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How to talk to people (even if you don’t know what to say)

Knowing how to talk to people is a skill just like riding a bike. We'll show you how to navigate any social situation with 3 simple tips.

Ramit Sethi

Do you ever feel like you don’t know how to talk to people? You’ve probably been there before:

  • You walk up to a group of friends talking. Stand there awkwardly while waiting for one of them to notice you. Wish for death.
  • You start telling a story to a group of people and — in the middle of it — realize the story sucks. Continue anyway.
  • You go to an event and instead of meeting people, pull out your phone and furiously check email.

With your friends or family, you have the BEST stories, but if you just met a group of people, all of a sudden your mind goes blank and you have nothing to say.

Today, I want to teach 3 systems that helped me learn how to talk to people with confidence and know exactly what to say in any social situation.

The Best Systems to Learn How to Talk to People:

  1. Perfect Words
  2. Story Toolbox
  3. Question Toolbox

Let’s get to it.

System #1: Perfect Words

A while back, I went out to coffee with a good friend of mine. Now normally, when I order coffee, I just say, “Hey, I’ll have a latte. Thank you,” before going on my way.

But when my buddy went up to order his coffee, he had four people around him absolutely cracking up within seconds. The barista was smiling. People around him were laughing. And everyone seemed to just really enjoy his presence.

And guess what he said that got all this going. It was, “What’s good today?”

That’s it! From that one line he was able to start a great conversation.

Now I want you to check out the rest of his conversation — and see what you notice:

MY FRIEND: What’s good today?

BARISTA: (smiling) Everything is good.

MY FRIEND: (teasing) Everything isn’t good. Tell me the truth!

BARISTA: Well, we just got a new cold-pressed coffee machine and I hear that’s supposed to be good.

MY FRIEND: No, I mean what would YOU get if you could get anything?

BARISTA: (laughs) I actually think that our scones are the best things ever.

MY FRIEND: Well, I’ll have two of those please!

A few takeaways:

  • He’s just saying normal things. There’s no magic line or canned jokes here. My friend was just saying simple things that, on their face, aren’t very clever…but none of that mattered!
  • He had a lot of energy. The way my friend said things was way more important than what he said. If he went into this situation with low energy and delivered everything in a monotone voice, he would not have gotten the same positive effect.
  • The cashier LOVED this. She spends all day listening to those aforementioned monotone voices order the same thing over and over. Finally, she got someone who broke that monotony and made her smile. My friend brightened her day and was memorable.

My friend did all this by leveraging a system called the “Perfect Words.”

What are the Perfect Words? Luckily for you, they created a whole book of them called…

…the dictionary.

Boo this man gif

The truth is there are no Perfect Words.

Instead, it’s how you say things that determines how you come off.

To show you what I mean, I’m going to give you three phrases and show you exactly how you can use them to open a great conversation:

  1. Hi, how’s your morning going?
  2. Hi, I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Ramit.
  3. Good morning. How are you?

These three simple phrases have no “magic” to them — and yet they’ve worked millions of times since the dawn of conversation openers.

What I want you to do now is start to consider the different ways you can deliver these phrases.

Here are three simple ways you can do that:

  1. Smiling. Many of us don’t typically smile when we’re opening a conversation. We’ll say things like, “Hi, how’s your morning going?” and deliver it like we’re a doctor giving bad news. But when we DO smile, it’s the instant ice breaker. And it’s so simple to do. So practice letting your smile “fill your face.” I used to videotape myself speaking to find out I wasn’t smiling enough. It gets easier once you start practicing.
  2. Slow down. The speed in which we say something can have a huge effect on how people perceive us. When we’re nervous, we tend to speed up the way we talk. When we slow down though, it gives people time to connect with you. Couple that with a good smile and you got a winning system. So try slowing down what you’re saying by 50%. It will feel sluggish, but this is perfect for everyone else. It helps to enunciate your words too. Young Ramit got way ahead using this one tip.
  3. Change your tone. Way back in the day, I had no tonality whatsoever when I talked. I’m sure you could close your eyes and not tell if you were conversing with me or Ben Stein. Eventually I realized this, so I started to speak with more energy — and it did WONDERS. Try taking whatever level you’re at when you normally talk, and add 50% more energy into your voice. What feels weird to you is NORMAL to everyone else.

If you want to REALLY level up your social skills, make sure you check out my FREE Ultimate Guide to Social Skills.

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Action step: Implement the Perfect Words 3x/day for a week

I want you to use the three phrases above every day for seven days on different strangers. It can be your Amazon Prime delivery guy, your barista, the checkout lady at the grocery store, whoever!

As you use the phrases though, keep in mind the different ways you can change up how you deliver your words (smiling, slowing down, and changing your tone).

A few other things to remember:

  • They’re called social “skills,” and like any skill, you can get better at them. We’re starting small on purpose. As you get more used to it, you can start to scale and open conversations with more people.
  • Most people you talk to are bored all day long. This means you’ll be doing them a favor by engaging with them just like my friend was with the cashier at the coffee shop.
  • Note their reactions and your reactions. Did the person you’re talking to start smiling and laughing because of your energy? Or did they retreat because you made them uncomfortable? How did you feel while you were smiling or talking slowly? 

Don’t worry if this doesn’t feel comfortable right away. It’s not supposed to. Just trust the system.

