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How to Avoid or Handle an Awkward Silence

Awkward silences – we all go through that once in a while. It’s really uncomfortable especially when you’re talking with someone you’re meeting the first time. Before listing ways of preventing or avoiding an awkward silence, let’s first see the different types of it:

How awkward is it?

There’s an awkward silence that occurs between friends. This one is fair, as friends can deal with such things since they already know each other very well. Having said that, an awkward silence between family members is a little bit more unbearable. The worst scenario is an awkward silence occurring between two strangers who are just recently getting to know each other for the first time, during a conversation. Sometimes, the worst can be an awkward silence that happens during a presentation to the public.

Preventing an awkward silence

So the first question is, how can one prevent an awkward silence? Is that even possible? Well yes, it is preventable. Amongst family and friends, the best way is to keep some music playing in the background while the conversation is going on. You can leave a TV on instead, if possible. In this way, there’s something that would fill up the quietness, making it less of a silence, and in some cases making it no silence at all. If there’s no silence, there wouldn’t be an awkward silence!
Other instances of awkward silences, such as during presentation or conversation between newly met people can be prevented by constantly looking at your cellphone once in a while as if you have some messages or updates from someone else. You can also prevent the occurrence by wearing some headphones or ear buds, or by looking elsewhere every once in a while.

Handling an awkward silence that has already occurred

Once it has occurred, that particular occurrence cannot be prevented, because, well it has occurred. The easiest solution for family and friends is to yell “awkward!” and laugh it off.
Solution for newly met people or presenters is a little bit challenging, but worth it. Just say any thing you can think of to break the awkward silence. Say something like:
“Gotta love the awkward silence!”
“There it is!”
“Awkward silences are not so awkward nowadays.”
“Meanwhile in Soviet Russia, awkward silences happen too.”
“So, this is what an awkward silence feels like.”

Saying any of those things is guaranteed to break the silence, as chances are people will laugh. Then you should not wait — you are to use this opportunity to keep things going, or perhaps it’s time to bid a farewell, concluding the conversation or presentation.

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