A friend recently sent me an image of a pie chart with reasons why introverts are quiet. It had me giggling and nodding my head in agreement. There were two explanations that stood out for me.
‘I finally came up with the perfect reply but now you’re talking about something else.’
‘The words, I can’t do right when out loud they are spoken.’
Does anyone suffer from this? I over think my responses and take a ridiculous amount of time to perfect a reply. By the time I’ve mustered up the courage to actually contribute to the conversation, I’ve missed the train. And if I feel nervous speaking to the person, I just blurt out random junk in an incoherent manner – I believe the condition is called verbal diarrhoea. I’ve had it all my life – I don’t think there is a cure.
The image had me thinking, is this why I don’t have many close friends? I don’t make great first impressions and I’m not a skilled conversationalist, so are people likely to shy away from getting to know me?
I envy children. They make it look so simple. ‘Hey you wanna play?’ and BAM! a friendship is born. Ok, maybe not exactly like that but you get my drift. They don’t have the same emotional baggage and negative inner dialogues holding them back from connecting with others. They don’t see the same obstacles or barriers that an adult might see.
So what can I do? I still want to get to know people and make friends. While I like my own company, it’s nice not to answer my own questions on occasion. You know what I mean? And at some stage, my children will become teenagers and won’t have a bar of me, my husband will probably request to live solo on a deserted island and I’ll be OLD old. I’d like to think that I’ll have some old biddies to clink teacups with and chat about our latest romance reads. It’s nice to make connections and form friendships. Loneliness is literally a silent killer!
In efforts to rectify this situation, I had to do some self-analysis and admit to any shortcomings. I identified six areas of limitations that needed some serious overhaul to make a better first impression.
- Willingness: I prefer lurking in dark corners and hiding behind any excuse instead of being placed in an uncontrolled social setting. I would rather spork myself in the eye than talk to a stranger. I struggle with anxiety in most social situations.
- Small talk: I find small talk incredibly draining. It takes all my concentration and energy to listen and converse in a manner that is meaningful and attentive. I would say it’s the equivalent to a tough gym session but for the brain. I feel like a big bag of chips and a nap afterwards to recuperate from my efforts, I kid you not!
- Eye contact: I have an aversion to prolonged eye contact. I feel compelled to look away to relieve the discomfort.
- Smile: I hate my teeth, and I’m conscious of them. I tend to smile with my lips sealed tight so often I look like I’m grimacing. It probably gives me a certain RBF appearance.
- Body language: Unless I know the person well or I feel comfortable in their presence, I tend to cross my arms or hold a bag in front of me. It’s almost a protective or defensive stance.
- Inner dialogue: I have a tendency to be pessimistic and negative about my capabilities. I am hard on myself. I worry about my quirks and awkwardness.
It’s not a great stretch of the imagination to state that I don’t make the best first impressions. I can appear disinterested and arrogant when the opposite is true!
So I’ve decided to tackle one limitation at a time – first off the bat, willingness. I’m going to attempt to talk to someone who I wouldn’t normally talk to while doing school pick ups and drop offs. You never know, I might even make a friend or two who’ll find my quirkiness and awkwardness charming! Wish me luck folks.
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