Skip to content

Social Competency the Fourth: Using Awkward Conversational Pauses to Your Advantage

July 20, 2009

We’ve all been there, right?  Well, in truth I’ve never been there but I’m sure you have.  You’re in a small group of people you just met at a bar, or a cocktail party, or at a work function and everyone is getting to know each other.  Or maybe it’s just you and another interesting person that you’ve begun to chat with.  Either way, the conversation is running along smoothly, everyone is laughing and having a good time then ZAP…discussion over.  Everyone is staring into their drinks or looking at the floor or playing around on thier Iphone, but no one’s talking.  Normal conversation usually resumes after a couple of minutes, but the fact that a pause was there hangs like a weight over all involved.  The bubble has been burst and all chatting after this is now subject to abrupt termination.

We in the business of being cool call this “communication discontinuance” and we look upon this phenomena as an opportunity not an annoyance.  This situation can provide you with a favorable circumstance in which to prove your social superiority to those around you.  Look at it as an opportunity to “sell yourself” to your newfound friends.  “How does this work for you Caleb?” you might ask, to which I respond: “Dude, I’m the alpha male in any group I’m in, there’s no need to sell myself.  Get real, that’s for losers.”

How does this kind of terrifying social situation come about?  Well like I said it never happens to me, but for the purposes of our lesson, I’ll try to step into your shoes and provide an example.  Keep in mind that this is not a real situation, I would never be this lame.  But just for kicks, we’ll pretend that it’s me interacting with a target of my affectations.

Fictional Me: Hi my name’s Caleb.  I noticed you looking at me from across the room and I thought I’d come over and get to know you a little better.

Other Person: Uh, I have to look at you, I’m your probation officer and we’re the only people in my office.  Now, about this reported stolen car…

Fictional Me: Pshaw little lady, don’t let small details get in the way.  I can tell you’ve got somethin’ in mind and it ain’t no report to the judge.  I gotta let you know that I need you bad baby, I gotta get your number…

Cold-Hearted Snake: Sir, that’s completely inappropriate and you know it.  You’re trying to get me off task and I’m not going to have it!  Now, tell me where you were last night when a man matching your description was seen driving away from my house in my car?


Now you should get the picture.  Thankfully, musical topics, bands and solo artists are terrific converstation starters.  Take The National, for instance.  This Brooklyn band has been one of the most consistent of the decade.  Beginning with their self-titled debut, each of their releases has wound up on many critics’ top 10 for that year.  Although fronted by Matt Berninger, The National is pretty much a democracy with talented brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner and Scott and Bryan Devendorf contributing significantly to the sound of the band.  The National specialize in low-key, understated songs that are anchored by Berninger’s deep baritone voice.  Their songs may tell quirky stories, like the man who sneaks into his friend’s houses when they aren’t home to try out their stuff in “Green Gloves”.  Other songs make political statements like “Fake Empire”, or are just gorgeous love songs like “Theory of Crows”.  Since the 2007 release of their most recent album Boxer, members of the band have branched out into other pursuits.  The brothers Dessner have been the most prolific as they masterminded the Dark Was the Night compilation this year and also are working on a visual art collaboration called “The Long Count” that will premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in October.

How we would use the National to break the communication discontinuance in the example above?  Read and learn:

Fictional Me: Baby, this reminds me of a song off the National’s sophomore LP Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers called “Lucky You.”  Do you like that album?

Intrigued: Why yes, I love the National.  I never thought that a rogue like you would like such sophisticated music.

Fictional Me: Aw yeah, I’m a National fan from way back.  So about that whole “car theft” business, it ain’t me babe.

Starstruck: I understand that now sweetheart.  Why don’t you take your pretty self over there and lock that door?

Another sure-fire way to end conversational discontinuation is by bringing up anything having to do with singer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird.  Bird hails from Chicago and is somewhat of a Renaissance man in rock and roll.  Beginning his career in the mid-90’s through his work with the Squirrel Nut Zippers and his band the Bowl of Fire, Bird showcased his amazing skills as a violinist, vocalist and whistler.  In the early 2000’s, Bird went solo and released 2 albums on Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe record label.  His 2009 release Noble Beast has gained numerous critical accolades for its complex arrangements and musicality.  Bird is one of the few contemporary artists to successfully parley early training in classical music into the rock world.  While many singer-songwriters hearken back to the early sixties, Andrew Bird’s influences extend back into the early twentieth century.  His records sound like a trip backwards in time, but always sound contemporary as well.

We’ll use Andrew Bird as the foil for our fictitious quandry:

Not Me: You know, I couldn’t have stolen your car, I’m an Andrew Bird fan.

Other: Really? There’s no way! Andrew Bird fans don’t steal, and you stole my car.  You can’t be an Andrew Bird fan.

Not Me: Well, I am an Andrew Bird fan and I didn’t steal your car.

Other: Yes you did, check out this video surveillance that clearly shows you stealing my car.

Not Me: Curse you technological advancement!

Other: Gotcha sucka!

So that’s it folks, you shall never endure an awkward pause again.  Go forth and speak with confidence!  Unless you’re saying something dumb, then shut your mouth.

  1. May 2, 2014 3:42 pm

    Adore all of these steam showers

  2. July 23, 2014 9:00 am

    Read this great site and invested in a steam shower and
    never looked back again, awesome info on this site can not say thank you enough

  3. August 3, 2014 10:49 am

    Tons of functions and features on these steam showers, I
    really like the multimedia opinion and also the lighting

  4. August 7, 2014 12:49 am

    Great web site, really been browsing forever for tips on the perfect rattan furnishings for our home and in our patio.

    This site really helpedgreat blog some great info here

  5. August 12, 2014 9:16 am

    this one looks a lot like my own shower enclosure I purchased
    just lately, so pleased with it for any person found on the fence
    on the subject of getting one, do it now, you will not
    regret it

  6. August 22, 2014 8:24 pm

    Thank you for this site, can happily say we currently have a steam shower of our own and
    we love it

  7. August 25, 2014 12:40 am

    Had been actually searching for just a traditional shower
    enclosures during which I discovered this site,
    did not even know there were such a thing as a ‘steam shower enclosure’, incredible,
    may very well just may have to buy one

  8. September 4, 2014 2:59 am

    gone through the info on the website quite a lot, intending to take
    the plunge soon and get a steam shower cabin, in all probability
    immediately following the holiday season

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: