How to Fill Awkward Silences

You are in a social situation, and you find yourself next to someone who you don't really know. Now what? You just need to try and find a way to open up the conversation a little bit.

Steps

  1. Find something non-threatening to comment upon. If you are having a meal together, say something about the food, for example. The weather is another good topic, the news, even better. If you're inexperienced in small talk, begin with something simple, such as "Did you see the Cubs game last night?" Do not try to attempt a complex sentiment, such as "What do you think should be done about Darfur?" until you are more experienced.
  2. Say something along the lines of the above as soon as possible.
  3. Listen carefully to what your acquaintance says back to you.
  4. Reflect carefully and offer another comment.
  5. Try avoiding yes or no answers and asking questions with yes or no answers.
  6. When answering a question, try doing it by asking another one in the same sentence.
  7. Try to find an object to transfer the awkwardness to and make a funny or intriguing comment about it (even if it is a lie), for instance, "I heard these floorboards were originally part of (name a famous structure that has been destroyed). The owner of this building is quite eccentric, you know." [This only works if the owner of the building is dead or not present, but you get the idea.]
  8. If you don't mind the person too much, find an activity that absolutely MUST be done RIGHT NOW, and with help. Check the crepes. If you're at a party, perhaps you can employ yourselves as coat checkers, and wind up married. Imagine the story! Of course, anything involving making cocktails is handy.
  9. You can try the never ending joke: "Awkward Turtle!" If someone knows what it means (basically, just awkward moment), they'll laugh, and if not, you have something to talk about!
  10. Don't try to be funny just let your own personality flow because sometimes people sense when a host or person is trying to hard......

Tips

  • Of course all of the above is just a place holder.......you are trying to get a few words going just to see if you can learn a little bit about the other person.
  • Once the person lets something slip, you may be onto a real conversation. If you mentioned the pouring rain, and your new companion expressed worry about his dog getting sick in the cold wet weather, you have hit pay dirt. Now you can spend the rest of the evening talking about dogs.....and whatever topics that whole thing may lead to.
  • If you like dogs too, you may hit it off with this new friend. If not, try to find another topic buried in the words of the other person.
  • Any time you just don't know what the person is talking about, just repeat his words slowly........"oh, your dog has coccidiosis........."
  • Hopefully the person will now explain that Coccidia are single celled organisms that infect intestines. If not, just make a general comment showing that you need to be filled in. "Coccidiosis......I am not sure I have heard of that before."
  • If you feel like there is a bit of awkwardness in the air, smile like you don't notice.
  • Be super friendly and laugh a lot. (But don't overdo it...)
  • Ask about the family, just remember to not let the subject slip into something more awkward (disease, old relationships, etc.)
    1. Don't get up and leave
    2. Don't be afraid of human contact, shaking hands might be germ-filled, but it won't kill you.
    3. When talking with someone you know, mention the awkward moment. Make a joke about it. (ex: "I think a tumbleweed blew by just now...")
  • Find something to do with your hands, but be careful not to rely on it.
  • If someone is a complete psychopath, or boring to the point of inducing mental illness, or (especially) is a cocky jerk, there is nothing wrong with the old, "Um, I have to go over here now."
  • Sometimes it is a good idea to give said person a generous hug. It can break the ice.

Warnings

  • Try not to appear nervous or uncomfortable.
  • Don't try to fill in the silence with just anything. Never say, "soooooooo...".