How to talk to people without feeling awkward

I’ve been getting a lot of emails from readers asking me how to talk to people without feeling awkward.

It ranges from talking to strangers, approaching girls and even just talking to your friends in a large group.

Okay let me try to help!

I used to be an awkward, shy nerd who fumbled all the time

Really I was.

Back in high school I was a total nerd. I only focused on studying for the first couple of years as I did extremely badly in a major leaving examination when I was 12. My parents were so disappointed that I knew I had to buck up.

I literally did not go out at all for the first two years of high school. I mean, I had a lot of friends, but I did not socialize much and go out with them in weekends. I chose to stay home instead and play video games.

It was only in December 1999, the year I turned 14 that I wanted to change my life.

The follow cheesy scenario, is totally cheesy, but really took place:

I was looking in the mirror (in my parents’ toilet). I was looking at my horrible unkempt hair with no style. I was also looking at my moustache which I did not shave for about a year, because I didn’t care about appearance as appearance had nothing to do with studying.

I thought about my teenage track record: Zero girlfriends, hardly any memories of going out and having fun with friends and basically having no life.

I was a nerd. Only video games were my friends. Hell, even my dad got annoyed with me once, asking why I never go out of the house!

I decided there and then that I would change.

I wanted to go out and have fun more. I wanted to have a girlfriend. I wanted a life.

I starred at the mirror. I said I was going to start a change.

I did so by changing my hairstyle on the spot.

For the next few years I pushed myself to socialize, going out, talking to friends more and even trying to talk to girls.

So yes, I totally know how it feels to learn how to start talking to people and feeling like a loser at it. I’ve cracked jokes which nobody laughed at it. I forced myself to come up with dumb shit to talk about with a girl even. 

Today, I feel totally fine with talking to people, strangers or friends.

Here’s my step-by-step guide which I hope will help.

Note: This isn’t a guide on how to talk  with the goal of impressing them, getting them to buy something or totally win them over. I won’t talk about stuff like NLP or body language. This is a guide on working your inner-self, on getting out of your comfort zone to being able to start talking to others with ease.

1) Just be polite

You aren’t sure of what to say to someone? Okay cool, just be polite then.

Have your, “Thank you”, “Please” and “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?” in order and you’re good.

By being polite you’ve set the foundation of being a nice person, which is something all humans on earth can relate to. You may not have created a powerful impact, but at least you’ve created a lasting impression that you’re not rude or offensive, which trust me, many people can’t seem to master even though this is basic etiquette. You may not see it, but being polite sets you ahead of a lot of people.

2) Basic questions are okay

Get to know the person you’re talking to for the person they are. Start off with basic questions first:

What’s your name? What do you work as? Have you eaten? How was your day?

Then, you flow with the basic questions:

“Oh you work at that place? What’s it like there?”

“Oh you missed the bus? Yeah that sucks I remember when I…”

Remember, BASIC IS OKAY. You’re both human and just getting to know each other.


3) Don’t try too hard to impress

Absolutely, nobody likes someone who tries too hard.

When you try too hard, it shows. And people will think you’re weird.

Get this in your head: Trying too hard never works.

For example, you think you need to crack a joke to get people to like you. So what do you do? You rip a joke off from someone you heard it from.

However, that joke was created from a personal experience. You try to make it your own, when it obviously is not. There is hence a mismatch of your joke and your being.

It WILL show. The punchline may be funny, but the joke wouldn’t be told right. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be funny at all.

This is what I learnt long ago when I was reading up on Pick Up Artists and shit, learning how to approach girls.

Look at it this way: You learnt of an awesome pick-up line, smooth and intelligent. However, deep down you’re still a shy little boy who worships the ground hot girls walk on.

Awesome pick-up line, told by a shy little boy.

Do you see the mismatch? The pick-up line will most definitely lose its effect, hence becoming worthless.

Don’t be a mismatch of whatever you say and yourself within.

Remember, BASIC is OKAY! Your level of comfort with someone is up to you.

And yes, I really tried using some cheesy line on a girl. Since I was shy, I even only did it via online chat. It still came off stupid.

4) Just listen

Part of talking and having a conversation is also about listening.

It’s a two-way thing, where both parties are trying to get to know each other.

So listen with sincerity and don’t hog the conversation.

If you talk too much, you may come across as someone who is self-centered, which really doesn’t help you trying to learn how to talk to more people.

Remember, you need to shut up once in a while.

5) Remember that you don’t need to please everybody you meet

This kind of goes hand in hand with point (3): Don’t try too hard.

You don’t owe anyone anything.

If you feel you’re already polite, you ask non-invasive questions, you maybe even crack a really good joke or two, and yet the other party doesn’t seem to reciprocate and the tension feels awkward still…

… then screw them.

