NETWORKING / NOV. 27, 2014
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A Social Guide for the Socially Awkward

Your foot is in your mouth so often that anything you eat tastes like dirt and rubber. You’re clumsy, uncoordinated and if there is any more than two people in a room you sweat bullets. As any mild mannered internet writer though I am here to help. Here’s a social guide for the socially awkward.

Get out there

Stop cradling yourself in the foetal position for a second and hear me out. Any process of self-improvement involves practice. Researchers say that to be considered an expert in any field you need to log upwards of 10.000 hours doing that discipline. I’m not saying that for the next eight years (which is about how much 10.000 hours equates to) you should crash any social function you can find. I am saying though that you should start small and scale up. At the next social function you attend at least try to introduce yourself to one person.

Find common ground

Having common interests is one of the best social facilitators. Find people with common hobbies and you automatically have an icebreaker. Even if you’re into dressing up cacti in ball-gowns and photographing them like fashion models there is bound to be a forum, Facebook page or website (or support group) dedicated to it.

Stop doubting yourself

An unforeseen result of be socially awkward is being in constant self-doubt. Was what I just said appropriate? If you said: Your wide hips make you a perfect child-bearer, then no, no, no that wasn’t at all appropriate. Here are a few things that you might want to avoid:

- Appearance: Especially if it is something they might be self-conscious about i.e. “Are your ears pointy because you’re an elf?”

- Anything too specific to your interests: generally we get very enthusiastic when talking about things we are passionate about. Being too intense initially may be overwhelming or off-putting. It’s hard to believe not everyone’s into cacti fashion photography but let them warm up to you first and then get into specifics.

- Too personal: Questions that are too personal can easily offend and alienate. Try more general questions such as: What music do you like, how do you know (the host) and ‘Hi what’s your name?’ are fine. Something like: ‘Wow! That’s an interesting scar what did you have removed’ or ‘what’s your street address?’ might be things to avoid or actually just annul completely.

It’s not the end of the world

I know that spilling a huge bowl of guacamole on you can be mortifying. Many times though it’s how we react that makes us the center of attention. Instead of just sitting there for a full 15 minutes until everyone sees you, just get up, go to your car to get your emergency shirt (which all my readers should have by now) and return to the party. I know your first impulse once you get up guacamole drenched and embarrassed is to run out the door with your arms flaying behind you but relax and breathe. You’d be surprised to find out how many people have experienced the exact same thing.

Are you socially awkward yet manage to successfully socialize? What pointers would you give another one of our awkward brethren? Please help this noble cause by leaving a comment, advice or funny anecdote that has nothing to do with this topic below!

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