Awkward silences are a normal part of most conversations which is fine.
The secret is to keep them from dragging on too long.
Has this ever happened to you?
It’s very uncomfortable!
Back in the day I remember being so awkward in social settings.
So uncomfortable that I would either pound back enough liquid courage to work up the confidence to put myself out there or just play it small and stay quiet all night.
But eventually I did get better.
I embraced the feeling of discomfort and gradually took the right steps to address what was really holding me back.
Not knowing how to create an engaging conversation!
Working as a bartender/server, taking a public speaking class in university, and even hiring a social confidence coach all contributed to making that shift.
Today I can comfortably walk into pretty much any social situation and know that I can strike up a conversation with anybody.
Having this confidence has made a noticeable difference when it comes to avoiding awkward silences.
Just imagine being able to walk into any room and feeling comfortable in any situation.
Here’s what it takes…
1) When In Doubt, Always Ask About The Other Person
Dale Carnegie made a point of this in “How To Win Friends And Influence People.”
He says that one of the six ways to make people like you is to sincerely make the other person feel important.
It’s not often that people show genuine interest in one another.
A lot of the time it comes with a hidden agenda.
So when an opportunity to share their thoughts presents itself, most outgoing people will take advantage to open up.
2) Avoid Small Talk At All Costs
It’s generally boring and doesn’t usually lead to engaging conversation.
Though it is a great way to open up a conversation, you’ll want to shift the focus to more interesting topics once you get the ball rolling.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve actually found small talk especially helpful in specific situations.
It always come in handy on days when I’m either feeling tired or haven’t done much socializing beforehand.
A great analogy would be to compare this to the idea of NBA players shooting free throws before the game starts.
Small talk helps you avoid the dreaded awkward silences.
3) Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Deeper Questions
Most people would prefer to play it safe.
That means sticking to surface level conversations that typically lead to nowhere.
Of course before you start diving deeper you need to read your audience first.
This approach likely won’t work with someone if they seem more private.
You’re more likely to rub them the wrong way if that’s the case.
Your best bet is to gradually increase the intensity of your questions as the conversation progresses.
This way you can avoid biting off more than you can chew.
4) Don’t Work Hard…Work Smart
This means doing a little homework ahead of time.
Come prepared with a few relevant topics you can fall back on in case your conversations lose momentum.
Aim for at least three topics to choose from.
This will give you enough to work with in case you hit an awkward silence.
Ideally one or two of them will resonate with anyone you’re talking to.
5) Always Listen More Than You Speak
This mistake is way too common!
In hopes of saying the right thing, most people have a pre-loaded response that they’re just waiting to blurt out.
Not only is this a conversation killer but it could also come across as rude.
Taking that approach basically means that you’re not paying attention to what the other person’s saying.
This often results in a one-way conversation.
Your best bet is to practise the habit of biting your tongue (not literally).
A simple ratio that’ll come in handy is the 80/20 principle.
Listen 80% of the time and speak 20% of the time.
This way you’re more likely to think of something witty or thoughtful to respond with.
6) Point Out The Elephant In The Room
Accepting that awkward silences are inevitable is your first step to overcoming them.
One way to do so is by directly addressing them.
The key here is ALL in your tonality.
You’ll want to deliver it with a cheeky tone of voice (only if it comes naturally to you).
When done properly you can create a brand new chain of conversations — like how uncomfortable awkward silences can be.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read today’s article!
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