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Flow

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DrFrylock, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. DrFrylock

    DrFrylock
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    The White

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    I am a nerd and an introvert, which shouldn't surprise anybody here. I try not to be a socially-awkward nerdy introvert, and I think I'm moderately successful at that. A stranger I recently met at a party described me afterwards as "outgoing" which is a total mindbender. Awkward conversations are total torture for me. Being a nerdy introvert, I get to hang out with lots of other nerdy introverts, and so I get to have plenty of awkward conversations anyway.

    One difficulty is that I deal with people who have very obvious autism-spectrum disorders. I cannot fault them for this, but that doesn't make our conversations any less awkward. I do my best to accommodate, and so they seek out more awkward conversations with me regularly. It's hard to know what to do in this situation. Other times, it's just that our conversation styles don't mesh for whatever reason. Sometimes it's cultural. Other times it's that my low tolerance for small-talk kicks in before we find something more interesting to talk about.

    Tonight I went out to what I thought was a group dinner, but it turned out to be just me, someone on my awkward-conversation list, and a complete stranger. This could have been a major disaster. Thankfully, the stranger (despite being a huge nerd himself) had excellent social skills and there were two hours of effortless, pleasant conversation about all manner of interesting things that did not make me want to gouge my brain out with my butter knife.

    FOCUS: How are the social skills of people you interact with? How are yours? Do you have anybody that you interact with where you just can't get a 'flow' going? Why not? How do you deal with it?
     
  2. Durbanite

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    My social skills completely suck around people my own age, but I seem to have slightly better conversations / social interactions with people older than myself - Only Child Syndrome at work there, folks.

    This is up to the mods, but I wonder if I can add an anti-focus here...

    ANTI-FOCUS: Are you "conversation kryptonite"? Do your friends bring you in to push an awkward situation over the edge? How do you deal with that?

    I'm definitely the "flow killer". I end up being inappropriate and/or mildly offensive because I get bored. People start waffling on about their children and my eyes will visibly glaze over and I'll contemplate self-lobotomy. As a result, I don't get invited anywhere anymore, and I'm OK with it, mostly because I have very little in common with other people and, as such, I don't relate well to them and I just end up getting bored and wanting to leave.
     
  3. StayFrosty

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    Most people around me have good social skills, although keep in mind social skills don't always go hand-in-hand with personality or ownership of any sort of soul.

    As for me (and doll, do I love to talk about me), I have little to none. I'm an introvert by nature, and a couple decades of very little but mostly negative social experiences, I have the charisma of a goat. On top of this, my sense of humor is often crass, and I tend to make jokes others don't get; sometimes this is because I'm joking with dumb people, others because I'm making a connection to something else. It's kind of hard to put into words, but I guess I'll try to be clever and end up being too vague. It's especially bad in group situations; in small groups, I do a lot better, but even without seeing a change in my behavior, I seem to do terribly in large groups. I guess that falls under the whole "introvert" thing. A bit of a curse, really.

    I try to improve upon all of this by just observing the people around me and consciously shaping my own interactions as they take place. I usually fuck up and mind my own for a while before trying, and failing again. And then I try some more. In all seriousness, I've been told I can be hilarious and fun to be around, but this is usually when I'm not giving a damn, which often leads to offending people/awkwardness.

    At this rate, by the time I'm 35 or so I should have the social skills and charisma to allow me to get laid or go out with a group of friends on a weekend, neither of which are currently viable.
     
  4. Nettdata

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    I think it's safe to say I'm a social person. I'm not an extrovert, but I am quite comfortable in small or large groups and although I don't seek it, I have no problem being the focus of attention. I'm usually called on to act as MC for events, and present/speak at various technology conventions.

    I have no problem breaking the ice and making conversation, have a fairly good sense of humour, and usually make people feel comfortable, but I do have a couple of bad habits that aren't at all flattering.

