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1. Never actually say, “We need to talk.” When we hear those four dreaded words, our experience tells us that “whatever follows is going to have all the appeal of a colonoscopy,” says David Matthews, author of Every Man Sees You Naked.

2. Tell us a secret. “Show us that you trust us by sharing something that you’ve never shared with anyone,” says Matthews. “If it’s of a sexual nature, all the better.” (Unless the secret is, say, I’ve slept with 500 dudes.) The openness makes us less guarded, it helps tear down our walls, and it encourages us to open up.

3. Be clear and specific. File under: So crazy it just might work. The sneakiest approach might just be, well, a direct one. “The average guy doesn’t communicate with words the way women do; they use their words more to convey information, rather than to form a connection,” says Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity. Try: “I want to talk about these problems I’ve been having with my mother, and I want to know if you think I should cut back on spending time with her.”

4. Camouflage it with an activity. This helps minimize eye contact, which men are hardwired to avoid, and eases him into the conversation. Take a long walk together, or share a meal—anything that makes whatever you want to talk about less intense.

5. Be Direct. (And stop talking about yourself.) Too harsh? Author and dude expert Chris Illuminati, who doesn’t mince words, says, “Don’t unload stories as long as novels on a dude and follow up with ‘So what’s going on with you?’ If you want your guy to talk, just ask him, but ask him at the right time.”

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