All Women's Talk

7 Tips for Avoiding Awkward Silences ...

By Ellie

If you're anything like me, then you're very much in need of tips for avoiding awkward silences. I hate making small talk. Hate it. That's mainly because I'm terrible at it though. Whether it’s a job interview, meeting a new colleague or just out and about meeting new people, I find myself stumped for something to say far too often. And there isn't much that's more cringe making than endless awkward silences. So, for me and for you - here are 7 tips for avoiding awkward silences.

1 Keep It Light

I don't know about you, but I'm quite a serious person, so this is one of the tips for avoiding awkward silences that I’ll definitely be trying to follow. Yes, you may just have read a very interesting article on religion, but do you really want to talk about it with someone you don't know? Chances are, you know very little about this person. Keep the conversation light, at least at first. Stick to safe subjects to avoid any uncomfortable moments.

2 Listen

If you're nervous, you may have a tendency to appear like you're listening on the outside, but inside you're actually going over what you've said already and what you're going to say next. You'll find the conversation easier to follow and more natural if you give your full attention to the other person. Worry later if you have to!

3 Know What's Going on

Everyone has interests, but we don't all have the same ones. But we can all relate to what's going on in the world. It's important to keep abreast of current affairs, because then you'll always have something to talk about. Maybe ask a leading question, such as 'So what did you think of...?' You don't have to be an economist or a politician, but it's good to be aware of what's happening around you.

4 Preparation

I don't really like the saying 'fail to prepare, prepare to fail.' Isn't it really annoying when someone says that to you? They may have a point though. Depending on the situation, it's likely that you can prepare in your head some questions to ask the people you'll be meeting. Ask about the event you're at, how they know the host, how long they've been working somewhere etc...there will always be some generic questions you can fall back on if you're stuck for conversation.

5 Questions, Questions

This is the most helpful advice I've been given in relation to making small talk. A friend told me that people always love talking about themselves. And so far, he's been absolutely right! Listen more than you talk, don't natter on about yourself and ask them lots of (non-intrusive!) questions, and you'll have them talking in no time.

6 Body Language

If you feel uncomfortable, you might look uncomfortable, and this can make the person you're talking to uncomfortable too. You may not be able to control how you feel on the inside, but you can change how you look on the outside. In other words, blag it. Keep your body relaxed and try to look confident. Also, watch the other person’s body language for some clues as to how it's going.

7 Know when It's Time to Leave!

No-one likes to be in an artificial situation that feels dragged out unnecessarily. Leave them wanting to know more about you - be friendly, make sure you've introduced yourself and shown yourself to be approachable, but keep things relatively brief. You've only just met; you don't have to share life stories. Unless you're both drunk at a party - in which case, you'll probably know everything about each other by the end of the night.

For me, the best thing and the hardest thing to do is just to relax. Because as soon as you do, the conversation will flow much more naturally. If you're an extrovert, you may actually enjoy making small talk, but for people who are a little shyer, it can be quite the ordeal - so I hope these tips are useful. Do you have any other advice?

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