The Pause That Refreshes

I was on the phone the other night with a friend and after chatting along for a while, the conversation suddenly stopped.

Had we just run out of things to say?
Had one or both sides of the conversation become boring?
Was the conversation, in fact, over and we just didn’t know how to end it?

As it turned out, none of the above was true.

What it was, was…(cue the dramatic music)…dun, dun, dun…


What do you do when a loss for words creates this uncomfortable situation?

Here are 5 tips to help bring you back in to the moment.

1) Take a deep breath. Seriously. If you’ve both been covering a lot of subjects (like my friend and I had been doing) you’ve probably got brain overload and you need to deliver some oxygen upstairs to help refresh the old thinking cap. This will help you recall some key points you had previously wanted to make while in the midst of conversation.

2) Crack a joke/Tell a Funny story. Perhaps it’s the pace of the repartee that has gotten stale and an infusion of belly laughs–even just a chuckle will do–is just what the doctor ordered to trigger some new thoughts or, perhaps a new line in the conversational direction.

3) If the conversation has been “me” directed, make it more “you” directed. Nobody likes a blow-hard. Ideally, there should be a give-and-take in the sharing of experiences, ideas and stories being told.

4) Ask about the weather.  Are you kidding me?? No, I’m not. You could also ask about family. This is easier with someone who is not a complete stranger but without getting too personal, it can be an automatic ice breaker. You can often find common ground that helps you relate better. Also, it can help you catch your breath in order to move on to more thought-provoking subjects.

5) Ask the other person how they plan on spending the rest of their day, or week, or weekend–depending on the context.  This last tip helps create a nice, rounding out of the conversation–and also signals that now it IS time to begin to wrap things up. It also opens the door to the idea of deeper/further discussion at a future date.

Although this all may seem like common sense stuff, we’ve all been there at some time or another, when those awkward silences just clog the brain’s energy for good conversational flow.  So, next time you hit the awkward “pause” button in future chats with friends and colleagues, use these tips to refresh. Then, continue the conversation!

Do you have tips of your own for those occasions when one is at a loss for words? Share them in the comments below!


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