How to Avoid Awkward Conversations

Awkward Conversations
You are walking down a long, straight trail and notice about 100 meters ahead of you that someone is walking toward you. You don’t wish to be rude by not acknowledging their existence, but at the same time, striking up a conversation or saying anything feels awkward.

Now the distance is only 50 meters. What are you going to do? Possible fake a phone call? No, that’s stupid and sort of obvious.

Twenty-five meters away! Now you are starting to freak out! As the two of you pass, you give a half glance, smile awkwardly, say “hey!” – and then move on.

All of us have been in this situation, and others that are just plain … well … awkward. Awkward moments are a part of life; there is no way to completely get rid of them.

However, there are a few ways to minimize awkward situations at least, so you may continue to go about your day. 

Hire Someone

Depending on the situation, sending someone else to carry out the awkward task may often be your best option. For example, if you rent out homes or apartments, you can hire an agency to manage all the evictions, late fees, and maintenance checks with regard to your tenants.

Agents can handle all the face-to-face interactions that are uncomfortable, even embarrassing, but nevertheless essential. Hiring someone to perform those tasks is often less awkward for them because they either do it for a living, or haven’t any kind of relationship with the person you send them to talk with.

If you’ve even been an intern, you’ve probably been in this spot and didn’t mind that much because you wanted to show off and impress your supervisor. The bottom line is to ask yourself the question: Is it worth the money and time saved?

If the answer is yes, then the odds are you can find someone to do it for you. 

Find Something to Say or Do

Not every awkward experience is avoidable, such as the two-solitary-walkers-on-the-trail scenario mentioned at the beginning of this article. Rather than let the moment get more and more awkward as time passes, find something to say or do ahead of time.

If the person has a dog, that’s an easy out. Just say “I love your dog!” If they happen to be running, “nice job” is actually very common in the running world and won’t be awkward.

Maybe you are in a meeting, you arrive early, and there’s only one other person in the room. Commenting about something as simple as arriving super early or the weather can break the ice and launch a normal conversation.

The point is, having something to say or do in your back pocket will pay off. Just saying something or doing something awkward for five seconds can sometimes prevent minutes or hours of further unease that grows worse with each passing minute.

Accept Awkwardness

What is awkward anyway? According to Oxford, awkward is the feeling of being uncomfortable or inconvenienced.

Neither of those is measurable, however, and are both personal decisions. Nobody can force an awkward situation; those are created in each person’s own mind.

For example, a toddler has no problem walking up to random strangers and saying hello to them. Why is that? Because they haven’t been taught that it is not socially normal to do that.

When you’re in a situation that feels awkward, choose not to let it remain so. Smiling at someone or just starting up a conversation can usually dispel the feeling fairly quickly.

Some of the world’s most successful people have been socially awkward but they became successful because they didn’t allow society to tell them to live inside a social boundary. As time goes by, these scenarios will become less awkward.

Ask any door-to-door salesperson about the challenge of knocking on the doors of strangers and they will most likely say that as time passed, such encounters became normal.

Just remember, awkward scenarios are going to occur. What happens next can either make the situation more awkward, or lead to a positive conversation, a new friend, or if nothing else, an end to that uncomfortable feeling.