Long Time No Talk: How to Talk to Family You Haven’t Seen in Ages

Has a distant relative recently friended you on Facebook? Did you randomly bump into an ex-partner in the street? Or have you found yourself sat next to an old colleague at a dinner party?

Whenever you find yourself reconnecting with an old friend or relative, awkward silence may fill the air. You may find yourself wondering how you managed to converse all those years ago!

In those “long time no talk” situations, how can you reconnect without sounding like a rambling idiot? Read on for the answer.

Conversing in Awkward Situations

Meeting or chatting with someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time can feel extremely uncomfortable. Especially if it’s an unexpected event, such as meeting at local funeral homes when a relative has died, or bumping into each other in the grocery store, people search for anything to say to break the ice.

Either way, it can be hard to think on your feet and say the right thing. So how can you use your words wisely? Follow these simple tips.

Think Before You Speak

If you know you’re going to meet up with old friends and family members at an upcoming event, such as a wedding or funeral, keep a few questions in mind. Try these for conversation starters:

  • How’s life?
  • What are you enjoying at the moment?
  • It’s been 5 years since we last met, what are your highlights?

And while it’s always good to reminisce about the past a little, try to focus on the future too. Plans, hopes, and dreams are all good topics of conversation.

Show Some Love

If you’re happy to see someone, then show some emotion!

A big hug, a smile, and a warm demeanor can break down barriers. You could even say, “I’m happy to see you” or “I was just thinking about you the other day”. Showing love is the best way to ease a potentially awkward situation.

Build Bridges and Apologize

While drifting apart is a natural part of life, you may be at fault. If you feel like you could have been better at keeping in touch, try a small apology. You could say, “I’m sorry I did such a bad job at keeping in touch after we left college”.

But don’t sit there sticking out your bottom lip waiting for the other party to apologize. Take the initiative to build broken bridges. Don’t come across as stubborn or arrogant.

Is it worth it apologizing?

While some toxic relationships may not be worth revisiting, some may be extremely good for you. In fact, research shows that friendships may affect life expectancy. So if you keep leaving friendships behind, you might live to regret it.

Avoid Unmentionables

Of course, in any relationship there are unmentionables. Don’t kill the conversation by asking uncomfortable questions or bringing up bad experiences from the past. Even if you’re trying to make light of something.

This is vital when you’re reconnecting with an ex-partner. Saying something like, “How’s that girl you cheated on me with?” is going to bring the conversation to a complete stop.

Go With the Flow

While having some topics in mind, be fully prepared to go with the flow of the conversation. You’ll find as you start reconnecting, the conversation will become spontaneous. Instead of worrying about what to say next, listen to what they’re saying.

Basically, don’t try too hard. Let it flow naturally.

Keep in Touch

While some relationships are better left to family reunions or events you can’t avoid. Some relationships might be worth saving. This time instead of drifting apart, try to keep in touch.

At the end of the conversation, take their contact details. Tell them, “I’d like to keep in touch”. Or arrange a specific date to meet up again in the future.

Reach Out and Reconnect

Instead of waiting for a chance encounter, you might want to reach out to family members and friends you’ve lost touch with. If you need to search for an address, telephone number, or other details, you can use a people search site to help you quickly access their contact information. Then, how can you reconnect? You could try one of these methods:

  • Write an annual “newsletter” with your latest family news, and encourage your loved ones to send one back.
  • Use social media to reconnect. Video calls, photo likes, and even simple text messages can rebuild a broken bridge.
  • Hold a reunion reminiscing on “the good old days” while flicking through old photos and mementos.
  • Retrace your ancestry and build a family tree.

It might feel daunting to reach out, but once you get chatting it’s often easier to rekindle your relationship than you might have imagined.

Long Time No Talk—The Struggle Is Real!

If you’ve met up with an old friend, the first thing that might roll off your tongue is, “long time no talk”. But instead of letting the situation get even more awkward, follow these tips and reconnect like a pro.

For more tips on how to deal with moments that make lose your cool, check out #thestruggleisreal section of this blog.