold] and you're interested in winter sports that's a great chance to ask if it snows a lot and see if she skis.

Thirdly (and most difficult), try to start conversations with her yourself. When you read or notice something relevant to her interests (this could be anything - maybe you saw a flyer for a concert she might like, or a cute cat in the next door neighbor's window, or you had a really delicious meal somewhere that she might want to try), remember it and mention it to her. This could be the hardest but will probably go the farthest. If you're just replying when she talks to you, she might feel like you're just being polite out of obligation. Bringing up your own topics will go a long way to help with this. If they are things you're both interested in that's best of all.


Those questions are not real questions, the only answer to them is mostly : do it.

Get interested in other people, not especially into what they're saying but into them. It's not easy at first to realize why you want to connect with them, because you do, if you did not you would not be here asking for this question. So the question you must ask yourself at first is mostly why shall you talk with them?

How is easier : listen to them get to know them. Mostly people offers small chats about nothing interesting at first, sport, news, local news, weird situation, but then when you get to know them you'll more and more interested, and may be close you match.

But you can't get to the interesting part before passing the first step of small chats and boring hobbies, and that is the case with everybody, but once you get deeper into relationships, you'll have the actual conversations.

If you don't want to get closer with them, then you don't need to, and they will feel that you're not the kind of person to have small talks with, that should not be a problem...

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