I am generally an awkward person. What this means is that, in real life, I take awkward pauses when responding to the things people say, and what I do say is often strange and comes out of the blue. People react to it in one of two ways: either 1) that’s weird. Or 2) that’s different and creative.
There is usually no in-between when things like that come out of my mouth.
Believe it or not, there are certain social faux pas that I’ve learned to avoid over the years, or at least greatly reduce. If you care about things like that – you know, making sure people don’t slowly inch away from you when you’re talking to them if you’re a little awkward like me, then you’ll hopefully get some kind of benefit from this article.
Here are some of the top social faux pas I’ve learned about over the years, some from general experience.
# 1 – Laughing when you don’t actually know what the person said
It can seem like an easy way to save face, laughing when you haven’t heard what a person has said. In reality, this is a way to get yourself in some pretty rough social hot water. I think it was one time at a bowling alley, this short red-haired guy in my class said something to me – I still don’t know to this day – and he looked at me angrily and said, “Why are you laughing?”
I immediately stopped. I wish I’d known what he’d told me. Yeah, so, never do this.
# 2 – Not responding at all when you have heard someone
If someone says something and you’ve heard them, but you don’t say or gesture with anything (like a small head nod) or even give them eye contact – don’t get upset when they ask if you’ve heard them. Guess who is suffering the social faux pas? You are, my dear non-responder. Not the person you’re getting upset at. At least they’re trying their best to communicate with you.
# 3 – Backing away without saying you have to go
When someone is talking to you, and you start backing away instead of telling them that actually, you really need to go – this can be seen as rejection, or they may think they smell, or they may assume any number of things.
I have done this on occasion because I didn’t want to interrupt. But letting them come to any number of assumptions is even worse for their ego than being interrupted to communicate your boundary – that you have to go.
# 4 – On that note – constantly interrupting
Yeah, I think all of us have been perpetrators of this on occasion – even those people who hold this as a pet peeve. Don’t interrupt as much as possible. Wait at least 4 seconds before saying what you want to say. The stronger your urge to say something, the more you will want to interrupt and the less you will listen to the other person. When you recognize that urge, do your best to resist and fully listen to the person talking. And remember that 4 second gap. This is something I’m still working on. I occasionally interrupt, but then, everyone does. It’s just some call others out on it more often than others. Some are annoyed by it more often than others. So do your best not to.
# 5 – Humble-bragging
Humbleness is when you let your achievements speak for themselves without bragging about them. Bragging is when you talk about your achievements or even non-achievements in an over-exaggerated way and give yourself too much credit. Humble-bragging is a combination. So for example, “No, I didn’t do a whole lot by putting the plaster on that wall, but it made such a huge difference. After all, you wouldn’t have been able to paint it had I not put that plaster on. Can you believe it? That it was such a huge part of getting that wall done? Man, I’m glad you’re able to paint.”
Avoid humble-bragging. It’s almost worse than just outright bragging.
# 6 – Waiting too long to respond
So, if someone says something, waiting too long to respond can either make them think you were hesitating, or that you were thinking about something else rather than listening to them. Try to avoid.
Anyway, these are some of the social faux pas I’ve learned about over the years. Sometimes they happen. Everyone does them. Everyone. Be understanding. Seek to understand others. Seek to listen. I’m not perfect at it yet, but then, no one is. We just try the best we can every day.
What are some other social faux pas you have seen or done? How have you handled them when you’ve done them yourself? Are they easier for some people to avoid than others? Is it a bigger or smaller deal overall in the social scene? Write your comments below!
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