It’s the pause that doesn’t refresh, the awkward moment that you relive over and over and over after you’ve realized that once again, you’ve put your foot in it.
New research from Holland suggests that good conversational flow has a powerful effect on people’s feelings of self-esteem and belonging, and that even brief — just four seconds long — silences during a conversation are enough to, as Tom Jacobs puts it in Miller-McCune:
…elicit primal fears, activating anxiety-provoking feelings of incompatibility and exclusion.
“Conversational flow is associated with positive emotions, and a heightened sense of belonging, self-esteem, social validation and consensus,” a research team led by psychologist Namkje Koudenburg writes in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. “Disrupting the flow by a brief silence produces feelings of rejection and negative emotions.”