Monday, 27 August 2012

Those awkward silences


A great man once remarked that he regretted his speech but never his silences. Perhaps, he has never faced the kind of silences that I am going to write about in this post. Well, the awkward silence that hangs heavy after a few minutes after being introduced to someone and having completed initial pleasantries; the silence that hovers when you have finished what you want to say but the listener at the other end does not hang up. These silences are something that I am not very comfortable with. And almost every time the person with whom these ‘silent’ episodes occur are people whom we either know very well or people whom we don’t know at all. Let me illustrate.

You attend a lecture by a very eminent person. While reading that person’s work, you feel that you have a lot to ask him/her but when you get the chance and get introduced to that person; you are unable to talk any further than the initial usual pleasantries.


Your Professor, with whom you have good relations with, calls you up for asking some information about the timings of the local library. You give her the required information but she does not hang up . . . she expects that you would like to talk something to her and vice-versa. Silence. It is very difficult for me to pick up courage and say, ‘Okay, then, I will speak to you later’ because you think it is impolite to hang up when someone of that position calls you. Well, one has to wait patiently till the person at the other end gets impatient and says, ‘Okay, then, I will speak to you later.’ Relief.

Now, this has to be the most interesting. You go to a social gathering and spot your friend. The friend who is extra social would like you to meet all his friends. And so, he decides to introduce you to his most exciting buddy. Well, the exciting buddy smiles after being introduced and does not even attempt to make a conversation while you are bursting with enthusiasm to answer his questions. Silence. Help comes in the form of spotting another friend and excusing oneself. Well, you might think that I could have started a conversation . . . Sometimes one is content with the social circle one has and so it becomes a bit boring to initiate these kinds of conversations. After all, don’t I have enough friends!!! (Is there something as enough when it comes to friends?)



Another awkward silence is when I write in someone’s blog and the blogger is oblivious to my presence in her/his blog and is ‘silent.’ The blogger at the other end does not make any effort to acknowledge me by either visiting me or even replying to my comment on his/her blog. Well, I am not complaining for I know that time is always the constraining factor!

Dear reader, how do you tackle silences that are not meditative and reflective?

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

37 comments:

  1. I rarely have these awkward silences as I talk a lot and am brimming with stuff to share.

    These awkward silences happen only when I am introduced to someone new. AT that time I start with a question, so what is it that you do? to break the ice :)

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    1. Good for you, dear Pineapple. Sometimes it gets a tad boring for me to get introduced to people. If I am interested, I can rattle on about education, weather and life in general.

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  2. Hi Susan

    I know , these silences can get really awkward.

    Silences that I dont prefer happen during gatherings and get-togethers. When a seemingly harmless topic enters a dangerous zone and cool tempers suddenly start flaring and people get into an unpleasant argument. Then one will storm out of the place and an eerie silence will follow! :D

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    1. Oh yes, eerie silences are also present. I am also thinking of movie houses where scary films are played . . . when there is a crucial point . . . there is a silence which is eerie and then a scream . . . Reality jolts us!!

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  3. I experience them...but, again they are not very often.

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  4. I have to deal with silence in therapy. Lots of teenagers in particular don't want to talk to you and sometimes, it can be a challenge for me to shut up and wait for them. But I'm learning. I think it's natural for most of us to want to fill awkward silences though. At the same time, I do like comfortable silences...there's no pressure! :D

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    1. You must be having a tough time with the adolescents. Even in teaching, we face problems with the kids.
      And, comfortable silence is always welcome.

      Delete
  5. I LOVE silence between two Peeps
    who 'know' each other so well.

    It is a higher pleasure to just "be with" the other.

    Realize that is not your topic, Susan Deborah.
    ON TOPIC:
    During that silence with one unfamiliar,
    I just ask them about themselves: Where are
    you staying? You must really enjoy your work?
    What do you do for leisure? What is your favorite place in the world to live? To visit?

    (I know I'm not the timely-est of responders. Yes, time is a factor, but truth is, don't we all find the time to do what we wish?
    Like right now--
    two other places I might be,
    but right here is preferred, by ME!
    LOVE, Susan, and PEACE, you comment-starved girl--grin!!!!!
    Steve

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    1. Sometimes silences are the best conversations but during moments of awkward silences, even conversations don't help!

      "Comment-starved!!" Hmmmmmm.

      Joy and love in equal measures to you :)

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  6. ha ha ha yes. i often very candidly remark - well this is getting awkward so let's talk about this or let's just move on :)

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    1. Good strategy. Let me try using it the next time. But then, over the phone, it isn't possible!

