There is a conversation faux-pas that seems obvious to most, oblivious to others. And as we at Awkward Silence chat to people about conversation, we hear many people complain about it again & again.
It’s the failure to bounce-back a question to keep the conversation rolling along.
Someone meets somebody at a social gathering and they’re getting to know them. Or trying to, at least. They keep asking the person about themselves. They ask questions about their hobbies, their passions, their opinions. The person answers, but fails to bounce any questions back.
It can be frustrating for the one making the effort to ask.
The reason the person isn’t bouncing the questions back is one of a few reasons. Perhaps they are being rude and don’t want to talk to you. Perhaps they are so self-centred they are happy just to talk about themselves.
But the reason isn’t always that volatile. Some people are cripplingly shy. Others are just too socially naïve to realise they should be doing it.
If this isn’t you, you don’t need to read on. Read one of our other excellent articles instead. But if this is you, please please please read on.
Bouncing back a question is one of the easiest ways to keep a conversation moving. After you have answered a question, you repeat the question back at the person to hear their point of view.
And for the shy, it means you only need to do half the talking.
It’s also respectful. You are showing a mutual interest in them and demonstrating an effort to get to know them.
Don't forget to bounce questions back after you've answered.
If you aren’t listening, the conversation doesn’t evolve. It’s just two people saying things they each already know at each other.
Some things are good for us to hear, even if they are things we already know.
Martin Pistorius was diagnosed as being brain dead. Yet he was conscious, alert, and could see & hear everything that was happening around him. No one realised for 11 years.