You know those people who can walk into an unfamiliar situation and instinctively know exactly what to say? The right amount of humor to use, the safe topics and taboo. The ones who have never met a stranger, only a potential friend, who everyone loves immediately just because of their aura.
I am not one of those people.
I'm not exactly sure what happens to me in social situations. It's like I forget what basic conversation should sound like. I tend to not speak, which is usually pretty safe, except then I am forever labeled as "the quiet one." It's when I start speaking that the problems really begin. You see, I tend to speak as if everyone in the room is hard of hearing. I haven't found my volume button yet. I also talk very fast. And make stupid statements. My freshman year of college, I was hanging out with some people, and somehow I realized that one of the guys had the same last name as me (though he spelled it wrong.) I hadn't really had this experience before, though I know it is fairly common. So I said (yelled), "Your last name is Olson? MY last name is Olsen!!!!" with a big cheesy grin. Cue the blank stare. "And?" "And..well...I just...uhhh...not used to...uhh..." Awkward...
I am not good at jumping into conversations when there are several people in a group. By the time I carefully formulate in my brain what I want to say, the conversation has moved three topics forward.
Them: I really think the government needs to pay more attention to education spending.
Me: Last time I was in Colorado I went white water rafting!
Part of my problem is that I have quite a bit of crazy that needs to be shored up until people get to know me better. Some may say that it is important to let at least some crazy out so people know what they're getting into, but I can't just let a little out. So I become bland and boring, like toast. "Hey, so this weather is awesome, eh?" "I'm a therapist!" (That's always a conversation stopper...)
Speaking of being a therapist...you'd think I'd be better at conversation as a therapist. It's what I do all day. Between coloring and playing board games and playing with action figures. But most people would take offense if I started asking them if they were naughty this week or not. I mean...I guess I've never tried it...but it's just a hunch that it wouldn't go over well.
So how can I fix it? Practice! Who wants to run social drills with me?