Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

Reacting incorrectly can create an awkward situation in conversation.

We have all experienced this in life, no matter what our native language is.

Listen in on today’s episode and learn phrases from these situations so you can rescue the connection in English.

A bad habit

Lindsay asks if Aubrey has any bad habits in conversation.

Aubrey shares that she often gets ahead of herself when she is talking to someone.

She thinks she knows what other people are about to say and it turns out to be different.

It can be due to impatience, but is partially because she wants to prepare what to say next.

She recognizes the need to slow down so she doesn’t cut off the other speaker.

It is important to be mindful when you’re in a conversation.

Interrupting conversations

Interrupting and talking over speakers is extremely common in American English.

Aubrey shares that she read an article where the show Succession was commended for the delivery of the lines because it sounds so natural.

It is similar to real speech because the characters talk over and interrupt each other.

It’s a dark comedy about a media company.

It has excellent acting and directing.

Today’s topic is talking about rushing to the end of a conversation.

You can check out a related episode which is AEE 1998: Missed the Joke? What to Say in English.

Three tips for saving a conversation

It is common to create awkward moments in English.

One example is when you think you understood a joke but don’t.

If you laugh anyway when the other speakers know you don’t understand it can be awkward.

Today we share three tips for what to do when this happens to you.

Scenario #1: Your laughter creates awkwardness

This is a situation where you weren’t in on a joke that everyone knows.

The others might look at you funny because you weren’t supposed to laugh.

Here is what you can say to dispel that awkwardness.

  • “Okay, you’ll have to explain it to me. I was just laughing so you didn’t have to stop and explain the joke.”

This is perfect to explain why you laughed.

  • “Wait, you need to fill me in.”

This is a very native thing to say when you want something explained to you.

This can easily happen to you, especially if you’re surrounded by people who don’t share the same language and culture as you.

Definitely ask so you will be able to understand what they are all talking about or laughing at.

Scenario #2: Someone points out that you didn’t understand

It is possible for someone to point out that you didn’t understand the joke.

Even more common is that they think you did understand.

For example, a movie reference mentioned and when you laugh the speaker assumes you have seen it.

Here is something you can say if asked, “Wasn’t that awesome?”

  • “Oh wait, I didn’t see that. What happened?”
  • “No, I’m not familiar with that. What’s that about?”

In most cases, people would assume you understood because you laughed.

They may then ask a follow-up question.

It is less common for someone to call you out because they feel you were pretending you understood something.

That would be rude and most people don’t intentionally create uncomfortable situations.

Scenario #3: You misheard

There will be situations when you thought you heard something different and you laughed or responded differently.

Alternatively, you may assume you know what they’re about to say and react.

When they finish their sentence, it might turn out that your assumption was wrong.

Aubrey shares this happened to her last week and here are phrases to respond.

  • “Oh sorry, I misheard you.”

This first sample is much more formal.

  • “Oh, my bad! I thought you were going to say something else.”

You can show in your tone that you are apologetic and then continue to carry on with the conversation.

This second sentence can sound a little bit flippant.

It works well for informal situations.

  • flippant: to be dismissive or treat something as unimportant

You can say ‘my bad’ when you are talking to friends or if you are in an informal conversation.

Be sure to respond according to the situation.


Here is a quick roleplay using the tips shared by Lindsay and Aubrey.

This will help you better understand today’s lesson.

In this scenario, Lindsay and Aubrey are chatting at a party.

Aubrey: …so then he said it’s just a hint of lemon.
Lindsay: Hahahahaha
Aubrey: Didn’t you love that scene on Succession?
Lindsay: Oh no! I didn’t see that. What happened?
Aubrey: Oh, cousin Greg uses sparkling water to wash out someone’s eyes and then everyone was mad because it had lemon in it. And he was like, “It’s just a hint of lemon.”
Lindsay: Oh! That’s hilarious! I’ve got to see that show.


When learning a new language, immersing yourself in a new culture can be challenging.

You will have conversations or interactions that can lead to awkwardness.

Don’t let that make you hesitate or react awkwardly.

You can definitely share your thoughts and if you make a mistake, that’s fine.

You can use the phrases shared in today’s episode to dispel the awkwardness and keep the conversation going.

You can definitely move past these moments and keep the connection strong.

Bring your conversation skills to a higher level by learning to eliminate tricky circumstances.

What are conversations that turned awkward and how did you alleviate it?

Share it in the comment below!

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