I am an introvert by nature and so is Ruby. And although not all introverts are socially awkward, we are card-carrying members of the socially awkward ‘I don’t do small talk and would rather be at home’ club.
Ruby and I are usually on the same page with our social anxiety, but not always. Sometimes when Ruby is feeling like she can greet other dogs with a wag, I am in a ‘cross the street because I can’t handle small talk’ mood. Likewise, when I am feeling normal and maybe even chatty (once or twice a year), Ruby gets all jumpy and reactive. When one is up, the other is down. We are like a confidence seesaw gone wrong.
But based on the response to our first post about the challenges of dog walking when you are socially awkward, we suspect we are not alone. So, after years of trying (unsuccessfully) to be normal, we have decided to embrace the awkward silence and stop explaining ourselves. It’s a new year and the same old awkward us.
How To Make Small Talk When You Are Socially Awkward
1. Avoid, AVOID, Avoid. Look the other way, pretend to check your phone, appear busy so the other person (or dog) moves on. Perfect the wave from across the street (AKA “sorry, can’t chat now because we are on opposite sides of the street”).
2. Play It Cool, Act Normal (Kind Of). Of course normal means different things to different people. Keep your social jitters in check and try not to frighten or make people laugh. If possible, avoid walking into walls, tripping over your own feet (or paws), and/or making weird faces (see above for an example of what NOT to do).
3. Just Say it. If you must engage in conversation, be direct and try not to choke on your words. If worse comes to worst (and the words just won’t come out), you can always pretend you have laryngitis.
4. Don’t sweat it. Embrace the socially awkward silence and just be you. The truth is dogs (and cats) don’t care about small talk anyway. So as long as you have each other and a socially awkward friend or two, you are good to go (or stay home depending on your personal preference).
If any of this sounds familiar, welcome to the club! Feel free to share your own socially awkward tales (or tails) in the comments. Want to know more about life with a socially awkward dog, read part one here.