Don't we all fear those moments of anxiety of not knowing the things to say in awkward silences? It's literally the most uncomfortable interpersonal social setting I can imagine, especially when it's with someone you don't know very well! Some people are just gifted in being able to engage others so well that's there's almost zero chance of awkwardness and I envy them! Luckily there are some tools you can keep up your sleeve when you're stuck on what things to say in awkward silences and ways to avoid them altogether. Let's hope those situations are few and far between!
1. Ask Questions
I've found that when you're stuck on the things to say in awkward silences, it's best to simply just ask questions! Keep the ball rolling by playing off their answers and finding more questions from what they say. It's not only an activity that engages them and shows your interest, but it will fill any silent gaps that could arise, without being awkward.
2. Listen Intently to What They Have to Say
A lot of times when conversations go south it's because one or both of you weren't truly listening to the other person. Make good eye contact, use appropriate facial expressions and agree or disagree along with them. Be present when they are speaking and there will be less of a chance that an awkward silence comes up, and even if it does, at least you'll know what to say because you've been listening!
3. Don't Try and Outdo Their Stories
I heard this little bit of wisdom once from a friend. When friends try to top or outdo the other's stories, it makes them seem pretty self-involved and focused on the attention of others instead of genuine appreciation for who is speaking. It's different when you're able relate with someone in what they have to say versus outdoing their experiences. Use your words cautiously and respectfully, and you're sure to avoid an awkward silence when one is feeling outdone or under-appreciated.
4. Quickly Change the Subject before It's Uncomfortable
Another good option to explore during an uncomfortable moment is subject change. Since you've probably been talking for a while, you should have an idea of what the other person is interested in and a topic change won't be too difficult to approach! Of course, if you're actually ready to move on from conversing, then use the method listed in the next point.
5. Excuse Yourself to Use the Ladies Room
Sometimes an awkward silence provides the insight that a conversation is ready to be over. Instead of waiting there nervously for the other person to act or say something, take the initiative and excuse yourself altogether by politely saying you need to use the restroom.
6. Act Confident
It's always less awkward for everyone when confidence exudes in speech and demeanor. If you find yourself lacking confidence, remember you can always fake it! Don't fidget or fiddle with your hair or jewelry - it sends the message that you're nervous and uncomfortable, potentially sending you into an awkward silence moment. Stand tall, speak with confidence and grace and you'll be just fine.
7. Look Approachable and Friendly
Remember to smile when speaking with someone and to have a soft, relaxed look on your face instead of a scowl when you're walking or sitting alone (even if it's unintentional). People will be much more at ease around you when they feel you're approachable and friendly!
Hopefully these tips on what to say during an awkward silence (as well as how to avoid them) is useful to you in your future interactions with friends and new acquaintances! What have you found to be the best method for filling those awkward silences? Care to share them?