    I find that when I'm in a small, informal social group, like meeting friends of friends in a pub, I can get pretty bored pretty easily. I enjoy talking to interesting people, and don't like making small talk with boring people. I'll be polite, but tend to lose interest fairly quickly. Even though I am comfortable initiating and making conversation, I don't like to be the only one sustaining it. I also tend to let little things about people rub me the wrong way. It's a bad combination, and with the slightest provocation I tend to become a bit verbally confrontational. Not in a "fuck you" way or anything, but more like a dickishly condescending battle of wits. I have no problem cutting right to the thick of a totally uncomfortable subject, just to see the reactions I get or pushing them out of their comfort zone, or outright disagreeing with some position they take on some issue in a less than subtle or polite manner, just to get a rise out of them. Yeah, I can be a bit of an asshole when I'm around boring people, but I usually find it entertaining.

    Of course it's all because of my own insecurities and other issues. I know this, and it makes it even worse.
     
  5. tweetybird

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    Before this thread devolves into a circle jerk of who is the most awkward/inappropriate/profane and gives the least of a fuck, those being the badges of honor around here...

    I can talk to pretty much everyone, and in so doing make them think I like them and want to be their friend. It's partly genetic - my mom is even better at it than I am - and partly forced because I know it will make things easier for me in the long run. I say forced because I have some residual shyness from being a giant dork as a child, and can sometimes get a little too far into my own head about not being cool enough or pretty enough for a given situation. Knowing that I have the ability to have a smooth conversation helps me get myself out of that rut and back into the flow of things.

    It does sometimes amuse me greatly when I use these skills to get what I want from people I can't stand. Not like I'm outright manipulating people, but let's be clear: if people think you like them, you have a far greater likelihood of getting what you need/want from them. Basic fact of life.

    The people I hang with are similar to me - former dorky kids who came into their own round about college and are now varying degrees of successful and outgoing. I also have an uncanny knack for spotting a "kindred spirit" a mile away - and avoid like the plague those people who have been super-cool their whole lives. I have found that if you've never been a little bit dorky you're either a) delusional or b) insufferable.
     
  6. Fernanthonies

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    I'm a software engineer and a pretty big nerd, so I guess I'm an exception to the rule in that I am really quite sociable and outgoing. I really have no problem striking up a conversion with someone and I can pretty much talk to anyone of any age. I even find that I've gotten really good at conforming how I act based on who I am talking to.

    I went to graduate school at SMU in Dallas for game design, and boy there were some odd ducks there. My ability to be personable and outgoing made me stick out like a soar thumb...that and my propensity for heavy drinking. There were some really bright people there, but the vast majority of my classmates were major introverts. One guy in particular was by far the smartest and most talented programmer I have ever met, the guy finished his Bachelors degree at age 20 but had not developed even the slightest social abilities. He was a nice guy, so me and the only other sociable heavy drinker befriended this guy and I feel kind of bad for him because it was like taking a kid in little league and throwing him into the Majors. We got him drunk for the first time in his life and this poor kid could not handle it, seems that the alcohol was the key to the door that was holding in all his built up emotions and frustrations. Of course he took to drinking like a fish to water, so I got to witness his drunken break downs on a regular basis. Fun times.

    Now that I work at for a large manufacturing company I mostly deal with normal, well adjusted people. Mostly.
     
  7. Binary

    Binary
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    I have pretty decent social skills despite being more than a bit of a geek. I think a lot of it comes from having a lot of non-geeky pursuits. I watch football/baseball, mountain bike, I'm an amateur photographer, pretty handy around the house/enjoy tools/fixing stuff, drink good beer and wine... Being a well-rounded person with a variety of topics that you can discuss intelligently really helps shore up otherwise awkward situations.

    That doesn't substitute for charisma, but it helps, and charisma only goes so far when you have nothing to talk about.

    I do tend to not have a wide circle of friends because I refuse to really befriend people I find boring or lazy. Consequently, I typically have a handful very good friends who I regularly hang out with/talk to, and a bunch of acquaintances who I might see occasionally but rarely have anything but superficial conversations with.

