Awkward silence. We’ve all been there.
So, uh, yeah.
Awkward silence wears many different hats. Sometimes it wears the “We don’t have enough in common to make this car ride comfortable” hat. Other times it wears the “I can’t believe you just said something that weird” hat. Awkward silence can also don the “The couple you’re hanging out with just got in a fight and it’s not resolved” hat, which was its chosen accessory a few Saturdays ago as I sat in an Uber with one of my favorite couples. They’re usually happy has clams, but the holidays can do weird things to people. As Mario-The-Uber-Driver and I pretended not to listen- despite being trapped in the same, small moving compartment on wheels- my girlfriend quietly reprimanded her boyfriend for forgetting the gift for the party to which we were heading. (It was his one job!!) Now, the average human would stare out the window until the awkward silence passed, or let the couple give social cues that it was now acceptable for the third party to rejoin the conversation. Not I. No siree. I jump right into the deep end with this sort of thing. “Hey guys. So, um, would it be helpful if I told a story? I have lots of stories.” I proceeded to dive into my dating life and threw out so many names and webs for them to follow, that by the time we arrived at our destination, they were confused enough to not even remember they’d had a fight in the first place. This, my friends, is called
being the token single friend the gift of gab.
People who talk a lot are usually one of two things: annoying or lifesaving. Nothing in between. The annoying gabber doesn’t know when to turn off the ole noisemaker, so his/her (usually her, let’s be honest) voice eventually develops a chipmunk-like quality that must be tuned out. The lifesaving gabber knows when to stay silent, but is always ready and willing to jump in during that moment when no one else knows what to do. I prefer to think of myself as the latter. Don’t tell me if I’m wrong.
Why do I bring up this topic, you ask? Because I’d like to help you. (See? gabbing=talking to thin air=talking to yourself=blogging.) If you’d like to improve upon your gabbing skills, thus lessen the time you spend in awkward silence, read on. If you’re one of those really dark people who finds pleasure in watching people squirm during awkward silence, you can stop reading now and return to sadistically stroking your underfed cat.
3 Ways to Acquire the Gift of Gab
1. Find entertainment in the mundane
At first, I was going to suggest living an interesting, crazy life so that you always have something to talk about. But then I realized that some of the best gabbers are stay-at-home moms who consider a big outing their 45 minute Zumba class. Power to ’em. You see, always having a story to fill the silence really has less to do with interesting things happening in life, and more to do with a person’s ability to find entertaining moments in every situation. For instance, yesterday, I spent an uneventful day at work, then ate pho with a new friend, then went to bed. Should someone ask me about my day, what could I possibly talk about for more than 12 seconds? Nothing. Oh, wait. Except for eating pho. Why is eating pho interesting? Well, because no one ever told Vietnamese chefs that spaghetti rice noodles are simply too long. They’re just too long. Here I was trying to eat somewhat politely in front of my new friend, and I had to balance the slippery noodles on my spoon (I just mastered chopsticks for sushi- don’t press me) during the transfer to my mouth, then either slurp them all into my mouth before they slipped back into the bowl, or if I overshot my mouth’s capacity, bite the noodles in half and let the remains drop back into my bowl with an messy splatter. Did I mention my new friend is an attractive male? Not a cute look. Go ahead and judge. You try eating spaghetti with a spoon and get back to me. My point is that eating pho was part of a mundane Monday, but could serve as a funny story to tell my friends if they ask about my boring day. Instead of halting the conversation with “It was fine, I guess,” I tell them about eating pho like a caveman. Voila. Gab.
P.S.- Pho is delicious and worth the mess every time.
2. Be curious about people
How am I supposed to know if you love that new Taylor Swift mash up cover (<–click, you’ll thank me) as much as I do unless I ask? How will I learn to understand the meaning behind expensive paintings unless I ask what you do and you tell me that you’re an artist? How can I bond with you over wine unless I casually inquire about your favorite
every Thursday night activity? More importantly, how can I learn to look at life through a new, mind-opening lense unless I get to know you? The sooner we stop trying to make conversation and start trying to learn, questions will roll right off the tongue, opening plenty of opportunity for gab and leaving no room for awkward silence.
3. Get plenty of sleep
I’m serious. Gabbing takes energy. I actively record it in my health log as part of my fitness routine. HAH. Just kidding. I don’t have a health log. Unless you count scrap papers on my desk at work, on which I sometimes start adding up how many calories I’ve consumed by lunchtime, only to quickly shred the results. But I’m getting off track. Gabbing is hard work. I can barely listen to someone speak while keeping a polite face when I’m tired, much less drive the conversation. Engaging with people, or the air, or a brick wall, means displaying a relatively high level of enthusiasm. This means giving your body the fuel it needs to be awake, inquisitive, and creative. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water to keep those vocal chords healthy and flippity floppity.
I know you probably could’ve used these tips before all of the holiday parties, but I dropped the ball. Speaking of the the ball dropping, Happy 2015!