An awkward silence is an uncomfortable pause in a conversation or presentation. The unpleasant nature of such silences is associated with feelings of anxiety as the participants feel pressure to speak but are unsure of what to say next. In conversation, average pause length varies by language, culture and context. An awkward silence may occur if a pause has exceeded, for instance, a length generally accepted for demarcating a subject change or the end of a turn. It may be preceded by an ill-considered remark or an imbalance in which one of the participants makes minimal responses. Alternatively, the tension may arise from an expectation that speech is expected in the setting, such as a classroom or presentation.When Europeans communicate with Japanese people, a period of meaningful silence is sometimes misinterpreted as an awkward silence. Awkward silences may occur when Japanese people are confronted with a direct question as the loss of face when making an unwelcome admission tends to make them reluctant to say phrases like "I don't know".
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