5 Rules for Conversing With Busy People

Sometimes, especially in your professional life, you’ll deal with people who are very busy. People who are flooded with tasks and responsibilities, and they have little time for casual conversation.

Unsurprisingly, these individuals who are very busy also tend to be very successful, capable and knowledgeable, so it’s in your interest to befriend them. But how do you talk to such a person in order to make friends with them?

For the most part, talking to a busy person is the same as talking to any other person. The same principles apply. However, there are a few specific rules that apply for conversing with busy people in particular. I’d like to share these rules with you in the following paragraphs.

1. Remember That Even Busy People Are Social Creatures

Just because a person is busy doesn’t mean they don’t want to chat with others and they don’t enjoy it. They just don’t have that much time for it so they have to prioritize their conversations. But busy people can be very social and friendly. Like anyone else, they have a deep-seated need to socialize and make friends.

This is important to keep in mind because it’s easy to assume that since a person is very busy, they’re also gonna be very grouchy and distant, and so it’s not worth trying to talk to them. But in reality, this is rarely the case. And the more you make conversation with busy people, the more you’ll experience this yourself.

2. Don’t Try to Prove Yourself

Folks who do a lot of things and their time is in great demand are likely to trigger in us feelings of inferiority or inadequacy. We feel we’re not good enough for them to give us a piece of their time and attention. Consequently, when the give us their time and attention, we decide to use it to showcase our assets and prove ourselves to them.

Let me tell you: there is no bigger turnoff for a busy person than somebody trying to impress them. Yes, they know they’re capable and in demand, but it doesn’t mean they expect others to try and prove themselves to them. In fact, most of them see this as very needy behavior.

The best use of your time interacting with a busy person is in relating to them authentically, not in trying to impress them. Focus on making conversation and creating a connection, not on proving yourself. You have nothing to prove.

3. Spend More Time in Their Reality

busyUsually when making conversation with another person, I recommend you find topics that you both enjoy equally, and talk about those. So if the conversation lands on a topic you fancy, but the other person doesn’t seem to resonate with it, you try to change the topic, just as you try to change it in the reverse situation.

When dealing with a busy person though, since their time is in high demand, your favorite topics take a slight backseat to theirs. It usually makes sense to make an extra effort and unsure they find the subjects you talk about meaningful.

This often entails being curious, asking open-ended questions, and once you’ve found a topic they enjoy talking about, exploring that topic. Spend time in their reality. I’m not saying you should torture yourself with conversation about stuff you have zero interest in, but do try a bit more than usual to accommodate the other person. One way or another, it will pay off.

4. Get to the Point

Busy people have little patience for evasive communicators who beat around the bush. Their time is highly valuable. So they don’t need you to sugar coat your messages that much; they just want you to get to the point and say what you have to say.

Interestingly enough, even though they prefer a direct style of communication, busy individuals are the most likely to deal with an indirect style of communication. This is because they intimidate most people and most people are very fearful of upsetting them, so they beat round the bush.

Make sure you don’t make the same mistake most people make though. Get to the point when talking with a busy person. Be clear and straightforward in your communication. They will take pleasure in talking with you more and they will respect you more.

5. Don’t Hesitate to Reschedule

Even the busiest people have moments during the day when their time is unsolicited and it’s convenient for them to chat. But they’re not frequent. So it’s often possible that you engage such a person, and you quickly realize they’re not in such a moment.

Sensing that it’s not a good moment for them to chat, most of us do one of two things: either we end the conversation abruptly so they can get back to other stuff, or we speed up our speaking rate, often to the point where it becomes downright comical.

I would like to suggest a better alternative: reschedule. If you find the moment isn’t good for the other person to chat, acknowledge this and schedule some other time. For example, say something like: “Listen I notice you’re busy. Maybe we can continue this conversation some other time. Wanna have lunch together today for instance?”

I reschedule conversations like this all the time, and I find it to be an amazingly elegant and effective approach. Give it a try.

Making quality conversation is a skill. And making quality conversation with busy people is even more so. It takes a certain level of understanding of human psychology and social dynamics to be a good conversationalist, as well a certain amount of practice. I’ve provided some of the understanding in this article. Putting it into practice is up to you.

Enjoy yourself!

Image courtesy of herlitz_pbs



  1. Hm. This helps a bit although this is more for some one you already know in person. I feel irresponsible for even trying to get to know people in my situation but I probably should not feel that way. Actually I think I’m feeling fairly needy emotionally because she doesn’t ask about me and I don’t talk much about me at all. Yet I feel she wants or wanted to know me on some level. If I message her I get nearly instant response just haven’t been able to keep talking about her responses. We both feel robotic / busy to me.

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