Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Need a Shock Collar

Social skills never came naturally to me. I was in my twenties before I learned that you were, in fact, supposed to look people in the eye when you talked to them. Or that when someone asked "how are you," the polite thing to do was to repeat the question to them after you answered. By my thirties I'd discovered that people were way friendlier if you looked them in the eye and smiled when you saw them*. Who knew?
I still make blunders in conversation. Usually I don't catch them until later. So what I need is a custom shock collar that zaps me on the spot. Zap worthy offenses include:
  • Talking to loudly. (What seems normal to me seems very loud to others)
  • Interrupting (I just have to throw in some smart ass remark or anecdote)
  • Know-it-all-ism ("d'ja know I just read about a study where..." )
  • Talking too much (I try not to do this, but I suspect it happens. )
  • Talking about esoteric, weird or boring (to other people) stuff ("Ever heard of Pacific Ocean Park?" )
Then again, I suppose peppering my conversations with "Youch!" wouldn't be a good idea.

*More than once I've accidentally smiled a bit too long and sent a message I didn't intend...


GhostBuild said...

I can absolutely related to a similar awkwardness/nervousness. I learned that mixing a smile with that saccharine sweet speech tone (a mix of every cheerleader in my highschool rolled into one: "Okay! GREAT! Thanks! Gosh, isn't that something?") shows some interesting results, especially when you're on the phone and calling for help with your credit card or something. Something about having a smile changes how you sound.

I wish I could explain that better but I can't grasp the differences enough to describe. Like taking the octave high, then dropping lower, then going to an octave between the first two in a sentence or on a word stretched longer than normal, like "Yeah".

Don't hate me.... I've also tried dropping an octave when speaking to a customer service rep of the opposite gender on the telephone. Though like your asterisked comment, it went too well once.

Sally said...

I don't remember you doing any of those things when we've gotten together. But I have to remind myself on the eye contact thing too.

billsey said...

I don't think you do anything bad! You are great and I like your factoids (I am guilty of that too!) and more volume never hurt anybody! :)

Linda said...

They should teach Social Skills in school instead of Social Studies. I could have used that class.

Namo, I find it hard to imagine your committing any of the offenses on your list.

But let's hear more about when you accidentally smiled a bit too long and sent a message you didn't intend.

Namowal said...

Hi GhostBuild,
I could never master the pitch trick (short of normal stuff like raising pitch when you're asking the question.) Sounds like you're a pro.
I agree that smiling when you're on the phone changes how you sound.

Hi Sally,
Really? Thanks.

Thanks, Billsey,

Hi Linda,
I haven't gotten into major trouble with overdoing the eye contact, but I've caught myself unintentionally "flirting" with people I had no business (or intention!) to flirt with.

RHSteeleOH said...

My boss is really big on eye contact, sometimes it feels a tiny bit flirty to me.(Yes my boss is female)

As far as talking loud, I think that's a good thing since I have trouble hearing. I usually watch peoples lips when they are talking, it really helps in understanding what they are saying.

A shock collar??? Oh my!!

Namowal said...

Hi, RHSteeleOH
Your boss reminds me of something I read about a grocery chain that encouraged cashiers to smile and hold eye contact with the customers. It worked too well- female cashiers in particular found that guys interpreted it as flirting and often asked them out!