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I have a friend that I don’t know too much about, despite being friends for a while. I don’t have too many friends around where I am because I am very introverted, so usually people will come to me and start a conversation, and that’s my only way I make friends.

One of the people I always hang around when I can has been very nice to me, and I have tried to as well; however, she is so nice that I’m worried I’ll say something that might offend her. Often during our conversations there is an awkward silence and I feel very bad about myself since I just don’t know how to talk. And I worry about my values not lining up with hers and offending her as a result.

I really don’t want to lose a friend. I know people say I should simply be myself, but right now, I don’t even know who I am.

Is there anything I can do to make the situation less awkward, to keep a dead conversation going?

As I implied, I have very few interpersonal skills right now and need some advice.

  • What do you mean by offend her? Could you give an example to explain it a bit better? It sounds as if you've not offended her so far but only worry about it. Is that so? If this is the case, why? – Raditz_35 May 9 '18 at 7:14
  • @Raditz_35 I believe you are right about it just being a worry, just from everything she’s said so far, she is one of the nicer people that I am friends with. A lot of people I have been around have made crude teen jokes and other related gimmicks, but I don’t think that everyone responds the same to that, and unfortunately, that’s what comes to mind first. – Sean May 9 '18 at 12:57
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Let me introduce you to the concept of damage control.

It is absolutely unavoidable to offend people from time to time. Some people are simply sensitive and some other people are not so sensitive and even those you will offend sometimes.

But, you can make it clear you didn't mean to offend, it was not your intention. This is what most people do, it is a common and basic interpersonal skill. Also, don't assume guilt immediately at the first indication that the conversation is not going as you would expect because you would be shooting yourself on the foot. People can go silent for a number of different reasons: sometimes they have things on their minds that distract them, sometimes you are talking about something they don't find interesting, sometimes you are hoarding the conversation and they lose interest in participating.

When you notice that awkward silence, first, try to get back their attention and be welcoming to their input.

Well, that's my opinion, what are your thoughts?

Most times, this is the way to get the conversation going and everything's peachy.

If something is wrong, two other main things can happen, they can remain silent or they could not give you a straight thoughtful answer and you would notice because they stutter or deviate.

For the remaining silent scenario, you still don't know if it is your fault or they have a different problem disturbing their emotions, simply show you care about their feelings:

Are you ok?

Lastly, for the scenario where they get nervous when responding to any of the previous questions, again, show you care about their feelings and show you are willing to recognize responsibility:

Did I say something wrong?

If it turns out you did say something that offended them, then you are presented with the opportunity to explain yourself better or take it back and apologize or make it clear that your opinions are yours alone and you are not trying to convince or force your beliefs on anyone else.

When you said...

right now, I don’t even know who I am.

I took that as your attempt at being honest about still not having firm inflexible postures, or not being tremendously committed to a belief system or a way of life. That's ok. That also gives you the option to be sincere when saying:

Well, I was just juggling ideas, but I'm interested to listen to your ideas because I think you are smart and interesting. You could change my mind, who knows.

I just gave you stuff to fill in the gaps and turn offensive situations into opportunities to let her or anyone know you are a caring open minded person, everything is up to you being yourself.

Best of luck.

  • Thank you, I think this is exactly what I was looking for. – Sean May 9 '18 at 13:00
  • I'm glad I could help you Sean. – J A May 9 '18 at 16:44

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