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System #2: Make a Story Toolbox

I’m a firm believer in the idea that telling a story is the best way to engage someone. It doesn’t matter if you’re with friends or if you’re trying to sell a product. A good story can make a world of difference when it comes to building a good first impression (notice the beginning of this very post…).

That’s why you always want a large well of great stories to draw on.

You can create your Story Toolbox using any tool you prefer, such as:

  • Google Docs (what I use)
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Evernote
  • A physical notepad

It doesn’t matter what you record them with as long as you ARE recording them. These stories could be funny, entertaining, or serious — and you might actually want to organize them as such.

Action step: Create your Story Toolbox

Designate a place to put your stories, and start by adding five of them.

If you can’t think of five good stories, think back to the last time you hung out with your friends or family.

  • What did you talk about?
  • What made everyone laugh?
  • Every family has an embarrassing/hilarious story. What is it for your family?

Hang out with your friends or family in the next few days, and write down the things you naturally talk about. This will help seed your Story Toolbox for the first time.

If you want to REALLY level up your social skills, make sure you check out my FREE Ultimate Guide to Social Skills.

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System #3: Make a Question Toolbox

If you want to keep the other person you’re talking to engaged, there’s no better way to do it than with a thought-provoking question. It helps you always have something to say and talk to someone you don’t know.

Of course, depending on the context of your conversation, you’re going to want to have different questions for different scenarios.

I remember once, my friend noticed me checking this girl out at a bar, so he goaded me into talking to her. So I approached her and this exchange went down:

Ramit: Hi, I’m Ramit.

Woman: Hi, I’m [whatever].

Ramit: You look like a vodka soda girl. (I know, I know. I don’t know where this horrific line came from.)

Woman: …no.

I was surprised by how she just shut me down, so I decided to have some fun.

Ramit: Aw, c’mon. I’ve been right 100/100 times for the last 5 years. How are you going to break my streak like that?

Woman: I’m a recovering alcoholic.

Shortest. Conversation. EVER. But a funny story now.

If instead, I came in with my question toolbox filled with questions that weren’t awful pick-up lines, I might have had better luck. That’s why you’re going to want to craft different meaty questions for different scenarios.

If you want to REALLY level up your social skills, make sure you check out my FREE Ultimate Guide to Social Skills.

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Action step: Create your Question Toolbox

So the next time you’re making small talk, take note of great questions you hear and ask. Save them in your Question Toolbox for later.

Here are a few good sample questions to get you started:

Networking events/industry conventions:

  1. What made you decide to do X?
  2. What are the biggest challenges when it comes to your industry?
  3. If you had to do X again, what would you do differently?
  4. As you gained more experience in X, what became more important and why?
  5. What would make today/this event successful for you?
  6. What still surprises you about X?


  1. What are your biggest goals right now?
  2. How do you spend your time?
  3. Playful questions like: Which do you like more — pancakes or waffles?
  4. What do you hate most about dating? (This question is both interesting and can help you avoid doing the thing they hate.)
  5. What’s your favorite restaurant in the city? Why?
  6. Which Spotify playlist is the soundtrack to your life?

Baristas/wait staff:

  1. What’s your favorite thing on the menu? Why?
  2. What’s the craziest thing someone tried to order this week?
  3. Have you ever written somebody’s name wrong on purpose because you didn’t like them?

BONUS: If you really want to exercise your social muscle, check out my video on improving your social skills. It’s less than 30 minutes.

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Enhance your small talk

Small talk is a CRITICAL part of life and building relationships — it’s what helps people get to know each other, establishes meaningful connections, and lays down the foundation for great long-term relationships.

The term “small talk” is actually a complete misnomer because of its HUGE impact on forming relationships and developing unshakable confidence. As such, it takes a lot more care and nuance than just getting right down to the point.

If you walked right up to a CEO you admired at a mixer or convention and said, “I REALLY LIKE YOU. GIVE ME A JOB, PLEASE!” how do you think she’d react? She probably wouldn’t give you that job.

But if you went in with some care, and drew her into an amazing conversation and THEN asked her for a job (or better yet just advice or a coffee meeting), she’d be a hell of a lot more susceptible to it.

The key is realizing that confidence and the ability to carry a good conversation are skills — and like any other skill they can be learned, honed, and mastered.

I used to feel uncomfortable and out of place during social events too — but over time, I’ve developed hacks for confidence in new situations.

I’ll show you exactly how I do it in these 3 short videos. Just enter your email for instant access.

Show me how to get unshakable confidence

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  1. avatar

    If I were more confident, I’d sit down next to you on the couch, look straight into your eyes, and calmly ask if I can share your popcorn.

  2. avatar

    Confidence is a funny thing. It was something I lacked for a long time, but then when I finally managed to get some, I realised how much I could do. Weird as it sounds, I think a lack of confidence stopped me from losing weight (kept telling myself I couldn’t do it), and prevented me from executing on a lot of things I wanted to.

    I think my confidence is not what it once was, and needs topping up, as I don’t seem to be able to work towards my goals etc. as well as I was able to back in those glory days. If I were more confident I would probably be dedicating all the time necessary to learning how to drive.

  3. avatar

    If I were more confident, I would not be filled with anxiety, procrastinate and find “busy work” when it comes time to pick up the phone to make sales calls that would grow my online retail business.

