List of Things to Say in Awkward Situations

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We’ve all been there — in a situation where we are fidgeting and searching for just the right thing to say.  These awkward social encounters can make us anxious, stressed out and agitated.  But as with many things in life — you have to “fake it til you make it” — enter…the list.  Here’s a few phrases and questions to bring up the next time you are at a loss for words:

Dinner Parties

For some people – dinner parties can be excruciating.  Small talk, people you don’t know and awkward silences can really make you uneasy.  If you go into social situations like dinner or cocktail parties prepared — you will have a much better time.  Here’s some ideas to pull you out of this tough time:

  • Ask open ended questions — not ones that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”
  • Compliment someone — this could spark a conversation about where the earrings you pointed out came from, which could get the ball rolling for an interesting exchange.
  • Bring up current events.  I would stay away from politics and religion until you know the person better but all other subjects should generate some good banter.
  • Talk about food! Ask about what restaurants the person likes or where they have visited in your city.  People are usually very passionate about this subject.

Baby Shower

I always find baby and bridal showers so awkward! There are a bunch of women from all parts of the guest of honor’s life — but sometimes they have nothing in common.  Well — at least you would think that at first:

  • “How do you know the mom-to-be?”
  • Ask what the person’s favorite book was as a child
  • Bring up travel plans — hopefully this will get the conversation flowing
  • Mention a movie that has something to do with weddings or babies

Elevator

At least once a day I get into the elevator at work and am at a loss when someone else enters from another floor.  Luckily, I work at a TV station and we have TVs running 24-7 in our elevators — so that cuts down on the awkwardness — but here are some ideas if you don’t have technology to help you out:

  • Smile — sometimes that’s all you need to do to break the ice.
  • Mention the floor where the person is going to get off — ask what department is on that floor.
  • Respect space — not everyone wants to talk in an elevator.  It’s OK to just say nothing sometimes.

Funerals

Nerves and emotions get the better of us when someone dies.  Especially if you aren’t super close to the person who passed away — it can be difficult to know what to say.  Here’s a few:

  • Share a fond memory about the deceased person
  • “I know this is a hard time for you and your family — please know that my heart goes out to you.”
  • Speak about the deceased person’s accomplishments (family, career, personal)
  • Offer to cook dinner or help clean up after their guests leave

Questions to Keep on Hand

  • What was the best part of your day today?
  • What was the last movie you saw?
  • What type of books do you like to read?
  • If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
  • Do you play any instruments or speak any languages?
  • What type of kid were you?
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