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Break awkward silences

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

You’ve been engaged in a wonderful conversation with a colleague or new contact. Then suddenly you experience that dreaded awkward silence. Follow this advice to move the conversation forward.

Don’t assume you messed up. Don’t immediately think that you said something to cause the silence. If you do, you’re more likely to ramble or act unnaturally as you try to resume the conversation. Besides, it’s possible the other person is thinking about what you just said, or you may have reached a natural end to the topic or conversation. Don’t rush to fill the silence. Count to five instead to see if the other person speaks up.

Restart the conversation. If you want to continue the conversation, bring up a point from earlier in the discussion, for example, you could say “Earlier you said that …” Or you could bring up an entirely new topic.

Use the opportunity to end the discussion. If you aren’t interested in continuing the conversation, exit it before the silence goes on too long. Say something like “I have to move along, but it was wonderful seeing you today.”

— Adapted from “Ways to Deal With Awkward Silences In Conversations,” www.succeedsocially.com.

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