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Tackling awkward social situations

Tackling awkward social situations – Live Great – Great Eastern Life

We all encounter one of those awkward social moments when you are at a loss for words and what to do. A fear of these social situations can cause some anxiety, However, a little quick thinking and a good back-up plan can help you overcome these situations and even help you gain confidence to turn them around!

1. Forgotten someone’s name
If you’re always meeting new people, it’s probable that you’ll forget people’s names every so often. There are several ways to tackle this.

  • The first is to be upfront. Apologise and ask for their names: “I’m sorry, I can’t recall your name” or “I’m sorry, what was your name again?"Re-introduce yourself. Say: “Hello! I’ve met before, I’m Susan!” This will prompt the person to mention their name too and give them a chance to recall yours.
  • Stall for time. If it is a name you should know and you’ve only momentarily forgotten it, start the conversation and give yourself some time to recall it. Look for clues by asking: “Wow, hey nice to see you here! When was the last time we met?”
  • Introduce a friend. Use someone else to prompt for a name. “Have you met my friend Gary?” This will likely start a round of introductions and you can find out the forgotten name!

2. Stuck in a dull conversation
Parties, meetings, seminars and even family events may call for some polite small talk with people you don’t really know or may not like. Allow about ten minutes of pleasantries before you move on. Make a polite excuse by going to get a drink, some food, talk to the host or go to the bathroom. During a lull in conversation, smile and say, “It was nice meeting you. Please excuse me, I have to …”. Follow through with your excuse – that is, make that call, help the host, visit the bathroom or get that drink.

3. Faced with a zealot/know-it-all
We may be in a situation where someone starts ranting and railing or begin a ‘sermon’ on a subject you have no wish to discuss. Contradicting him or her will only lengthen the encounter, so give your attention for a little while and whatever you do, don’t debunk them, tease, ignore or argue because it’ll just mean they will try harder to convince you. Instead, offer neutral statements such as “I see” or “Is that so”. Offer a neutral subject when you can or use some humour. “Say, this conversation is getting a little intense! Let’s just talk about something more light-hearted shall we? It’s a party after all.” In cases that the rant is offensive – cut the speaker off quickly but politely and change the subject or excuse yourself. Rope in others if you can “I can see you feel strongly about this. So Roger, how’s the family doing?”

4. Meeting Captain Oblivious
It could be a gossipy aunt or a tactless colleague, but this person is the one most likely to bring up dreaded questions (“How come you are still single?”) or bring attention to things you don’t want to talk about (“You’ve put on weight!”). It can be grating and annoying, but don’t lose your cool. Imagine that you were this person, who constantly makes faux pas and goes through life oblivious to how much discomfort they put people through – it’ll help you empathise a little. To deal with the situation, armour yourself with some humour and take it in your stride. Say: “I’ve got high standards” or “Yes I have! And so have you! We’re lucky to be eating so well!”

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