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Talking your way into a conversation

by Alyssa Daley - Editor in Chief
Tue, Nov 7th 2017 10:00 pm

Dear readers,

Making the decision to write this column has consequently outed me as being “socially awkward.” I have to say that this is quite accurate for the most part and I’m not afraid to admit it. However, I will say that not all of the “awkward” things I have done have been on accident. For example, if I were to be having a hypothetical conversation with someone and I did not particularly find what they were saying to be of any interest to me, I fall into the following routine: nod head periodically, ask questions that make it seem as though I’m following along when really I’m running through the 50 other tasks I have on my to-do list, and make the affirmative “mmhmm” sound when their statement seems to end in a questioning tone. When the dialogue suddenly stops, I tend to shake my head as though stepping out of a dense fog bank, smile and wish the poor person who has unknowingly wasted their time trying to speak to me a good day. 

Communicating with other people is where most of the embarrassing moments I have come from and I feel as though many of you can relate. I mean, we’re bound to make mistakes more often when interacting with live people rather than ourselves or our beloved pets. 

Attempting to join into a conversation is always tricky. It requires even more of a tactical strategy when you make the first attempt and then none of the people you try to speak to acknowledge your existence. Honestly, you never know if the offending conversationalists are doing it on purpose or if they genuinely failed to hear your input. 

Now, I know I just got finished saying how I am not the best listener when it comes to engaging with acquaintances who want to discuss menial goingson in their lives. However, I must say that ignoring someone in a group setting is just cruel. 

Most of us are scarred from a variation of bullying that happened at some point during our primary school years and one of the most juvenile yet effective tactics is the silent treatment or pretending an existing person is invisible. To have an entire group of people ignore you can really shut you down, so on that note I have come up with some tips thanks in part to succeedsocially.com.

When looking to join in on an existing dialogue, it is always a good idea to gage the situation by listening for a couple minutes before contributing a well-thought out statement or question. Even with the best of strategies and the highest of hopes, it is possible that a group is not receptive of the attempt you try to make at being friendly, which for some of us is not something we ordinarily try to be. When this happens it is key to not give up or put yourself down right away. Simply give yourself a short and high-energy motivational talk before taking the initiative once more and jumping in feet first. 

There’s no reliable way to predict how people will respond to any given situation before actually being immersed in it, so it is hard to know how each group of people will act when you try to interact with them. Obviously, trying to talk to a group of five people with whom you’ve shared a couple words with before at a house party is going to be vastly different, simply based on context, than engaging with a group of five peers or professionals at a conference.

With all of these “awkward” scenarios I’m delving into, know that if you can relate to them you are not alone. I mean, I’m writing a whole 600-plus word article on it, so you can feel better and use me to lessen your self-humiliation. I volunteer as tribute! 

As always, if you have a moment one day where you stop and shake your head at yourself or share a little chuckle between you, yourself and no one else because you’ve done something humiliating, feel free to email me.  It can be an anonymous tip if you feel uncomfortable claiming that you’ve done something ridiculous, such as calling someone by the wrong name all day, only to figure out that you made the mistake by overhearing someone else call them something different.

 Use that gmail account you created in third grade instead of your Brockport one that gives away your identity right off the bat and get some of the burden from being an awkward turtle off your shoulders.

Now it’s back to the “daley” grind.

 

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