Thursday, July 19, 2012

Social Skills--who needs 'em!?

When asked, "What is one thing you would change about yourself?" I usually say, "I would like to be better at making friends." Despite being sweet and agreeable and likeable, I am very bad at this.

At work, I marvel at how easily my coworkers interact with each other, while I usually cower in my office pretending not to hear them chatter. I made a vow to myself that I would try harder to be more outgoing. I would start simply, by merely taking a more proactive approach to greeting people. When I saw people I knew, I would say hello, rather than ducking into whatever nearby haven of solitude, wondering if my presence  had gone undetected. Yet, after a day, I realized that even this little baby step was beyond my capabilities, as I just have no idea of the protocol to follow in varying situations.

When you run into someone and you both see each other, you say hi. That's easy. But what happens when this simple scenario becomes more complex?
  • When two people you know are standing next to your building talking, do you interrupt their conversation to say hi to them?
  • When you first arrive at the office for the day, do you say hello to every person whose door you pass? What if two doors are on opposite sides of the hallway? Do you stop, turn to each side and say hi to both?
  • When someone you know is shouting distance away when you arrive, but they aren't looking at you, do you shout hello or just slip in like a thief? What does your shout signify to the other people who are within shouting distance but hidden by walls?
Is it even worth worrying about this any more?

My boyfriend, master of perception, observed that I don't talk much at parties. This is because I don't know who to talk to. The person on my left? The person on my right? The room at large? The aforementioned boyfriend typically chooses the third option, and often his off-the-wall comments go completely ignored, because the room at large is busy talking to the person on its left or right.

My unheeded yet unperturbed boyfriend says it's fine if I just show up, do the meet and greet, and read a book, leaving other people the option to approach me if they want. I would love it if I could do that, but I think it's just too rude. But being unable to do pretty much anything else, I mainly just don't go to parties.

After nearly 29 years of experience, you'd think I would have learned a little about interaction, but nope. That awkward girl who spent hours at day care leaning against the wall, watching the other kids play, is now the one, slightly taller now, leaning against the wall and watching the other people converse.

Maybe this year is the turning point.

No, not the one where I suddenly learn to be Miss Popular—I think that's a lost cause. I'm talking about the point at which I can I can finally stop worrying, throw up my hands and say, "All right! I'm socially inept! Deal with it!" Maybe I will just walk into a gathering carrying a book, read in a corner, and consider myself a success. I may never be the life of the party, but Librarian of the Party is a role I can handle.