The more comfortable you make awkward people feel the easier it is for them to talk to you.

How to Hold Conversations With Awkward People

by Nina Edwards

You’re at your best friend’s best friend's dinner party. One of her coworkers begins asking questions about your personal life. You’ve never met this woman before in your life and it seems a bit odd telling her about the latest issues with your mother-in-law. Do you keep the conversation going and politely answer her awkward questions? You don’t want to hurt her feelings or ruin your best friend’s party. Before you attempt to shut down the conversation, why not whip out some advanced social skills?

There's No Avoiding This

In your everyday life, you meet a multitude of people. Chances are, not everyone is so easy to talk to. Your colleague at work may nag you every day about the same issues or your doorman may awkwardly start up a conversation but halt after every word or two. Whatever the conversation or whomever the person, you have to learn how to handle situations you don’t feel comfortable in without seeming rude or ignorant.

Just Listen

An awkward conversation usually begins when one of the speakers is hesitant or too shy to talk. They will talk in halted sentences, possibly stammer or may be on the other side of the spectrum and talk too fast, too quickly. It is important that you try to listen and not let them feel as though what they are saying or doing is odd. Listening is not the easiest task, as it states in the article entitled, “Listening to Learn or Learning to Listen?” found in the Journal of Annual Review of Applied Linguistics. Neither is having compassion, the authors go on to say.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

When you’re in a conversation with an awkward or shy person, your actions can have a deep impact on how comfortable they feel talking to you. If the person is stammering or stuttering, be patient. If you begin to sigh, tap your fingers or show other signs of impatience, it will make the speaker feel rushed which will only aggravate their symptoms. In an article entitled, “There Are No Difficult People” on, knowing how to deal with people in odd or uncomfortable situations can help ease the flow and feel of the conversation. It is important to control your reactions. The next time that person talks to you they will feel much more at ease when talking to you.

Talk About It

If the person you are talking to is someone close to you, you may want to think about talking to them about their awkward habits. It could be possible that they are not aware of their habits. By talking to them in a kind manner about the issues you find when holding a conversation with them, you can help them understand how to improve their conversation abilities. Communication is key in any relationship. In an article on entitled, “Say What? Effective Communication for Your Love Life”, the author states that telling the truth can help clear the mind of unnecessary mental stress. You will not only be dong yourself a favor, but you will be helping your friend as well. The next time they speak to someone, it will be with a lot more confidence.

About the Author

Nina Edwards holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and has been writing about families and relationships since 2000. She has numerous publications in scholarly journals and often writes for relationship websites as well. Edwards is a university lecturer and practicing psychologist in New York City.

Photo Credits

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