I know this sounds strange, but there’s very long drawn out periods of silence with my boss. For example 1 to 2 minutes at least. I understand English isn’t his first language but I’m positive he hadn’t asked me a question. It usually happens when we’re discussing requirements and I have opened a document. All of a sudden he just sits there and stares, and eventually says something like “any questions?”.

He may be waiting for me to ask questions. Should I say or do anything in this time? I could take the initiative and say “I don’t have any questions” or I could just start working but it seems strange when he’s sitting right beside me. I am not sure but he may be reading something on the screen.

  • 1
    Do you always sit there in silence yourself, or do you break the silence? I think perhaps just thank him, and if he acknowledges that, just go back to work.
    – Jane S
    Jun 29, 2015 at 21:01
  • 1
    Sounds like he's expecting you to proactively either ask what you need to know, or say "ok, I'll get started."
    – keshlam
    Jun 29, 2015 at 21:01
  • What's the last thing said before the silence? Is it an explicit question, a statement, or a leading statement you hope will elicit a response?
    – Eric
    Jun 30, 2015 at 14:10
  • I once had a boss like this who actually had narcolepsy and was actually asleep for a couple of minutes. It was very disconcerting because he would stop in mid sentence as well.
    – HLGEM
    Jun 30, 2015 at 17:29
  • I used to have a boss like him. He used to sit in silence for a minute or two with colleagues, and also clients. I was watching him in client meetings and saw how he uses silence to drive conversations. So I learnt it. I used to stare at him for minutes in silence. Later on I used this technique with difficult clients. I understood that silence is a completely valid form of conversation.
    – takacsmark
    Jul 2, 2015 at 17:34

1 Answer 1


Short answer: Break the silence yourself.

If you are sure there wasn't a question, and he's just off with the fairies, or working, or whatever, just say a polite "thank you", which will hopefully get an acknowledgement.

Even if you don't and he continues to stare (I doubt this will occur, but there are some strange bunnies out there), then just excuse yourself with something like, "Well, I'd better get this done." then go back to work.

Some people are socially awkward. It's just a fact :)

  • 8
    The magic words I use are "Do you need me for anything else"? Jun 29, 2015 at 22:35

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