My mind goes blank during conversations all the time.
The first time I started noticing it happening I brushed it off as not getting enough sleep or being preoccupied.
But when it kept being an issue I had to figure it out and fix it.
10 things to do when your mind goes blank during conversations
1) Prep for big social or business events beforehand
Even Olympic athletes prepare before a big match.
If you are looking for things to do when your mind goes blank during a conversation you should first prepare.
Many people do this by standing in front of a mirror and pumping themselves up, but I don’t recommend that.
Instead, try something more systematic and logical.
Sit down and empty out your mental space of the anxiety and thoughts that are swirling around about it.
These thoughts and worries can often be the issue that preoccupies you and makes you lose your train of thought in a conversation. So get ‘em out.
“A half hour prior to a social event, take a moment to sit in silence and write down your stream of consciousness. You may have some thoughts about the social event you’re going to, get those down,”
“You may have other worries on your mind that are totally unrelated…write those down too! Getting down any negative feelings on paper will help you release yourself of them so you can be present and fully engaged at your next social event.”
2) Be present, don’t ‘rehearse’
Like I said, I don’t recommend rehearsing. Half the time people who blank out in conversations do it because they’ve tried to memorize what they’re going to say.
Then when an interaction or conversation goes a different direction they get flustered and go blank.
“Memorizing your speech is a counterproductive approach. It leads you to thinking there’s only one way of saying something,”
“If you suffer a mind blank your brain will focus on trying to remember the memorized speech, rather than think of alternative ways of saying the same thing.”
Instead of memorizing I highly recommend exercises to ground yourself and be more present in your body. The best thing I can think of is shamanic breathwork: if you haven’t tried it yet, you should!
I’ve also experienced incredible breakthroughs and success with hypnotherapy and can’t recommend it enough as well.
Working with a hypnotherapist called Memo, I’ve learned so much (but still only the beginning) of what the subconscious mind (SCM) can do, and that includes in healing conversational blanks and social anxiety.
“I have seen to much to believe in the impossible. At least, as far as something the SCM cannot do with, to, or for your body or mind.”
3) Rule out a medical or psychiatric cause
In certain cases, your blank outs during conversation can be linked to more serious physical or mental conditions.
I am not saying you are deficient or damaged in some way, but it’s best to always check that the basics are functioning well before beating yourself up.
If you have a medical or psychological concern happening that’s causing you to blank out then the solution is to address that first.
“Medical conditions linked with blanking out typically include inflammation, fatigue, and changes in blood sugar levels. Those diagnosed with fibromyalgia may experience mental fatigue on a daily basis.
Other conditions that cause empty-headed symptoms include: anemia, hypothyroidism, depression, arthritis, lupus and Alzheimer’s disease,”
4) Identify your triggers
If you want to know one of the best things to do when your mind goes blank during a conversation it’s to identify the triggers that cause it.
Then you can work on them and become much more confident and seamless in your verbal interactions.
“Your social anxiety may pop up in the worst possible times, like during job interviews, presentations, first dates and other high-stakes conversations, forming a somewhat predictable pattern.
For example, you might be more likely to blank out when you are put on the spot, meeting someone new, or when you’re feeling insecure,”
When you know the triggers and situations that make you blank out and stand there like a statue you can begin to either:
- Avoid those situations
- Or start working on techniques to handle situations and conversations that stress you out
5) It’s never the wrong time for a fun fact!
One of the smartest things to do when your mind goes blank during conversation is to drop a fun fact.
There are many places online where you can look up fun facts.
Write ten of them down in a little notebook or on your phone and get familiar with them.
Make sure they’re fun facts you genuinely find interesting or funny. This will make it easier to remember.
When you suddenly freeze and go blank during a conversation segue into one of these.
“Well, did you guys know that in 2009, Stephen Hawking held a reception for time travelers, but didn’t publicize it until after. This way, only those who could time travel would be able to attend. Nobody else attended.”
6) Pay attention to details of your surroundings
The details of what’s around you can become your best friends and provide amazing ideas for things to do when your mind goes blank during conversations.
If you blank out at your job at a bank and start talking about what you had for breakfast, people will definitely think it’s a little odd and maybe even confusing.
But if you go blank at your bank job and then mention that the new flowers in the foyer look great, your colleagues will nod and be interested.
Because it relates to your job and actual surroundings.
For a warmup on this, just try to note down five details and functional aspects of a place you go often during the day and say them out loud to yourself.
For example, if you’re going on a date at a park you often visit:
- Beautiful, tall elm trees that look like they were planted long ago;
- Always people having so much fun playing ultimate frisbee;
- The cutest dogs ever who seem so happy frolicking;
- A little hot dog stand that also sells really good curry bowls for vegetarians;
- A nearby parking lot that seems like the world’s biggest nightmare to try to park in!