    My most embarrassing story comes from years ago when I was in the military. At a technician’s meeting in our aircraft maintenance unit, I thought that I had something very profound to say, and as I spoke up to be heard above the discussion, the room went silent, all eyes focused on me and my mind went blank. After about 30 seconds of nothing coming out of my mouth, the entire unit burst out laughing, and our CO thanked me.

  4. avatar

    Geeeez, im soo f**in excited to watch this vid. I dont know I just have got so jacked up about the idea again of socializing. Ramit, please, spend some more time on compiling videos and articles and stuff like this and the one titled “how to improve your social skills in 30minutes”
    watched it like 100 times, okay maybe 101, but come on, confidence and networking and socializing skills are the keys to anything else,

    Okay im done talking, im gon get busy and watch this baby.

  5. avatar

    allright, so ive heard some nice tips on how to improve the skill at issue. Scenario planning is definitely a surefire way of dealing with awkward situations. It is like your Story toolbox idea. Uve got specific questions backed up with perfect answers ( at least you think ), uve got stories to tell perfectly learnt. VErrrry good! Been doing this for a while now.
    – So the number one thing i would do if I had more confidence is to shout whatever comes to my mind on streets while walking, , and passing by Loads of ppl, similarly, being able to hold a presentation, tell stories. And here is the kicker, doing these Without even Having to think about what (negative or positive ) they can be thinking about me. So that is called confidence in social situations to me, when u can express yourself completely freely, without the single thought of what the others be it a passer by, be it a classroom full of students, be it a networking event, be it a HUGE AUDIENCE, think about you.

    awkward situation: while telling my biggest funniest story (at least thats what I think again) the other person got soo bored to death that he just turned away and started to speak to someone else instead. I wanted to kill myself, but first HIM. ‘Funniest’ point, is that the ppl I was surrounded by noticed this ( a LOT of ppl) and started to frown, laugh, ignore etc.

    so thanks again Ramit for sharing your wisdom with us.

  6. avatar

    Long time reader, first time commentator.

    Situational awareness isn’t my problem, I hate to make small talk but over time I’ve just gotten used it. I’ve found that given half a chance people will continue to talk if you prompt them with open ended questions and inject occasionally, leading them down a certain path or on a new tangent.

    In terms of the body language play poker. I’m not kidding here. You learn a hell of a lot of how people react talk, move, think and feel at a real live poker table. Joe Navarro’s book what everybody is saying (he’s an ex FBI profiler) is an excellent primer if you fancy a read.

    My problem is which Emily alludes to in some extent is that my mind goes blank. I’m constantly searching for the right word which is at the tip of my tongue and then I realize I’m probably not using it in the right context so I should use an easier word I can recall which has a lesser impact. This hinders my thought process and whilst seconds pass by, my pace of speaking goes out of the window and I can see that the person who I’m talking to is thinking – why is this guy so clumsy? This leaves me in a downward spiral which is hard to pull out from, especially in situations like an interview.

    Is there a course, book, guide, tactic or strategy that can help one to speak more fluently? It’s not elocution lessons I’m looking for, but something which can help me sufficiently express myself without sounding like I don’t know what I’m talking about.

  7. avatar

    I am a confident person. I like to think I can handle any type of conversation that comes my way. Bring it!

    Well. . . funny story, just yesterday evening I attended a spiritual group that I had not been to in awhile. Great group of people.

    I stood around before it started with the group leaders and 3 other members. No one was talking. Everyone kind of just smiled at one another when one of the leaders chimed in accounting our low turn out to the BIG Hawks game that was on.

    At this point, I proceeded to say outloud…. “Oh, is that like why no one is here?!” *dead silence* Wow, I should have included that in Confession later when I spoke with Fr. Jason to confess my sins.

    It wasn’t until I got home and drank a beer and thought back to the gathering that I realized my comment was rude. I was not contributing anything positive to the group and created an extremely awkward social situation. *face palm*

  8. avatar

    There is someone I can’t stop thinking about, it’s driving me crazy. I think about them everyday and I see this person at least 3xs a week.

    I wish I had the confidence to start a conversation, even just a fucking, ‘hello how are you?’

    But instead I always get this funny feeling in my stomach like I need to poop.


    Oh and Ramit, HOW do you go up to two people having a conversation already and not awkwardly join in?

  9. avatar

    If I were more confident and better at conversations I’d look forward to the 5 minutes in Church where we’re supposed to say Hi to someone…instead I would rather walk to a dark corner and claw my eyes out.

    Awkward moment: Oddly enough in college I took a position to recruit members for my fraternity…yea not a good fit but I did it to get free room/board for a year. I remember having a list of names/numbers to cold call and to find interested incoming students. One person was very closed off and just kept saying no but wouldn’t end the conversation…finally I said hey you so you’re not interested but why not just meet me for dinner I’ll blow smoke up your a**, talk about rainbows and puppies then you can say you got a free meal while I can say I at least tried…this resulted in awkward silence followed by him hanging up and be left banging my head on the desk.

  10. avatar

    I just forwarded this to a group of people going to a conference to talk to people and try to get jobs. I think it will help people talking to strangers, for sure. Great video, I almost went down the IWT rabbit hole, but I will later.

    Personally, I used to be more shy and scared, but I find that the first step is not caring how it goes. Just forget about all the disasters that can happen, and focus on the good things that can. I still keep in touch with people I randomly met for 5 min a year ago. It’s really been a big change, and made me realize that I am actually pretty good with words, but I was scared because of a new arena.

    Thanks, Ramit.

