5 Sure-Fire Ways To Talk To People Online
By: Samantha Dewitt
Updated March 08, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Nicole J. Johnson
Social media is something that just about everyone uses these days, but that doesn't mean that it's something we’re always comfortable navigating. Talking to people and sharing information online can be difficult for some. And the more personal things get, the harder social media can become, especially when you're trying to meet new people and form meaningful friendships. That's why it's important to learn the best ways to talk to people online.
Some people don't know how to talk to anyone online, not even to people they already know. For example, what do you say to the people you knew in high school but haven't seen or spoken with in 20 years? Sometimes, it can feel easier to talk to strangers than to people you know. Here are five tips to talk to people online:
- Understand the different types of online communication
- Determine what you want to talk about
- Find the right site
- Be safe
- Use common sense
We'll go over each of these tips a little bit more as we work through the rest of this article.
The Basic Rules (Netiquette)
Social etiquette is something you’ve likely heard of before, but what about netiquette? Etiquette in technology is often referred to as netiquette. These are the basic rules of netiquette:
- Do not write in all CAPS. Writing in caps is a big no-no because people consider it yelling.
- In a chat room or forum setting, for example, let people know you are there, so it doesn't seem like you're lurking. Say hello and tell them you are new to chattingand just want to observe and feel the format out for a while.
- Before you write something, try to read it back to yourself to mimic the way a stranger might read it. Remember that we lose tone, body language, and context when communicating online because we cannot see the people we are communicating with. Sometimes, we may write something that seems nice but that others find offensive. For example, a joke or a sarcastic comment that you think is funny may not seem funny to anyone else when it's shared over the internet.
Chat Room, Public Forum, Instant Messaging (IM), Or Social Media
If you're new to talking to strangers online, you probably aren't very familiar with social media. That's totally fine. Basically, a chat room is a virtual "room" where people "talk" in real-time, back and forth conversations. On the other hand, a forum, is a place to leave a message for someone to answer hours, days, or even weeks later. Instant messaging is a private chat between two or more people in a chat room. The messages shared in a private chat can only be seen by the people part of the conversation (i.e., a group chat). Social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, among others. These are places where you can share pictures, videos, music, and art. You can also talk to people on their profile page, your profile wall or feed, and through private messages.
What Do You Want to Talk About?
Are you looking for friendship, love, advice, or therapy? Specific sites exist to help you in each of these categories. For example, there are dating sites for love, social media and chatrooms for friendship, forums and chatrooms for advice, and online therapy sites for, well, therapy.
Find The Right Site
If you're looking for people who like boating and other outdoor activities, there are online chat rooms for those specific topics. If you would rather find a professional who can give you advice on a legal matter, there are sites for that as well. You can search for what you’re looking for by typing it into the internet search engine on your computer or other electronic devices. For therapy, there are websites with therapists who can help you right now. In most cases, all you have to do is sign up or create an account, and the site will find the best therapist for you. On BetterHelp, more than 4,000 licensed professionals are available to talk with you right now.
Be Safe Online
Above all else, do what you can to be safe online. Be aware that there will always be people out there trying to collect your personal information for their financial gain. To help prevent this from happening, be cautious meeting anyone who you talked to online in a private place and avoid giving out your home address or other sensitive personal information. If you do decide to meet in person, choose a public place whenever possible. You can even bring a friend if you want, and if nothing else, be sure to let someone know when, where, and who you plan to meet.
Use Common Sense
The best advice for communicating with strangers online is to use common sense. If you would not say or do something in person, you probably shouldn’t say or do it online. Once you share something, remember that it is public, and anyone could potentially see it. Even if you post in a private room, there is no guarantee that the person or people you are talking to won't later share that information. Do your best to be careful and thoughtful about what you share with others.
Solutions Available for You
Data suggests online communication can help ease social anxiety. If you're looking for ways to improve your communication with other people, consider support groups or confidence-building exercises. These can help you to work on the skills you need to better interact with others.
Support groups are available for people who have difficulty communicating and can provide tips and ideas about how to connect and express yourself. By joining a support group comprised of people who also find it challenging to talk to people, you can learn more together and may even develop a bond due to your shared experiences.
Good places to learn about and practice confidence-building exercises are self-help books or online courses. These options don't necessarily require you to meet with others face-to-face, which allow you time to focus on learning things about yourself. The more you understand yourself, the more likely you are to push yourself in ways that may feel uncomfortable at first, like reaching out to new people.
Talking with your current friends can be another helpful option because through dialogue you can get a better understanding of how you interact with people. You want to be able to enjoy your life and meet new people. So, start by examining how you currently interact with those in your life. Talking to people online isn't going to be much different, except you have to type out your words instead of saying them aloud.
Struggling to make new friends and talk to people online is difficult for everyone. Humans are social creatures. We want to connect with others with whom we can share our lives and our stories and struggling to make those connections can be difficult. That's why it's important to know where you can turn to for assistance. Often help is just a mouse click away.
Therapy is a popular option for people looking to cope with stress and anxiety or to develop tools to help strengthen their communication and relationship skills. New research finds that internet-delivered therapy is as effective as in-person therapy. This study, conducted by Brigham Young University researchers, found that technology-based therapy also offers other added benefits including, “lower cost, no travel time, easy access, no waitlists, and trackable progress.”
BetterHelp is an online service that allows you to connect with a mental health professional without ever having to leave the comfort of your own home, making it a convenient choice for even the busiest of people. Know that when you log on, you can feel comfortable and safe speaking with a BetterHelp counselor due to the site’s anonymous nature.. Below you can read some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
“Laticia is a life saver. She has great energy and allows me to be myself during our sessions. She helps me with understanding my feelings and thoughts. She’s not afraid to tell me things I don’t want to hear. She gives me great tips, ideas, and exercises to help me with my communication skills, my anxiety, and relationships issues. I’m so happy I have her as my therapist. She is helping me through some difficult experiences in my life. Thank you, Laticia.”
“I have had a great experience working with Kayla. She's taught me some essential communication skills and is helping me lean into healthy habits and build support from many different areas. She's bringing insight into deep patterns and has overall been a kind, real, and delightfully funny support in my life. She's talented at what she does and has a real passion for it.”
Your life is waiting for you, and all those new friends you want to meet are waiting for you as well. You don't want to make them wait around for too long! Fulfilling relationships are within reach—all you need are the right tools. Take the first step today.
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