Everyone occasionally finds themselves caught up in a bout of awkwardness. And that's OK. In my opinion, to be awkward is to be human. But some of us definitely take it to the next level, namely with a a few bad habits that make for some cringe-worthy moments.
If this is you, then you likely make it through most of the day as a socially adept human being. You handle phone calls like a boss, meet new people with charm and ease, and walk down the sidewalk in a decidedly organized fashion. But then the awkwardness strikes. You go to a dinner party and fall to pieces, or show up at a networking event and act a fool. When that happens, your awkward ways can usually be pinpointed to one or two bad habits.
The good news, for those of us who do these things on the regular, is that bad habits can be fixed. If your awkwardness has roots in one of the habits below, there are things you can do to save yourself from looking shiftily around and hoping no one noticed. Read on for some possible explanations, as well as ways to feel self-assured again.
1. Over-Thinking That Eye Contact
The moment you start thinking about your eye contact is the moment things get weird. Suddenly, you feel like you're staring a person down, or looking away too often, and you know everyone is noticing. If this is your bad habit, it can help to make eye contact long enough to notice someone's eye color, according to career development specialist Lily Zhang on TheMuse.com. "For whatever reason, this amount of time feels natural — and effectively mimics those lucky non-awkward people who can do this instinctively," she said.
2. Saying Goodbye 55 Million Times
The next time you want to leave a social gathering, say goodbye and leave. So many of us feel like we have to thank all the attendees, get phone numbers, and make promises to see everyone again soon. But this is totally unnecessary. "Sometimes you don't even have to say goodbye," said Sophia Dempling on Psychology Today. Just ghost and be done with it.
3. Thinking You're Talking Too Much
Have you ever told a story and halfway through felt like you were talking too much? "This may make [you] feel awkward," says Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, in an email to Bustle. And it might cause you to stumble out of your story, or start apologizing for its length. Don't do this to yourself. Go right on ahead and tell your story confidently.
4. Shaking Someone's Hand For Far Too Long
Handshakes seem pretty straight forward, but not everyone knows that they come with a long list of rules. Shake too hard and you come off as aggressive and over-the-top. Shake too soft and you might seem insincere or weak. And if you hold on for too long? Well, cue the awkwardness. The proper length of handshaking should be about three seconds, according to career expert Kat Moon on TheMuse.com. Stick to that, and you should be good.
5. Feeling Like You Don't Belong
This one might not be a bad habit as much as it's a by-product of low self-esteem. But feeling like you don't belong sure can cause a gal to feel awkward. This is especially true if you have social anxiety or a bad case of shyness, Martinez tells me. Working on your self-confidence may help shake the feeling while seriously reducing the awkwardness.
6. Constantly Forgetting People's Names
Some people just aren't good at remembering names, and that's OK. But more often than not it's all due to a lack of listening. If that's your deal, then start correcting the bad habit by paying closer attention when meeting new people. "The instant you meet someone, give him or her your undivided attention," said career expert Jacquelyn Smith on Forbes. Then say their name aloud and repeat it until it sticks.
7. Not Introducing Your Friends To Each Other
There you are talking to one friend when another walks up. They don't know original friend, but you keep on talking as if they do. Awkward. The next time this happens, be a tad more polite and save everyone the cringes by introducing them the right way. "Instead of just saying 'Annie, meet Joe. Joe, Annie' and then leaving it up to them to get a conversation going, give your two guests a little more to go on," said lifestyle editor Cambria Bold on TheKitchn.com. This might include telling them about something they have in common. Nice trick, right?
8. Invading Someone's Personal Space
Everyone has a different idea of what's too close, so it can be difficult to read everyone's reactions correctly. But invading someone's personal space is a good way to induce awkwardness, according to Belle DePaolo, Ph.D., on Psychology Today. When in doubt, avoid touching them or reaching across them. They'll appreciate the consideration.
9. Avoiding People You Know In Public
You're in a store and see your old friend from college. She saw you, you saw her, but you pretend like it didn't happen. While this seems like a good idea for a moment or two, it only makes you look (and feel) incredibly awkward. So for the love of god, go say hi.
10. Not Taking A Compliment
While compliments are meant to make a person feel good, they often pinpoint something we're shy about, or highlight an insecurity. So I get the initial impulse to deny someone's compliment, or downplay what they say. Doing this, however, makes everyone feel weird. And that's why you should just take the compliment and move on. "Say something like, 'Thank you, that’s very kind of you,' or 'Thank you, I appreciate the compliment,'" said etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore on Entrepreneur. Easy as that.
11. Denying Someone's Help When They Offer
There you are struggling to carry a huge box, or flailing away with a tricky project at work. A sweet friend or coworker comes to offer help, only for you to shoo them away. While that's entirely your prerogative, it can make an otherwise easily fixed situation feel... bizarre. If you feel OK accepting their help, I say go ahead and take it.
After all, most awkward situations are easily avoided. Often all it takes is recognizing your bad habits and deciding to stop them, once and for all.
Images: Pexels (11); Unsplash, Daryn Bartlett