Awkward Silence

This post will be a little different – this time, I’m asking for your advice.

I’m at a place right now where I’m meeting TONS of new people (a new job will do that!)  This week I have met over 50 new people.  Having met all these new wonderful people, not only am I struggling to remember their names (or if I’ve met them at all), I’m really struggling coming up with things to talk about.  I have mini panic sessions in my mind that go something like this…

“She looks familiar…have I met her before…oh I remember her from (insert event)…what was her name…does she recognize me…I think she does *smile (insert greeting)*…did I already ask her where she went to school… or what store she’s working at… or how long she’s been with this company… did we talk about taking the board exams… or the differences between Georgia and South Carolina regulations… oh dear, I can’t think of anything to say or talk about”…*awkward silence*

And now I’ve noticed that this is happening even with people I know really well.  And that mini panic session goes something like this…

“Oh there’s (insert name #1)… *smile (insert greeting)*…did I already tell him about (insert event)… or about (insert situation)… does he know I talked to (insert name #2)…I can’t remember if I told him I plan to (insert idea)…now that I think about it, when was the last time I actually talk to (insert name #1)”…*awkward silence*

So, my questions: 1) how do you come up with things to ask/talk about when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone you’re just getting to know? 2) how do you decide if you should talk to someone you already know or if the silence is ok? and 3) if you decide to talk to the person you already know, how do you come up with things to talk about (things that you haven’t already told them)?

One thing I’m learning about myself is that the less I talk, the less I want to talk.  So, when I drive to work (alone – not talking), and I sit in meetings (not talking) or do computer training (alone – not talking), and drive home (alone – not talking) – by the time I get home or get around people I know (I’m referring to settings other than meetings), my inclination is to continue not talking, rather than changing the pattern I’ve been in all day and start talking.  And when I do start talking, I’ve noticed that what I say is usually in response to questions rather than actively engaging in conversation.  This kind of bothers me in a way – mostly because all my life I’ve been known as a talker (that’s another post) and now I’m at a place where I don’t like talking.

Is this ok?  Is this a problem?  I can’t tell!

(Note:  if you’re willing to share, I ask that you please come to the original post and leave your tips and advice so I don’t miss any great ideas you might have. Thanks!)

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2 comments on “Awkward Silence

  1. In my communication class, my professor told me to find common ground. See if you have any similar interests. Find out his or her hobbies. Sometimes that silence is ok. You might have a mutual understanding with a person, so no words would be needed. I know it’s very frustrating though.

    Just remember: You’re human. You’re not going to remember everything someone tells you. It sounds like information overload, but you will make it!

    If I think of anything else, I’ll let you know. I’ll look back through my notes.

  2. Marie says:

    I’ve found that people like to talk about themselves so it’s not necessary that you talk about you. Focus on question/comments that natually encourage a response. Rather than thinking about what you are going to say next or what you have already said, you can never go wrong with reflective listening and genuine interest in the speaker. People are not use to others really listening to them and they most often instinctively respond by talking. Phrases like, “How’s your day going?” are comments like “You have such a pleasant smile” or comments about yourself that they can relate to such as “I’m learning a lot” or “This is a thorough review”… Be sure not to complain or whine-no one wants to hang around for that – even if they agree. I truly enjoy talking to others and learning about them. That’s motivation enough to keep me talking!

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