How to Get Someone to Open Up

Irene Limas

By Irene Limas

Est. Reading Time: 16 Mins

How to Get Someone to Open Up

Getting someone to open up can be a struggle, but it’s not impossible. It will require patience and perseverance for you and them. Remember that it not only feels like a struggle for you to get them to open up, but it also feels like a struggle for them to get comfortable and open up to you. Read more below to learn how you can get someone to open up.

Determining if they’re closed off is important because it’s a lot different getting someone who isn’t closed off to open up versus someone who is closed off. When someone isn’t closed off, getting them to open up is quite simple. All you need to do is make them trust you, and make sure they know that you aren’t going to judge them, and that you’re going to be a good listener.

However, if they are closed off, it will take a lot more effort, time, and patience to get them to open up to you, and that’s normal. You just need to make sure you are as understanding as you can be and follow the tips we’ve gathered below.

Why Is Someone Closed Off?

Reasons why someone is closed off.
Reasons why someone is closed off.

Determining why they are being closed off can help you pick an approach to get them to open up, so take the time to figure out what causes them to be closed off.

  • They are self conscious. Perhaps they are self conscious and worried that if they open up, you will judge them instead of supporting them.
  • They are overly critical. Being overly critical and self conscious can go hand in hand. Perhaps they are overly critical of themselves, so they think you will be too, or they’re too afraid to share certain parts of themselves that they have been overly critical about.
  • They are afraid you won’t be accepting. A great fear for many is not being accepted. Imagine someone who has a hard time opening up, finally does. They worked hard to be able to do so, and it took time for them to open up to you, only for you not to accept them for who they really are or not be accepting of what they told you. Obviously, that would be a terrible feeling for the person who was finally able to open up, so you can understand how it would be normal for them to be afraid you won’t be accepting.
  • They don’t trust you. Whether they’ve known you for a while or just met, they have yet to trust you for some reason, so of course, they’re going to be a bit more closed off with you. Usually, trust is an important factor when it comes to someone opening up to you or not. If you’ve known them for a long time and they don’t trust you, you may want to inquire why that is, and if you’ve just met, understand that trust takes time, and they will likely trust you once they get to know you more or if you are vulnerable with them.
  • They don’t feel comfortable. If they don’t trust you, they’re probably not going to be comfortable around you, and if they’re not comfortable around you, don’t expect them to open up to you. Try your best to make them feel comfortable around you by showing them that you’re not going to judge them and that they can trust you.
  • They tend to avoid deep conversations. They might have a hard time opening up because they usually avoid having deeper conversations. It’s simply how they are, they’re not doing it on purpose, and it’s nothing against you either.

How to Get Someone to Open Up

Steps to get someone to open up.
Steps to get someone to open up.

Try doing the following things if you want someone to open up.

Be vulnerable.

If you knock down your walls around them, they are more likely to knock down theirs around you as well. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable around them, so they feel more comfortable with the idea of being vulnerable around you.

Make them trust you.

It’s important that they trust you if you want them to open up. It’s very unlikely that they will open up to you if you don’t seem trustworthy.

Be honest with them.

Honesty will help with the previously mentioned point, being trustworthy. If they know you are always honest with them, they will be able to trust you more and more. This is why being honest with them is so important. It will help them open up faster.

Ask them questions.

Asking questions is extremely important when you want to get someone to open up to you. You need to make sure you are asking enough questions without asking too many so that they feel bombarded with questions. Don’t pry with the questions you ask, be cautious of the kinds of questions you ask as well, but definitely ask open-ended questions that can allow them to share more. The more they talk, the more they loosen up, and the more they share with you.

Go slowly.

If you go too fast, they might feel like you’re coming on too strong. Pace yourself with everything you do, and proceed with caution so you don’t scare them away. People that are closed off usually spook easily.

Be a good listener.

Make sure they can see that you are a good listener, not just that you’re hearing them, but that you’re truly listening to what they’re saying. You can do this by responding with questions about what they’re sharing with you or responding with an insightful answer.

Make sure they want to talk.

A closed-off person might have a hard time talking, but make sure they are open to the idea of talking and opening up. Make sure it’s something they want to do, even if they struggle with it. You wouldn’t want to be forcing it upon them.

Make them feel comfortable.

Similar to making them trust you, you need to make them feel comfortable. Perhaps that means sharing more about yourself or spending more time with them so they can get to know you a little bit better.

Talk somewhere that doesn’t feel so serious.

Sometimes when you sit down one to one in a quiet room, it can feel like an interrogation or like you have to talk and be open. If it feels forced, it likely isn’t going to happen, so you need to make sure you’re talking with them somewhere they feel comfortable, or somewhere that has a chill and relaxed vibe.

Be open.

The more you open up with them, the more they will open up with you too. If you share things with them that perhaps you wouldn’t share with others, they may feel more inclined to not be so closed off, and instead, become more open with you.

Don’t be pushy.

Remember, patience is important. Avoid being pushy even if you’ve been trying to get them to open up for a while.

Be encouraging.

Instead of being pushy, be more encouraging. Encourage them to talk about certain experiences, and remind them they are in a safe space with you.

What to Keep in Mind

The following are some things you need to keep in mind when you’re trying to get someone to open up.

Opening up can be scary.

Remember that opening up can seem very daunting, and it can feel scary to most. It means being vulnerable, and perhaps sharing parts of themselves that they’re not usually comfortable sharing, or they’re not used to talking about those things.

Scary and daunting feelings can also cause them to feel overwhelmed, and if they struggle with anxiety, it could be even worse. So just keep in mind that opening up is scary for some.

Sometimes people are closed off for deeper reasons.

Some people have gone through tough things or perhaps traumatizing events that make it hard for them to open up. Perhaps they had opened up with someone before and that person betrayed them, or maybe they lost the person to something more tragic, and they’re afraid to have that happen again.

Because opening up can be so difficult for some, if they were able to trust someone enough to feel comfortable sharing deeper, personal things, and for some reason they lost that person all of a sudden, it would be very difficult for them to open up with someone new.

Nagging them will not help.

It can be frustrating if you’re being patient with the person, and even after a lot of time and effort on your behalf, they still won’t open up. This might make you want to nag them, but you should try to catch yourself before doing so, and instead take a deep breath and remember that everyone opens up at their own pace.

As frustrating as it may be, you need to continue being patient, and gain their trust so they can hopefully open up to you soon.

Compromising is important.

Compromising is important because sometimes, to get someone to open up, you need to meet them halfway, or understand that one of you may not get your way. Perhaps they started opening up a little bit, and then they changed their mind and became closed off again, and you want to push them to continue opening up, but instead you need to compromise and accept that that’s as far as they were able to get that day, and you’ll just have to give them another opportunity another day and continue being patient.

There are many things in mind when getting someone to open up. You need to remember that opening up can be very scary and overwhelming and that it’s hard to trust someone and feel comfortable enough around them to be able to open up to them.

That’s all very common, and the person having a hard time opening up should know that it’s completely normal to feel that way. With the tips and tricks you’ve gathered from this article, they should be opening up to you in no time.

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