a: lacking social grace and assurance
b: causing embarrassment
Most of us don’t like being awkward. Sometimes we’re just unaware of the awkwardness in a situation and sometimes we mistakenly perceive a situation to be more awkward than it really is.
Actually, I’m not sure *any* of us like being awkward.
We don’t like saying something that could make others embarrassed or upset, or at the very least, we don’t enjoy embarrassing ourselves.
But here’s the thing—there are a lot of awkward conversations that need to be had. Many of these uncomfortable topics, when broached, can save us from weeks, months, and years wasted on assumptions or misunderstanding.
Awkwardness is not a heinous crime. It’s just uncomfortable. And there are ways to bumble through it with a vestige of grace still clinging to you.
Let me give an example: I was at a large writers’ conference and a handful of my friends were using a group text thread to keep in touch. Late one night, one of my friends introduced someone new (we’ll call him Alex) to the thread. I said “hello” to Alex and went to sleep. However, the next morning, my friend said he had no memory of sending that intro text for Alex. Yes, there was drinking involved, but this led to some uncomfortable questions.
How had Alex gotten into our private text thread? Was Alex aggressively inserting himself into our social circle? And why impersonate my friend at all?
After chatting with my friends, I decided to just approach Alex. I’d spoken to him in person before this event and he’d seemed kind and well-meaning. Maybe there was a reasonable explanation for this. As it turns out, there was.
Alex had been exchanging phone numbers with my friend , and my friend had handed Alex the phone with the group thread open. Confused, Alex had added himself to the thread and then sent a text from the phone, pretending to be my friend. He thought it would be funny.
The only issue was that my friend had no memory of the event the next morning, which left the rest of us were mildly disturbed.
But guess what? It was easily remedied. I took Alex aside for two minutes and explained our confusion. I gave him the benefit of a doubt. He was embarrassed, chagrined and–my favorite part–extremely grateful that I’d come to him with it. He went straight to the rest of my friends and apologized.
Later, at that same conference, Alex went out of his way to grab me a bagel and cream cheese when he heard that I’d have to miss dinner in order to attend an evening event. He *is* warm and kind and well-meaning, just as I’d originally thought.
For me, this exchange is a prime example of braving an awkward situation for the sake of clear communication. The social benefits of doing so outweigh the cons of a few anxious minutes spent in the conversation’s lead up.
So, there’s my two cents! Gird thyself with kindness and an open mind, then go forth and be awkward! If you think a misunderstanding or bad assumption might be brewing, stepping in humbly with a few awkward questions can really clear the air.
Okay, fine, I’ll go first: