Awkward silence in any situation is…. uncomfortable, embarrassing and well… awkward and when it’s on a first date, it can seem to stretch on forever with no end in sight. You don’t know this person very well, or how they think, so trying to recover can be touch and go for a budding connection. Following are Date With Eight's suggestions for preventing the awkwardness from happening at all, or filling awkward silences if they do occur.
Be Genuinely Interested
Prevent any awkwardness from arising by listening and allowing yourself to be interested in what the other person has to say. Tell a relatable story and ask open questions, that way you will be able to easily banter back and forth without needing a list of boring questions that neither of you care about answering. If you appear interested, they may relax a little and be able to open up more easily too, which in effect will help you out.
Have Some Tricks up Your Sleeve
Have a couple of outside-of-the-box questions prepared just in case. Don’t feel like you have to pull them out if conversation is flowing nicely, but have them to use in an emergency...
- If you had to choose between a beach vacation or a snow holiday, which would it be and why?
- If you had some of us over for dinner, what would you cook? (or order in!)
- Has any one thing been a major turning point in your life?
- What excites you?
A few seconds of silence between friends is completely normal; it is only the pressure of the first date situation that is making the silence awkward. Don’t blurt out the first thing that comes to mind just to fill any patch of silence. With any luck, someone else at the table will fill it without you needing to scramble. If you have some of the Date With Eight prompt cards on the table, this would be the time to use them!
Make it a Joke
Call the awkwardness out. “Well that was an awkward silence.” “So, how about that weather huh?” Instantly you will diffuse the tension and turn a negative into a positive.
Time To Merge
Use the pause to listen in on what some of the others are talking about – this is totally acceptable on a group date! Introduce yourself and the other person to another conversation by asking a question or even just making eye contact. Group conversations are a great way to see how inpiduals handle themselves and interact with others.
Remember, awkward silences can happen with your boss in the elevator or with your flatmate's girlfriend while waiting for the coffee machine, so when you're on a date don't take the quiet moments personally. The other person is feeling it too - so rather than making it worse by checking your watch or pulling out your mobile phone, take on board some of these suggestions for a much more pleasant dating experience.
- Jess Page, Date With Eight