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Sebastiaan shares three tips for dealing with silence in a conversation.
He begins by telling a personal story from two decades ago about approaching a girl on the bus. He shares how he struggled with the awkward silence in this social situation. He describes how this made him cringe, self-conscious, and feel hugely pressured to fill in the silence.
He explains the 7 common reasons why we struggle with silence in a conversation:
2. Fear of awkwardness
3. Pressure to fill in the silence
6. Fear of negative judgment
7. Insecurity of your social skills
He then teaches three quick fixes for dealing with and being at ease with silence.
While these tips can be helpful when you’re already in a social situation, he highlighted that these are just surface-level tips.
He clarifies that it is our belief system that causes discomfort during silence, which can be effectively addressed through tapping.
If you want to learn more about how to be comfortable in social situations, get our FREE Mini Course:
“The 7 Secrets to Social Confidence”
Click here to listen to one of the interviews with former Social Anxiety disorder sufferers mentioned by Sebastiaan in the podcast.
Three tips for dealing with silence in a conversation
Long, long time ago, maybe two decades ago, I used to see this girl every time I took the bus to work. She’s so cute, and I want to say something to her. I don’t know if I should do it, but eventually I mustered up the courage to do it.
So she sits at the bus stop. We made eye contact, and I sat next to her and said, “Good morning”, and she was like, “Oh, good morning.
Then there was silence.
I sat next to her. I cringed and felt awkward. I was berating myself in my head for not saying anything, for how long it had been since I had opened up by saying good morning, and for what you must be thinking about me at that moment.
And I started worrying about all sorts of things, and blah, blah, blah.
This is just one example. That happened a lot more often when there was silence in the conversation. I would start to feel awkward and cringy. I felt the need to fill up the silence and ask a question or say something.
The longer there was silence, the more pressure would build up, and I would feel this awkwardness.
There are actually a couple of common problems that arise when there is silence in a conversation. We’re going to go over these in rapid fire.
You might worry that you’ve done something wrong, said something offensive, or been uninteresting. This can cause you to have a really difficult time with silence.
2. Fear of Awkwardness
During silence, you might feel like there’s some discomfort or disconnection. This then triggers that fear of awkwardness, making it very difficult to deal with the silence.
3. Pressure to Feel the Silence
This is the kind of example I gave. I felt huge pressure to fill in the silence by asking a question, saying something interesting, or coming up with stuff. When that happens, it makes things difficult
When you’re already dealing with self-consciousness, silence will only highlight it. You’re like, “Oh, it’s silent. Everyone’s observing me now, and I haven’t said anything for like seven seconds.”
You might misinterpret that a person’s silence means they are not interested in you, that they disapprove of you, or that they reject you.
6. Fear of Negative Judgment
What might make the silence unbearable is thinking in your mind that the other person is busy forming a negative opinion of you.
7. Insecurity about your Social Skills
The silence might have you worried that you don’t have the right social skills, that you didn’t ask the right question, that you were weird, awkward, uncomfortable, and so on.
Now, what you want to do to be comfortable with silence is something that cannot be solved with tricks. I’ll give you a quick mindset and two strategies, but what you really want to do is look at the underlying causes of why you’re dealing with this.
I’ll get to that in a second, but first, here are three quick fixes:
1. Accept the silence.
The reality is that silence is part of conversation. It’s normal. Sometimes there simply isn’t anything going on. You run out of things to say; it happens for me, it happens for other people, and it happens in conversation. It’s normal, so don’t freak out about it. Allow it to be accepted.
A couple of months ago, at the dance, I particularly remember having a conversation with this girl. We’re standing alongside each other, and we’re briefly chatting; it’s kind of superficial.
I asked her a question, and she asked me a question. Then there was just a bunch of silence for a while. Of course, there was music playing in the background, but I decided not to fill it in. I was curious to see what was going to happen.
And guess what?
15-20 seconds later, she turns to me and asks me a question. That’s typically how it gets resolved. It’s not 100% your responsibility to fill in the silence. It’s 50-50.
2. Ask an open ended question.
Just like the girl did, she asked me an open ended question. So an open-ended question is one to which you can’t answer yes or no.
“Are you from here?” Yes. Okay, that ends it.
“Where are you from?” is more open ended. The person might still say, “I’m from here.”
“What do you like to do for fun?” is an open question.
“Do you find this fun?” That’s a closed question.
3. Share something.
You can share something personal or anything else. Anything about the environment that you’re noticing or anything that happened earlier that day, people don’t care. If you open your mind and just start talking, everything’s fine.
All of these three tips are just surface level tips. The problem is actually deeper. There is a belief system that is causing you to not be okay with silence. There are emotions and self consciousness that get triggered inside of you when those moments are there.
There’s the worry of being judged. That stuff is not resolved with techniques, that stuff is resolved by doing inner work, facing your demons, and processing your stuck emotions.
That can be quite easily and effectively done by tapping.
If you want to learn how to do that — how to actually become comfortable in social situations, not just in silence — you can get my FREE Mini course: The 7 Secrets to Social Confidence
If you have any questions, put them in the chat.
If you want to be inspired, check out one of these interviews here with former Social Anxiety disorder sufferers. They used to have big trouble with silence in conversation and lots of other issues socially, but now they’re calm, confident, and at ease.
Go check them out. They’re super inspiring.
Hope this helps you. Talk to you very soon. Bye for now.