Use Moments of Awkward Silence for a Surprising Advantage with Men

how to deal with awkward silenceWhat feels like an awkward silence to you might not feel that way to a guy.

Let me show you why.

Let’s look at a sample conversation where two people are trying to make a connection.

MAN: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a neon pink-orange drink before.

WOMAN: I know, right? It’s like radioactive Kool-Aid. But it tastes amazing!

MAN: (laughs) It is like radioactive Kool-Aid. I feel like the Kool-Aid Man is gonna burst through the wall any second.

WOMAN: (laughs) Right? Me, too.

Both laugh. Pause.

WOMAN: I’m Julie.

MAN: Oh, right. Ken.

WOMAN: Nice to meet you.


WOMAN: And what are you drinking?

MAN: Water, unfortunately. My friends picked me as the designated driver.

WOMAN: Good for you. Better for them, but good for you.

Man laughs. Pause.

WOMAN: So what do you like to do when you’re not asking women about their drinks?


WOMAN: You know, for fun. Or work. Or, just, whatever.


WOMAN: Like, for example, I’m failing horribly at learning to play the guitar. How do people do it? They make it look easy, but let me tell you it is not…

This isn’t an awful conversation. There’s some banter. Maybe some chemistry.

Ken has no problem getting Julie talking. And she always seems quick with a reply.

But Julie does have some trouble there at the end.

Those pauses! Were they bothering you? Because they’re clearly killing Julie.

Whenever there’s dead air, she has to jump in. By the end, it seems like she’s taken it upon herself to keep the conversation going.

That’s a good thing, right? Not necessarily.

If you follow my blog, you already know you want to get the other person talking. This is true even if there are lulls in the conversation.

I’m going to explain why those lulls can actually be a good thing. But first, let’s understand why they happen.

There are the obvious reasons, of course. People don’t know what to say. They get intimidated. They get stuck in their head.

But science says there’s another reason for lulls when men and women talk: On average, women’s brains work faster than men’s.

It has to do with how our brains are set up. Which parts we use in conversation.

It’s not important to know the exact details. But you should know that these differences mean men can be slower to respond in conversations.

So those seemingly interminable pauses? It might just take his brain longer to think of a response.

Which brings me to why lulls can be good.

We assume that a conversation lull is a sign of boredom. Of disconnection.

But if a man doesn’t respond for five seconds or so, the opposite is often true.

His brain is working hard to process what you said. To come up with a great response. To find a way to connect.

So moderate lulls can be good. Because they show you he’s engaged.

But it’s what you do with a lull that matters even more.

If you rush to fill in the silence, he may feel interrupted. Pressured. Frustrated. Embarrassed. Like you feel he needs help to hold his ground in the conversation.

how to deal with awkward silenceGive him the space he needs to resolve the lull himself. He’ll feel respected. Liked. Valuable.

And it will make him trust and appreciate you as well.

All of which can lead to feelings of connection on both sides.

So the next time a guy doesn’t answer as quickly as you’d like, I want you to do something simple: count to five silently in your mind.

Use the time to center your mind on positive thoughts. Or sip from your drink. It doesn’t really matter what you do.

Just give him time. You might get a lot more back than you expect.

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18 thoughts on “Use Moments of Awkward Silence for a Surprising Advantage with Men

  1. Brenda said:

    My boyfriend broke up with me saying he changed but wants to be friends. He text if he doesn’t see me and tries to be in my face a lot. It’s hard to move on as he won’t give me space and he’s seeing some one new but won’t admit it to me though I told him I know. I still love him but need to move on. Advice?

  2. Letty said:

    Dear James
    I have found your books, forums and tips very useful to understand men and the differences with us women. You answered a lot of my questions. Most recently I got valuable support from Heidi and Kanya when my husband of 21 years went silent and was not willing to forgive me for what I thought was no big deal. After following advice from your coaches he finally came round and opened up agreeing for us to rebuild our relationship based on principles of mutual trust, respect, companionship and love. Now a few days later he has gone silent again – for two days in a row! We live in different countries and I have no idea what’s happening to him. I am hesitant to ask as I feel he might think I am stoking him. What do I do???

    • Tracey said:

      Hi Letty,

      Thank you so much for your comment. James wanted me to share this insight with you about Long Distance Relationships as he thinks it will help with your situation.

      Warm wishes,

    • Kelly Janine Mayo said:

      When you aren’t sure of a situation or how to fix it don’t do anything. Best to wait until you know the best steps for you, your situation, your life to the best solution that leads to the best possible outcome.

  3. Chris Ann said:

    Hi James I just discovered you and its at the perfect time I think…I’ve been really into this guy for the last four or so years but didn’t let him know until recently when he was about to leave & I thought I would never see him again..

  4. Joan said:

    Wow great advice.What if your spouse always ignores you and fails to respond even more than weeks. Also what if your spouse is having another lady out with children but he hides it from you, what should you do to own him hundred percent

  5. maribel linares said:

    Hola James, gracias por interesante tips…no lo sabia, lo tomare en cuenta, te felicito por todo el efuerzo que has hecho para obtener todos estos conocimientos para ayudar a muchas personas.


    Maribel linares desde venezuela

  6. CateG said:

    That is whole other kettle of fish than not getting an immediate response to a conversational gambit. “ALWAYS made to feel inferior”? WOW! I’d say what you can do is start respecting and valuing yourself and find a man who does the same…ditch the jerk!

  7. Crystal said:

    I am always the one being made to feel inferior to my other half. Never right always wrong! What’s the most important thing I can do to get the happiness back into my life?

  8. Kandi said:

    Wow. I am glad to know this Thanks. Helpful & very informative. I really enjoy learning what You teach about Men.

  9. Anna said:

    So does this also apply in a marriage? Like when there’s silence, that a man needs time to answer or think things through thoroughly?

    • James Bauer said:

      Yes! Use your intuition to guide you, Anna. But generally, you can tell if a man is processing–meaning he is still engaged with you. If he is, then give him time. Don’t fill the void. Let him do that, or else it becomes a one-sided interaction.

      • Anna said:

        Perfect! Thank you James! You have helped me immensely in making my marriage better with the thoughtful insights you share! My husband is an amazing man and you have helped me to understand him. I dont even have the words to express how thankful i am to you. THANK YOU!! My marriage is finally going great!

      • James Bauer said:

        Anna, you made my day. Thank you!


      • curlista said:

        I have been seeing?? a guy for a while.
        And when he starts a conversation via text,without me prompting,
        I think he is still interested..
        Just talk

  10. curlista said:

    lull are good? interesting.. I will have to try that sometime. thank you.

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