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Monday, September 24, 2012

Overcoming Awkwardness


Awkwardness takes many forms. When we're a teenager, we often feel awkward because of all the changes that are taking place in our bodies. But there are also situations later in our life when that feeling of awkwardness crops up again. Here are some simple ways of overcoming awkwardness.

1. Start smiling

Smiles just ease tension. It really is that simple.

If you wander around with a look of doom and gloom, almost as though you're being followed by your own miniature version of Thor, then you will repel people or they'll feel awkward when they're near you.

But if you begin to smile more often, you'll more often than not get the same reaction from other people. Putting them more at ease will, in turn, help to put you more at ease being around other people.

2. Make eye contact

If you've made a habit of looking everywhere else in the room apart from into other people's eyes then this may increase your feeling of awkwardness at first.

It's worth persevering with this though.

Looking someone in the eye when you're talking with them shows that you are actually taking an interest in the conversation rather than staring at a screen or another person somewhere else in the room.

Don't worry if you don't get this totally right at first but do make a conscious effort to make - and keep - eye contact more often and for longer periods of time.

3. Memorize names

If you're currently no good at remembering other people's names then this should be high up on your list.

One of the things that makes is feel awkward is when someone approaches us and we can't remember their name. It sends a message to your subconscious that either you've just got bad manners because you've forgotten a name or, worse still, it can trigger a feeling of talking to strangers.

So work out a way of memorizing the names of people you meet. There are lots of different ways of doing this but one that works for a lot of people is to repeat back their name as soon as you meet them, a bit like a parrot would. Then weave it into the conversation a few times without sounding contrived. This will help reinforce the name associated with the face in your memory.

4. Make conversation
Even if it's polite, small talk, style conversation.

I find that the best way to do this is to actually rehearse what I'm going to say before a meeting that I know will happen. Run the conversation through in your mind or, even better, out loud.

The more you practice conversing with other people - ideally in an actual two way conversation - the better you will get. It's like any other skill, even if it seems daunting at first.

5. Be comfortable with yourself

The more at ease you are with yourself, the less awkward you'll feel.

So make sure that you're happy with the clothes you're wearing, how your hair looks, all those kind of details.

If you're not totally happy with the way your body looks, accept that it will take time to change this and learn to get yourself more at ease with this as time goes by. Do your best to reduce your feeling of being uncomfortable with yourself and you'll find your awkward feelings will reduce as well.

Get more help with overcoming awkwardness including how you can be less shy socially.
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