Whether you’re with your best friend, a blind date, or a long-time spouse, awkward silence is inevitable. To be sure it doesn’t become anything more than a moment, you’ll want to pay attention to our best suggestions for ways to avoid that awkward silence and keep the conversation going. If you’ve already found yourself in the middle of that uncomfortable silence, don’t worry. There are ways you can recover!
Think of Conversation Topics Ahead of Time
One of the most effective ways to avoid an awkward silence at dinner, is to think of conversation topics ahead of time. This is particularly easy if you’ve known the person for quite some time. You can ask about their family, their job, and the hobbies they’ve been into lately. You can also talk about interests you know you have in common such as recent movies or books, or any upcoming concerts they may like to attend. Don’t probe too much, but show genuine interest in their life.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to come up with a way to keep the conversation going with a total stranger, you’ll have to think much more generically. It may be too personal up-front to ask about family, but a great conversation topic is hobbies. Share what you’re interested in and see how their personal interests match up.
Avoid One-Word Responses
If you really want to keep the conversation going, you’ll want to avoid one-word responses. If they’re trying hard to keep the conversation going, you should put in the same amount of effort. Avoid simple “yes” or “no” answers. You’ll want to listen intently to what they’re saying and respond appropriately to keep the conversation moving forward.
Be A Good Listener
Like previously mentioned, it’s important to listen to whomever you’re dining with. That’s perhaps the best way to keep the conversation going between the both of you. Listen to what they’re saying and respond appropriately. Let the conversation flow naturally as you listen intently to what is being said. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to show you’re truly interested.
Tell A Story
You may have to be a little careful with this one, but a great way to avoid awkward silence is to tell a story. You’ll have to think of an appropriate story based on who you’re with, but it’s always a safe bet to go with a fun childhood story or a humorous, clean story. A little laughter is perfect for breaking the silence and allowing awkwardness to disappear. Plus, if you open up and share a story from your own life, it may encourage the other person to share their own story. Then the conversation can just keep going from there!
Compliment the Person
Another safe way to keep the conversation going, particularly if you know them, is to compliment them. If you’re aware of something they’ve been working on lately or a project they’ve put a lot of time into, tell them how you feel about it. Compliment them on their hard work and recognize their effort. You can even ask questions about the project or feature you’re complimenting them on to find out more about it. If you show them general interest, the conversation will take care of itself.
Recognize Why There’s Silence
Another great tactic for dealing with awkward silence is to recognize why there’s silence in the first place. It could be as simple as the two of you not knowing what to talk about or it could be because the other person is upset. There’s also a good chance that the person you’re talking to is feeling nervous or uneasy, so you can step up and make them feel more comfortable by opening up the conversation. No matter what, it’ important to understand what’s going on so that you can better approach the silence itself.
Find An Activity You Both Can Enjoy
Another great idea to is to talk about activities you both enjoy, especially those you haven’t yet participated in. Is there some sort of game you’ve both wanted to play? Is there a bar you’ve both wanted to visit? Maybe there’s a great dessert place you’ve both been wanting to try? Not only will it create conversation while you try to come up with something to do, but it’s a great way to avoid awkwardness in general. You’ll likely have a ball coming up with all sorts of ideas for things to do!
Know When To Give Up & Walk Away
But in the off chance that you simply cannot come up with a way to break the silence, or you seem to keep running into the same awkward silence no matter how hard you try, it may be time to give up. It sounds a bit harsh, but if you’re really having that hard of a time keeping a conversation going with someone, why would you want to spend time with them anyway? A little bit of awkward silence is natural and perfectly acceptable, but a whole lot of it is just unnecessary.
Now I’m not saying you should just up and walk away right then and there. But you’ll want to give it your best shot before you decide that it’s just not going to work.