    Also, how was the popcorn?

  11. avatar

    If I were more confident. I could stop living in fear. I could work to achieve goals rather than work to avoid failure. I would be happier. I would be a better Father, Husband, Friend. I would be more at peace. I would probably sign up for your courses, but I can’t do that because I’m afraid it won’t work and I’ll have been fooled or worse they would require me to do things that I’m afraid of. I have 45 years of training on this and I’m very good at it.

  12. avatar

    Great video, especially because it stresses PRACTICING the things one finds difficult. Practice will wear down the fear and intense self-consciensciousness that shy people suffer from. Go Ramit!

  13. avatar

    I’m that awkward person that stands beside to people talking waiting to get noticed. So if I had more confidence I’d be a social butterfly/slut and just have great conversations with any random person around me

  14. avatar

    Like the video. In the end I have found out that it’s all very easy. People like to talk about themselves, get them going and you wish you never did. It’s so easy that eventually you really want some people to shut up. But then I’m older and not insecure anymore.

  15. avatar

    Thanks Ramit, I have found that recently I am wavering in my confidence. At other periods in my life I have been very socially adept, I wonder if transitioning to the top dog position at work and that changing social structure has left me a little off balance.

    The scripting of possibilities is a good reminder to go back to basics. Joining two strangers in a conversation is very hard – I still struggle with that issue.

  16. avatar

    If I were more confident I would speak with more decision on meetings and louder!! I would not feel guilty for presenting and promoting a good idea or project i’ve been working on.

    Remember a business lunch where a big boss was asking me questions to start a conversation. When he asked me if I travelled a lot I started telling where I had been during my holidays … he was asking at a work level. I felt so stupid, like the cliche of the blonde girl (i am) who completely misses the point. All because I was so stressed I was petrified!

  17. avatar

    Travis, that was too funny!! “I would rather walk to a dark corner and claw my eyes out.” I was cracking up for a few min….thank you so much. I needed that today!

  18. avatar
    Jennifer C

    Regularly I am good at conversation, but as a step mother-in-law, a non-enviable title and position, I cringe and do “scenario planning” prior to meetings and phone calls with my husband’s two adult children in their 40’s. I never knew it had a name. I write down 5 topics that each of the kids have an interest in and will talk about using sentences versus one word answers.

    My standby topic for my husband’s son and daughter-in-law are movies and books. I make a list so I can keep the conversation going making them feel safe, fun and comfortable as I really want to have a good visit or phone call.

    For my husband’s daughter, I mention baseball games (the 49’ers) and fashion ie shoes and clothes.

    Conversation with these two folks takes work. I think of whatever I have to say as “hitting the tennis ball” back to them to keep the conversation going. Without preparation, there would only be long silences, which is very uncomfortable especially during phone calls and family get togethers.

  19. avatar

    My social skills are not too bad I think, in terms of starting a conversation and being interested in people.

    The area I’d like to improve is in helping socially awkward people to feel better integrated into the group. I’d like to be able to know exactly the right thing to say to make that person feel more comfortable and better accepted. I once saw a truly great hostess do exactly that, and I was in awe. I thought, she can get anyone to follow her anywhere.

  20. avatar

    Jennifer, I wish you would teach a class on that.

  21. avatar

    I was promoted and invited to a dinner with a bunch of executives in my company. I walked up to two senior executives chatting and thought they would greet me and we’d start a conversation. Instead, they kept talking to each other for what must have been 10 minutes on an arcane work topic I had no knowledge of. Finally, I awkwardly forced my way in with a random comment. So nervous I forgot to introduce my wife.

    Wish I had the wit to make a relevant comment or just be super confident that I was a newly promoted executive and deserved to be there…

  22. avatar

    I think it’s normal to feel, at times, awkward when it comes to making new social connections. I think the problem with most of us is that we think that something special has to happen. Humans were built for interactions. I think we just need to jump in and worry less and interact more.

  23. avatar

    I have no problems talking to strangers or friends about everyday things but eventually I feel like I run out of topics and never have anything funny to say. It is easy practicing questions but what do you do about lightening up the atmosphere? My friends all have funny stories to tell but I always forget them and never have my own to tell. Do you have any advice for how to accomplish this? I guess I could go online and look up funny things that happen to others to practice but that sounds awkward since it isn’t mine to tell.

  24. avatar
    Cheval John

    This is something new. Never would have thought about it.

    Thank you, Ramit for this.

    Will implement these two advice later in the week.

  25. avatar

    If I had more confidence, I’d reach out to people more often about doing fun things and going cool places. A lotta times if my close friends can’t do something, I’ll decide “fuck it, I’ll go on my own.” I’ve just lacked the confidence to invite people that aren’t as close.

    My favorite story about being socially awkward happened just after my senior year of high school. I was attending a two week leadership camp in another state. I didn’t know anyone at first, so I was testing approaches for making new friends. I saw this girl that looked familiar, but I knew I didn’t know her since I was the only person from Pennsylvania there. After a couple minutes, I realized that her face looked very similar to a guy I had played basketball against in high school. I suddenly decided that that would be a great conversation starter. I walked over and started with “hey, you look like this guy I play basketball with…” I instantly saw her face drop and realized that I was an idiot for basically telling her she looked like a guy. Now it’s a hilarious story I tell pretty regularly, but it was definitely my most socially awkward moment ever!!! No matter how good of an idea it seems… NEVER tell a girl she looks like a guy! Lol

  26. avatar
    Jeff L.

    I feel exactly the same way Rakish. I believe that it may depend on the other person or group and how relaxed they seem. If a person seems genuinely interested in what you have to say they make you feel more relaxed and confident. Others make act stressed or uninterested and make you feel less confident and more likely to forget what you want to say. This is something that I’m trying to overcome. Ramit’s suggestions are worth a try. You may sound foolish at first but you can overcome your obstacle. Good luck!

  27. avatar
    Ruth V

    Great comment Sarah – I am also terrible at being entertaining in conversation. What works GREAT for people like us is to ask the other people in the conversation about THEMSELVES. People loooove talking about themselves even if it is a boring topic to us. As a result, the paradox is that they will enjoy themselves so much that they’ll think that YOU are the funny one. Test it and see! (a la How to Win Friends and Influence People).

  28. avatar

    If I were more confident, I would apply to jobs that are “out of my league” and in a new industry.

  29. avatar

    Hi Ramit, thanks for this video-it could not have been more timely!

    First I’ll tell you what I did do with a small dose of confidence. I gave my notice at a safe, deadend job and am starting down a new career path! Now as my confidence grows (grow it must because I’m now in sales) I’ll need to go to more networking events and be less socially awkward. If I had a bit more confidence, I’d immediately go after some of the best prospects I know, and I would spend more time networking with new people.


  30. avatar

    Glad you answered this question for Emily! Even more glad I’ve already figured this one out for me.

    Easiest way to get comfortable in a social situation is to prep beforehand–find out who’s going if you can (If it’s a professional conference, you’re going to talk about work/industry trends/new theories/etc, duh) and get a few anecdotes and facts up your sleeve in case you need them. Be an expert in your field, even if they aren’t paying you for it. YET.

    Really though, people usually want to talk AT you and not TO you, so be prepared to listen and make appreciative noises. Be an active listener and ask good questions. Smile. Fake it ’til you make it.

    (If you’re one of those people with RBF, practice looking less naturally annoyed in the mirror. If you’re a woman, people are still going to notice your looks before they consider your brain, even and especially if they are also women. A convincing, open-faced smile goes a long way.)

  31. avatar
    Anonymous L

    First of all, I LOVE when you blog on this topic, Ramit. I’d LOVE you to make a premium course on this.

    If I had more confidence right now I’d approach this stunning girl at college. She’s in the classroom next to mine. I’d also send a really important email that I’ve been sitting on for a day. I’ve put it off because I’m arranging an important phone call with a stranger, the thought of which makes me nervous.

  32. avatar

    If I had more confidence, I’d not put more accomplished industry execs on a pedastal (sp?) when I talk to them. Id treat them as equals as they are, but respect their position and how far he/she has come.

    Great socially awkward moment – Im a media producer, and one time a guest (older woman in her 50s…Im 31) on our tapings said to me at an after party that I must have “lines of women” waiting to meet me at my door…so that was awkward…but I replied “Well thats not so true. But if a line starts you’ll be the first one I call”. We laughed it off, but right away I can’t believe I said that. Awkward city.

  33. avatar

    You could always try botox….it does a good job of hiding those annoyed and disgusted looks that are hard to control.

  34. avatar

    I can go to entire towns or cities alone and find people to hang out with and can talk everyone’s head off. I probably say the wrong thing lots but people say it is great (shyer ones) as they appreciate the silence being filled. I have the opposite problem – of saying too much. Name a time you were angry in the workplace? Well, occasionally I guess it is frustrating if the network is down and we have to stop work and do something like filing or moving boxes. The flow gets interrupted for awhile. (further probing from interviewer). Oh. well there was this one time the team leader threatened to put me over her knee and spank me. She loved the gay guy Ed but had an issue with women. I took offense to that and we had an emergency team meeting and I had to air my issues about positive encouragement to staff. SHUT UP NOW Anastacia.

    Clearly did not get that job.
    If I had more confidence – I would marry someone my parents would not approve of as he is different ethnic group.

  35. avatar

    Ramit, I love your honesty! It’s really refreshing. I’m forwarding your video on to some friends.

    I think I do pretty well on the confidence level. I can be pretty extrovert in social situations. While I have a good script for walking up to two strangers in a convo and introducing myself or joining in, I can’t stand it when the two people are somewhat egotistical and are fully aware you have approached them yet refuse to make eye contact with you or acknowledge you in any way, shape, or form. I hate that!! If someone walks up to me I make it a point to look at them, make eye contact, and say hello (or smile or nod if in the middle of a convo) so they don’t have to feel so awkward. (…and so I don’t seem like I’m a stuck-up arse!)

    As far as embarrassing incidents go….where do I start?!? One thing about putting yourself out there and meeting people is that you’re gonna screw up sometimes and say some stupid shit. Something that has stuck with me is a time when my cousin who’s in MENSA was introducing me to a group of other people who were also members. I was in the application process and obviously didn’t want to sound like an idiot so I was a little nervous. One of the guys asked how the drive up was (as we had travelled from TN to IN) and I said (in a suddenly verrrry southern accent that I normally don’t have), “It was fine! Dave ‘drewve’ so fast! I can’t believe we got here so soon!” They just kind of stared at me and I went on yammering about something else. It wasn’t until later, after moving on from the meeting, that I realized I had combined the words “drove and flew” to make a brand-new word that sounded ridiculous! Who says drewve?!? I have many other incidents that are worse, however they’re not really applicable in relation to your video and being confident speaking to others. I could tell you tons of stories from my job or personal interactions where I’ve said and/or done some stupid stuff lol. Plus, I have a proclivity to drop stuff or trip or something embarrassing like that allllllll the time!

    Have any popcorn left? 😉

  36. avatar

    If I were more confident, I would have been able to say “No” to a lot many tasks. Because of this inability, I have always had loads of tasks and I couldn’t excel at anything much.
    I had said “No” earlier, but my “No” has never been strong enough since I end up doing the work despite saying “No”.

    An embarrassing story is when someone asks me the very simple question “What’s up?”
    I don’t know what to say, so I end up saying the stupid answer “Same Old shit.” .

  37. avatar

    Lol! You cracked me up with this!

  38. avatar

    I loved this video. I went to a huge jazz conference in Germany last year with the intention of networking and scoring some European festival bookings. Once I was there I was so intimidated, all I did was talk to a few other musos and cling to the comfort zone of the Australian export stand. Shameful. Very shameful…. and a waste of money. After watching this video I feel confident that I will be more successful at the next conference if I go armed with a bunch of break-in questions. Awesome advice. Thanks Ramit!

  39. avatar

    If I were more confident, then I would go to Networking events and sit at the tables already filled with people instead of looking for a table with only one or two people.

    Once I sit down/begin talking, I do great. It’s initiating the conversation that is difficult for me, especially when it feels like everyone already knows each other or I’m the “young tyke” in the room. I AM young, but I’m also very curious and intelligent.

    If it helps anyone, I’ve always found that bringing up a slightly (only slightly!) unusual topic can really grab people’s attention and helps them remember you in the future. For instance, when I tell people that I have travelled to Japan, they are ALWAYS more interested in me from that point on – “What are the people like? Does Tokyo really look like it does in the pictures? Is their sushi better? Do they know English well?” In addition, when I find someone else whose also travelled to a distant location, we have an INSTANT connection.

    Me: “In Japan, the deer walk right up to you and bow!”
    Other Person: “In Africa, our drive took 40 minutes longer than it was supposed to one day because 3 lions were laying in the middle of the road lounging.”
    Another Person: “In China, there is so much pollution you can see the smog in the sky.”

    Of course that’s travelling, but I’ve also really intrigued people with other topics. For me, it’s about being a “little” weird to intrigue people, but not scare them. Interesting people love to meet other interesting people!

  40. avatar

    If I had more confidence I’d quit my 6 figure day job that is supporting me and my family and work from home and devote more time to figure out a E1K/DJ/ZTL self employed job sooner than later that will get me back to the same or better salary on my own terms helping other people be all that they want to be, too. Not ready/confident enough to make that blind leap, but slowly working through materials to take baby steps in that direction.

    Awkward.. still have my moments, but Toastmasters International in college helped a lot for some public speaking situations. I’m still situationally shy but do what I can to take interest in other people. Still working on having a larger pool of great questions to ask or input to add to redirect conversations to areas of strength or topics where others who may have less to contribute on a specific topic may be able to contribute as mentioned in this article:

  41. avatar

    If I had even more confidence I would not be afraid to talk/email high up people in my company with ideas, suggestions, and comments.

  42. avatar

    I love the upbeat, happy jingle. Great video.

  43. avatar

    If I had more confidence, I’d use more creative ways to get in a room with people I admire and would like to speak with. I’ve heard all kinds of interesting ways of accomplishing this — such as those mentioned by Jay Abraham in his RBT interview, where he used to walk in to offices with a huge business card in order to be noticed secure interviews with his desired mentors. I find things like that brilliant — and quite ballsy — but I’m not sure I’m quite at that point yet.

    I’m actively working on reaching out to people I would love to have as mentors, and, in turn, rapidly realizing that “confidence” is quite a subjective thing. What’s the worst that could happen if I try to get in touch with someone: the don’t respond, or they say “No.” That’s it! When I think about it in such practical terms, it really helps me begin breaking down the mental barriers I have due to “lack of confidence.”

  44. avatar

    Thanks Ramit! I’m about to leave on my first trip with senior management so this couldn’t have come at a better time.

  45. avatar
    Catharine Hay

    Great advice and it’s not weird. It’s similar to the role playing that professional sales people do.

  46. avatar

    just blurt out stuff. even if it gets you into trouble. LOL

  47. avatar
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  48. avatar

    If I had more confidence, I’d quit beating myself up obsessively over mistakes I’ve made in the past that have alienated people. I would stop regarding myself as fatally flawed and likely irredeemable. Too negative? If I were more confident in my ablilty to deal with people, I would expand the range of jobs I’m willing to apply for: I’ve failed at so many different things in my life, that I don’t feel I have any time to waste pursuing positions I think I’m likely to bomb in. As I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that I’m socially retarded, I’m limiting my search to things I can do from home or positions that don’t require dealing with the public. If I had more confidence, skills and clips, I’d apply for your copywriting job which seems like it could be an awesome opportunity for the right person; maybe I’ll be better prepared next time if the position becomes vacant again in the future.

    One of my worst self-inflicted wounds occurred many years ago when I went to see Townes Van Zandt play at some little club in Austin on a Tuesday night. I had recently been turned on to his music and had quickly became totally enthralled with his depth of feeling, his fluid fingerpicking and chunky guitar chording and his tough, yet tender lyricism, which mastered being both down-home and far-out all at once. I approached Townes during his break – he was well-known at the Texas Chili Parlor where I bussed tables at the time – told him how amazing I thought his songs were and asked him something like what was he doing playing such a puny gig and why wasn’t he more famous? I meant all this in an adulatory way, but he didn’t take to it too kindly. That’s a towering pinnacle in my personal history of putziness.

    I have a couple more examples of humiliations with remarkable people I’ll never live down, leading me to believe I should *never* attempt to meet my heroes… but maybe I should adopt your practice of scripting out possible exchanges and planning for contingencies more often instead for a change: I’ve done that in my head for a while now, but never tried several possible scenarios for the same business or social function on paper.

  49. avatar

    So, I went to this event organized by a Foundation I worked with a few years ago and I met former co-worker. Went fine, most of them clearly remember in what circumstances we met etc… And then that woman I supported for a special project came to me, we chatted 2 min and there I slipped:
    Me – “So, you still have 2 kids?”
    Her – ” Yep! None of them is dead…”

    The other (2 colleagues) were staring at us, not knowing who was the craziest of all… And it felt weiiiiiiiiiird! Le me replay it for you:
    Me – “So you still have 2 kids?” (me thinking: “Have you got more kids now?)
    Her – ” Yep! None of them is dead…” (I don’t know what the hell she was thinking…)

    So I just explain myself, recalling the legend that was circulating at that time… In the office room she was working, was a chair that was known as the “pregnant-wannabe-chair”. When I first met the woman, she just came back from maternity leave and inherited of that chair. The legend said that every woman sitting on that chair got pregnant and people were taking bet on her. 5 months later she came back saying she WAS pregnant again!

    So, when I asked that awkward question, it was a recollection of that story, just to share something fun and a little bit more personal but she explained that having a third child was so far away from a possibility that she didn’t even understood the question that way… That’s what brought us to a funny misunderstanding… Strange, but turned out to be linking us in a sense…

    Before watching Ramit’s videos on things, I would shame away and shut down after the first reply but, I manage to calmly explain and have fun while at it when I realized this was nothing more but a friendly conversation…

    Hopefully they burned the chair down when they refurbished that area of the building…

  50. avatar

    I live in Las Vegas, I got a new job and training is in Lake Havasu, AZ. If I had more confidence, I would go out on a Saturday night, by myself and approach girls leading to engaging discussions. Our just meet new people.

  51. avatar
    Fernando Lopez

    Socially awkwardness was this morning. Like I said, I’m training in Lake Havasu for my new job. The company have me and some other guy staying at a nice house. I have my motorcycle as my transportation. The other guy, let’s call him Mel, drove to Az but let his wife keep the car which she drove back to Las Vegas.

    Now Mel has no means to getting back and forth to work. Mel made arrangement with the company supervisor to provide him transportation. Well, this morning as I sat down at the kitchen table about to feast on my meal cooked by me, I hear knocking from the house front door. I open it and it was the supervisor. I was lost for words, dumbfounded because i was unaware of the arrangement. He asked for Mel. I replied, “ya he’s here.” He then explained to me the arrangement made with Mel. I replied, “ok, i’ll go get him.” I left then came back, I told the supervisor, “he’s on his way.” Walked away, walked back to the kitchen table and sat to eat my breakfast.

    Mind you this is my supervisor, I didn’t small chat while waiting for Mel (and I’m not good on small chat or any type of chat). I didn’t welcome him in the house. I didn’t make him feel welcomed.

    As I was eating he walked into the kitchen, which made me uncomfortable, he looked around and tried to chat with me. I would reply with one word answered. Finally Mel showed up and they both left. Now by myself, in the kitchen, one minute passed and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Ugh! Why am I such a Dumbass.

    My name is Fernando last name Hopeless

  52. avatar

    The key to confidence is convincing yourself that YOU ARE THE BEST AT WHAT YOU DO. For the most part, people are the same. We have two legs, two arms, 10 fingers, 10 toes and one brain. Some people actually use their brain (LOLO). What makes you different is that you have your own unique goals, ambitions, feelings, abilities, etc and they are slightly different than the person next to you. So who is THE BEST? Answer: YOU ARE. Why? “THE BEST” is relative. What’s the best soda in the world? Some say Pepsi. Some say Coke. Some say Fanta. “THE BEST” is something YOU decide on. Make the decision that you are THE BEST.

    How to convince yourself that you are the best. Ask yourself, “Have I ever flown on a plane?” and write down your answer. Did you write down “YES?” If you did, your are lying to yourself. Why? Because people cannot fly on planes. They simply sit down on the plane. The plane itself does the flying. If you can convince yourself that you have never flown on an airplane, then you can convince yourself that YOU ARE THE BEST AT WHAT YOU DO!

    Once you have convinced yourself that you are the best, you start doing the things you enjoy the most. Once you start doing more of the things you enjoy, you become better at them and more confident in your ability to perform them. Others pick up on your confidence and want to be confident as well, so they begin to look up to you.

    Give it a shot! Tell start telling yourself “I AM THE BEST AT WHAT I DO” right now. Then, convince yourself that YOU ARE CORRECT. It really works.

