Since I’ve started using Awkward Silence, I find one conversation situation particularly problematic - chatting to someone on an elevator ride.
If you work in an office, you probably encounter this quite often. You are both catching the lift on your way to different destinations. You don’t want to not interact, that feels rude. Yet you are only together for a minute.
It’s short enough to not get into a proper conversation, but long enough to be awkward if you just have dead air.
There are many other similar scenarios, where you are sharing a couple of minutes with someone knowing it will only be brief. What should you talk about?
Rather than asking a question, perhaps you can use the time to affirm them. Say something nice. “I notice you work really hard, you always do more than is expected of you.” “You’re a funny girl. I love it when people aren’t serious all the time.” “I admire how you speak up for people when they aren’t there to stand up for themselves.”
This is a really effective use of a minute. A lot of people go through life feeling unappreciated. When others notice their efforts or recognise the good in them, it encourages & validates them. And it makes them feel good, they walk away feeling like their efforts to be a good human are worthwhile.
What’s more, they will have a positive association of you.
If you ask something, make it punchy & light. You aren’t solving the world’s problems as you bump into someone in the bathroom. But you can learn a quick fact about them.
“What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week?”
“What was the last movie you watched?”
“How would you summarise your week in a word?”
The trick is to have a question or two up your sleeve in advance that you can quickly pull out when in that scenario. When you are on the spot, it can be hard to think of something to say. And by the time you do, it’s time to move on.
But when you have a question ready to go, you can quickly pull it out and make the most of a fleeting situation. Have a different question each week so as not to overwork it, and the question won’t become dull for you.
It’s better than having another inane conversation agreeing about the weather.
Awkward Silence gives you new ideas each week as part of your subscription. Our conversation starters provoke hearty conversations. But we have lighter questions too, perfect for those quick conversations.
Are you ready to make the most of a minute?