Everyday at lunch, I wish someone from the table would start a conversation. Basically because awkward silence is more apparent than an awkward conversation. So every time I meet that quintessential silence in a room with more than 2 people with nothing else to do but hopefully talk, I try real hard to come up with something to share. This is one reason, I am more comfortable around extroverts. In all probability they will have an anecdote to share. They don’t seem to be bothered by the lack of words where it’s due, because well, they are mostly on a look out for some space to express their latest sentiment.
‘Quiet’ has a compulsion of imposing its character. It imposes itself with such impact that you cannot even miss a pin drop. It allows you the space to listen to your head in clear tone. That apparently is a more unpleasant conversation for many, than a real one with someone else.
This afternoon was somewhat different. When the lunch was served, I was the first one to open my lunch box. As others joined in, some small talk ensued. But about 5 minutes later, suddenly, as if some one broke an unpleasant news, everyone in the room fell silent. The only noise in the room was of the spoons meeting the plates at blunt angles. I moment later, if one concentrated enough, one could even listen the movement of the gums and the food as it made it’s way down the throat. Just then, the door bell rang. ALL the eyes darted in the direction of the door. In came a gentleman from another team. The conversation that started at that moment, belonged to the category, you would rather excuse yourself from. Most of the members on the table joined in either with agreement reflecting nods, small double meaning grins or sharply listening yet somewhere questioning eyes. Though we had almost finished our lunch, another couple of minutes passed, as we vacated our seats for the next lot. When this gentleman left us, there was an exchange of glances between those who were more friends than the rest. More than a couple of eyes smiled seemingly agreeing that they were glad the gentleman left, though not pretty sure if they all were disgusted or disagreed with the same parts of his story.
While I too exchanged a glances with two of my colleagues, my internal conversation was a proud celebration of my introversion. Would I ever chose to fill a silent room with jab, than letting the silence be? I don’t think so.
The thing about voice is, it fills the emptiness of the room with a lot of ‘apparent’ alternatives to think about. When a conversation is on, there is less chance that people will observe others. And that is some how a very desirable ‘break’. So while everyone can hear an awkward silence, in a stupid conversation, people can chose to:
- feign interest in it, or for all they know,
- concentrate on finding nitpicking opportunities,
- pull off interesting points from the conversation, or
- make fun of the speaker or situation.
Of the top of my head, I can only say, the tendency of avoiding the truth, that the conversation is stupid, is far greater than missing the pinch of an awkward silence. I chose to let the realization stay if that indeed is the case. Guising it up is not my style.