We often encounter awkward silence in our conversations and those are bad points for your communication skills. In this personality development video by Michelle at Skillopedia learn what causes & how to avoid awkward moments in your conversations. You will learn –
- What are safe topics to choose?
- How to keep the conversation going?
- How to ask and answer questions to keep the conversation flowing?
- How not to run out of things to say.
Complete Video Transcript : –
Whether we are a die-hard introvert or a confident extrovert, there will always be those strange awkward moments in a conversation where we struggle to know ‘what to say’. We can quickly feel panicky as we desperately search for the right words and this is what usually causes that mental block for appropriate topics to talk about. Well I think you found yourself in those situations quite a few times. So why exactly does this happen? Well this tends to happen because we aren’t so familiar with a particular person or a set of people. Whenever we are thrown into a conversation before knowing someone really well, we find ourselves lost. Like when we meet someone for the first time or when we are asked to speak in a group of people, let’s say in a group discussion… okay so that time we are not familiar with people and it can be difficult to keep the interaction going in a smooth pace and also in a natural way because we are not entirely familiar and confident of what and what not to talk about, that’s when you need help. You’re basically facing an “awkward silence” I’m sure you’ve been in that position before and what you need to do is, you need to master some tactics to tackle it confidently. So keep watching the session with me on Skillopedia the real place to learn real communication, where I’ve got for you today surefire “tips to keep a conversation going”.
So, many people believe that to build a relationship with someone they must win them over with interesting or funny conversations. In reality, this isn’t really the case. Don’t get caught up in the belief that what you have to say has to be interesting, meaningful or funny, just say it anyway. People generally don’t remember what was said in a conversation but they often remember that awkward silence that they felt while talking to you. So what should be the aim of your conversation? The aim of your conversation should not be to impress people but rather to keep the conversation going which will eventually bring out meaningful topics as you both continue talking.
I’m sure you won’t be surprised if I say that people generally like to talk about themselves not because their egoistic but because it’s a safe topic and one that they obviously know very well. Therefore if you’re struggling to think of what to say, simply ask good questions because when you ask questions you show a level of personal interest and cause the other person to feel cared for. You do this by paying attention of course and also by observing the person so that you can ask the right questions. Let me give you an example, if a person looks particularly tired on a day, you could ask them what did you do yesterday? And if they’re wearing something you like, you could say that you’ve been looking for a similar item or you could ask where they got it from or can they suggest where you can buy something similar, yeah! So this is how you can “ask them open-ended questions”. So you must have got it, the key is to ask open-ended questions and get them talking rather than asking questions which can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ like, ‘are you tired?’ or ‘did you get this from Marks and Spencers?’ these are examples of closed-ended questions and they need to be avoided because they can bring a conversation to an awkward point of silence after the other person has answered as, ‘yes, I am tired’ or ‘no, this isn’t from M&S, it’s from Zara.’ Okay on the other hand when you ask open-ended questions, they actually open doors to a better conversation. They allow the person to expand their answers and keep the conversation going and it also helps you understand their personality better, so “ask good questions”.
If nothing comes to your mind, have a conversation about ‘food’. The point of this is to “find a universal or a common topic”. Not everyone knows about the latest technological advances or fashions but you know that everyone has a passion or at least an opinion about ‘food’, you’ve got one. So if you’re eating together, it’s an easy way to start a conversation, by simply commenting on the food or say something about different cuisines or other foods that you’ve tried. So if you’re eating a meal together, asking or suggesting what you should eat will always be a successful topic. It’s all about finding that common ground and food is a perfectly simple and universal topic to bring up. For instance if you can’t find anything to say, you could say, ‘my favorite cuisine is Italian, because it’s got so much cheese in it and I can practically live on cheese, how about you, which is your favorite cuisine?’ oops… was that too cheesy? Okay, but anyways you might as well choose to talk about another universal topic like ‘weather’ which is another common topic and everyone will have something to say about it. Now look at this example, if someone comes from a different place, you could say, ‘it’s quite chilly today, does it get this chilly in your hometown?’ Yeah! Or you could say something like, ‘I don’t really like summers, it gets sweaty for me, by the way which is your favorite season?’ So this is another example of an open-ended question and it will help you keep the conversation going and it sounds natural and it’s a very good way to tackle that awkward silence.
Sometimes, you can run out of ideas or thoughts when you’re in a conversation, when you can’t really relate to the topic that the persons’ talking about or if you have little knowledge about the topic, it can be really hard to add your opinion and there comes the awkward silence. So to be honest, these topics are not really of much interest to me, for example economics and politics. And out of personal experience I’d say a good technique in this case is to “rephrase what the other person has said”. This means to repeat what someone has said in your own words. Yes! Now obviously if someone has said, ‘I think the elections were rigged’, you wouldn’t comically repeat them like robot, ‘I think the elections were rigged’, that’ll be quite funny and unnatural. But you can rephrase as I said in your own words by saying something like, ‘yeah, I just think that elections were not fair this time’. So, use at the same point but in your own words. But what is this do? So not only does this show that you’re interested and listening to what they’re saying, but it gives them a chance to clarify their point, maybe if you’ve misunderstood or leads them to tell you more because you’ve shown some interest. So next time when someone is describing their complicated job or profession that you’re not familiar with, they may well be aware that you don’t know much about it. So by repeating what they say or by asking for clarification, you’re creating a sense of interest and rapport. So don’t be afraid of repeating in your own words. I hope you got me there.
Sharing things about yourself can seem unnatural, specially to introverts. However sharing small things no matter how small, what will that do? That will show that the other person that you’re open to them that it’s an easy conversation and you’re comfortable talking about yourself. For example you could fill an awkward silence by talking about your recent trip to some place or by talking about how you have a hard time waking up early as you’re not really a morning person. So as I said before, it’s really not about what’s being said in a conversation that people remember, specially for small talks, instead a person is more likely to remember the feeling of an “awkward silence” that they felt with you. So this might make them feel that they don’t enjoy your company or that they don’t share a good chemistry with you. So the aim of your conversation should be to keep it going. So here we are at the end. You have to try and apply these fundamental rules to the conversations you have and this will help you say something when you have nothing to say. So remember you’re looking for a flow and connection through your conversations and yes, don’t overthink it. Well thank you for staying with me till the end, I will see you soon with another session on Skillopedia, the place to learn real communication. Thank you, see you soon, bye-bye.