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How to Make Someone Talk

So you want to make someone talk, huh? Good for you, Fancy Interrogation Pants. This can certainly be arranged. As you may imagine, there are many, many ways to make someone talk. Tweak the scenario just right, and you can get even the most secretive creatures to sing like a canary.

I know what you're thinking: "Oh! Oh! Let's talk torture!! Torture torture!!"

Oh, we'll talk torture, honey. But there is more than one way to skin a cat. Believe it or not, there are quite a few ways to make someone talk- torture included -and we'll discuss them here. By the time you've finished reading, you'll have a enough lip-loosening tricks to sink an entire fleet.

You will find these methods quite convenient and versatile- most can be used anywhere from an elementary school playground to a bunker-based interrogation room. Enjoy.

Know What to Ask & Ask It

The most common and embarrassing mistake in made in the game of making someone talk involves not knowing what to ask. People go great lengths to get information, and then completely flub the opportunity once their opponents finally open up.

Yes yes, it's about the journey not the destination, but when it comes to getting information, you really have to keep your priorities straight. So before you even begin to consider strategies for getting someone to share a secret, you'll have to be sure you know exactly what secret you want revealed.

Once you have done your homework, consider the extent to which you'll actually have to employ drastic measures to get your information. Do you really have to make an effort here, or can you just ask?

Believe it or not, folks are much more open than you think they might be. And believe it or not, people are way more cowardly about asking direct questions than one might expect.

Nine times out of ten, the information you need from someone can be obtained by the simple act of asking said person about the issue in question directly. The only thing stopping you is a stifling level of cowardice and impotence.

Play Nice

Though it is rather fun to be all rough and tough and intimidating, coercing someone into talking isn't all that productive. When you push someone into a corner, he or she is bound to put his/her guard up. As soon as you put someone on the defensive, you've already shot yourself in the foot.

If at all possible, you should try to get information from people by lulling them into an (albeit false) sense of security. Gain their trust. Make it clear you're on their side. Paint each others' toenails, if that's what it takes.

You will be amazed by how much information you can coax out of someone once you have been deemed non-threatening and trustworthy. Yes, such relationships of trust take time to develop, but it can take just as long to break someone who doesn't trust you- if you are lucky enough to gain access to said person.

So swallow that pride and make some frenemies, compadre. It is the most effective way to go. When you feel really gross about it, just pretend to be Sidney Bristow on some crazy under-cover mission. It'll be fun!

Only Bond Girls Make THIS Man Talk

Use Sex as Leverage!

Like I said, you can get much farther, information-wise, by playing nice than by playing rough, and what play is nicer than sexy time, right kids?

Let us consider the Bond Case. James Bond has been in lots of situations where folks want him to talk. In many of these situations, people shout at him loudly- in menacing tones, even! Does he talk? No!! Sometimes, they resort to violence, even torture. Does he talk? No! (Well... actually yes, but only in witticisms).

When does James Bond spill the beans? When he lets is guard down. When does he let his guard down? When he has the sexy time! Think about it. The only time when real information really gets passed on to the evil folks is when James Bond gets some Evil Bond Girl Action.

Such wisdom is by no means limited to Bond films. Consider all the other great spy movies and shows out there! When daring agents aren't kicking major arse, they're lulling their enemies into a false sense of security with their hotness. I mean, gosh, was that not what 90% of the plot in Alias? It's like... common protocol.

What's the lesson here? Use sex to disarm people to make them talk (or just to take them out and get the intel on your own).

Note: I'm a perfectly moral being. I don't advise you to use sex as a manipulative weapon. Unless the person you wish to manipulate is hot. Then please, go for it.

Oh look! A hipster fight! Oh yeah, where did you mention you were last night?

Oh look! A hipster fight! Oh yeah, where did you mention you were last night?

Catch 'em off guard

Obviously the whole point of developing friendly relationships with your opponent is to catch said information-holder with his or her guard down. But what if you don't have time to develop rapport or trust? Don't worry, you can always resort to distraction.

If you can manage to get someone thinking along a different line of thought and operating within a different schema (one, ideally, in which they are not concerned with guarding information), you will be more likely to get this person to dish.

