Skip the small talk and handle those awkward but obvious conversation topics head on. Dr. Liz Hale explains how to stop pretending and use straight talk to start a real conversation.
Three Steps for Any Situation:
ACCEPT AVERAGE AWKWARDNESS
Realize that every social gathering and interaction is going to have awkward moments. Times when you or the other party feels nervous and neither one of you knows what to say next. Everyone has awkward moments in conversations, even the most gregarious and socially skilled pros. Understanding that awkward moments are a normal part of conversation will help you breathe and minimize excessive panic and fear when awkwardness appears. And it’s not if it will appear, but when. Exercise your tolerance for feeling awkward. The more awkwardness you can handle, the better your chances of landing that ideal job, relationship, opportunity, and life you really want!
DO A REALITY CHECK
I think we’re all a little shocked when we realize just how seldom others think of us. In our minds, it’s all about us! So when you walk into a room or party, just remember that while all heads might be turning and looking at you, there is no guarantee that inside those heads is anything particular about you. Every single person in that room has a story, as well as grief, worries, inadequacies and pain. Don’t make yourself the center of the Universe or room.
CONNECT DON’T COMPETE
Practice being present with the person you’re talking or listening to. Ask questions, be sincerely interested…and pretty soon you will have forgotten all about yourself! True happiness comes from genuinely caring about and loving another person. Focus on common ground; we are more similar than dissimilar. We all want to love and be loved, to make a difference to those around us, and to be happy. And, we all have pain…..it’s just that the source of that pain is unique to every individual.
Examples of Awkward Moments:
1) Everyone in the group is a mother BUT you!
Tune in and offer something self-revealing or complimentary. “When I have my 52 kids, I’m calling you, Sara, because you seem to have allot of this figured out! I’m so glad I know you.” OR, depending on how willing you are to be known, take the leap and say, “Have any of you ever dealt with infertility? Did conception really come that easy for all of you? Amazing!”
Be willing to be known and share what’s true for you. Focus on what’s common to all of you…..you all have maternal drives and love for children.
2) After a divorce, you’re back in the single’s scene AGAIN!
A friend of mine re-entered her single’s congregation at church after a short marriage that ended in divorce. She used humor to greet some of her old single friends saying, “Are you and I really both single??? Still??? Again???” Everyone was made to feel at ease, including my friend, because she found the common ground: pain, disappointment, life!
3) Everyone has a well-behaved child BUT you!
Perhaps your child is the bully, or the unruly teen or the addicted adult who has just been arrested. Surround yourself with people who know and love you unconditionally. Only when you’re filled up with that unconditional positive regard from safe and wise people, do you then venture out to the rest of the world that isn’t always so loving or kind. Humility is humanity’s saving grace. Everyone has a cross to bear; this is yours. As you re-engage in your social groups, willingly share your pain and concern for not only your own child but the other person’s child/children, as well. As you increase your own education, understanding and unconditional love for your child, share what you’re learning to help improve the lives of other families.
Bottom line: The key in accepting and tolerating awkwardness is to relax your hyper-vigilance around always being on, never making a mistake, and continually need to impress and awe those around you. You are a fallible human being who gets nervous and sometimes doesn’t know what to say. And sometimes even makes a joke that no one else thinks is funny. The more you recognize this as normal human interactions the more easily you’ll move through those never-to-be-avoided awkward moments.