That Awkward Feeling
Last week I presented at a leadership development event. I felt good about the day and received really good feedback from the 30 participants. However, the night before the event I attended the welcome dinner for the group. As I walked into the room, I found myself taking a deep breath as a few people turned to welcome me. Right away, I found myself grasping for something to say. Fortunately, I spotted the one person I knew in the room and straight-lined it right over to him; but he happened to also be the host, so he had to move on from me to spend time with other people.
Because I was there to work, I knew I had to walk around the room at least a bit. That awkward feeling crept right back and there I was searching from something—anything—to talk about. Luckily, to help folks like me, the host had us all play a game. I really appreciated it and only wished the game had lasted longer. When it was over, I found myself struggling yet again.
After what seemed like forever, it was time to be seated for dinner. I didn’t want to appear obvious in my selection of where to sit, but I was looking for a spot next to someone who might be easy to talk to—but not too overwhelming. I settled on a spot next to what turned out to be another quiet and reserved person. We tried to find things to talk about, but it was clear we were both a bit awkward with small talk. Not a moment too soon, the food arrived and we all started to eat.
When dinner was over, the host came over to me and commented on how easy it seemed for me to mingle with this group of strangers. I was surprised, because from my point of view it was anything but easy. This comment from the host reminded me that no one else is in my head listening to me struggle to find things to say. I guess I can actually function quite well in situations like this, and in the end I’m my own worst critic. Maybe I need to go a little easier on myself and just try to enjoy events like this a little more. Maybe we all could be a little easier on ourselves.