‘Talk with someone’ or talk with me usually means having a discussion with someone. I tell him or her what I think and I also listen to what he or she has to say. It’s a two-way interaction.
When we ‘talk to someone’ or talk to me, we are not always interested in their opinion, we just want to tell them what we think. It’s a one-way interaction.
So, when I say ‘talk to me’, I want somebody to say something to me.
‘Talk with me’ means I want to have a conversation/discussion with them.
- I need to talk to you. (There is something I would like to tell you.)
- I need to talk with you. (I want to hear what you think about something. I want to discuss it with you.)
Examples that highlight the difference between “talk to me” and “talk with me”:
Talk to me:
- Authoritative Context:
- A manager at work says, “Talk to me about your results this quarter.” This may suggest that the manager wants an update or a report.
- Emotional Context:
- Someone feeling out of the loop might say, “Why didn’t you talk to me about this earlier?” indicating they felt left out of crucial information.
- Inquisitive Context:
- A detective might say to a suspect, “Talk to me about where you were last night.” This is a directive and implies the detective wants answers.
- Supportive Context:
- A friend who noticed another friend looking sad might say, “Hey, talk to me. What’s going on?” expressing concern and offering an ear to listen.
Talk with me:
- Collaborative Context:
- A team member might say, “Can you talk with me about our presentation? I’d love to get your input.” This suggests a mutual exchange of ideas.
- Invitation for Dialogue:
- In a therapy session, a therapist might say, “Please talk with me about your feelings.” This implies a safe space for a two-way conversation.
- Casual Context:
- At a coffee shop, someone might approach an old friend and say, “Hey, do you have a few minutes to talk with me?” suggesting a friendly chat.
- Seeking Consensus:
- In a meeting, a colleague might say, “I’d like to talk with everyone about the upcoming event.” This implies a desire for group input and discussion.
However, the difference is very little as it always depends on one’s personal interpretation of what is more important: to tell someone what we want (talk to me) or to hear what they think (talk with me). Because ‘talk with’ suggests that we are interested in the other person’s opinion, it may sound more polite than ‘talk to’.