Politely take your leave and go talk to someone else.

I find that when a conversation dies off, people blame themselves and start asking what they did wrong, “Did I say something to offend them?” , “Did I have smelly breath?”, “Oh no I did it again”.

Why do you even blame yourself?

If you’re polite and just getting to know someone (with basic questions), it’s most likely not your fault!

You don’t need to please everyone you meet. If someone can’t vibe with you, then just change course and talk to other people. No biggie.

 Bonus point (6): How to look them in the eye

I don’t really like talking to people and looking them in the eye straight, it makes me uncomfortable sometimes.

But this is a little technique I learnt back in my insurance-selling days.

Just look at the bridge of their nose. It’s a lot easier.

Or, when looking at their eye, just take note of the colour of their pupil.

Pretty soon you’re looking like you’re looking at them in the eye. Makes sense?

Bonus point (7): How to talk to large groups

Well I’m no expert speech giver, but I’ve had my fair share of telling a story to a group of friends, to much laughter.

Again, I’m no expert in giving speeches, neither did I learn how to win over a crowd.

The answer to talking to large groups is simply not try and let the opportunity present itself.

First, you be polite. People start to like you.

You don’t try too hard. You be yourself, ask basic questions and allow people to know you better; know you’ve substance.

You listen to people, hence making them comfortable with you as they then know that YOU know THEM.

Let it all flow.

Pretty soon one day a friend would be like, “Hey, why don’t you tell that crazy story you told me about the other day? You know? That really funny one?”

It would be really easy then.

That’s it! That’s my basic guide to talking to people without feeling awkward.

It’s all basics man. Just have fun. It’s 7 billion different individuals with unique stories.


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  1. roxianna - October 25, 2012 10:49 am

    that’s brilliant and simple. thanks. I’m nineteen turning twenty, I’ve been shy and antisocial all throughout my teenage years, it was only in the year I turned eighteen that I really got the motivation to start getting over my fear. Now it’s SO MUCH EASIER, I’m still awkward, but no longer (that) scared. Now, even if I know a social situation is going to be awkward, I just make myself go through with it anyway. I’ve adopted the philosophy that ‘awkwardness is a transient feeling that will pass’, and I don’t really care that much about humiliating / embarrassing myself in social situations anymore, because I know I’ll eventually learn or get something from the experience. It’s like all those years of being antisocial have made me even more determined to break out of that life. So your post really struck a chord in me. And you’ve reminded me that I need to look people in the eye and not try so hard, haha. I like reading your posts, they’re written with clarity and positivity, in a very accessible style. A breath of fresh air. Keep it up!

    • Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca - October 25, 2012 11:23 am

      This is a great comment, on a great post 😉

      I agree with Roxianna, Alden. Written with clarity + positivity 🙂

      Its filled with solid tips on how to talk with confidence,

      And Roxianna your attitude towards awkwardness and transient feelings is awesome.

    • alden - October 28, 2012 7:06 am

      Thanks Roxianna.

      You totally got it by not caring about whether you’d be humiliated or not :).

      You young anyway so just have fun.

  2. Cam - October 25, 2012 7:27 pm

    Sick post man. Great tips, and the 30daycomeback looks like a great product.

    • Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca - October 25, 2012 9:10 pm

      I totally agree, and the 30-Day Comeback is incredible, and not just because I’m in it also (though it’s been said, and I quote:

      “you were in rare form. you were so amped up. I love to hear your voice that way.”

      But seriously, James Holland has a knack for asking INSPIRED questions and bringing out THE BEST from his subjects. Check it out. Very worth it to hear other inspired human beings.

    • alden - October 28, 2012 7:06 am

      Thanks man

  3. Samael - October 27, 2012 8:14 am

    I feel our past is so the some, and I really connect with your truth. Thank you for sharing how you have overcome shyness. I am so working on that now, and talking to woman is my hardest mission. I am going to try this great advise asap!

    • alden - October 28, 2012 7:06 am

      Hey Samael,

      Is it hard to talk to women or hard to approach women?

  4. John - November 7, 2012 11:25 pm

    Love it! I noticed you used the word “polite” a lot. I can’t agree more! Everyone loves being treated politely because it translates to respect. Another great post Alden!

    • alden - November 11, 2012 2:20 pm

      Thanks John! For real. Polite is like basic, but so many people miss out on it.

  5. Terry - November 9, 2012 8:27 am

    I liked your point about just listening. I think that’s the greatest compliment that you can pay someone else, just listening and commenting on what is said. It takes the pressure off you of having to carry the conversation.

