I know I'm not the only one who experiences awkward conversations from time to time.
Whether they are with co-workers, friends, or people you just met, awkward conversations seem to be a part of all relationships. So wouldn’t it be great to have some tools that help you embrace them?
Here are four not-so-awkward ways to transition out of awkward moments:
1. Hold eye contact.
While it may seem unnatural at first, holding eye contact with someone else creates a deeper level of engagement that words alone don’t offer. Now, this doesn’t mean to laser-eye-not-blink at the other person ... that’s just weird (and, yes, I know from experience.) But instead, slow down with your words and give them the prize of your eyes.
If this feels super uncomfortable, just attempt to hold your gaze with the other person for a second longer than you normally would. It’s about progress, not perfection.
2. Reveal your awkward self (in the moment).
“I’m noticing that I’m very much in my head and don’t know what to say next …” How would you feel if someone said this to you? Would you judge them? Or be so impressed by their honesty that you start to feel a little more connected to them?
I’ve found that the latter is usually the case. When we reveal what we are experiencing in the moment, it allows us to relate to others in a whole new way. This type of discussion is referred to as a relational conversation (as opposed to an informational one), and it's a proven way to forge meaningful partnerships.
3. Be OK with silence.
Silence. The mother of all awkward. As a culture, we tend to shame silence and believe that there’s something wrong if we’re not filling the gaps with uhms, ahhs, or tension-releasing laughs. Getting comfortable with silence can often be relaxing (after the initial awkward phase) because the pressure to find the “right” words totally disappears. Next time you engage with someone, pause for a second longer before you speak and notice what happens. You'll likely find that this extra time to consider your words is a lifesaver.
4. Share what’s REALLY going on for you.
One of my mentors would always start our calls with, “Hey, what’s going on?" to which I'd respond with some half-baked answer. Then, he would say, “What’s reaaaaally going on?” Generally, our answers to these types of questions are canned, rehearsed, and repeated throughout the day. But stopping for a second to share a little bit about what's actually going on with you makes you come off far more genuine and relatable.