Ever heard the phrase “Own the awkward?” I first saw it on social media a few months ago. To me, this well-meaning message says, “Let’s acknowledge and even embrace our hesitation, discomfort, and clumsiness in social situations.”
I get it. Not everyone is a natural-born social butterfly who feels confident and comfortable in conversation. Furthermore, not every interaction is going to be a smooth or amazing experience. Some chats are (or become) awkward for any number of reasons. (I just had a couple of those today!) We can’t beat ourselves up about it. We are who we are.
However, as a wise mentor once told me, “We are perfect just as we are. And we can always do better.”
Given that wisdom, I’m going to make a gentle suggestion. Perhaps we should change, “Own the awkward” to “Awkward happens. And we can always do better.”
“Ack! But why bother?” you may be thinking. “Is it really that important to overcome our social challenges and anxieties and become savvier socializers?”
Yes, it is.
We humans are wired for connection and belonging. It’s how we’ve survived as a species, and it’s how we will continue to survive. No matter our age, gender, heritage, skin color, language, religion, education, or social abilities and preferences. I’m convinced this is partly why so many organizations are pouring millions of dollars into Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) programs. We all want to feel respect and belonging. No matter who we are.
I will add that becoming more confident and comfortable interacting with others, as challenging as it might sound, can deliver many invaluable benefits. So many, in fact, that I devoted the entire first section of my new book “More Than Just Talk” to discussing them.
- Want to boost your mood and enhance your life? Converse with people. (Yes, even if you feel socially awkward or tend to prefer solitude.)
- Want to build connection and community, whether it’s in your family, neighborhood, or office? Converse with people.
- Want to be more creative or solve that vexing problem? Converse with people.
- Want to elevate your professional and personal success (e.g. get that job, earn clients, and avoid a layoff)? Ditto.
- Want to live a long, vibrant, healthy life, and have a better chance of avoiding and surviving a serious illness? Ditto again.
When it comes down to our social skills and social intelligence, no matter where we are today, we can do better. But we have to want to. And we have to be taught how. And we have to practice.
Well, what a coincidence! This is where my books and programs come in. You may have seen my tagline: “I work with smart professionals who want to converse and connect with greater authenticity, ease, graciousness, and confidence.” I love what I do because I know it matters. Every good thing that has ever happened to me began with a conversation.
Even better, people tell me repeatedly that my programs and my award-winning books “The Intentional Networker” and “More Than Just Talk” have not only helped them (and their loved ones and co-workers) to build, strengthen, and refine their conversation and connection mojo, they’ve also changed their outlooks on their lives, relationships, and careers.
I promise. Building your socialization skills is a big deal, and it’s well worth moving beyond the status quo.
But it’s up to you to do it.
Interested in chatting? How may I help you? Want to get yourself or someone you love or work with copies of my books? Email me at pattidenucci[at]gmail.com You can find my books on Amazon, with other online book retailers, and at BookPeople in Austin, Texas.