Tips for Chronically Awkward Humans (written by someone with a lot of experience)

I think it’s time to lighten things up a bit, and focus in on a much funnier struggle of mine. When my 4 year old nephew starts saying “AWKWARD” after spending just a few hours with me, I began to realize… I may have a problem. So, I’ve decided to dig up those painfully uncomfortable memories that I worked so hard to push away, solely for the benefit of my fellow awkward brothers and sisters. Let’s break it down for common scenarios that invoke our awkward behaviors the most.

Scenario #1

This is when it’s key to remember that silence is probably better than whatever you plan on filling it with.

Avoid saying things like:

  • Saying random thoughts that pop in your head, like “I didn’t spill anything on my pants today.”
  • The new joke you heard that was only funny to you.

Try things like:

  • Staying silent
  • Commenting on how close we are to Friday
  • Discussing the recent weather patterns

Scenario #2

The moment someone says, “let’s take a photo,” can instill some instant anxiety for those of us who are chronically awkward, so here are things to avoid and to try

Avoid things like:

  • The thumbs up pose
  • Widening your eyes like a serial killer
  • Keeping your arms directly at your sides (see below for personal example)

IMG_7424 (003)

This photo was taken at a conference when I was working for my old company. I looked so weird, that they decided to make a side-by-side for the entire office to laugh about! Oh memories!

Try things like:

  • Holding a cup of coffee or a purse, so your arms don’t do anything weird
  • Gentle smiles and a hand at the hip are always a go-to option in a time of panic

Scenario #3
Wakes and/or Funerals

These are quite possibly the times when you’ll want to talk about the worst things imaginable. Why? I’m not sure, but this is when you must be fully on your guard and work really hard at not saying the things you think might sound okay. Again, this is another situation where silence is the best option.

Avoid things like:

  • Complimenting the wallpaper or carpet
  • Asking “how did he/she die?”
  • Dad jokes – you think it’ll lighten the mood, but it’ll just be weird… I promise

Try things like:

  • A quick hug and head to the food area
  • A quick hug and go sit down

Scenario #4
Exiting Conversations

This is a tough one for me. The hope is that the other person will make the exit first so you won’t have to think about it, but in most cases, you’ll need to do it yourself. So here’s what I’ve learned about ending in-person or telephonic conversations.

Avoid things like:

  • Continuing the conversation instead of ignoring the cues that the conversation time is up
  • Announcing your exit a few times without actually exiting
  • Walking backwards slowly like a psychopath
  • Repeating “I’ll talk to you later” after you’ve both already said it
  • Saying “thank you” when the situation 100% doesn’t require expressing gratitude
  • Saying “love you” on accident to someone that isn’t your family member or close friend

Try things like:

  • Walking out casually when the silence appears
  • Saying “bye”

Scenario #5
Consoling a Crying Friend / Acquaintance *When You Can’t Relate*

These are the moments where I either thrive or completely fail – and quite honestly, I never know which way it’s going to end up.

Avoid things like:

  • Telling a mom who’s crying about not knowing what to do with her child that you sometimes stress out about your cats. You think this makes you relatable – it doesn’t
  • Petting them. I don’t know why this seems like the correct thing to do, but I assure you, it’s not

Try things like:

  • A short hug
  • Saying “I’m so sorry”

 Scenario #6
When Someone Tells a Funny Story / Joke

This is tough when you laugh at nearly everything and often find yourself catching a “case of the giggles.”

Avoid things like:

  • Inappropriate length or volume of laughing
  • Snorting

Try things like:

  • Chuckling and moving on
  • A smirk

Scenario #7
Someone Compliments You / Your Outfit

This is a battle – part of me thinks accepting a compliment will make me look arrogant, when in fact, it’s the correct way to respond. So here’s how to handle these situations when you’re unsure.

Avoid things like:

  • Letting them know it was a hand-me-down
  • Letting them know it cost less than $10
  • Disagreeing with them

Try things like:

  • Saying thank you and moving on
  • Saying thank you and complimenting them back

That’s all I have for now! Please feel free to offer up any other tips you might have for the community of chronically awkward individuals!!

PSA: This is all in good fun. I believe that awkward people have a unique quality that makes them truly beautiful. This was only for laughs – please don’t ever change your awkward!

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