Socially awkward mistakes are painful and weird and we’d rather not experience them at all. In this article, we’ll discuss how to avoid them.
Yes. All of us experiences socially awkward mistakes. If you haven’t experienced one, then you’re a lucky one-in-a-million soul. Socially awkward moments are situations that threaten your goal of being socially accepted. The thing about them is, they just happen. Even if you’re not the one causing the awkwardness, just being a part of it is still as unbearable. It can make a positive atmosphere suddenly dimmer, it destroys the fun in the air, or at least, make everyone incredibly uncomfortable.
Of course, you’d rather not be the one making the socially awkward mistakes. Don’t you just wish you could be smooth and cool all the time? Well, perhaps there is a way to do just that. The best way you can avoid making socially awkward mistakes is to know what those mistakes exactly are.
If you know which common socially awkward mistakes to avoid, you’ll be more mindful, careful, and you’ll end up making fewer mistakes. This way you’ll be able to socialize more smoothly. You and everyone around you will have more fun. Even if something awkward does happen, you’ll be able to smooth things down a little because you already know about social gaffes and you can handle it from a calm perspective.
So in this article, we’ll discuss which socially awkward mistakes you should watch out for so you can avoid them altogether next time.
Socially Awkward Mistakes To Avoid
1. Nodding, smiling, or unintentionally laughing after someone says something horrible
Has someone ever told you something, a story or a scenario, but you weren’t really listening to them? I mean, you’re present but your mind is elsewhere. Then, they finish their story and you’re just left there, standing, wondering what it was they said. They stand across you waiting for your response. Out of impulse, or simply because you don’t know how to react, you just nod and smile — or worse, you laugh.
As it turns out, the story they were telling you was quite… horrible. A demise of someone they know or something to that effect. And because you weren’t able to pay attention to that story, your response was to smile or laugh.
Yeah, that’s a very awful scenario you don’t want to be in. Next time, just pay attention whenever someone’s telling a story.
2. Awkward handshakes
Greeting someone and reaching out your hand for a handshake, only for you to notice that they’ve already reached out their fist for a fist bump. It’s a fairly common, almost comical scenario. To best avoid this, either wait for them to reach out their hand, or make sure you reach your hand out for a hand shake first. Telegraph their movements, if you will.
Handshakes are the standard way of greeting people, especially in a professional setting, but if you want to avoid this facepalm moment altogether, just make sure you watch out for their hand.
3. Weird compliments
“That’s a very beautiful dress. My grandmother has one just like.”
“You look really beautiful tonight. Like, really beautiful.”
“Oh your tie looks great. It looks like you have a crocodile hanging off your neck.”
These are compliments one might say that someone else can perceive as insulting, offensive, or just flat-out weird. You don’t really mean anything bad by it, it’s just what comes out of your mouth. This happens when you compliment someone without thinking of the right words to say first.
You may mean well with these compliments but you just end up making things weird for everybody. Just make sure you think about what you’re going to say before you actually say it.
4. Sharing a grim story after someone says something light (or on a positive atmosphere)
If you consider yourself socially inept, this may be something that’s fairly common for you.
When people discuss something that reminds you of your own experience, you tend to share that experience out loud as a way of contributing to the conversation. Your experience don’t necessarily share the vibe and emotion of the conversation, but you share it anyway.
“There’s this park I went to the other day. It was amazing. Panoramic, very green, lots of people. Have you checked it out?”
“Oh yeah I’ve been there. I used to go there with my dog. He’s dead now.”
You see how quickly that conversation got dark?
When you contribute to a conversation, make sure it fits both the theme and the emotion.
5. Cursing out loud when making a mistake
It is frustrating when you make a mistake, do or say something wrong in a social situation. A lot of times, when we get frustrated, our rabid instinct stands out. When we get frustrated, we can sometimes curse. And oh sometimes it gets loud.
This is not something you think about, it’s simply something you do out of habit. If you can control something like this, then good for you. If not, then that’s perfectly normal. The best thing to do here to just apologize about it. A lot of people will understand because they can relate.
