Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships 24

For my write-up today on The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships, I'll use as my starting-point something that Sean Barron says on page 328:

"For years, I reacted to uncomfortable situations with silence. During the same time, I clung to the mistaken notion that silence was just that----a void, empty of meaning. Regardless of how hard I tried to remove myself from that uncomfortable situation by retreating into myself, I always gave off something negative that those in my presence felt and picked up on every time. In itself, this is another unwritten rule of social interaction: being silent is a form of communication all its own. There are appropriate and inappropriate times and places for being silent. Inappropriate silence speaks volumes and the old adage, 'silence is golden' doesn't always apply."

This is where I struggle. I'm told that I shouldn't be so quiet because people interpret me as cold or ignore me. But then I talk a lot and, because I don't know what to say, I end up saying things that are awkward or inappropriate. Nowadays, I don't speak unless I feel a need to do so. But I'm around my family, and, overall, they accept me anyway. Whether my current approach would work with strangers, I do not know.

Temple and Sean offer ideas on how to initiate small talk: compliment someone, for instance. According to Temple, one shouldn't be hurt if another person doesn't want to continue a conversation. That makes sense to me. I don't have to expect everyone to find me dazzling, but there might be some people who would be interested in talking with me.

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