Approach: Couch Girl (Practicing Dealing With Awkward Silences)


Improv Show in Manhattan


Girl sitting on a couch next to me


5.5 – Average (View My Detailed Rating Scale)


“Did you come just for the show or do you know someone performing in it?”


“How do you know ____________?”


Light toughing on arm and back several times during interaction



Details & Dialogue

I went to go see a friend perform in an improv show at a theater in Manhattan.

While in the waiting area, I was sitting on a black leather loveseat when a girl sat next to me. There were plenty of other seats available, so this may have been an invitation to opener her. However, at that particular moment I was waiting for the restroom to become available (it was a one person restroom about 10 feet away from the couch). I went to the restroom and when I came out my seat next to the girl was still available.

I sat down next to her and after about a minute I said, “Did you come just for the show or do you know someone performing in it?” She responded that she knew someone in the show. We continued on that thread for a brief time and then we were interrupted by someone we both knew. When that person left I asked her how she knew him. From there we chatted some more until we came to a point where, though I could continue talking to her, it was a natural break and I decided to allow one of those horrible awkward silences come about.

I simply did this to practice relaxing in such situations and as a social experiment to see what she would do. I made sure I looked completely comfortable sitting there and after about a minute or two she reinitiated the conversation. I believe that because of the increased effort needed to do reinitiate on her part she hooked herself and the interaction picked up dramatically.

A few minutes later we were interrupted once again, this time by theater staff to begin taking seats in the theater. She went a few rows back and it appeared that she expected me to come sit next to her, however I opted to sit in the front.

After the show was over I saw her in the waiting room and re-opened her, asking her how she enjoyed the show. We talked briefly and I wished her a goodnight. I thought my friend would be ready to leave, but she met with the other performers outside the theater to receive feedback of their performances. I went outside the theater to wait and while outside, couch girl came out and occupied herself on her IPOD several feet from me. Couch girl noticed me and reinitiated conversation we had an enjoyable interaction for about thirty minutes. When people are interested they will just talk and talk, you do not even have to put in a lot of effort if you do not want to. I chose not to close. We had a good interaction, but I didn’t feel the right kind of chemistry.

Conclusions and What I learned

I know that almost everyone is afraid of the dreaded “awkward silence” moments that can potentially occur when either interacting with someone for the first time or on a Day 2. You should improve upon your conversation skills to the point where awkward silences are infrequent, but you also need to not be freaked out by them when they do occur. If there is a pause in conversation and the girl reinitiates conversation then that is an indicator of interest, if not, you can always reinitiate.