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Feeling Nostalgic? The archives > Your social skills (or lack of social skills)

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message 1: by RandomAnthony (last edited Nov 24, 2008 05:40AM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments How are your social skills? In what social environments are you comfortable? What social environments freak you out?

I'm much better in small social settings than in large ones. I can handle three or four people at a time without much difficulty, but if the scenario gets larger than that, I try to manipulate the setting in a three or four person conversation anyway. I guess I can put on a pretty good act but I don't like parties and the like.

Large-scale social settings, more than twenty people, freak me out. In fact I was on course to be an elementary school principal until I realized that elementary school principals have to walk around hot, crowded cafeterias and make small talk. No way. I'd faint.

Or I'd fake fainting.

I can be polite, I think, with new people and I can ask questions, grow genuinely curious about a lot of different areas, etc. but I'm not good at caring much about typical suburban/small town lifestyle. For example, it's deer hunting season here in Wisconsin...and...I couldn't fucking care less. So that (and my lack of interest in Nascar, etc.) leaves me separated from about 80% of the guys around me this time of year. That's ok. They're not bad people. I just can't pretend to care about what interests them.

I also think I have a little timer in my head that goes off after an hour of intense social interaction. After that hour the phrase

get the fuck out of here get the fuck out of here get the fuck out of here

runs through my mind. I need to get away at least for a few minutes to clear my head.

I also feel like I don't know some unwritten social rules. I'm a horrible interrupter if I'm not careful, too. But I can listen and I try to make other people feel comfortable.

And you?

shellyindallas I'm about where you are, RA. I prefer smaller groups. I was just talking to a friend about how bad it sucks to go out to restaurants w/ large groups. I spend the entire time thinking about who's gonna stiff the server or not pony up enough for their meal in the end. Plus, it's impossible to chat/hang with everyone so you just sit by the people you're closest too, anyway. I know there are people out there who are good at making the rounds and speaking to everyone, but I don't imagine their conversations being anything less than meaningless small talk.

Mostly, I prefer to hang at home with the bf. I find it hard to get motivated to go out with friends. Still, as much I have anxiety about going out to a bar, or a friend's house for a party etc., I always end up having fun when I'm out and saying to myself "why was I dreading this so much?"

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

RA the good news about deer hunters is there is only 1 week left for the gun season, and then most are on to other things and it will be 11 months until this comes up again.

I fear meeting new people, I am polite but I am not a good conversationalist with people I don't know. Apparently if I know someone I will talk with them forever. The 1st semester was just going to end for my son this past week, and he came home and said that at conferences they would complain that he was to social, and that it was my fault, because I talk all of the time. Which is true of people I know.

I too tend to interrupt too often, and have improved this a lot lately, but my mind jumps from topic to topic so often that if I don't say it when I'm thinking about it, I forget about it, until about an hour later when it pops into my head again.

I too like smaller social settings because this allows you to get to know the people you are with a lot better.

message 4: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I guess I still feel like that awkward kid in high school on a certain level. I just assume that people that I don't know don't want to talk to me, or they're just being polite if they do. It comes through in the slightly awkward way I get through the conversation. I tend to ask a lot of quick questions, interrupt, and be generally jumpy about any natural pauses in the conversation. I leap on things without hearing a person out in order because I'm delighted to have something to say. Also, I tend to really limit myself to small talk unless the other person really presses me not to, because I'm wary of just "going on" about something that nobody's interested in. Even if they might be. So I stop myself halfway through often, which kind of jerks the person around. So I often feel like I never talk about interesting things with people unless I know them really well. I'm trying to work on this and just let people talk and let myself answer as myself, and see what happens. Kind of have to reassure myself that its okay to do that, and I would just be wasting my time otherwise.

I wish I were better at/had more funny stories, because that seems to be the staple of conversation. I have a limited store, but when those are done, I don't know what else to say, because I don't know what else is socially and generally acceptable to talk about other than small talk. The conversations I grew up with while forming my social persona were generally in depth geeky discussions, political stuff in a really acid, biting way, and one upsmanship in mean things to say to each other. None of which is really socially acceptable, except maybe the political stuff, since this is DC.

Big crowds don't bother me, except that they often make too much noise for me to hear the people I'm talking to. I get tired of them more quickly. Smaller gatherings are generally favored, it does let you get to know people. Though I will say I have met a good amount of people at larger gatherings that I wouldn't have talked to otherwise. Smaller gatherings do tend to be with people you would talk with anyway.

Jackie "the Librarian" | 8993 comments Hate crowds. Hate hate hate hate crowds....

In a large group, I clam up, unless I'm in the crowd as part of work, and then I will make an effort to participate. I think it's good for me, and has kept me from becoming a complete recluse.

I do enjoy get togethers with friends I feel comfortable with. And if the conversation is about books, I have to watch myself, or I will drone on and on. Stop me, someone!

message 6: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17338 comments Mod
I relate a lot to Kelly's post. And agree with you all for the most part, so I can save myself the agony of retyping the same sentiments, but with poor grammar. (heh.)

I find that in social situations people really like to talk to me but not with me. This is a phenomenon that has been developing for about ten years now. I am a fantastic listener. I know just how to ask the right questions at the right time to get complete strangers to open up to me completely. Often people work in comments like "jeez, its as though you are my therapist" and I just nod soothingly for them to go on.
However, when the tables are turned I am ridiculously awkward. I am unable to maintain intelligent conversation with a stranger because I constantly am reneging every word with self-depreciating banter in my mind. Its exhausting.

message 7: by Meen (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments I do just fine socially when everyone's role is clearly defined, like in a classroom, or at a professional meeting, or at recovery groups, or even when I was bartending and cocktailing. But if it's just informal social gatherings, I am miserable. Social anxiety is constant--am I doing/saying what is appropriate/expected?, did I miss some kind of cue (that one torments me)?, what are they thinking about me???? I'm a lot better than I used to be. I even went to a party Saturday night and lasted several hours (though I did smoke to calm my nerves), but I ignored the signals the anxiety was sending up at about two hours and made myself stay another hour and ended up having a panic attack. I don't think I'll ever be totally comfortable in informal groups.

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