6. Lying about something when someone in the room knows the truth
As a fair rule of thumb, just never lie about a scenario, story, or anything. Just don’t. Otherwise, someone in the room might know the truth. That won’t play out well for everyone. Especially, not for you. If they call you out on it, you’ll spend your time either awkwardly defending yourself or you’ll just get tongue-tied.
Be genuine instead. Just tell stories, experiences, and moments that are actually yours. They’re easier to tell.
7. When you greet someone and they don’t notice, but someone else in the room did…
This is when you see someone on the other side of the room whom you know. In an attempt to be heard by them, you yell out their name but they can’t hear you. Everybody else heard it though. So now, everyone’s eyes are on you. Except for the person you were actually calling.
To avoid this, just go up to the person you know instead of yelling out their name for everyone to hear. It might be uncomfortable for them too.
8. When you answer/talk to someone, but they were talking to someone else
This is another thing that happens due to lack of paying attention. Let’s say you’re within a group. You hear someone ask a question or say something. So out of courtesy, you respond to them not knowing the question or statement was for someone else who’s just right beside you. It’s done in good faith, it’s still awkward altogether.
This is where emotional intelligence comes in. You can avoid being in a situation like this by paying attention to everyone around you.
9. Your reaction after you tell a joke and nobody laughs
So, you say a joke you believe is really funny. You’re all excited about it and now everyone is paying attention to you. All eyes and ears are on you as you build towards the punchline.
And then, after you drop the bomb on them, dead silence.
Yep, it’s awful. But, it becomes unbearably awkward if you allow it to. If you’re all awkward and stuffy about it, then the situation is uncomforable.
You can just play this off as one of those jokes no one else finds funny, but you absolutely do. Nothing wrong with that. Don’t let that bring you down. You can even laugh at your own joke. Own it. That’s better than making things awkward.
10. Holding the door for someone who’s still far away
This situation is very weird for the person you’re holding the door for. If they’re still far away and you hold the door for them, they will feel inclined to get there faster. All the while, you’re just standing there, smiling at them as they race towards you.
It may not be awkward for you, although it probably still is, but it’s most definitely awkward for them.
11. “Thanks, you too!”
Another common occurrence. Nowadays, though, it’s not much of an awkward situation, rather than a funny one. That’s only because of how frequently it happens and how many people have gone through it to relate to it.
“Happy birthday!”, “Thanks, you too!”
A waiter says “Enjoy your meal!”, and you say “Yes, you too!”
“I heard you were going on a vacation tomorrow. You enjoy!”, “Thanks, you too!”
It’s indeed a very common situation now and chances are, this has happened with you too. It can be avoided by simply paying attention to the other person and what you’re going to say next. If it does happen, just apologize and laugh it off. They’ll probably find it hilarious too.
12. Awkwardly breaking the touch barrier
Breaking the touch barrier is okay for socializing. This actually allows you to create a connection with someone else better. It’ll make them more comfortable towards you, thus you both will have an amazing time with each other’s company.
If, and only if, it’s done well.
Sometimes, this can happen awkwardly or done at the wrong moment and wrong time. This will just make the entire situation uncomfortable for the other person. Unless you really feel like breaking the touch barrier is okay enough, if the mood is light, if they’re comfortable with you, then do it. Otherwise, just avoid it.
13. Social media awkward moments
Surprise, surprise. Awkward moments happen in social media too. There are a few instances where an awkward moment happens through social media. When you send the wrong photo to someone you’re chatting, stalking someone and accidentally liking their post/picture from years ago, etc.
Mindfulness is the only thing that’ll help you avoid this, so make sure you watch out for it if you don’t want to experience a socially awkward mistake through social media.
14. When you remember something funny so you laugh… by yourself… in public
We’ve all had that moment. A funny memory that happened some time ago just randomly pops up in your head. Naturally, your instinct is to laugh at it. Well, it is a funny memory. However, there are people around you. So now they’re just looking at you wondering what’s so funny. In the eyes of other people, you’re just standing there alone. Laughing. All by yourself.