    It also means I don't make a lot of friends in my field - I just can't get along with people whose primary topics of conversation are whatever role-playing game they love at the moment, and their tediously incremental upgrades/tweaks to their home computer. One of my coworkers has "ZERGRUSH" as his license plate (Google it), and another one left a late night system repair to attend a "raid" in World of Warcraft. It meant he went home to his online date night, and had to come back to the site at 2am to finish the job. Really?

    Not to paint all IT people with the same brush, of course, but there is certainly a higher concentration of single-minded nerdiness than in most other fields.
     
  8. PIMPTRESS

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    I am very much like Tweety. Mr. PIMPTRESS calls it charisma. I just like people. Sure, there are several I would like to spare the world of, but that is because they have done nothing for me lately. I just love to analyze them, study their character, speculate as to why they do...whatever.

    I form friendships very quickly with staff and patrons of places I frequent, I always seem to get people laughing.

    My friends all have strong personalities, outgoing and bold. We are a loud pack, especially when drinking. We can always say what needs to be said without stepping on toes or hurting someone's feelings.

    I attribute this ease with being raised preaching bullshit (Jehovah's Witless) and being a bartender/server.


    On the flip side, I love being alone to write or read, and this does not happen often. I need this time though, for balance.
     
  9. caseykasem

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    I am an extrovert. I will talk to anyone about anything. Some people are impressed by my ability to do this and others seem annoyed by it. I pride myself on being able to talk about and know something about a variety of topics. If people are socially awkward, I will do my best to get them talking and draw them out of their shell. If someone isn't particularly conversational I'll ask questions that help to get the conversation flowing without sounding like an interrogation.
     
  10. Nom Chompsky

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    I'm terrible at starting conversations, except through the power of intense concentration or intoxication. I'm hesitant to talk to people, even when I'm supposed to; I don't like interacting with doormen, or bartenders, or customer service reps, and I always have to make a concerted effort to do so.

    People rarely notice.

    I make a lot of jokes, and I'm fairly good at gauging my audience, so people think I'm extroverted and charming. I get along well in conversations with people, because years of being the only [whatever] guy [wherever] have afforded me the ability to code-switch like a mofo, but I definitely have intense awkwardness whenever it comes to starting a conversation.

    It actually gets to the point where I try to avoid situations where small-talk is likely to occur, e.g. taking the stairs rather than getting caught in an elevator with a co-worker. I'd like to tell myself that this is a by-product of growing up in a city where strangers don't talk to each other, but really, who knows?

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, this all but dissipates in writing. I'm perfectly fine emailing strangers, but calling them makes me incredibly nervous.
     
  11. TX.

    TX.
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    I think my social skills are great. I grew up with women who, despite the drama going on at home or their own unhappiness, never met a stranger. Both my mother and grandmother had dozens of friends and made even more everywhere they went. We couldn't leave a shop or my school without sitting through an hour of conversation. It drove me crazy.

    Social skills are a pretty big part of my job. I interact with people all day, and if they don't like me or think I don't know what I'm doing they're going to stop coming. Plus, they need to feel comfortable and be able to trust me. So, I think I'm good at building relationships with a pretty wide variety of people. People love talking about themselves, they love when you remember what you told them, and they appreciate your caring. I think it's as simple as that. I'm great at names...if I hear a name or see a face it's committed to memory. I've bumped into patients years later, and I remember them. I can still remember their name, their injury, and what was going on in their life at that time. The only people I sometimes have no flow with is grouchy men in their 50's/60's. Sometimes they respond to my questions with one word answers. They aren't rude; they just don't like to talk. So it's all business with them. I'm ok with that, and I don't take it personally.

    I'm shyer in my personal life because I'm not the one who's in control/guiding the other person. I can relate to a lot of people, but it takes a little bit of time for me to trust someone and open up.
     
