The Art of Conversation

October 13, 2017

How can you keep a conversation going without all the awkward pauses? 

Hi there, I think it’s safe to say that most people have suffered through a conversation full of awkward pauses. When I know that I might have to talk to someone I don’t know well, it helps to have a few conversation starters in the back of my mind. As a college student, I find that bringing up a popular TV show/movie usually helps me find common ground. To avoid more awkward pauses (or something worse) I’d steer clear of controversial topics unless you already know the other person's beliefs. Good luck! - Simran 

Socializing with others can be difficult at times. Many factors go into how a conversation can either be really easy-going or just awkward. The person you are talking to may be outgoing and bubbly or shy and reserved. Here are some ways you can avoid those awkward pauses:

  • Ask questions that are relatable to the person: Get to know them. Ask them about their interests, family, school, job, etc. Assuming they're a student as well, ask them what they are studying. Questions are a greater starter to other conversations. 
  • Let them explain something they know well: If you know something about this person, use that information to your advantage. Bring that up and allow them to explain that topic. 
  • Storytelling: Now this is where you come into play. Storytelling is one of the best ways to relate and get to know someone. Sharing a personal story can encourage the person you are talking to, to open up. Maybe you can even try explaining something that both of you have in common.
  • Talk about current events: Some conversation starters are those revolving around current events. Share your feelings and thoughts about the local and national news. Or even talk about events going on in school/your area!  

I hope the points above can give you something to work with. Conversations seem to be harder and harder to make as technology now helps us do a great deal of that.  - Angela 

If a conversation seems to be slowing down or has stopped, I like to bring it back by asking questions about the person I am speaking with. How they are doing today, their plans for the weekend, etc. You can also bring up current events. I think one ofthe most effective ways to deal with these pauses is to talk about something that both of you are passionate about; for example, I talk about recent news in the NBA to one friend, while I love talking about new music artists I have discovered to another. If you have any classes in common, that could also be another segway you can use. Pauses can feel awkward, especially if you might be attracted to the person, or if you do not know the person particularly well. But know that not every pause is an awkward one! I have grown to appreciate pauses, and I have realized that when I am untroubled with pauses, I have become truly comfortable with the person. When you believe that the conversation is coming to an end, wrapping it up naturally can help relieve the awkwardness. Just keep it cool. - David