This is coming from a person with real-life experience on the subject. I’ll be writing more posts on individual scenarios, including, but not limited to: public restrooms, shopping, and older folks. Those will come in later months, or if you’re lucky, in a few weeks!
Most of these tips pertain to speaking and presence, but there are a few other things we can talk about, like online. I’ll be following it up in another blog post as well. Here we go!
- First, acknowledge that you’re awkward. Everybody’s awkward, and that’s totally fine! It’s much easier to hide your awkwardness if you’re aware of it. There’s no use to trying to say that you’re not awkward–that’ll just make you sound awkward. Let’s move on.
- Don’t laugh after everything you say. There’s little more awkward than somebody who laughs after every sentence, even if what he said wasn’t particularly funny. It leave the listeners with the question, “was he joking?” Then they will default to not laughing with you. Laughing in a group of people who aren’t also laughing is…well, awkward. You can break this rule if you’re already in the middle of making people laugh.
- Limit the self-deprecating jokes unless you are absolutely sure you know the people around you know you’re that joking. If you’re constantly putting yourself down, you’ll eventually get pitied–people will stop thinking you’re joking and take your self-deprecation seriously. Pity is not what you want, especially if you’re trying not to be awkward. Pity will make people avoid you. That’s awkward.
- Be aware of the atmosphere. You won’t do very well, making jokes at funerals or bawling my yourself in a restaurant or something like that. There’s an appropriate time and place for everything; when in doubt, watch and see what other people are doing, and try to emulate them.
- Next, importantly, speak loudly and clearly. This will do two things: it will make people hear you very well. This, in turn, will make you commit to what you say, and then, this will make you carefully consider what you say before you say it. This brings me to my next point.
- Rehearse internally. It’s easy to just blurt whatever comes to mind, but in many cases (if you’re awkward like me), it won’t make any sense. If you’re not sure of what you’re going to say or how you’re going to say it, take a step back and figure it out before going back in. Try to predict how people will respond to what you say, and see if you can plan a response to the most likely scenarios. Be willing to improvise, as well.
- Practice. Constantly put yourself in positions where you feel awkward, but then use these easy steps to convince them that you’re not awkward! It’s rare that you get better at something by just studying it; you’ll have to put it into practice. Math problems require exercises for mastery; awkwardness requires social immersion for reduction.
- Last, and perhaps the most fun, embrace the awkward. If you think you can do well by enhancing the awkwardness and putting it on other people, do it! I know a surprising number of people who strive on awkward humor. Awkward people come together in unity to make these huge groups of awkwardness. If you want to try to use this humor to your advantage, give it a shot! It’s super fun.
There you have it: my first “guide” on how to convince people you aren’t awkward. Leave a comment if you’ve got suggestions, specifics on execution, or if you think you’ve got a better list of requirements. I’m curious to know how you guys deal with awkwardness!