  12. Frebis

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    I read the news every day, usually watch the news also, I travel a lot, participate in several sports and try to keep up on pop culture (you all help with that a lot). I do all this just so I can strike up a conversation with almost anyone. I love talking to people about almost anything, and I am perfectly comfortable with that. I also have the uncanny ability to turn anything into a dirty joke. I usually use that as an ice breaker. I also used to keep up with the Hills, and have read cliffnotes on the twilight series just so I could carry on a conversation with girls I have nothing in common with.

    However, I find this odd- My girlfriend can carry on a conversation with me for hours. But I have rarely ever heard her talk to a stranger. She came over to watch football with me and my friends a few weeks ago and didn't talk at all. For like 6 hours. Most of my friends think she is mute. I'm trying really hard to get her out of her shell. She is so socially awkward it makes people uncomfortable.

    My friends are interesting also. If I try to intorduce one friend group to another it seems the get uncomfortable and don't want to hang out. I just don't get this. It's not hard to talk to people, and it can help you in your professional life.
     
  13. Guy Fawkes

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    Extrovert.

    Not always the case but doing sales for a decade and meeting new people/customers etc everyday kind of makes you become outgoing, friendly, and well rounded in your knowledge so you can keep conversations moving.

    It use to take a couple drinks to get me going but nowadays I literally get out of bed ready to meet whoever and it's become the part of my job I like most.
     
  14. JGold

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    Very much depends on the situation, for me. I'm sure this is true for most people.

    For instance, I excelled as a reporter cold-calling sources or walking up to strangers on the street. The world had never seen a bigger extrovert. I could connect and make small talk with anyone, and then get them to give me almost any information I wanted. In my private life, I'm exceptionally bad at this. I'm never one to start conversations with strangers, even in obvious situations like uncrowded bars or on airplanes. If someone starts talking to me out of the blue, I generally just kind of smile and nod and hope they'll go away. If they get me to open up, though, it's like a flood gate is opened. I won't shut up.

    I'm an extrovert in one-on-one settings. Job interviews, dates, and so on are easy for me -- if I just have one other person to entertain, I'm engaging, well-spoken and talkative. I fucking suck in groups though. Sit me at a dinner table with four people I don't know, and I'm lucky if I say two words all night. Sit me at a dinner table with four people I do know, or three people I know and one I don't, and I'll be the life of the party.

    I guess to sum up, I'm an extrovert in comfortable situations and an introvert in uncomfortable situations. Same as anybody else, I guess.
     
  15. Omegaham

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    I posted something like this a while back, actually.

    I am an introvert.

    I am excellent whenever there's something to talk about - just give me a topic, and I can run with it. If I know what I'm talking about, I can be charming, funny, and interesting. I never really thought about it until a few years ago, but I have a pretty surprising breadth of knowledge due to reading. Lots of random shit that just happens to be interesting when you put it into context.

    But conversation itself? I just can't wrap my mind around it. One of the things I found out (and hate) about conversation is that it's not just the words; in fact, oftentimes the words themselves mean absolutely nothing. When you're talking about the weather or some other inane bullshit, you don't actually care about how the weather is, you're looking at the other person and what cues they're giving you. I never learned that; I pick up everything through words. So my conversation just doesn't sound normal. And just like a person who doesn't speak English as a native sounds just a bit off, I sound wrong when I try to socialize. It's not some glaring problem that you can point to and say, "That's fucked up;" it's subtle, because I've worked very hard to cover up my problem. It doesn't really work, though. I can function, but my social skills are terrible.

    My teachers in high school thought this was just completely weird. I sat by myself at lunch, didn't really talk with other people, and was aloof in class... until I had to present something in front of everyone or give a lecture or whatever. I then became charismatic and confident and blew everyone out of the water. And then when people would talk to me after, I went back to being an idiot again.

