How to Ask Someone to Talk in Private

Being respectful of other people and their information or feelings matters. Understanding how to ask someone to talk in private and when to do so has an impact on your relationship with them.

It doesn’t matter if you are friends, family, know them casually, or you work with them. It can be difficult to bring up certain topics but may be necessary.

When asking someone for a private conversation, take advantage of a moment when others can’t hear you. Otherwise, rumors will quickly start, and the affected person will feel uncomfortable. The conversation should take place in person and not on the phone.

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Low Voice and Calm

When you ask someone to talk in private, try to do so in a low voice that is calm and even. You don’t want them to feel anxious about the request.

You don’t want others around to hear you ask and then they are guessing about what the big secret is. Try to be discreet about asking them.

If you can’t get them alone to do so, try to do it as low-key as possible.

Often, the other party will know what the request to talk privately involves. They will know the subject matter so you don’t have to bring that up. If they ask or they appear clueless, you can choose to disclose a bit more information as long as no one else is around to hear it. If you have to ask in front of others, being calm and casual helps them to mind their own business about what they heard.

Other Forms of Communication

When possible, share with someone you would like to talk to them privately by verbally telling them. That isn’t always possible though, and you may have to rely on other forms of communication.

You may need to call, text, or email them. It all depends on the situation and your relationship with them. Don’t have the actual discussion via those means though.

Always do it face to face if you can do so. If you can’t, a phone call should take place rather than texting or emailing so that you can have a back and forth conversation without misinterpretations along the way.

What to Say:

“I haven’t seen you lately, but I want us to talk privately. Can you let me know the best time and place for us to do so?”

“We need to talk about a few things, I would feel more comfortable for the two of us to meet. Can you do so on Wednesday morning?”

Behavior Is Upsetting You

How you allow someone to treat you sets the stage for future behavior. If someone is acting in a way that upsets you, let them know. Once they have that information, they will decide to change how they behave or they will disrespect you and continue with their ways.

You can’t expect them to know something doesn’t sit well with you if you haven’t shared that with them.

What to Say:

“It is loud in here, can you come outside with me for a minute so we can talk?”

“There is something on my mind, and I was wondering if we can meet for coffee tomorrow and talk privately?”

“Can you call me Tuesday so we can talk when no one else is around?”

“Let’s excuse ourselves and go talk in the bathroom, please.”

“Is there somewhere private the two of us can chat?”

Significant Other

As a couple, always be outwardly supportive of each other.

If something comes up when you are away from home, try to talk privately about it.

You can even have a code word with each other if you don’t want to make it obvious to others that you need to talk alone at that time. Don’t lash out at each other and don’t let resentment build.

What to Say:

“Can you help me in the other room for a minute?”

“Can we go outside for a bit?”

“I hate to pull you away but need to speak to you for a few minutes.”

“Is there a quiet place we can discuss this?”

“I need to share something with you alone.”

You Are Worried About Them

It can be hard to reach out to someone when you worry about them. On one hand, you feel like something just isn’t right and you can’t ignore it. On the other, you don’t want to be wrong or overstep your boundaries.

Some people get offended if they think you are being nosey and in their business. Never bring up something of that nature with other people around, it puts that person on the hot seat.

What to Say:

“I am worried about you; can we have lunch this week and talk about a few things?”

“Let’s go outside, there is something I want to ask you.”

“Do you want to leave early with me? There are a few things on my mind but I don’t want to bring them up in front of everyone.”

“Are you okay tonight? I feel like something is on your mind. Please call me tomorrow so we can talk.”

“We need to talk soon with no one else around. I am really worried about you.”

Finances

Never bring up anything financial in front of those that it doesn’t concern. It can be upsetting to someone. They don’t want their personal information shared.

Not all financial discussions are negative, but still, that information should be private.

What to Say:

“Can we go over the budget for that this weekend? We can meet at this little coffee shop you will love!”

“I am concerned about that taking place. I think we should review the information first. Can you come by the office Friday morning?”

“That seems like a good investment but I need more details. When is a good time for the two of us to discuss it?”

“The risk involved with that is steep, but maybe worth it in the end. Let’s not dive in, let’s review the pros and cons without any interruptions. When is a good time for you to do so?”

“I need to see the financial reports on that. I will have my office call you to schedule a meeting before the end of the month.”

Business Proposal

Business matters should always be done in private, especially when you are introducing a new idea or concept.

It should always be done privately when money is involved, that isn’t everyone’s business. Don’t openly have such discussions at events or a dinner!

What to Say:

“I know you are busy, but hoping we can carve out some time next week. I have some proposals to discuss with you.”

“Can I call your office to schedule a meeting? We need to talk about the project and how to best move it forward?”

“Can you come by my office Monday morning? I need to talk to you about the funding for the project.”

“I am excited to work with you, but have some questions. Can we have lunch to talk about it with just the two of us?”

“Before we bring everyone else in to discuss it, I would like to meet with you privately. When can we do so?”

Problems in the Workplace

When you are the boss, you never want to reprimand someone in front of others. It can be embarrassing to them.

It can cause other employees to feel insecure about their role there too. Always have such talks in private with them.

If necessary, get the discussion in writing too. This is necessary if they are being written up for their action.

What to Say:

“John, we need to talk. Can you come by my office in the morning before you go to your office?”

“Hi, I need to see you in my office today at 10 am, please.”

“I would like to talk with you, just us. Can you stay a few minutes after your shift today and visit with me?”

“I need to get some information from you. Please come to a meeting at 1 pm.”

“We need to discuss what just happened. Let’s get some coffee from the break room and find a private spot to talk.”

Praise and Encouragement

Not all private discussions are negative, but they should be done without an audience. This can be for the privacy of the other person. Often, they don’t want everyone else around them to know what is going on with them.

What to Say:

“I want to visit with you soon so we can talk about the extra work you are doing. It looks great for potential promotion in the future.”

“I would love to give you some pointers to boost your self-esteem. You have great ideas and I want you to be more vocal about sharing them. Can I buy you lunch on Friday to discuss it?”

“You seem down lately and I want to be there for you. Call me any night this week so we can talk. I will do all I can to help you through it.”

“You are doing a wonderful job. I wonder if I can talk to you privately about a few things in my office?”

“You seem nervous, do you feel out of place here? Come talk to me outside a bit before we join everyone else for the event.”

Sophie

Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.

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