Thursday, November 29, 2012

From The Observation Tower

I've made no secret of my social awkwardness.  It's something that I've been working on for the past couple of years pretty dilligently.  Honest to goodness, the thing that was the most helpful was probably the most fun and that was taking all those improv classes.  They were really nothing more than learning how to communicate and try to stay in the present.  The classes had an added bonus for me in that I'm also weird about personal space issues - a little too weird - and so this allowed me to work on/through that in a safe environment.  I'm telling ya - the best money I ever spent.

I can work a room like Oprah, but the difficulty would come in talking one-on-one.  I'd developed some bad habits and I've been working hard at "being interested not interesting".  Oh, and to stop interrupting.  On the whole interrupting thing, well, I'm doing better.  And I know notice these behaviors more in others than I have before.  Take the holidays, I now know where I learned these habits - we all talk at once and we step all over one another.  That gives me hope that these tendencies are just habit and that I can stem the tide.  In addition to working on changing my behavior, I'm also working on cutting myself a lot of slack.  I try not to spend time beating myself up over what I might have said or what I did say.

All of this to say, when I shut up and listen rather than do all the talking, people tell you who they are.  I think they've always done this, I just never listened.  A conversation with me in the old days was like taking a drink from a firehose.  Once I started, it was hard for me to rein in and I just kept going and going.  Case in point, I'm hosting a surfer for a couple of days, a traveling artist whose work, it turns out, I really like.   He (yes, it's a man of my age and he comes with all sorts of references) is traveling throughout the west doing a photo-book on cowboy culture and I practically live in the mecca of such.  So I got to practice one-on-one communication without pressure last evening.  I practice making and keeping eye contact, listening and asking questions and not having any of it be about me.  I could see/feel the progress I am making in this area.

I was successful yesterday in getting through the day without resorting to inserting the contents of the office vending machine in my veins for energy.  Thankfully.  I slept better last night and am back to myself this morning.  I'm heading off the gym here in a few and tonight I'm going with Valerie and Kendra to dinner.  They've invited another woman friend of theirs, so this will be good.  Another opportunity to practice good communication skills.  Plus, I'll see Valerie on Sunday morning  to go to meditation class.

Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others.  People will tell us who they are/where they are if we listen.



  1. Listening is definitely one of the hardest skills to develop because to truly listen you can't be formulating your response while the other person is talking. I find the hardest place for me to do that is in marriage lol!

  2. Yes, my problem is I often don't know what to say....and I have found letting people go about themselves takes the pressure off of me. Lol it always seems to circle back around to myself!

  3. Great post...I love how you continually look for ways to improve.

    Ironically, I find working the room hard and the one-on-one to be the easy part! That said, I can remember a very specific time in my life when I wasn't willing to listen and hear what a guy was telling me about himself (that he just wanted a friends-with-benefits relationship), I just wanted to be in love.

  4. My dearly departed mother in law was sooooo good at the art of conversation. It's a skill I wish I could still study from her. Seemed she could talk to someone for 15 minutes and get their life history out of them but make it so painless they poor people never knew - they just enjoyed chatting with her. Or maybe it was her smile and sparkly blue eyes. But she had the gift and was a great person to learn from. Only wish I had . . .

  5. I've never taken improv classes, but I had a similar "break-through" during a game of Charades a couple months ago. Suddenly, I feel more comfortable thinking on my feet, so to speak, inf front of a group and figuring out shortcuts to communicate a point.

    As for listening, I suppose I must be pretty good at it, considering the number of deep dark secrets people have shared with me. Strangers, even. :)


We'll try this for a while.