How to get someone to open up

We’ve all had experiences of suspecting that all is not well with someone we care about.

We desperately want to help them, but whenever we try to talk to them they just clam up and say nothing is wrong and they’re fine – although we’re pretty sure they’re not.

A lot of people are struggling on their own with different things at the moment.

Whether that be job security, money or something else.

So how do we get our loved ones to open up to us?

This week’s tip is a blueprint for success.

However, you must follow it to the letter if you truly want the best for them.

First, find an appropriate time to speak.

Not during their favourite TV programme or while they’re reading.

Then, make sure you’re in an appropriate place where it’s just the two of you.

Neutral territory where it’s quiet and you won’t be overheard.

Next ask open questions that require a full answer

Not “are you ok?” or “is there something wrong”.

Also never start a question with “Why?” it can be taken as accusatory and put them on the defensive.

Try “What’s on your mind?” or

“How can I help you at the moment?”


How to get someone to open up - Mark Darlington


Then close your mouth and listen

NO, I mean REALLY listen.

Keep your opinions, thoughts and advice to yourself.

Believe me; they are not wanted at this stage.

Resist saying “I know how you feel” because you could never know exactly how they are feeling and it will only serve to make them angry and withdraw again.

Once they’ve answered a question and you’ve listened intently, ask more questions and listen more.

Again resist the urge to offer any thoughts, opinions or advice.

Repeat this step until they have got everything off their chest.

Let them know that your support is always available.

If they then ask for your opinion or advice, now is the time to give it.

If they don’t, then just know that they are grateful that you took time to REALLY listen to them.

You may need to read this tip a few times and fully master it before trying it with a real person!

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