    • alden - November 11, 2012 2:21 pm

      Exactly 🙂

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  10. All - December 4, 2013 1:21 pm

  11. Akanksha - March 19, 2014 5:29 am

    Marvelous or even better than that, maybe I don’t seem
    To have words to describe what it has done to
    My mind. Dear, Donno how I met you and start a
    Normal conversation with you, but with time you have
    Already done half or maybe more than half the magic on me
    Rather my health.
    I would rather want to stand up and salute to you for
    Helping me in everything.

    Thanks a lot Dear.

    – Akanksha

  12. Hugo Medeiros Blasquez Olmedo - March 19, 2014 7:16 am

    Shyness is not a simple think to deal. I must say that THERE IS NO FORMULA to deal with that, and what has work for someone to overcome, can not work for others, that’s why this problem is so tricky. The fix for that will only come FROM YOU, you have to know yourself enough, so you can identify where your mistake is. Yeah, YOU! Stop blaming others for your problems, because they don’t have any power over you, believe that, belive that you can make your own choices. For me, meditating helped a lot, and if you do the right way, it will help you too to overcome any type of mental difficulty, thats the way, to identify what you are doing that is causing this shyness thing, and again, only you can find it. There is many types of meditation, and personaly i only like one. I dont like the type, that you must not think about anything, to me that’s torture :), and i don’t belive that. But there is a very positive and efficient form of meditation, and it goes like that: Pick any hour of the day(i do at night, before bed) and think about something that is bothering you and try to resolve that in your head, talk to your self, keep the focus on you, and don’t blame the others. Revive you day in your thoughts. Make this a habit and try to enjoy this moment, because if you are not enjoying, then you are missing the goal. The answers won’t
    come one the same day, but they will come. Good Luck!!!

  13. pickup - July 3, 2014 3:58 am

    First of all I would like to say aawesome blog! I had
    a quick question that I’d like to ask iff you don’t mind.
    I waas interested to fond out how you center yourdself and clear
    yur head before writing. I’ve had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my iideas out there.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the irst 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted simply juswt trying to figure out
    how too begin. Any recommendations or tips? Thank you!

  14. Gerrell - July 21, 2014 11:01 pm

    Hello Alden,

    Just wanted to stop and say hello. I also wanted to thank you for the e-mails I have received and the free book you offer. I will certainly continue to check for you and as soon as I’m able i will purchase some of your products. Thank you again & be blessed!



  15. Kim - September 22, 2014 2:49 am

    This post really boost my confidence. thanks

  16. sherill - October 27, 2014 11:00 pm

    Hi very informative post. I guess everyone feels shy or anxious in certain social situations, but for some people, it can be a little more serious, as what you’ve said, just be yourself, don’t focus on what others think about you, be confident, just enjoy life. Thanks for sharing. Great post!

    • alden - October 28, 2014 7:29 am


  17. Sherill - November 11, 2014 5:21 am

    Great read that I can relate to. I like you grew up being shy and always felt awkward trying to make friends and talking to other people. In the end I mustered enough confidence and just acted like myself and spoke to others. I now have a great support group of friends and family.

    • alden - November 13, 2014 9:30 am


  18. Jan Koch - November 28, 2014 7:05 am

    Love #5 Alden!
    I found your blog through your post on Addicted2Success.

    Ever since I became self-employed I tried to please everyone I was in touch with. In the first months I would buckle down to clients who negotiated hard and ended up not being the right fit for my business.

    After reading “Book Yourself Solid” by Michael Port, I implemented his “red velvet rope” strategy. I’m only working with clients that pass through my filters. Life got SO MUCH EASIER since then. Way less hustling with clients who don’t pay, way less working on projects I couldn’t care less about.

    Keep up the great work!

  19. Keith - January 7, 2015 3:56 pm

    Hey Alden!

    These are great points!

    I love this, “So listen with sincerity”. Be authentic.


    • alden - January 8, 2015 4:02 am


  20. Kaujju - March 21, 2015 11:34 am

    This is something that has been challenging me.

    Trying too hard to impress.

    You get to think over what to say to some and you end up stressed.

    Better to be yourself.

  21. Frank - April 29, 2015 12:11 pm


    Really good post and good advice.

    I would say as well that no matter how polite you are, some people are just rude and/or don’t listen.

    Also some people just don’t know how to hold a conversation answering in monosyllables and not asking questions in order to keep the conversation going.

    With these people I tend to cut my losses and walk.

  22. Bruno LoGreco - December 5, 2015 5:01 pm

    Hey Alden, I like that you’re teaching people these techniques for self-confidence. I have a system, The TCS System, that is aligned with what you’re teaching here, helping people to become self-aware, develop their confidence and reach their highest potential. Come check it out on my website. I’m Master Life Coach Bruno LoGreco, visit me at

    For further contact, feel free to email me at

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