Conversational Quiet

Posted: July 3, 2014 in Everyday Life

Why is it when I am with someone and there is a lull in the conversation I have the uncomfortable feeling of being responsible for keeping the conversation going? I most likely blurt something out just to break the silence. Even if it has nothing to do with any topic we’ve been talking about. Are all of we humans uncomfortable with “conversational quiet”?

I have noticed that the better I’m acquainted with someone the longer I can allow the silence to last. A silence between my wife and I can last hours with neither of us being bothered at all. But if I receive a telephone call from a complete stranger, a lull in the conversation is unbearable. M has been known to slam the phone down almost immediately upon answering. But her silent calls may be accompanied by heavy breathing, I don’t know.

All through this week while at restaurant meals with coworkers, I decided to note the maximum allowable time for silence in our conversations. No one knew of my experiments. I controlled the urge to say anything impulsively stupid and allowed the silences to only be broken by my table mate at the time. Just as I suspected, their “conversational quiet” tolerance is no better or worse than mine. The fellows I work with the least had the shortest lulls. With the one guy I’ve worked with for many years, we could practically carry on a conversation by eye movements, facial expressions and hand gestures.

So for one-on-one conversations, I declare the saying “better to remain quiet and thought a fool than to say something and remove all doubt” as invalid, void and uninformed. I really think our genetic programming tells us ” better to say something stupid to keep the conversation going than to stay quiet and remain strangers”.

Such is the life of John

  1. Ha! I love this! 🙂
    I’m VERY outgoing and friendly…and am often the “chatty cathy” in a group.
    But, silence can be good. And is very comforting when with people you love. 🙂
    I had to learn about silence when teaching adults. I had taught kids for years and years…and when you ask a question in class, kid’s shoot their hands up and they want to answer and talk.
    Then I started teaching adults and had to get used to asking a question and then waiting patiently while they thought about how they were gonna’ answer. Ha. But, I love teaching adults! 🙂
    Happy 4th to you and your family!!!
    My kids (all young adults and living on their own) are here for a week! We’re having a blast! 🙂
    Firecracker-HUGS!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never thought about how a teacher would transition from children to adult teaching. I think maybe all good teachers have to be “chatty” to a great extent. 🙂
      We will be with most of the Grandkids and son and daughter. Probably will burn a lot of fireworks tomorrow.
      Happy Roman Candles to you also!


  2. I totally get it… although I’m not a talker generally, it does make me uncomfortable when there’s a lull in conversation. Cheers !!!


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