How to Avoid Awkward Silences - [website] Email Print
Published: 10th of Feb 2017 by: Staff Reporter

We've all been there: you're chatting with your boss, a colleague, or someone you've just met, and you can feel the small talk drying up. You both know what's coming - a few moments of awkward silence followed by one of you politely excusing yourself from the "conversation".

So how can we avoid hitting this part of the interaction? How can we drive a conversation forward passed the inevitable fluff - the weather, SONA, how the Springboks are doing - and take it to a place of mutual interest where both you and the person you’re talking to are actively engaged and involved in the conversation?

The answer is actually pretty simple, and with a little practice you’ll find it easier and easier to start implementing.

Basically what you want to do is take those first few questions - the fluff - and embed within your answers a few glimpses into who you really are and what you care about. When someone says to you, “Hasn’t it been hot lately?”, instead of simply agreeing and watching the conversation slowly die, you could say something like, “It really has been, but I find this weather absolutely perfect for early morning hikes with the family and our dog Rufus.”

Something as simple as that has given the person you’re talking to some ammo to start asking you more involved questions that dig a bit deeper into who you are and what you enjoy. From your answer the listener now knows that family is important to you, you enjoy the outdoors, and you have a dog named Rufus. From this any number of follow up questions could arise: “Oh, how big is your family?”, “I also love hiking, where is your favourite place to go?”, “We’ve got a Labrador at home, what kind of dog is Rufus?”

And suddenly the conversation has gone from meaningless small talk to shared interests and values, with the person you’re talking to genuinely interested in what you have to say.

Say goodbye to those awkward silences and let the conversation flow!

Staff Training presents more than 60 short courses nationwide. Contact us at or 0861 996 660.

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