I have spent my life in very public kinds of jobs, in a very public trade. In the course of my career, and while growing up my father's, I have lived all across the United States. In hospitality, we learn to communicate with people from all sorts of backgrounds and from all sorts of places. 

Even so, I have occasionally hit situations where I have felt "socially awkward."  We all want desparately to connect with others. But we all have had socially awkward times in our life. They happen to everyone.  Most are greeted with compassion.  Recovering and moving beyond such moments makes the difference between a life sentence and a passing instant.  If it’s a social situation, the damage is usually minimal. The troubles begin, when we are forced into a dynamic where there is no easy escape. 

Social awkwardness begins with that gnawing sense of not appearing "normal" or "socially clued in" under the domain of others. Generated by our own fears and worries of what others think of us, coupled with their social expectations and our interpretations of them, social awkwardness prevents us from interacting with others out of fear of ridicule or even outright ostracism.  Fear can be paralyzing. 

We all deal with social embarrassment at times.  Even for those more socially awkward than the norm, there are proven strategies to overcome feeling socially awkward. For one thing, we are not alone.  Most worry about the same things when in public.  We worry about whether people like us, we're making a good impression, or if others are bored.  So many of our worries are so common, they each cancel each other out. For it’s a given most are on similar wavelengths, when in a different social or professional dynamic. 

One time or the next, most experience moments of shyness, slips of the tongue, awkward body language, screwing up a conversation or simply struggling to connect with another person. Often those feeling like this all of the time are over-analyzing any social situation. An inability to feel at ease makes each new dynamic seem more frightening and increases the fear each succeeding time. 

Feelings of social awkwardness have an origin. For many people who experience intense social anxiety, it’s fear driven insecurity or low self-confidence. Each source can be addressed by pushing and finding ways to build confidence. 

There are other reasons for feeling insecure, such as bad past experiences, or feeling that we're not with people who are enough like us or who understand us.  Feeling compelled to interact in situations because of work, or other external factors one would normally avoid, easily leads to feeling confused about the motivations and actions of those around us. In each case, we must try to identify the root cause of what's driving our emotions, in order to address each directly.

Being truly shy really inhibits social interactions, masking it crucial to seek ways to overcome shyness.  Whether treated through learning or professional intervention, shyness is (happily) perfectly treatable. Being an introvert is different from being shy,  though  both traits can be found in the same person. Introverts “shun the spotlight” and choose, to avoid social situations because they're draining. An introvert is fulfilled through more internal interaction than an extrovert would enjoy.

Shy people want to participate in social events but is afraid of being embarrassed or left out. Social anxiety is a severely limiting condition or anxiety-based disorder in which a person is not able to function in daily life, including at school, work or social events. A person suffering from social anxiety tends to keep close to family and trusted friends and avoid all public interpersonal relationships. Social anxiety stems from the constant fear that other people are scrutinizing the sufferer in order to humiliate or embarrass them. For those who suffer from social anxiety, it is important to get proper professional help.  As with shyness, social anxiety has an excellent prognosis for treatment.

For all of us the lesson is to be less concerned about what other people think of us. Most people are worrying what others think of them, which is something worth reminding ourselves when worrying about what other people think. 

Some people will be nasty, petty and sarcastic as a matter of course. For such people, such negative behavior is often a defense mechanism they use to get over their own feelings of insecurity, awkwardness and discomfort. As such, it's not actually about us at all but is an sign of internal turmoil. Don't take it to heart; do continue to share the best of yourself without worrying what others think.  

Some simply have negative thoughts about other people as a means to avoid introspection. It’s impossible to alter the way this kind of person thinks. Instead, simply realize that they're too hooked on blaming others to see how their negative comments probably reveal most about their own weaknesses.

Random unpleasant and downright embarrassing things happen. In our imperfect world, the odds of some things making us look or feel foolish are just as much in existence as those things we choose to see as showing ourselves in a more dignified, graceful, or appropriate light. They are another reason to accept our humanness and the fact that life is random and at times imperfect.



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