BNEC Articles

How to Avoid Awkward Silence that Most People Don’t Do

May 20, 2019 / Yessica Karen

Awkward silence: You are alone with a person you don’t know very well, you find yourself stuck because you can’t think of anything to say and the conversation turns to silence. Awkward. It sucks to be talking to someone and suddenly your mind goes blank and you can’t think of what to say. The good news is, you can do something about it. These are ways to avoid awkward silence and how to save yourself if you have entered awkward silent situation.

The most important thing to remember when you are trying to have an interesting conversation is to look for similarities (conversation threading). There are three main categories of commonalities that you can pull from at any time:

  1. People: You can liven up conversation by searching for mutual friends and contacts. People love talking about other people. It’s an easy way to start chatting.
  2. Context: What if you don’t have anything in common? Well, you’ve both found yourselves in the same place. You can just ask, “What brings you here today?” to get the conversation going.
  3. Interests: Share interests by introducing a topic you both know a lot about, which can easily create great stories and natural conversation.

If someone says, “Oh, I don’t know her,” or “Nope, never been here before,” don’t panic. Use that as an opener. You can say, “Yeah, it is a pretty big school. I think she is studying political science here. What do you study?” or, “Me neither! Do you have any favorite local restaurant?”

But what if you still run out of things to say and the silence still happen? Don’t panic. Don’t stress yourself out immediately, thinking that you needed to fill it somehow. When the silence makes you feel uncomfortable, the other person would also become uncomfortable. It is the discomfort after the silence that created the awkwardness, not the silence. So the big key is to see silence as no big deal. Keep in mind that this article is not about how to avoid silence, but how to avoid awkward silence.

Just relax when it is silent, stay comfortable in the situation, and observe what is happening around you. Situational comments are an easy, natural way to “restart” conversations. Try to keep your attention focused on the external world. It’s much easier to have something to say when you focused on things around you rather than trying to force your brain to create something new to say.

Allow the silence to happen. Don’t think that you have to entertain or impress others, be sure that they will like you even if you aren’t “on” all the time.

Extra tips:

  • Just Blurt. It is hard to keep a conversation going, not because we can’t think of anything to say, but because we are afraid that the other person won’t enjoy that particular subject. Blurting means saying whatever you’re thinking about in that moment. Give it a try, and you’ll discover that people can enjoy a lot of things in a conversation.
  • Force yourself to meet new people. You can even learn from others who are socially skilled.