socially awkwardAre you socially awkward?

It seems I am a magnet for any and all kinds of awkward social situations.

So much so that I decided to create a post on all of the social traps and how you can avoid them.

Awkward Situation #1: Forgetting You Have Met Someone Before

Has this ever happened to you? You walk up to someone and say, “Nice to meet you!” And then they say, “Uh, we have met before, like a bunch of times.” And you’re, like, “OMG awkward!”

Social Fail

I am constantly meeting people who I already have met before at parties and networking events. And I frequently forget I’ve met them and then have to go through this awkward re-introduction, apology, foot-in-mouth process.

The Social Save: Never, ever say “nice to meet you.” Always always say “nice to see you.” Whether you are meeting someone for the first time or not, this always works and it’s a nice thing to say.

Awkward Situation #2: You Laughed at a Joke You Didn’t Get

It looks like this.

[Fake laughing]

And then, someone calls you on it.

“So what do you think about that?”

Social Fail

The Social Save: Sometimes I have trouble hearing people in loud bars and sometimes I am too slow to get witty jokes, so this happens to me fairly often. The best thing to do is actually turn this into a joke yourself. Here’s what I say when this happens:

[Fake laughing]

“So what do you think about that?”

“Oh, I have no idea what you were talking about, but I was laughing to appear engaged and friendly, haha.”

Awkward Situation #3: Someone Knows Your Name and You Don’t Know Theirs

They say, “Hey, Vanessa!” And you’re, like, “Hey….you!”

Social Fail

Ugh it’s the worst! Names are really tough to remember. First, use the ‘Nice to see you’ to buy yourself time. Second, ask them for their card with something like, “Hey, did I get your card last time? If not, can I grab it again?” or, best of all, if you came with someone, set-up a secret cue beforehand.

The Social Save: My husband and my friends all know that if we ever introduce the other first, we don’t know the person’s name and they have to ask. It goes like this:

“Hey, Vanessa!”

“Hey, good to see you! Have you met my friend, Hayley?”

“Hi! Im Hayley, what’s your name?”

Awkward Situation #4: You Put Your Foot in Your Mouth  

You did it, and it tasted bad. You put your foot in your mouth.

You asked a woman if she was pregnant and she wasn’t.

Social Fail

You asked how their job was going and they got fired.

Social Fail

You asked about their spouse and they got divorced.

Social Fail

The Social Save: No worries! It happens to me all the time. I have found the best thing to do when this happens is to turn on a little humor, apologize quickly and move it along. Here’s my go-to line:

“Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry. I need to get us both more ______.”  (fill in the blank: wine, cocktails, snacks, cupcakes)

Or if you are truly desperate, you can just fill in the blank by saying:

“Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry. I need to get myself more tact.” They laugh, you laugh and awkwardness is saved.

Awkward Situation #5: You Talk About Things You Know Nothing About

Admit it, sometimes you say you know things, people and facts that you actually have no idea about.

Oh ya, The Bloody Monsters, love that band…

Who? Carol Klingmanpooper? Oh yes, I love her political policy!

Hmm, definitely loved that book Bridge to Nowhere. Yeah….

And then, someone calls you on it.

Their favorite song? Oh…ummm.

Social Fail

What do I think of Carol Klingmanpooper’s foreign policy? Hmm…

Social Fail

What did I take away from the book? Did I love the ending?

Social Fail

The Social Save: I am a big fan of coming clean and stopping the lie before it gets too far. In fact, you can use this as an opportunity to ask someone else’s opinion—and everyone loves sharing their opinion. When this happens, just fess up and toss it back to them. It looks like this:

You know, I’m not sure. How about you?

Actually, I have no idea. Can you update me on it?

I don’t know if I ever really read it. Remind me?

Oh, there are so many more awkward situations I have gotten myself into, but I think that’s plenty for now. Have situations you want me to tackle? Tweet me @Vvanedwards My #awkwardchallenge is…I want to hear from you!

About Vanessa Van Edwards

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Lead Investigator, Science of People

I'm the author of the national bestselling book Captivate, creator of People School, and behavioral investigator.

I’ve always wanted to know how people work, and that’s what Science of People is about. What drives our behavior? Why do people act the way they do? And most importantly, can you predict and change behavior to be more successful? I think the answer is yes. More about Vanessa.

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