So the other day I went to shake
someone ’ s hand and they went for a fistbump and then
I went for a high five and then they went back to a handshake.
We ’ ve all fumbled,
tripped and rolled our way into some pretty awkward situations.
So I wanted to explore why these uncomfortable situations make us feel awkward.
And it may come as a surprise that awkwardness can have benefits.
尴尬似乎可以马上触发多种情绪如焦虑 惊讶 害怕
The feeling of awkwardness seems to triggerseveral emotions at once: Anxiety, surprise, fear,
But most importantly, it makes you feel self-conscious.
In her new book, Cringeworthy:
A Theory of Awkwardness, science journalist Melissa Dahl
suggests thatAwkwardness is when you suddenly become overly
conscious of yourself, because you become acutely aware
that the “ you ” you perceive
of yourself is different from what othersare seeing.
It ’ s thought that our strong sense
of self and our social awareness evolved because we ’ re
an extremely social species.
We needed to be aware
of our public perception to know how we should behave to fit in.
Psychologists think we construct two mentalpresentations of our “self.”
One private self from within our own body,
and another self that is perceived by others
from their point of view.
The ability to imagine ourselves from the point
of view of others emerges early on.
Children start to recognize themselves in a mirror around the age of 18 months.
If you put a sticky note on their head,
they immediately reach to remove it once they see
it in the mirror.
But children are not just aware of themselves.
Around this time, they seem to also form awareness
of the awareness of other people about them
If they see that everyone else
in the room has a sticky note on their faces, they hesitate
to remove their own. Now,
there ’ s always a little bit
of discrepancy between these two selves.
It’s what psychologist Philippe Rochat hascalled “the irreconcilable gap.”
We can never quite reconcile how we feel
about ourselves and how we feel others perceive us.
Awkward moments are when that gap is unusuallywidened.
Imagine you walk into a room full
of people and you’re dressed like an astronaut. Suddenly,
the world divides in two:
it ’ s you on one side, and all the people on the
other side with their eyes on you.
Awkwardness is a type of embarrassment where everyone is in on it.
And everyone, politely, says nothing.
The good news is
that we tend to believe we ’ re being noticed more than we actually are.
This is called the spotlight effect.
In a classic experiment,
researchers made students wear a large shirt emblazoned with
Barry Manilow ’ s face and walk into a room full of other students.
Later they asked the study participants how many people they think noticed them.
The participants estimated on average half of the people noticed the shirt.
In reality, only a quarter had.
People do care about how you look and what you do,
but not as much as you think.
Knowing this little fact can help us shift our focus away
from ourselves and make awkward
moments a bit less painful.
Not focusing on yourself can also help you resolve an awkward situation.
Imagine you are in the middle of an uneasy conversation,
maybe with someone whose name
you don’t remember.
Your brain’s default is to dive into a spiralof anxiety.
Now you worry about what you are going
to say next and how you ’ re going to be judged
and wonder why you are so socially awkward.
But this makes your social skills even worse. Instead,
focus on the other person, ask thema question, anything.
Just stop being so introspective.
Another trick to overcome the rush
of social anxiety during awkward moments is to reframe
Anxiety means strong physiological reactions:
your heart pounds, you breathe fast and your
muscles are tense.
These are the same reactions you feel when afraid or angry,
when your safety is threatened.
当在一个社交情境中 你搞的乱七八糟时 你会有这些反应
And you feel these reactions when you mess up in a social situation.
Your brain is evolved to fear breaking too many social rules
because it can lead to social
But there’s also another emotion that hasthe same physiological reactions: excitement.
You can reinterpret the feelings of your anxiety
in your body as excitement by telling yourself
“I am excited.”
It ’ s called anxiety reappraisal and it
can change your mental state from a threat mindset
to an opportunity mindset.
Experiments show that when we ’ re feeling nervous about, say,
karaoke singing or public speaking,
people who reappraise their anxiety
as excitement perform better than people who
try to calm down.
People have varying degrees of social skills and some
of us are more sensitive to awkwardness than others.
While these ideas can help us handle awkwardness a
bit better, it ’ s also important to
give credit to this neglected emotion.
It ’ s a good thing that we ’ re aware
of ourselves and care about how others perceive
Feeling awkward can push us to sharpen oursocial skills.
And when we detect awkwardness in others,
it can spur empathy and compassion in us.
Awkwardness has the power to connect us throughmutual human ridiculousness.