The Awkward Silence-how to avoid it!
This past weekend I fell victim to the "awkward silence" multiple times. It may or may not have been due to some socially crude things me and my friends said, but today I went on a mission to find out how to kill the silence! It's such a distinct moment in time when a silence comes up you can almost feel it approach before it gets there. The worst position to be in is being the person that spoke right before the giant gap in conversation.
There are 2 really horrible things you can do during said pause. The first is by far the worst, right when you realize the group has been hit with a silence, you say something stupid like "yeahhh..." or "this is awkward". Both of which I am very guilty of and I can tell you from personal experience that they never help ever! The second horrible thing you can do is let the silence control you can just continue on in silence. If you don't take the lead in reviving the conversation you, and everyone else, are going to feel the weirdness.
Kill The Silence LIKE A NINJA
One of the main reasons that we stay silent is we never always have the perfect response or witty remark. This is especially hard when you are trying to impress whoever you are talking to. But the way to combat this is more about timing and less about content. If the person you are chatting with trails off with something like "and yeah..." they have obviously ran out of things to say or simply don't want to talk about that subject anymore. Recognizing that a new topic is needed you need to introduce a new one, preferably a topic that is related but still different enough to not have the same lull after to sentences. A slightly riskier and insane(ish) approach is being a bit off the wall. Granted you need to be a certain personality type for this to work, but if you are like me its almost expected.
Another way to keep the flow of talk is taking an interest in the other person. Be curious about them but not prying or interrogating them. Usually a person will reciprocate and start to take an interest in you. Be wary about their body language and tone though. Picking up on signs of what is a good conversation piece and what isn't is essential!
Make The Silence Your Friend
In a normal conversation where both people are relaxed around each other there is going to be natural pauses in conversation. This is especially true if you are eating or watching TV together. At some point you need to embrace at least some silences as a part of the interaction. Body language and facial expression also conveys thought and meaning, so be observant in the other person.
If worst comes to worst, just man up and take it in the jaw until another topic is pieced together after a long horrible pause and text one of your friends in the circle and carry on a totally separate conversation for kicks and giggles. That way you can at least act like you have a reason to not be talking because you're texting!
Shock and Awe
Another tried and true technique is having one of your friends at the same gathering make a huge scene by lighting something on fire or tipping a table over. Usually not the best choice but it does create a good few seconds of entertainment and countless minutes of "what just even happened?" conversations.