Awkwardness – It’s Hard To Describe, But We All Know What It Is.

It’s that uncomfortable, confusing, skin-crawling discomfort we feel when a social interaction is going badly and we want nothing more than for it to end. Now.

What if I told you your ability to tolerate awkward feelings is directly related to your level of social confidence? 

In fact, the more awkwardness you can handle, the more you’ll be able to get the job, relationship, opportunities, and life that you truly desire.

Understanding Awkward

What’s actually happening when we’re feeling awkward? Take a moment to think of the last time you felt awkward. When was it? Where were you? Who were you with? Are you starting to get a nervous feeling in your stomach just thinking about it?

Although there are hundreds of different situations that can make us feel awkward, they all share one or more of the following:

  1. You’re feeling anxious, nervous, or uncomfortable.
  2. The other person is feeling anxious, nervous, or uncomfortable.
  3. You or the other person doesn’t know what to say next.

This leads to either a strained silence where you’re both frantically thinking of something to say, or a strange moment where one of you says something irrelevant and hard to respond to, just to fill the terrifying void.

The Cost of Avoiding Awkwardness

The essential component of awkwardness is you or the other person is feeling nervous or anxious.

What I see in many of the shy people I work with is a general inability to tolerate awkwardness. When it starts to happen, they either:

  1. Flee the situation (giving an excuse or not).
  2. Hastily jump in and carry the conversation to protect the other person from feeling any anxiety.

In either case, this tendency to avoid awkwardness is a habit that can prevent you from creating the self-confidence you want in your life.

When we avoid something, we never never stop to face it to see what really happens. This leaves us with all of our fearful assumptions.

If I don’t know what to say, this other person will think I’m a weirdo.

If this person feels awkward around me, they’ll never want to spend time with me.

If I don’t always know what to say, people will think I’m strange and shun me.

Each time avoid the awkwardness, these fearful assumptions strengthen in our beliefs. Eventually, even the thought of someone feeling awkward around us can make our heart start beating faster.

The primary cost of this avoidance is you cannot take a leap outside of your comfort zone without potentially facing some discomfort, anxiety, or awkwardness.

This might be approaching an attractive stranger, asking her out, disagreeing with someone, or saying “no” to a pushy sales person.

As a result, you don’t take the risks necessary to get what you most want in life. If you’re unwilling to experience awkwardness, then you’ll be unwilling to take a shot.

The key to increasing your confidence in dating, at work, and in general lies in increasing your awkwardness tolerance.

Stay tuned for the next post to learn how to increase your ability to handle awkwardness so you can move towards what you truly want in your life!