The key to getting someone to talk by catching him or her off guard is a sudden shift in conversation. One moment, you're drinking and laughing like crazy, the next you slip (amidst various other questions) a casual, off-hand query, and before you know it, the cat's out of the bag!

The main weakness to this tactic is that, unless your opponent is particularly hammered, you will only have once chance to catch him or her off guard before inciting suspicion. So be stealthy, quiet, and casual- and shoot to kill!

A great option for the more cerebral, practical secret-holders.

A great option for the more cerebral, practical secret-holders.

Go Quid Pro Quo

If your opponent is too savvy or cold-hearted to be lulled into a false sense of security with fake friendship, and too-ugly to be worth the coercion-via-sex approach, your next best bet for getting those beans to spill involves a little quid pro quo.

Hopefully you will have something that your information-hoarding frenemy needs. Perhaps it is money. Perhaps it is a limited edition Beanie Baby. Whatever it is, you've got to find your opponent's carrot and dangle it for all it's worth. Bribery, after all, makes the world go round, never mind all those silly laws.

If the carrot doesn't work, go for the stick. I'm talking blackmail. It's so fun; so cinematic! And let's face it, each and every human on this earth has a skeleton or two hanging in the closet. Heck, I've got a whole crypt locked away in my flat.

Finding sensitive information might cost you, but your opponent's information in exchange for your silence shall certainly be worth a little extra expense (which, honestly, is lower these days than it ever was before, considering how much can be obtained via the internet).

Now for the Fun Part: Torture!

When all else fails, torture remains. I know what you're thinking - "Why choose the most fun method as a last resort???"

Well sonny, it simply ain't that effective.

And here's a second big letdown: physical torture is not nearly as effective as psychological torment. I know, I know, I just totally burst your bubble. I'm sorry. Really. But since we're talking torture, let's at least touch on the most easy and effective methods:

Sleep Deprivation & Exhaustion

One of the most tried and true methods of torture involves forcing detainees into a state of extreme exhaustion via physical excertion and sleep deprivation.

Though this proposition may seem daunting, don't worry. If you're a mother of a newborn, just unload your baby on the victim for a couple of days. They'll be begging to tell you everything they know in no time flat.

The DMV - democratizing torture

The DMV - democratizing torture

Sensory Deprivation & Depersonalization

These are two additional effective psychological torture methods. Both sound very fancy, and I'll admit that most of the bigwigs pull out the big guns with special cells and trained professionals for this kind of thing, but luckily for you, anyone can be subjected to both forms of torment quite easily.

Simply send your victim to the DMV.


Believe it or not, music can be used as a weapon. Even the United States government has been known to use certain songs to intimidate and torture poor, doomed individuals. If you're not sure which songs to start with, consider these little ditties used by the US (and other countries) as torture devices in various bases in Iraq and Afghanistan:

  • "Dirty" by Christina Aquilera: Oh. Brutal. And a common weapon yielded in Guantanamo Bay
  • "Born in the USA" by Bruce Springsteen: Another Gitmo classic. Your opponent won't last more than 15 minutes
  • "Anything" by Barry Manilow: Actually used by the NZ-based town of Christchurch to drive away local hooligans
  • "Shoot to Thrill" or "Hells Bells" by AC/DC: Sure, they're fun to listen to the first time, but play these on a loop and even you will want to divulge secrets- just in a vain attempt to drown out the cacophony (Note: these songs also have decent track records when used as Somali pirate repellant)
  • "These Boots Were MAde for Walking" by Nancy Sinatra: I love this song. But apparently the FBI thinks it is strong enough to intimidate scary cult leaders like David Koresh
  • "I Love You" by Barney the Dinosaur: Only use on your worst of enemies. This will cause permanent damage and should only be used as a last resort

Surely after perusing this list, you will have realized just how serious torture is. Such tactics are wielded at a great risk. If your opponent is not too damaged by your methods to speak, he or she will certainly never be the same after you've coaxed out the information via violence.

So consider the alternate methods outlined above. They're far more fun - and you just might have an easier time.

Go For It!

No two people, or situations are alike, so the sorts of tactics you shall have to employ to make someone talk shall vary widely. In all likelihood, all you shall need to do is ask someone directly what you need to know. If that fails, get buddy-buddy, use sex, catch people off-guard, bribe, or blackmail your opponent into a divulgence... or utilize torture.

Share Your Methods!

This guide is all about sharing information, so do your part and pitch in! What do you do to make people talk? Share your intel in the comments below!


GalaxyRat on June 09, 2017:

Will use on my siblings. LOL!

enicholson on February 01, 2014:

The gift of gab will take you in many directions. I have literally went up to someone and started a coversation by saying "Corn" that's it, and with in 5 minutes knew where they were from, how many kids they had, and how long they had been married. The thing is you have to volunteer a little information about yourself, before someone will talk.

Jack on September 26, 2011:

great writing, not so insightful but this was an entertaining read.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on September 02, 2011:

Oh how dreadfully inconvenient that must be, leroy64!!

And huh... maybe you're right. Perhaps sex is blind!

I would try to listen to "Dirty" on a loop, but usually I'm bleeding by the first 15 second mark.... but goodness, sir, how can you not have the Barney song? I would think it's a bigger hit than any danceable top chart song! Though... I guess I don't have it on hand either.

Now you make a SERIOUSLY GOOD POINT about regretting it when people start spilling the beans. This whole issue of getting people to talk is a rare one... usually folks talk way too much.

And what a good point about blackmailing, too! I suppose, then, that blackmailing only works when a relatively feckless person is so convinced that harmless secrets are really worse than they are. I also suppose that this is very easy to do, as most people have very inflated senses of self.

At any rate, thanks for the awesome comment and for reading the Hub!

Brian L. Powell from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff) on September 02, 2011:


All I usually have to do is start watching the Cowboys play and someone shows up to talk.

I have a few issues with this article:

When I offer to paint someone's toes, I come across as intimidating.

I don't understand this phrase: "and too-ugly to be worth the coercion-via-sex approach,". That makes no sense to me.

That music list is all on my IPod playlist, except for the Barney song. I know Christina Aguilera's song "Dirty" is not torture when listened to on a loop.

Usually, when I hear someone talking about their secrets, I regret getting them to open up.

You should warn people that anyone who has done something bad enough to be blackmailed will know how to handle a blackmailer. It's usually easier just to release the information and destroy them.

Great Hub, I really enjoyed reading it.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on September 02, 2011:

Bwahahahaa, eeeeeexcellent daskittlez69. Go forth and get dem secrets!

daskittlez69 from midwest on September 01, 2011:

Thanks to your Hub, I am now ready to be a spy.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on June 09, 2011:

The Bristow Tactic makes all the difference, juanb16! Believe me.

juanb16 from Provo, UT on June 09, 2011:

This really caught my attention: When you feel really gross about it, just pretend to be Sidney Bristow on some crazy under-cover mission. It'll be fun!

Great hub btw, compadre c:

Katharella from Lost in America on May 19, 2011:

I'm glad you liked it Simone!! They give a lot of good info don't they?! Some episodes I watched twice, they get tricky!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 19, 2011:

So true. So very true.

Ren Chin on May 18, 2011:

chuckles. jedi mind tricks are always the best way to make someone talk

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 16, 2011:

Just watched the first two episodes, Katharella! It's so cool!!! I've definitely got to keep on watching. Thanks so much for the recommendation! I'm always on the lookout for good things to watch :D

And daaaang fucsia! Your BOYFRIEND pulled the sleep dep trick on you? Intense boyfriend, that man! But I'm with you. Sleep dep will make me sing like a canary. And murder like a monster.

You just wait, Om Paramapoonya! You'll talk someday!!!

Katharella from Lost in America on May 12, 2011:

Simone, I hate to bother you but have you had an opportunity to rent Lie To Me? I just think you'll really like it, since you made this hub! It's really interesting, and I think it is like.. maybe considered a drama, but they can be funny too! Especially the teenager! :) (I didn't want to give away any plot spoil so I'll wait for you to see who the teenager is!) :)

Om Paramapoonya on May 12, 2011:

......................*awkward silence*................ :P

fucsia on May 12, 2011:

I am laughing because many years ago my boyfriend, to make me talk, has used the tourture of sleep deprivation and exhaustion. I realy did not know the power of this kind of tourture but, believe me: it works!

