How To Talk To Socially Awkward People

Sharika Soal By Sharika Soal - Updated: September 24th, 2017
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One of the most awkward things to do in everyday social situations is to deal with awkward or difficult people because most of the normal tools of basic interaction and conversation do not necessarily apply to them. Their body language interpretation skills are usually non-existent, they have serious confidence and self-esteem issues, and they are often incredibly unpredictable and simply hard to talk to. Here are six steps to deal with the awkward people in your life that will help you forge some kind of connection with them or just help you save face.

STAY FOCUSED.  One of the most important things to keep in mind when dealing with awkward people is to remember that keeping the focus of the conversation on topic will help you manage and keep control of the proceedings. Workplace conversations can go from not replacing the paper in the photocopier to personal attacks over how you raise your children.

AVOID INTERRUPTING Also important when dealing with awkward people is the need to keep the conversation or interaction as narrow as possible will keep it moving forward and keep their awkwardness from derailing the conversation or interaction. If you do need to digress, do it carefully, slowly, and try to make it as clear as possible along the way how such a digression is related to the previous topic.

ASSERT DOMINANCE The best way to keep awkward people from manifesting the outward symptoms of their social ineptitude is to assert that you are the alpha in the conversation and that the interaction will unfold under the auspices of your control. To make dealing with awkward people as easy as possible, you need to make it clear that you are the boss.

BE EMPATHETIC  Being the alpha, however, does not give you license to be a jerk (we all know jerks at work). Being dominant does not mean being domineering. Be aware of the awkward person's manifestations of awkwardness, and prepare to assuage them as best as you can by accepting them at face value and trying to recognize exactly what the awkward person wishes to communicate to you.

LISTEN,  Much of the awkwardness that awkward people exude comes from the frustration that they are not listened to, that their ideas are somehow inferior, and that they fear in equal measure exposing themselves to ridicule because of their ideas and that their ideas are not worth listening to. Listen intently as best as you can and find every way possible to let them know that you are.

STAND BY YOUR PRINCIPLES.  It can be tempting, sometimes, to assuage the awkwardness in a conversation with an awkward person by simply giving in to whatever they say and whatever they request, but do not do this. Stand by your assertions and principlesFeature Articles, and be just as willing to deny requests from difficult people as you would with a normally communicative person.