Being socially awkward is a common problem for singles, including single members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. What does it mean to be “socially awkward”? It basically means coming across as nervous or tense around others in a social situation. This generally makes others feel uncomfortable, even repelled. Social awkwardness is basically a combination of a lack of social skills in combination with social anxiety. Taken together, it tends to create an unpleasant atmosphere that others usually want to avoid. And in the singles scene, social awkwardness has led to the loss of many relationship opportunities and connections.
Examples of Social Awkwardness:
*Showing Anxiety: Inner worries of possibly saying or doing the wrong thing can result in outer tenseness and rigidity. Muscle tension, fast breathing, over-heating, sped up speech, and other outer signs of anxiety generally result in an unattractive reaction from another.
*Missing Non-Verbal Social Cues: When another person sends you meaning through a particular tone of voice, facial expression, or body language that is missed or otherwise misinterpreted, it can result in a mismatch with the way you respond. This “off” reaction results in awkwardness and the other wondering why you are missing the message. Often the assumption is that you just don’t care, weren’t paying attention, or are insensitive. None of those conclusions will go well.
*Talking Too Much or Too Little: There is a certain natural and comfortable “talking/listening” pace to a conversation. A flow. When a person is acting socially awkward, the pace and flow of the conversation gets interrupted when a person talks too much for what is appropriate or too little when more talking was expected. This kind of choppy, uneven communication results in an uncomfortable, strained, unpleasant conversation.
*Talking About Touchy or Controversial Subjects: A socially awkward person often fails to understand what subjects are or are not appropriate to talk about in certain times, contexts, or with certain people. (Conversely, a socially adept person possesses a better ability to know or sense what to say and not say when in what situation).
*Being Too Honest: There are times when it is best to be discreet and diplomatic with your words and speech. Unfortunately for more socially awkward people, they can be too honest, too often, resulting in the other feeling insulted or offended. For instance, if a woman asks a man the stereotypical question: “do I look fat in this outfit”, answering “yes you do” will not go well. A more positive, supportive, diplomatic response would go better, such as, “I think you look great”.
*Being Unable to Detect or Express Emotions: a socially awkward person is either unaware of their emotions and/or struggles to be able to express their emotion openly with another. Often the other person senses the socially awkward person is having unexpressed emotions and can get frustrated or offended when this is not communicated.
Ideas to Lessen Social Awkwardness:
There are two basic goals that need to be accomplished to overcome social awkwardness: 1) manage anxiety better, and 2) learn better social skills. You will do best by regularly working on both areas.
Anxiety Management: To learn better anxiety management—especially with social anxiety—cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to be helpful and effective. This can be utilized in individual psychotherapy with a qualified clinical psychologist or through self-help resources. Three decent workbooks on the subject include:
*Mind Over Mood by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky
*The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne
*The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook by Martha Davis
Also, a decent pack of related hypnosis sessions to assist with anxiety can be found at:
Social Skills Development: To improve social skills, you can also consider psychotherapy or group classes when available. In addition, here are some respectable books to assist you in sharpening and developing your social skills:
*How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
*People Skills by Robert Bolton
*Unmasking the Face by Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen
Here is a decent pack of hypnosis sessions to help you develop social skills:
Social Awkwardness is not inevitable. You are not “stuck” with this problem. It can be worked on and improved upon. However, it generally requires consistent, persistent efforts. Please work on this area of your social life on a regular basis. It will increase your social opportunities and make for more positive, enjoyable relationships. It is worth it. Because “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 11:11.
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About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to email@example.com).