Have you ever wondered what’s the reason for these silent moments we encounter while talking to someone? It’s like someone hits pause on our brain and all we can think of is What should I say now? And it’s probably the same for that person too since it takes two to have a conversation.
What’s interesting is that this is not happening with everyone. There are people we encounter these moments very often, others with whom we don’t encounter at all. There are also people with whom we encounter the silence at the beginning and after a while, it disappears. What’s changed from a person to another or from a moment to another?
I believe this has to do with the way we perceive that person. If it’s someone we like (like a friend), it’s easier to have a fluent conversation because the fear for judgment is pretty low (with some friends, at least). Also, when we’re talking to a friend, we know things about that person so we can talk about common interests, a think that cannot happen with a stranger since we know nothing about that person. I think this is the second reason these moments appear.
Basically, we want for that person we’re talking to form and have a good opinion about us. When that person is a friend (a true friend), we already know if he/she has a good opinion about us and we don’t worry about that. Instead, we focus on what we have to say and maybe on what that person has to say too. When we talk to a stranger and we have no topic for conversation, we desperately search for something “interesting” inside our brain, but since we don’t know that person, we cannot rate anything as being interesting. That searching moment is the awkward silence. This is why weather is the number one topic in these conversations. It’s something we all can see and we cannot screw that conversation so no opinion cannot be formed by any of the two (at least, not conscious).
What can we do in these moments? Well, it’s tricky. I think that the key here is to have and to show interest for that person. Instead of focusing on what should we say, maybe we need to focus on asking great questions so we can find out more about that person (of course, if we want to). We can ask those questions even if we don’t want to know the answers because that conversation partner would feel great about the conversation and maybe he/she would ask some questions too. If we don’t have any interest for knowing that person better, we don’t even have to worry about these moments. The whole conversation can be a silent moment, right?
Why do you think these silent moments appear?