Added On: Sunday, November 04, 2007

Learn how to deal with pauses in conversation

One of the problems I had when I was younger, which I think a lot of people suffer from, is that I didn't know how to deal with pauses in conversations. I felt that if I was in any kind of interaction with another person, it was vitally important that one of us be speaking at any given instant.

Any break in the conversation loomed like a large vacuum that I just couldn't leave in its empty state. Desperately, urgently I'd fill it with something - anything. It seemed to me that whatever I said, however inane, inappropriate or rude, was better than the horrible silence that weighed down on me like an anchor.

So it was that I found myself blurting out things that were just plain dumb - secrets, lies, empty boasts. I used to say a lot of things I'd later regret, some of which got me into serious trouble. I'd wonder why I'd been so idiotic, but the truth was that I just needed something to keep up the momentum in the discussion. I was so desperate for the person to like me, that I didn't want to give them a chance to think about possibly not doing so.

Some scheming people even used my weakness to get me to agree to things that weren't in my best interests. It was much easier just to concede than to have to face an empty pause and possible disapproval.

Of course, this is all counter-productive and stupid. None of us can have something interesting to say all the time, and sometimes a silence between two people is appropriate.

If you've got nothing special to add to a conversation then keep your big, fat trap shut. Take a deep breath, relax and wait for things to flow on naturally. It may be that the other person will add something new, or you may think of something that's not inappropriate. But it's better to be silent than blurting stuff just to fill the gap.

For many people, I think being able to deal with pregnant pauses is a skill that must be consciously learned. Such situations arise numerous times a day, and you can easily practice relaxing and just going with the flow.

Learning how to deal with pauses in conversations is a sign of strength and maturity. Add it to your own mental toolkit.

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