I said one thing that only few hours before I was convinced I would never have confessed!

Great Hub, very original topic, even if can be a bit "dangerous" for balance of some relationships!

Katharella from Lost in America on May 10, 2011:

OH Lie To Me is a saga, if you have netflix it WAS on freeplay.. if not either way it's a great saga!! They reveal soooo much! -but on the alcohol note, my ex husband was an alcoholic and after 5 years I could tell when he was truly believing his own lies. I didn't mean to say they don't lie! Like, no matter how drunk he got, and swore he didn't cheat. He denied it so many times, no amount of alcohol could get him to tell the truth. That's WHY I had to corner his friend, that how I got the truth! He didn't understand WHY I left him! lol But with RealHousewife, if the person doesn't drink often, they haven't learned how to believe their own lies yet.

You're going to LOVE Lie To Me!!! Let me know when you see some episodes!! :)

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 10, 2011:

Hurray! My first frenemy! There is certainly a gimmick to make you talk, Wesman Todd Shaw. Just keep my NSA work on the down-low. If they find out I've got SS roots, too, they'll sack me.

I've GOT to see Payback, Winsome. Thanks for the recommendation! And it is rather true that getting people to shut up is typically harder than getting them to dish =___= ... but that would make for a great Hub! Hmmm... on it.

And I have NOT seen Lie to Me, Katharella- I'm so intrigued! Off to rent it, I am!

Thanks for stopping by, livelonger, and OMG RealHousewife - I had not even THOUGHT of alcohol! Duh! Of course!!! Though I suppose you're right, Katharella- folks could still lie when they're drunk.

And that's the real trouble, isn't it Phillbert! I've never really known anyone who has dirt worth dishing.

Phillip Drayer Duncan from The Ozarks on May 09, 2011:

hahaha I love it! This was a great read! Now its time to start squeezing info out of people! Mawhahaha... Now if I only knew some people with anything interesting to hide

Katharella from Lost in America on May 09, 2011:

This is a great hub! You really can learn a lot by a person by not only what they DO say, but what they DON'T say too! Even an inexperienced person can get a good vibe off of a person and know really what they are thinking. My friend used to let me do all the hiring for him for Blockbuster Music (when they actually had music stores) some of the apps I picked didn't look so great on paper, but I told called him a pencil pusher LOL, and said 'read between the lines' and yeah, the people I picked not only were the best workers, they filled in on days when he couldn't make it in, and two of the girls I picked, ended up being assistant managers. RH: Don't always let alcohol fool you, sometimes a drunk mind will talk too much, but other times they're practiced liars. But the thing is, they lie so much they BELIEVE it, so to them it's not a lie. Off guard is the best way, and again, what they DON'T say. Lack in communication speaks louder than screams. Definitely a great hub :)

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on May 09, 2011:

Simone - you didn't mention prying them with alcohol! My former boss used to say that I could get anything out of anyone - true. Loose lips sink ships and after a couple of brewski's ask away! I would lull them into a false sense of security then BAM! Haha!

Great hub!!

Jason Menayan from San Francisco on May 08, 2011:

Funny...and useful! This was an entertaining, and educational, read. :)

Katharella from Lost in America on May 07, 2011:

First I have to say:

AustinStar: You are SO RIGHT! I watched a documentary on how music effects the brain differently than other sounds! It can make an angry person happy/vise versa, lull them to sleep, etc. When I tested it on myself (good ol treadmill) some good dance music actually got me to do another much dreaded 4 minutes of walking just to because I wanted to hear the song. I have a friend who has the motto "I see music" and woah, I believe he does! Infinite music database he is! lol.

David! Hello, remind me to watch out if Hubpages let's us incorporate music to our pages LOL! (Glad to make you laugh this morning though!):) ::whew:: on his good side lol!

DearAbbysMom & Ms. Menagerie: I'm with you! Barney and I might blurt out all my secrets LOL! (Ok it was me I pushed the red button aah) lol!

