Home Blog How To Avoid Awkward Silence During A Conversation

How To Avoid Awkward Silence During A Conversation

How To Avoid Awkward Silence During A Conversation

Do you know that research reveals that it only takes four seconds of awkward silence before your anxiety skyrockets? And the more anxious you feel, the less articulate you’ll be, further damaging the conversation.

The worst thing about awkward silence isn’t the lull itself, but the fact that it ruins what could’ve been an awesome conversation and prevents you from getting to know an otherwise amazing person.

Fortunately, there are ways you can prevent the conversation from stalling, and with a little practice, you can break free from awkward conversations and handle conversations effectively like a pro!

The Psychology Behind Why Awkward Silences Happen

The psychology behind the awkward silences.

Awkward silences don’t happen because you were born socially awkward. In order for you to avoid an uncomfortable lull during a conversation, you must first learn what causes it. Listed below are the most common reasons why awkward silence happen:

  1. One of you runs out of things to say.
  2. One of you gives a too short or a one-word response.
  3. One of you accidentally blurts something weird or unexpected that the other person doesn’t know how to respond to.
  4. One of you misunderstood a turn-yielding or suppressing signal of whose turn it is to speak.
  5. One of you says something that offended the other person, making them uncertain on how to respond.
  6. One of you wants to put the conversation to an end.
  7. One of you is unwilling to talk.
  8. One of you misinterprets a comfortable, brief silence as awkward, making the situation awkward for real.
  9. One of you is uncertain about how to respond to something the other person said.
  10. One of you is too nervous to talk.

By understanding what’s the reason behind the awkward silence, it will be easier for you to navigate through the conversation better and prevent awkward silence from happening.

The Thread Theory: The Ultimate Communication Strategy

The Thread Theory is an effective communication technique that not only helps in opening a conversation but also how to never run out of things to say.

1. Find the thread.

A thread is something you and the person you’re talking to may have in common. These are the three primary categories of commonalities you can pull ideas from:

  1. People: Mutual friends are a great, easy way to keep the conversation going. You can also avoid the lull by mentioning any of your friends you think they might know. People naturally love talking about other people for some reason.
  2. Context: This is where you can use something you both have in common to your advantage. Can’t think of anything on the top of your head? Well, you’ve both found yourselves in Chat line. You can start by simply asking, “So, what brings you here?”
  3. Interests: Shared interests introduce a topic that both of you are knowledgeable and passionate about, which allows a great conversation to flow naturally.

If the other person says “Oh, I don’t know her,” or “I’m not really into arts,” don’t panic. Instead, use it to your advantage to keep the conversation going. You can respond by saying, “Yeah! It’s a pretty big neighborhood. I think she works at this restaurant in the city. Where do you work?” or “Well, everyone is into different things. What are you into?”

The key to avoiding awkward silences is to learn how to turn dead-ends into potential topics to lengthen the conversation. Remember that every answer you get to every question you ask puts you one more step deeper into the conversation.

2. Follow the thread.

The thread theory isn’t solely about determining the similarities you share, but it’s also about exploring them. When you find a commonality, don’t let it pass by — use it to your advantage to avoid conversation downtime.

You can do it by asking how they met that mutual friend, how did they come to figure out that they’re passionate about this hobby you are both interested in, or how they got started in the business you both work in.

Asking “you-questions” is a brilliant, easy way to lengthen the conversation. When you include “you” in your questions, it makes the questions more interesting to the other person and creates an emotional connection between the two of you. 

Here are some amazing you-questions that can help you follow the thread to keep the conversation going:

  • How did you get into (insert shared occupation)?
  • What do you love the most about (insert shared interest)?
  • Why did you decide to become a (insert shared interest)?

3. Create ties.

This is the last step of the thread theory, an optional step reserved for special interactions. If you want to take your connection to the next level, you can use your common thread to create ties. Creating ties is the act of offering any form of help, support, or advice, enabling you to enter a more intimate level of bond and be comfortable with each other. 

Here are some example statements you can use during a conversation to create ties:

  • Since you’re new in town, I can suggest a few of my favorite local restaurants you can try out.
  • I’m sure I know someone in that industry, shoot me an email and I’ll introduce you.
  • I have already traveled to that place, I can send you an itinerary that worked for me if you like.

If nothing specific comes up during a conversation, you can extend an open offer by simply saying, “If there’s anything I can help you with, let me know.” Not only does providing an open offer to create a tie, but it also allows the other person to feel a deeper connection with you, making them feel at ease around you.

The more comfortable you feel with each other, the lesser awkward silence will occur within the conversation.

5 Tips To Avoid Awkward Silence During A Conversation

Tips to avoid awkward silence during a phone conversation.

Following the thread theory and keeping these helpful tips in mind will help you break the cycle of awkward silences.

1. Stop overthinking and just say what you want to say.

We are often so careful about what we say that we start overthinking. Don’t get me wrong — there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being careful about the words coming out of our mouth.

In fact, it’s a good thing! But if what you want to say isn’t offensive by all means, then it should be okay to blurt it out. Because the longer you overthink, the longer the awkward silence will be.

2. Talk about feelings and opinions instead of facts.

A brilliant, easy way to keep a conversation going is to get the other person to talk. And a great way to get the other person to talk is to ask about their feelings and opinions.

People are naturally more emotionally invested in things closely connected to their identities such as their dreams, aspirations, passions, hobbies, personality, experiences, interests, accomplishments, and any subject that is related to them.

As much as we don’t like to admit it, we love to talk about ourselves and anything that is going on in our lives, especially the good things!

3. Do the talking instead of asking questions.

Some people don’t want to do all the talking and want you to talk so they’d feel more comfortable. When you keep asking someone questions when they’re feeling shy, you put the pressure on them. If you’re talking to someone who doesn’t talk a lot, it’s your responsibility to do all the talking instead of asking questions.

You can start by simply telling them a story about something you did over the weekend. You can say something like, “So, I tried this new sushi place in the neighborhood the other day. I had tuna sashimi and ramen.” 

You’re basically just telling a story while allowing the other person to jump in whenever they want to say something. The point is, your story doesn’t have to have a point on why you’re telling them. This may sound weird until you try doing it.

Even the most charismatic people do it all the time and you just don’t notice it because it sounds so natural. This tip works best when you’re talking to someone who doesn’t like to do all the talking.

4. Use the conversational threading method.

The conversational threading method is the process of using previous subjects as a topic when you run out of things to say. Here are some examples of conversational threading:

You said you visited Greece not too long ago, right? How was it?

How was the art class you mentioned last time?

Did you manage to get your apartment sold?”

5. Accept that silence can be a sign to end the conversation.

Not all silences are a bad thing, sometimes it’s just a sign that the conversation is coming to an inevitable end. After all, you can’t keep conversations forever. So, when things are starting to get quiet and you’ve done all your pleasantries and small talk, perhaps it’s time to wrap up.

Here are some ways you can end the conversation politely:

Something came up, but I’m looking to chatting with you again.

I gotta go now, but it was amazing catching up with you!

Anyway, I’ll let you get back to what you’re doing. It was nice talking to you!

Similar Articles

Our Chat Lines

Chat anonymously with local callers in the U.S and Canada

Comments

No comments posted

Submit comment

Close reply