The Awkward Conversation Kit

We’re all constantly put in situations where awkward conversations happen. You know what I mean, the kind of polite small talk that starts but doesn’t seem to go anywhere. You find yourself smiling and nodding at the person as your mind runs through a million and one things to say next, but you’re suddenly distracted because your cheeks are paralyzed from all that forced smiling.

I’m the kind of person who manages to make everything awkward, so you can imagine the horror I go through when I’m put in these situations. After countless embarrassing encounters, I decided to come up with handy conversation savers that can be used during these moments.

Elevator Chatter

Most of the time you can get away with this by sticking your nose against your phone screen and look like you’re really, really focused. Sometimes, though, you come across that overly-friendly stranger that wants to ask you about your day. This is a situation which you can’t run from since you’re confined in a tiny box with this person. You could always try to turn around and face a corner, but I can’t guarantee that your sanity won’t be questioned once you’ve done so.

Elevator conversations usually go a little something like this:

“Hello!”

“Hello…”

“Having a good day?”

“Yes, thanks. And you?”

“Yeah, yeah. Pretty good.”

*Awkward silence followed with foot tapping and alternating between staring at the floor and ceiling*

The good thing about elevators is that they never last for long anyway. The best way to overcome the awkwardness of this situation is engage in conversation… really, really slow conversation, while estimating the time it will take to reach your floor. So your conversation will be:

“Hello!”

“Hello…”

“Having a good day?”

“Well… *shake head*…  It’s been a rough day… *sigh*… Work… *pause for dramatic effect*… Work is just hectic… OH! That’s my floor, bye now!”

Meeting Room Ramblings

I’m always torn between showing up at a meeting 30 seconds late so as to ensure that everyone has arrived, and showing that you mean serious business by showing up ahead of time and getting stuck with small talk until everyone’s there.

Being the complete nerd that I am, I usually opt for the latter. While you could easily set the scene for the meeting by giving a brief introduction about what you’re about to discuss, no one really wants to talk work until the meeting’s actually started. Since we’re all stuck in a dreary office, the topic that usually comes up is “been on any interesting holidays lately?” As you recollect memories of yourself on the beach, drink in hand, screaming “I love you man” at the DJ, you realize you’ve been sitting there with a blank look on your face for a good two minutes.

There is a very simple solution to this one. YOU need to initiate the conversation. Before your backside even hits the seat, jump in with a “So! The weather’s been such a drag. Tell me about your most recent holiday.” Chances are they’ll be so excited to recount their water rafting experience that you won’t even have time to contribute to the conversation.

Annoying Acquaintances

We all have an acquaintance that we pretend not to see when out shopping. And we all know that acquaintance is going to make their way across the store just to say hello. It’s not like you’re subtle about avoiding them, they just do not get the hint. There’s a reason that they haven’t crossed into the friend-zone, and that’s because you have absolutely nothing to say to them.

Of course, these people who make an effort to come over and greet you want to say more than just that. This next tactic is one that requires focus and pre-planning. Once you spot this annoying acquaintance, grab your phone and constantly look at it as if you’re waiting for a very important text. Continue this as they speak to you, and about 45 seconds into the conversation look at your phone as if someone’s just told you a leprechaun stopped by your house to drop off a million dollars. Next, you say the following: “I’m so sorry, but I have to run. My cat finally pooped out my mum’s diamond earring.” And then, you run.

Irrational Dinner Table Seating Arrangements

This unfortunately happens sometimes. You’re invited to a dinner party, and when you see where you’ve been seated you begin to wonder what your friend was smoking when he/she placed you on that table. You have to spend an entire evening with people you have absolutely nothing in common with, and start to struggle to make conversation before you’ve even sat down.

The way to get out of this one requires a little sacrifice. Once everyone’s been seated and the awkward conversation starts, wait for someone to say something remotely funny (or at least something that was intended to be funny, no matter how unfunny it was) burst into uncontrollable laughter and knock your drink over onto yourself. Now, I’m not saying drench yourself in the drink, but spill just enough that you can excuse yourself from the table to get cleaned up. Once you’re off the table, you can begin to work as the unofficial seat filler at the party, or just linger by the buffet.

spill1

The Ex

This one is probably the most horrific situation of them all. I was recently put in this situation where I had to make the most meaningless small talk with my ex. Keep in mind that things between us didn’t end on the best of terms. Actually, things ended really, really badly. So badly, in fact, that he was terrified to have to see me that day. This is how I dealt with the situation at the time:

“OK… We should probably talk to that people don’t feel like things are getting awkward. Not that I really want to talk to you. Anyway. How’s your brother?”

As you can see, that wasn’t the smoothest conversation in the world. And now do you know what I mean when I say I make EVERYTHING more awkward than it needs to be?  To handle this situation in the best way possible, talk about yourself. Why, you may ask? Well, when you’re talking about yourself, you always seem happy. So even though you’re basically bragging to your ex that your life is tons better now that he/she is gone, to everyone else at the table you look like you’re engaging in polite conversation. Go on and gloat girl!

I hope this kit somewhat helps you get through future awkwardness. And if it doesn’t, I hope it at least made you laugh.

Lama