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  7. I prefer to remain silent most of the time and speak mostly through my writing.
    -Portia

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    1. Wise girl you are but then when it comes to the real world, what do you do.

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  8. Aww Susan!! I would love to have those silence moments you speak about...i usually go the opposite way...blabbing soo much to even strangers..that i sometimes find my foot is in my mouth and i feel that a little bit of silence would have been so much better

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    1. Ah yes, but then in CCD, you weren't so verbose. You were silent in parts!! I guess you have this great image of you being an extra super extrovert, woman lover and so on. Why do you gloss over your already sweet personality, Doktor?

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  9. My awkward silences are usually on the telephone as you might have noticed! I hope I'm not the blogger ignoring you - I know I've been bad about responding to comments - sorry ;)

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    1. Telephone!!! Yes. You are very quiet over the phone. And about the comments, forget them -- it's not you <3

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  10. I love for writing this so well. I nodded my head at each point. :)

    Observations, such simple ones- they make me keep coming back to your blog.

    Have a lovely week ahead Susan!

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    1. And, I love you when you comment so honestly.

      Hope life is great for you. Take care.

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  11. I am sure by now you would have realised that I talk too much and seldom a time comes when i dont have anything ot say , I think thats what lands me in trouble mostly ..


    but While at work I see that a lot , the moment I question someone its silence as if nothing has happened

    Bikram's

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  12. Kaise kahoon, kya kahoon, kaise bataoon :)!
    Nice one makes one think of all the blogs that I visit and post comments but never get a reply comment on my blog.

    As the Bhagvad Gita says - DO your DUTY - don't expect results :) - so I will keep posting comments on the posts I like :)

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    1. Khiss metti ke banne ho aap? "Do your duty" I believe. As if visiting and commenting on blogs is a duty!!! Sometimes it feels good to be acknowledged, Maheshji.

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  13. I have had those moments but they are rare. I guess it is when you find difficulty to connect to a certain person. Great post Susan and hope you are doing well my friend!

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    1. Thanks Nelieta. Sometimes the silences are quite awkward.

      I am good and hope it is the same with you.

      Delete
  14. Oh, those silences can be awkward for sure! Susan, your words here made me reflect upon the times I've been in the same situations and made me think about how I can ameliorate them the next time they come up.
    And, you know that when you comment on my blog, you will always get a response. :)
    Blessings!

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    1. Reflecting is something that should be practiced consciously. And, you are right about thinking and ameliorating them.

      :) Love.

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  15. I've always wondered what i will say if/when i meet one of my fav stars, like Mohanlal or Dhoni... i definitely don't want it to get wasted away in an awkward silence. :) i totally get what u r saying about awkward silences Susie. Am especially lost when i don't know what to say when i'm in a social gathering and am with people i'm not really comfortable with. but then, i try to say something, then laugh my silly laugh and move onto where the food is. or kids are. no pressure there! :)

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    1. Kajal, you will never have moments like those, I reckon. And as for food, they are the greatest escape points. Kids, I'm not sure!

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  16. I do have these moments but not so often because I am such a chatter box. Sometimes I think I talk too much, maybe out of nervousness or fear of these awkward silences.But I understand what you mean. Thanks for sharing this Susan. God bless you. May you have less of these awkward silent moments.

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    1. Most of the commenters here are chatter-boxes and no wonder that we all love to write posts!

      God bless you too, dearest Rimly. Much love.

      Delete
  17. //the awkward silence that hangs heavy after a few minutes after being introduced to someone and having completed initial pleasantries//

    LOL, yeah BEEN thereeee!!! and this silence is some ugly communication, a way of saying "What next? Go fish!" and those blogger silences, I hayytee em! :) I try to be responsive to ALL my comments. Now that I have no great no of followers I find that easy, is it a TASK for those who blog a lot and have a lot of blogger friends? I ask (all)..

    Do stop by my blog! Kappu

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    1. It is not a task per say but it does take a lot of your time. For me, half a day goes in replying comments, visiting other blogs and commenting. I enjoy it nevertheless.

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  18. I asked the other person questions. I've found most people, given the chance and interest, will talk and talk about themselves. It's a place to start. You never know where you will end up. It's not always easy, but it feels up the gap.

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    1. Quite right, Brenda.

      Welcome here and thanks for stopping by to make a comment. Much appreciated. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

      Joy always :)

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  19. Starting a conversation with anyone comes naturally to me... When I get the feel that an awkward silence is about to set in, I ask something which is common to everyone and keep the conversation going.

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