Admit it, you’ve had this moment. It’s awful how hard this is to control as well. So when it does happen, just explain to the people around you what’s happening. Tell them about the memory that made you laugh. This may even be a good opportunity to tell a great story.
15. Being tongue-tied in a conversation
Have you ever been engaged in a conversation where when it’s your turn to talk, you’re just left there empty handed? You know you have to speak, but nothing comes out. You either can’t think of anything or it’s at the tip of your tongue but you’re unable to say it out loud. This can be awkward for you and the person you’re talking to.
This is fairly bearable but if you want to be more social, this is something you have to overcome. This is just all practice and application. The more you practice speaking to people, the more natural you’ll be at conversations. This is one of those socially awkward mistakes that can happen time and time again, until it doesn’t anymore. Just keep on making conversations and never let it bring you down.
16. Forgetting someone else’s name
Forgetting someone’s name when you meet them again is a very awkward situation to be in. Unless your conversation with them is really quick, they’re going to take notice of the fact that you forget their name.
The best thing to do in this situation is to just be honest with them. Plain and simple. Apologize and say you’re not great with names and make sure it never happens again.
Better yet, never allow this to happen by keeping their names in mind. It’s just face-to-name association. This will be easier for the people you’ll feel connections with in conversation and harder for those whom you don’t. Either way, it will take conscious effort to avoid this kind of mistake.
17. Walking in the same direction after saying goodbye to each other
Have you ever bid someone farewell after a night of hang out, and just right after you say goodbye to each other, you both start walking in the same direction.
That can be just a funny situation for the both of you, but if you’ve experienced this, you’ll know it can be awkward as well.
To avoid this, just ask which direction they’re heading before you say goodbye. If you’re heading towards the same direction, you can just walk together until you part ways and that’s where you can say your goodbyes.
18. Making your voice louder than it should be
This can happen at times. When someone speaks to you and you respond to them in a voice that’s louder than you intended.
This can happen when you just unplugged your earphones, when you were thinking of something else before they caught your attention, or when your environment is too loud.
This is something you do unintentionally, of course, but it can still be awkward for the person you’re talking to and therefore, for you. Again, mindfulness is key here. If you’re already aware of this socially awkward mistake, then you’ll subconsciously make an effort to avoid it.
19. Weird conversation starters
There are a lot of conversation starters that you can use to start interacting with someone. A lot of them are great, so of them, not so much.
There are conversation starters that will make you come off as weird. Anything that will make you seem awful, a bad pick up line, a cheesy joke, an offensive comment, make sure you avoid all of those.
Use conversation starters that are welcoming, kind, funny, and thoughtful. Actually make them want to have a conversation with you. Intrigue them. If you use a bad conversation starter, you’ll kill the opportunity for a connection before you even actually begin.
20. The classic “waving at someone who’s not waving at you”
You know what I’m talking about with this one. Someone walks towards you, they wave towards your direction, you squint your eyes to see who they are, and you don’t really recognize them. Nonetheless, you wave back. Because it’s the right thing to do. And then, you get closer and realize they were waving at someone who’s behind you. That moment is something we’ve all experienced. Well, probably, but you’re at least familiar with it.
This is tough to avoid as it can happen to really anyone, but you can’t just simply smile or laugh and apologize for thinking you were waving towards them. You remove the moment’s opportunity to be awkward if you just acknowledge it, smile, and apologize.
Avoid Having Socially Awkward Moments By Improving Your Social Skills
At worst, these awkward moments are very uncomfortable for everybody and it kills the mood of the room. At best, they’re just hilarious. Once a socially awkward mistake happens, it’s up to you on how you can handle it afterwards. You can either make it very awkward or you can just laugh it out and move on.
You can also avoid them altogether. Whatever the case, you’ll be able to make less socially awkward mistakes. How? By improving your social skills.
Improve your social skills, learn more about conversations, and learn how to overcome your social anxiety and you’ll never have to go through an awkward moment again. If you want that for your social life, read this eBook and learn more about it.