Monday, September 06, 2004

How To Deal With Awkward Silences

There are three fool-proof ways to handle those moments of
silence that can make you feel self-conscious and uneasy:

1. Decide that conversation is a two way street

Whenever you are talking to someone and the conversation
grinds to a halt. Remember this...

A good conversation requires input from at least two
people. And this means that it is not up to you alone to
fix things if the dialogue fades away to nothing.

Take the pressure off yourself to be the one to make
everything right.

Pause and let the other person speak first. Give others the
opportunity to get things started again.

Very often the other person will resume the conversation as
long as you look interested in hearing more.

You can do this by being attentive and by demonstrating
your interest through your body language.

It is a good idea to keep facing the other person and to
keep the non verbal rapport alive by mirroring.

2. Decide if you want to use this silence as a way to
finish the conversation.

Does the other person want to mention anything else?

Is there anything to add?

Ask the other person these questions. This will ensure a
quick response and may reinvigorate the conversation.


If the chat has come to a natural conclusion then take
control and wrap it up. You do not always have to wait and
let the other person decide if the conversation is over.

You can simply thank the other person for talking to you
and wish them well until you meet again.

When you get into the habit of doing this you will feel
more confident talking to people.


Because the fear of standing there with nothing to say will
not bother you so much...

In the future you will have the option of ending the
conversation instead of waiting for the other people to
take charge of the situation.

Finishing the conversation is a great way to put an end to
awkward silences. Obviously you will only do this AFTER you
have covered what needs to be discussed.

3. Always have a back up plan

Like I have said in the past. Adequate planning is one of
the secrets to always having something to say to people.

Nobody ever said you cannot prepare in advance by having a
stock pile of interesting stories to talk about. In fact
this is what Presidents do.

They have speech writers prepare off the cuff remarks which
are meant to appear spontaneous. Of course each statement
is planned and rehearsed.

When you have a whole range of topics you can talk about it
becomes very difficult to get stuck for words.

And you will find that the issues and topics that work best
will work for most people you talk to. If a particular
topic works very well for a few people it will probably
work just as well for most people you meet.

When I tell jokes for example. I always start by telling
the new ones to my best friends. If they go down well and
everyone laughs I will use those jokes again with people I
don´t know very well and when I meet new people.

You can test jokes, conversation topics and personal
stories and pay attention to see which ones get the best

Then drop the ones few people like and keep using the
popular ones.

There is no need to be original!

What else can you do?

Go to the bonus reports that come with my book and...

Review the How to Start a Great Conversation with Anyone
report. Then start using the 15 great distinctions that
will make your conversations sing.

Have Fun,

Peter Murphy
How to Communicate with Unstoppable
Confidence in 20 Days or Less

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