This tip really works. Good luck!
7) Open-ended questions can be conversation-savers
Another excellent way to get a conversation cranked back up when you’ve blanked out, is to ask open-ended questions.
These can be any sort of question that gives someone else the opportunity to talk and give you a break.
If you’re hanging out with your friend and go blank try something like:
- Asking them about a recent sports match
- Asking them how their family is doing these days
- Asking about their future plans
- Asking about their job or recreational interests
“Ask someone if they recommend any books, blogs, podcasts, or videos. You might find a mutual interest that you can talk about for hours,”
8) Being different isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength
One of the main types of people who struggle with blanking out in conversations is introverts.
Considering how many of us are introverts to some degree, that’s a large number!
The reason introverts have more of an issue with this is that introverts tend to process information and verbal exchanges on a deeper level.
They don’t just hear stuff and then fire back, they need time to put it all together and think about what they really want to say back – if anything.
Therefore, when a conversation hums along rapidly they can easily get lost and go blank.
“As introverts we naturally have a slower processing time than those who are more extroverted,”
“It’s not so straightforward and linear, and that in itself can cause a little bit of a delay in actually having something to respond with.
So again finding some acceptance around if you are an introvert, that actually it’s okay.”
9) Let yourself pause: it’s fine!
One of the top things to do when your mind goes blank during conversation is to pace yourself in your own speaking.
Don’t try to rush and “get it all out.”
Allow yourself decent-sized pauses in between sentences and to transition between ideas.
There’s no obligation on you to speak at a rapid-fire pace or to string sentences together like an auctioneer.
You’re allowed to take a little breather and let things hang in the air for a bit longer.
“Buy yourself more thinking time with pauses. If you have a habit of trying to fill the silence, start practising pausing – try inserting a 5 second pause next time you are presenting to a group,”
“What you will discover is that no one even notices! In fact, people need this pause to absorb the information you are giving them – it makes your message more powerful, and gives you crucial thinking time to get back on track with your talk.”
10) Keep going, don’t pull a u-turn and start over
When it comes to the best things to do when your mind goes blank during a conversation, I strongly urge you to keep going.
If you are with someone or a group who is kind, they will bail you out and take over when they notice you’ve pulled a blank.
But either way, one of the worst things you can do is start stammering like crazy and go back to the very beginning.
Apologizing over and over also turns it into a huge deal.
Instead of that, I recommend continuing on as best you can or finding a graceful way to bow out without seeming like you’ve gone blank.
Several small tips that can be a lifesaver here as you buy a few are the following:
- Pretending you got a phone call on vibrate, holding your phone up to your ear and excusing yourself politely;
- Clutch your stomach and say you’re feeling a little unwell and have to go to the bathroom for a moment;
- Put your hand on your head in shock and say you just remembered you have a really important meeting and have to go.
But whatever you do, don’t say sorry a whole bunch of times.
And if you do decide to keep going just do your best.
“This means no apologizing and starting over when you mess up or blank out.
Instead: Stop. Breathe. Check your notes and find your place. Make eye contact with the audience and keep going. Fight to stick that landing.”
11) Be clear on what the point is!
Even fun chit-chat with your buddies or your girls has a point of some kind.
The point could be relaxing, or joking around after something sad has happened in order to cheer you all up.
Or it could be networking and forming future business partnerships.
Or in some cases, it could be a combo of many things.
When you know the point of a conversation you’re much less likely to blank out during it.
Keep the main mission in mind and your brain will follow along. Plus, if you blank out on a specific part you can always return to the main theme or purpose of the conversation like the chorus to a song.
“All conversations have some ‘point’ or ‘goal.’ Identifying your goal ahead of time can help you clarify what you hope or want to happen in the conversation, while also giving you a compass that helps you make sure you’re on track,”
“In professional settings, the goal might be to get a raise or a promotion or to vet an idea for a new project with a colleague or boss.
In your personal life, the goal of conversations might be to meet like-minded people, develop friendships, or just get to know more about another person.”
12) Just fess up to it!
Sometimes, one of the best things to do when your mind goes blank during conversation is to just admit it.
If you do this the right way it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Psychologist Chris McLeod has simple but powerful advice about something you can do when your mind goes blank during a conversation:
“In reality, if you tell people your mind went blank they usually won’t care, and will often be happy to help you get back on track,”
“If you state what happened in a casual tone which says it’s no big deal, then no one will treat it as one.”
No more blanking out! Hallelujah!
I hope this list of things to do when your mind goes blank during conversation has helped you out.
Remember that even if you suddenly go blank it’s always OK to take a pause, gather yourself or even admit that you’ve blanked out.
But before you ever get to that stage don’t be afraid to use the techniques I outlined above to collect yourself and get back in the conversation without missing a beat.
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