Awkward Conversations

Awkward Conversations

One of the most relatable forms of anxiety is when we want an awkward conversation to be over, but cannot make it happen.

Studies on conversation dynamics show that they rarely end when we want them to, lasting up to twice as long. This includes the guy at the gym who does not know that wearing earphones means we don’t want to be disturbed. Even our friends and loved ones sometimes leave us gasping for breath, wanting to run away from the awkwardness.

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Communication

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About 70 percent of people want an ongoing conversation to end earlier than it does, even with friends and loved ones. Whatever the length, a conversation never ends when we want it to end. We don’t normally be upfront about this and say it on the other person’s face, mainly to be polite and not to offend the other person.

Honesty and politeness are at loggerheads during an awkward conversation, and we are normally more polite towards strangers than we are with our loved ones.

Being completely authentic and radically honest often does not go well with the other person. What’s surprising is that when we really listen to people, giving our total attention, it can come across as awkward to the other person, as it is not considered normal.

The best way to end an awkward conversation is to be pure and honest, telling the other person that you would love to keep talking, but you have to rush to do a particular activity. It is better than saying “It was really nice talking to you and I look forward to doing that again!”

Two factors create a ‘coordination problem’ during an awkward conversation.

  • The first is that we assume we know when the other person wants to leave but we calculate that incorrectly.
  • The second factor is when we know what the other person wants but still cannot end the conversation suddenly by will. We cannot interrupt a story being told to us.

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Stressful Conversations

Human beings love to gossip, chatter and jest, but some conversations can be stressful, confusing, and even embarrassing. To avoid conflicts and the avoidable pain it can bring, we tend to dodge a stressful conversation.

The emotional entanglement and the feelings that get stirred up throws most of us out of balance, and we are unable to work harder to improve our handling of the problem, making it worse.

Taking the Stress Out of Stressful Conversations

hbr.org

The Most Awkward Conversational Pratfalls
  1. Approaching for the first time someone you don’t know: focus on them, ask about them and approach humbly.
  2. Deciding when to end a conversation: you can end the conversation by excusing yourself and saying you have something that needs to be attended to.
  3. Awkward silences: knowing when to shift to another topic, introducing a new person to the conversation or even having a few conversation-continuers at the ready can help.
  4. Accidentally saying something inappropriate: apologize quickly, admit the embarrassment, and, if you mean it, apologize without excuses. Trying to smooth it over will dig the hole deeper.
  5. When someone else says something inappropriate: by diffusing the situation, and redirecting the conversation. Practicing active listening reveals when to intervene.

How To Deal With 5 Common Awkward Conversational Moments

fastcompany.com

Adam Grant

“In a changing world, you have to be willing and able to change your mind. Otherwise, your expertise can fail, your opinions get out of date, and your ideas fall flat.”

Why Thinking Like a Scientist Is Good for You

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