Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The art of the social interaction...

We wear matching shirts sometimes. Because we are nerds.
I am an introvert, you all know this about me, though I am now a lot more social than I used to be. And with all of the interviews I've sat in on lately, I've been thinking a lot about social skills. I'm still far from perfect in my own, but I have come a lot way from the shy teenager I used to be. I really notice more, as an adult, how other people navigate these same social waters and how at ease they are with it. With children, I can see how they are, of course, not born with this skill, and need help in refining it. Right now, it seems like both of my children have not yet honed their ability to initiate and pace conversations. This is totally normal. It is also, after a time, incredibly irritating. I really need to get this off my chest. :0

I don't know about you, but I'm often absorbed in my own head. I'm thinking about lots of different things, I'm also trying to read something, plus I'm stirring something on the stove. Some people call this scattered, but I just call it multi-tasking. ;-)

When you're lost in your own thoughts, and another introverted adult (who also happens to be my gorgeous husband) happens upon you, wanting to start a conversation with you, it generally goes something like this:

"Hey hon. Did you remember to pick up that cheese we need for tomorrow?"

It is now the generally accepted social norm that there will be a pause as you think about your answer:

"Hum? Oh, right. Yes, I did. Though they didn't have the goat cheese I wanted, so I got feta instead. I think that'll go fine in the recipe."

"OK great, thanks."

We both go back to whatever we were thinking about previously. We co-exist in the kitchen together in companionable silence. We are both happy.

The following is what happens when one of my children happens upon me lost in my own thoughts:


There is no expectation of a pause of any sort. If you do not immediately respond, they will continue shouting your name at you until you do.


I can't help it, I have a low threshold startle reflex. :0 They always catch me off guard.

"I have to ask you a question!"

I had already clued into that, but no matter. You must acknowledge, or they will not proceed. I now have to respond a second time, and let the record reflect that NO QUESTION HAS YET BEEN ASKED.


"Yes, Dear, what is your question?"

"Can I (fill in the blank. Usually something they know they are not allowed to do)."

"No honey, we've already talked about this."

"BUT...*insert incessant whining here*"

There is no end to this painful social interaction. :0 It goes on and on until either (a) the child is satisfied (pretty unlikely), or (b) they are sent to their room in tears.

It is all quite exhausting. Parents, let us BAND TOGETHER IN SOLIDARITY! Which translates to a virtual community glass of wine after the children go to bed.

On this same social note, Anne and I were out for a neighborhood walk together this past Sunday afternoon. I was pulling her along in her little wagon, her multitude of saint dolls also along for the ride. Suddenly, a women who was headed out to her car calls out to us:

"Do you go to St. Paul's?"

See, I had the pausal expectation on my side, so we were all good. I had no idea who this woman was, but she clearly goes to our church. I processed this all for several blissful seconds.


"I see you and your children there all the time! How lovely...(lots of highly pleasant talk of the parish and Catholic family life).

In the past, I would have been terrible at navigating such a scenario. While I was talking to the original lady, another woman came out. A mother/daughter conversation team! Talking to people that I do not know used to fill me with anxious awkwardness. Now, though I don't seek out such opportunities (who else hates ordering takeout over the phone?! Online reservation form COME TO MAMA!!) I actually enjoy putting myself out there and talking to other people. We now have a new friend at the 11 am Mass, and I couldn't be more thrilled.

How about you, dear reader? Do you relish or dread social interactions with unknown fellow humans?


  1. Okay so here's something funny about me: I'm an outgoing person, usually the loudest in the room *ahem*, and if I see someone that looks like they're uncomfortable, I try to include them in the conversation or just be some sort of silent societal wing man (that's a thing, right?) HOWEVER I don't know if it's getting older or becoming a mom and being constantly bombarded by THEIR conversation (as you so aptly illustrated above) but I've found myself shrinking...like now I'M the awkward one in the room trying to put myself out there, I have the worst time remembering names, and I just come across as some duh-huh (at least that's what my head tells me, LOL.) And honestly, I'd rather just be home typing this comment right now instead of having to come up with something to talk about somewhere else. #facepalm

    And the phone?! FORGET IT. I will do ANYTHING to keep from having to call someone or answer my phone. I'm so awkward, it is ridiculous. Like, how can you have a company with no prices listed on your website...or worse...NO WEBSITE. You're seriously going to make me call you for information and interact like a human being?! *wail*

    In conclusion, you are not alone. /end :D :D :D

  2. Maggi, we really need to hang out in real life. :0 We would get along SO WELL! My mom has always said the exact same thing you are here: as we get older, our personalities shift a bit in this regard: "I used to be so outgoing; now your father has rubbed off on me, and I try to avoid people just like he does!" LOL!

    I LOVE your analogy of a social wing man, ha ha ha!! I'm very empathetic, so I know exactly what you're saying. I *always* want others to be at ease, so I take on whatever role I need to (self-deprecating humor, SUPER HELPFUL in these types of situations) to make them feel relaxed.

    The phone? I wish we could officially abolish them and just have Smartphones be what they actually are: handheld computers. No need to call anybody! :0

  3. Tiffany,

    As you know, I'm an introvert (Introverts Unite!). This past week I went to Podcast Movement, which had 1300 podcasters/wannabes in the same space. If I didn't know anyone there, this would have been my worst nightmare. Talk to complete strangers? As if!

    I decided to go because I have a group of podcaster friends who would be there and have been going since the movement began. The Wednesday night social time was a bit of a nightmare for me until I used it to meet those friends in person - yeah! I did manage to meet a few new people, but they were mostly friends of the group I was hanging out with. We had so much fun! Yes, there were sessions with some well known podcasters, but I mostly went to hang out with these friends and we had a blast (as the photos show). These are my people! I don't have to explain what a podcast is to them because they're the insiders.

    I did manage to connect to another introvert from the #pm16 twitter stream (@introvertcoach) and recorded a little segment for her podcast, which was awesome! I loved the experience of going, but aside from hanging with my friend group there and a meetup with the folks from Golden Spiral Media, the amount of people was a bit overwhelming as you can imagine.

    I'm unemployed at the moment, but I hope that doesn't last. I hope I would have the opportunity to go to PM again (next year it's in Anaheim - yeah Disney Land!) and although it was a bit overwhelming with all the people, it was a positive experience. :)

  4. Steph, thank you SO MUCH for sharing your experiences at Podcast Movement! I enjoyed looking at your photos on social media, and indeed, I could tell that you were relaxed, comfortable and having a great time! I totally relate to what you say about being overwhelmed - it's part of our lot in life with how God made us. :)


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