Trouble making conversation: Why it happens

Plenty of people don’t love making conversation, especially small talk. Some think they’re “bad” at it. Some are shy. But as long as they pick up on social cues, follow what people are saying, and talk in a way that makes sense, most do just fine.

Not everyone has those skills, however. Some people really do struggle with talking to others. This trouble with making conversation can have a big impact on self-esteem. It can also make it hard to fit in and make friends. And it can make people targets for bullying.

For kids, trouble making conversation can be a matter of development. Kids develop at different rates, and some just need a little more time. Other reasons both kids and adults might struggle to make conversation can be: 

  • Anxiety
  • Impulsivity
  • Being slower at processing  
  • Trouble with social skills
  • Trouble with language skills

Knowing the reasons behind trouble making conversation can help you figure out the best strategies for support. 

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About the author

About the author

Gretchen Vierstra, MA is the managing editor at Understood and co-host of the “In It” podcast. She’s a former educator with experience teaching and designing programs in schools, organizations, and online learning spaces.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Bob Cunningham, EdM has been part of Understood since its founding. He’s also been the chief administrator for several independent schools and a school leader in general and special education.