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    A great source for conversation topics that’s often overlooked by people is the daily newspaper. For some reason it’s better than news sites or reddit or whatever. My wife has terrible social anxiety. Before she goes out, she reads the paper so she can have a plan (script) for what she’s going to say. She’s still nervous, but because she prepares, no one can tell. Newspapers are like a secret weapon most 20-30 something’s don’t know about.

    I like James Altucher’s suggestion to listen to stand up comedians before going out around people. That always loosens me up.

  55. avatar

    These comments are great!

    I just have to say that when I’m at a loss for words (rare, but always with someone I want to impress), I revert to asking questions about THEM. I try to know enough about the person’s interests to be able to hit on something they might enjoy talking about. People usually like to talk about themselves and, honestly, there are far too few good listeners in the world. From what I’ve seen, good listeners have many, many friends. I’m trying to become a better listener, but I have a ways to go.

  56. avatar

    Thanks for the video Ramit. Earlier today, before watching the video, I started scripting calls, so I guess I’m on the right track!

    If I were more confident, I would call more doctors offices. However, I’m not even sure right now if calling is the most effective way of gaining their partnership!! Are there any resources about finding the right way to prospect? I get anxious before calling because I wonder if I should instead be walking into their office…

  57. avatar
    Jennifer M

    Ua Tsaug for the video!!! Personally and professionally I found this to be extremely helpful! Do you have any suggestions of how to help guide high school students with this process? I welcome any ideas!!!!

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  60. avatar

    Most conversation topics I come up with center around recent national or international news. Here you can be sure that most persons will have heard of the topic and will have something to say. Of course, you have to stay away from controversational topics, though.

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  62. avatar

    today I said goodbye to someone whose been a good friend for a while, but said another friends name instead of their own. I was feeling doubt in my confidence that I could hold a conversation, i stood awkwardly not knowing one to do, and tried to laugh it off, but i know it effected her.

  63. avatar

    today I said goodbye to someone whose been a good friend for a while, but said another friends name instead of their own. I was feeling doubt in my confidence that I could hold a conversation, i stood awkwardly not knowing one to do, and tried to laugh it off, but i know it effected her.
    If i was more confident, i would listen better and be more friendlier, also be aware of my body language

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    I am the worst at being socially awkward, like last night my friend who is the complete opposite of me randomly starts talkin to a girl and we find out she is going to get beer luckily we were going to the exact same place and we all lived at the same apartment complex so it wasn’t that weird, but the entire time I’m just sitting in the front seat while these two are engaging in conversation even gossip that my friend probably knew nothing about, again I sat silent but mixed things up By playing Tetris, the only thing I managed to say to this girl was year I like dark beer shiner or Guinness, I literally had no idea what to say to converse with this girl like if I said anything to her id just get shot down so hard Bruce Wayne just became batman.

  66. avatar

    If i were more confident i’d have the courage to talk to complete strangers and make new friends.
    if i were more confident i’d be able to express myself better in difficult situations.

  67. avatar

    Funniest moment: i would rather say it was the most embarrassing nd disappointing thing that happened to me. We were having a board meeting on how to make PR more productive. There were 7 other people in the room. They were all talking so good nd giving their opinions on new initiatives. Nd those opinions, for me they seemed to be obvious fr tat particular idea. So i didnt speak at all. Finally we were assessing our progress till date nd it was me first to start off with. I was like blank at the moment. I just said “it was good”. Thats all i said nd they started laughing at me like hell. But indeed i had a lot to speak about my progress. I did lot more than what other board members did. Despite of tat, jst because one guy spoke so much, though he didn’t do much, everyone now thinks he is better than me!! I could not take this. At one point of the time, after meeting i felt like hanging myself!!!!

    Pls help me with this…

  68. avatar

    The feels, you’ve described perfectly what I struggle with too. Its impacting my confidence a fair bit. Have you found any solutions since identifying the root of your problem.

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    This is me… even with my own family. I just don’t (think I) have anything to say. My husband thinks I’m being ridiculous and that I need to think of something to say but not that my life is boring because i have 2 great kids and a awesome husband, but there are so many stories I can tell about my kids. And it always seems like I am the one who is supposed to start talking first. Why can’t other people talk first??? I get really nervous, my words start coming in at weird times, like I would be trying to say, for example “Hi, I have heard so many great things about you” but it really comes out as “Hi, I have great things heard about you” 🙁

  79. avatar

    What do I do when I think a guy likes me but now I’m not sure it’s sooooo awkward .please help me out !!

  80. avatar

    If I was more confident I would ask my coworkers if they wanted to hang out and then actually plan something or go to a club alone and talk to people. The most embarrassing moment was probably in college. I had a couple classes with this girl who for some reason I wanted to be friends with so badly that she made me too nervous and I would stare at her. I once decided I would just walk up to her and talk about whatever came to me (like they always tell you) and I literally came face to face with her realizing there was NOTHING in my head (not even weather). I tried my best to walk past her acting like I just got too close but in reality I looked this girl in the eye, walked up and stood in front of her, and then walked away. I could tell she wanted me to talk to her (probably out of morbid curiosity) and tried a couple times but I was so nervous I gave her answers that shut our conversations down immediately rather than expand because I forgot how.

  81. avatar

    Write down the question.. Sounds good.. How to ask it in right tome and in right tone? How to practice this? Any suggestion here?

  82. avatar

    It is actually good that one understand the subject he wants to talk on very well. This will give him a sort of confidence and authority when speaking.