    The other problem is that I am terrible at giving off those nonverbal cues myself because I don't know what the hell they are. So people think I'm aloof, bored, or hostile... except I'm interested, but can't really show it. This sucks when I'm trying to tell a joke; in many cases, it's not the joke itself that makes the situation funny, it's the way you say it. And since I can't show when I'm joking, I sound like I'm completely serious all the time. I've adjusted for that by making my sense of humor more surreal than most - that way, a person can realize, "Hey, this isn't making any sense. He must be kidding." But a lot of people just don't understand it, and I don't have that joking tone of voice to indicate that I'm not being serious.

    So you can make me and some goofy kid say the exact same thing to a sergeant, and I'll get counselled for disrespect, and the goofy kid will get slapped on the back for making him laugh.

    Fucking frustrating. I hate talking to people.
     
  16. Luke 217

    Luke 217
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    I'm very much an extrovert. It's a result from me being a very shy kid raised back in the day when kids were supposed to be seen and not heard.
    My entire family and friends marvel at how I can meet someone and within minutes be their best friend. Its not uncommon for me to head to the pub alone and spend the entire evening with someone I just met. Many a time I had to explain to the Fiance why I was out until 6 am with people she's never even heard about before.

    There are two sides to this however. You will either love me or hate me. No one in the history of meeting me has ever said I was "meh".
     
  17. Rhysma

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    I am an extrovert. I have no problems with conversation around all kinds of people. I'm one of those odd people that have no problems with public speaking either. It seems that most people don't get my dry sarcasm though so I try to tone it down around people I'm not familiar with.

    My boyfriend is an introvert around other people but an extrovert at home. This drives me crazy. Shyness is around strangers is not something I've ever had a problem with.
     
  18. scotchcrotch

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    By nature I'm an introvert, but I have to be extroverted for my business, so I can turn it on and off like a light switch.

    The more I'm having to play it up and be extroverted, the more downtime I want later to be alone.


    I feel like I have to be "on" all the time when doing sales, and rightfully so. So when I'm done, it's nice to relax and not having to worry about entertaining the other person.
     
  19. Juice

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    Moderately Gender Fluid

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    Ive always surrounded myself with introverts even though Im not much of one. My parents are both socially retarded so I spent the latter part of teen years and college years trying to shed that gene. Most of my friends growing up were also introverted computer nerds. Furthermore, working in IT I've met less social people than you could find in a graveyard. So maybe I'm an introvert by association? I'm not sure, I've have no problem carrying on conversations with people, even strangers, but I've always had more fun with the introverts.
     
  20. Disgustipated

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    Introvert, but functionally extrovert.

    I used to be painfully shy and really bad at conversation. I hate small talk. If there's a point to the discussion, and it at least registers somewhere on the interesting scale, I'm fine. Otherwise, any conversation with me used to be a series of long silences until the other person pushed the topic along.

    Apparently, I'm supposed to like small talk... at least, according to people around here. This expectation has largely increased since I became a parent. The done thing, as I have come to understand it by observation, is to have someone ask something banal about my child to give them an opportunity to flood me with useless information about theirs. I can understand that, as I readily accept that my child is awesome and theirs is a dirt sniffing, window licker. However, I have the decency to not go around volunteering my parental delight. I guess I'm strange.

    Through all of this, I have acquired the skill of being quite engaging in conversation while having zero desire. I can make small talk, develop the conversation, encompass new topics and do it all without appearing that I'm not interested. This often backfires in getting dragged into bullshit, shallow jaw flapping, but I guess this is the price to be paid. I understand this process is called "manners".

    I have, however, retained the ability to shut people down pretty quickly if I'm otherwise engaged in a meaningful activity. The one exception to this is at work, where the staff think it's fine to talk to me about the weather/state of my garden/what their relations did/how the video store is ripping them off/seek free legal advice on any of the preceeding while I am eating lunch at my desk/typing a letter/reading a document/making a phone call. No amount of concentrating what I'm on seems to work. The one time I was curt with a staff member, it resulted in tears and a bit of a talking to from my fellow directors.