I treasure silence. FuBu often teases me if I sit down at the kitchen table with a cup of tea or coffee and do nothing. Yeah, so I like to “Puddy”, what’s so wrong with that? He will natter at me, “Don’t you want any music on? Do you want me to turn on the TV? Why don’t you read the paper?” No, all I want is silence. It’s such a rare treat. DQ – like most kids her age – has a preponderance for babbling. So the minute her eyes close for the night, I feel like I’ve arrived at a spa, I am so calmed!
However, silences can definitely be awkward and deafening. Like in conversations, for instance. There are conversationalists at each end of the spectrum: those who are incredibly comfortable with the pauses and unknowingly leave you feeling like you should be saying something because they will just stare at you; and those who become so anxious about the mere thought of a pause in a conversation that they will blather random, run-on thoughts and you just want to yell, “STOP!”
Those who are comfortable with the pause can be said to be the most secure and confident. They probably are the ones who never say “um” while talking, either (I hate those people!). I used to be in a social circle with a girl who was a classic pauser. She used to stop and just look at me. I would either have to avert eye contact and try to start up a conversation with someone else, or barring the availability of a third person, I would start to sweat. Somehow, where she would end a thought never seemed to segue into anything useful. Now the pressure was on to begin a whole new conversation thread. Quick, think of a topic! These conversations were always stilted, unnatural.
Those who are anxious about the awkward silence must have self-esteem issues. It’s distressing to me to listen to them talking non-stop, I just fear they are about to turn blue. What is the socially acceptable way to gracefully exit this conversation? You can’t even try to interrupt them, because this seems to make them even more eager to go on and speak faster because they are now anxious that you may be getting bored (which you are, you definitely are).
There is nothing more inspiring than a great conversation: the topics are interesting and naturally flow from one to the other, there is no judgement about your feedback or responses, and any silences are natural. When a conversation hits a stride, you are engaged, you are intent and in the moment, and isn’t that what all personal improvement gurus say is the ultimate pursuit: living in the moment? So if you have a friend or loved one who can carry a good conversation, cherish them. They make life whole, especially in the age of social media where “conversations” are but mere bursts of text with lots of spelling mistakes! Don’t even get me started on that…