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Have you ever had to have the ‘conversation’ with someone – and you know before you start that it’s going to be awkward-city.
Or perhaps someone has initiated the conversation with you! How embarrassing. The unexpected, so not knowing what to say, feeling your face flush and thinking ‘how embarrassing if anyone can hear this.’
Sometimes what you think is an awkward conversation, doesn’t even register as that for the other person involved. They are just going about business and have completely missed that this chat is making your uncomfortable.
There are a couple of things to consider.
1. Understand why it’s uncomfortable for you
Is it because it’s out of the scope of normal, and perhaps either confronting, or personal? Or just a bit too deep and intense. For me, as soon as a conversation starts with ‘Can I just say…’ I get a bit defensive. What is it now?! I automatically think it’s going to be a politely veiled criticism. And yes, I know that is a reflection on me, not the other person involved.
If you can, think about why its making you uncomfortable. Is it because it feels like it’s a reflection on you, or your work? You could be sensitive. Or is it because you are not used to intense or intimate conversations that make you dig a bit deeper than the normal peripheral types of conversations.
Or, and this is a big one, perhaps it touches on a truth that you perhaps haven’t ever really stepped up to about yourself.
2. How can you manage yourself if you feel awkward-city arriving?
If you get a physical reaction like sweating or being red faced, then it’s even more reason for being able to identify and be proactive about your reaction – so you can avoid it happening. A couple of things that work for me are taking a few deep breaths, or even creating a bit of space by asking if you can take a minute.
It’s also being able to take the emotion out of the equation. Could it be that the conversation is about a task or project – and not even about you personally. Thinking about it like this can take the ‘sting’ away. Then, it’s all about the best outcome, not what you are doing or the quality of your work.
Think about the intention of the person having the conversation with you. Is there good intent to support and help, or even zero intent to offend? If you are overthinking it, then that is going to impact on how long the convo is going to remain awkward.
Your task, if you choose to accept it, is to think about how you are going move from awkward to open in as little time as possible. Open to solutions, open to having the discussion, open to clearing the air.
I HATE awkward conversations. I have a lot of internal dialogue, and as soon as it gets a whiff of something awkward about to happen, it goes into overdrive. Plus, I’m blessed with the full suite of physical responses to awkwardness and discomfiture. How embarrassing. Bloody hell, I think, why are you making me think about the very thing I have tried so hard to avoid, and mask with pleasant behaviour. What works for me is the deep breaths, a stand up tall posture, taking a minute to compose myself and most importantly, awareness. As soon as I have awareness, I can approach the situation better, and be more open to what is being talked about. Sometimes, it works. Other times, I fake it through. Either way, you get through. Then you can think about it, and identify what you can do when it comes up again.
But you know what? Getting through it, it makes you feel relieved that got everything off your chest and you think – why did I hesitate, why did I wait to talk about it? So my advice? Practice. Try to initiate the ‘hard’ conversations, or even just step fully into them and remove the emotions. I think you’ll find that at the end of it, you are probably going to feel better. Wish me luck, this is harder to do than it is writing about it.
Go ahead, go get awkward. And embrace the awkwardness.