Simone: GREAT HUB Oh, I wanted to ask you as soon as I started reading if you've ever seen the show Lie To Me. It's an HBO special where they learn body language and the likes to learn actions of people! I bet you'd find it highly interesting! A friend once told my ex husband to keep him away from him because I backed him into a corner and he accidentally told me my husband had been cheating!!! LOL! I felt it, I just needed some evidence.. like you say, anything short of tying him up and playing Barney, I needed to KNOW! (cept he hadn't been invented yet) LOL! But catch that show if you can!

Also, (David ya reading.. my year 89? lol) In 1989, also the infamous Noriega was ran out of hiding by playing much hated Heavy Metal, in which made him surrender in 1990!

\m/ -a little heavy metal symbolism for an fyi :) lol

Winsome from Southern California by way of Texas on May 07, 2011:

I just watched Payback with Mel Gibson and Lucy Liu in which Lucy delights in the torture method to get her BF to talk for bad guy Porter (Gibson.) Her "Hubba hubba." is appropriate for this article and you may enjoy her sense of fashion as she does her worst.

I have found that getting people to stop talking is often the more difficult task. Maybe your sequel could explore that. Your initials--SS may give a clue to your preference--"You veel talk ven I get through with you." =:)

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on May 07, 2011:

Well Simone, I'd be perfectly delighted to paint your toenails, if that's what it takes.

"frenemies" - I love pop culture invented words!

I live in absolute terror of some online police officer telling the boys and girls down at the station how they tricked me into talking about this and that. . . except I have one of the best noses in the world for such persons - but surely someone somewhere has an evil alter gimmick for all of my gimmicks?

Aha! This Simone Smith person who works at Hubpages.com is just a ruse! "Simone Smith" is really NSA extraordinaire!"

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 06, 2011:


Mrs. Menagerie from The Zoo on May 06, 2011:

I'm with dearabbysmom,

Please, please, don't bring out the BARNEY!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 06, 2011:

Yeah- trust and confidence are the best, as you point out, jpcmc, though when the going gets tough, one can always resort to... toughness! And boy... so true, KoffeeKlatch Gals... if the DMV doesn't crack one, nothing will.

I imagine you'll never need to use anything beyond your emotional intelligence, David Warren... but if you must, I say go straight for Barney!

David Warren from Nevada and Puerto Vallarta on May 05, 2011:

I'm a master listener and more often than not can extract any information I'm seeking from anyone but if time was of the essence and my patience grew short some of the more painful measures sound interesting,lol. Great Hub! Voted up and Funny!

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on May 05, 2011:

Simone, I personally like the idea of sleep deprivation and torture, my favorite - sending them to the DMV. If that doesn't do it nothing will.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on May 05, 2011:

Establishing trust and confidence are great ways to make people talk. But you're running out of time, perhaps coercion or some level of pain can do the trick. LOL

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 05, 2011:

Very true, anglnwu!

anglnwu on May 05, 2011:

Wow, all great ideas. Personally, I find that taking time to know a person will help to open up the talking channel.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 05, 2011:

Wow, I had no idea, Austinstar. No wonder!

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on May 05, 2011:

Music does reach a part of the brain that speech doesn't. I can see how it could be weaponized. Especially since most people have strong reactions to music. Good idea!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 05, 2011:

Yeah, who would have thought that music- POPULAR music even- could be so easily weaponized???

BlissfulWriter on May 05, 2011:

Wikipedia says that "The United Nations and the European Court of Human Rights have banned the use of loud music in interrogations, but it is still being widely used." Band Metallica, Barney, and Sesame Street have all been used against prisoners.

dearabbysmom from Indiana on May 05, 2011:

I would probably say anything to not have to listen to Barney sing. How effective!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 04, 2011:

So very true, Hyphenbird and drbj!! Secrets are scarce, these days. I love it!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on May 04, 2011:

When you get people talking about themselves there is practically no limit to what you can learn. Nod your head at appropriate times, listen intently and look at them as if they they are the most spellbinding conversationalists you ever came across. Works every time.

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on May 04, 2011:

Most people are so proud of themselves they talk constantly about their life. They will spill the beans and count them in front of anyone!

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