The top 5 ways to be socially awkward

Watch and Learn a Collection of Larry David’s Rules of Society

For the past three weeks, I’ve been watching Curb your enthusiasm. I love this show and I love Larry David. When asked which Seinfeld character I most identify with I say a strange mix of George Costanza, Kramer with just a pinch of Elaine.  Mostly, George Costanza. Larry David was based on George. 
I have rules for everything and I often feel socially awkward despite being perceived as cool and laid back. My most recent rule infraction involved the self check out lines at Walmart.  The rule is you are supposed to choose a check out line, not start the line behind the four check out lanes and create a long line. This rule was confirmed to me by a Walmart employee. 
I saw a woman standing before the four lanes, and decided to pick a lane. The woman told me not to cut and that she was in line. I informed her of the rules but she insisted she WAS in line and I was cutting. There are rules! She continued to argue with me and my husband eventually dragged me away to another lane. 
This woman had broken a clearly defined rule. I had no doubt on the parameters of that rule but there are rules where after 32 years of living I am still unclear on. This leads to awkward situations and being perceived as being shy, aloof, or snobby.  Here are my top 5 ways to be socially awkward.
1) When and how to accept a hug
As a female it is assumed I am comfortable with the act of hugging. I am not. My close knit family, my husband, and a few female friends I have no angst about wrapping my arms around them. However, there have been times when I sense a hug is wanted. But this leads to all sorts of questions. What about arm placement; both arms around the waist, one arm over a shoulder? How long should the hug last? Don’t want to linger. Who should initiate the hug? And just because hug vibes are given out, does that mean I have to give a hug? 
2) The “stop and chat” scenario
Larry David coined this term for the scenario of running into someone and stopping for small talk. I hate small talk. I hate asking about the weather, how the other person is doing, how their day has been etc. Small chat is like a game of tennis, only works if both people can keep the ball in the air. I often hit the ball straight into the net. Then there’s the awkward time of running back and forth to get the ball. Like Larry, I’d rather have a full on conversation than an awkward stop and chat.
3) The Greeting Syndrome
Unlike the Beatles, I am not good at saying Hello or Goodbye. Should I say Hello every morning, every time I make eye contact with you, every time I walk past your desk, every time you walk through the door? If so, that’s a ton of recognition.  Should I include a wave and smile? I’m perfectly fine with a nod in your direction once or twice a day. There shouldn’t be so much dramatics.
Same goes with goodbye. How often should I say goodbye? Unless your departure is going to be for an extended period of time or your departure will impact me in some way, let’s leave it be.
4) The Rhythm imbalance
Conversation has a general flow. A person speaks, the other person listens and waits for their turns and vice versa. it’s an ebb and flow. But if the conversation is off from the start, it’s going to create an ugly concoction of awkward timing and rampant over talking. Person A starts then Person B  interrupts then Person A tries to correct the flow but Person B decides to take a stab at correcting by going first but actually interrupts again. This goes on until someone can correctly pause and reset the conversation. In the end, I feel like a hamster on a wheel. Even worse is when the Rhythm imbalance is on the phone. 
Kevin James hates bad phone rhythm like I had the stop and chat.
5) The door dilemma I don’t like to hold doors open for people. I also don’t expect people to hold doors open for me. However, sometimes circumstances will happen otherwise. But in the event I end up holding open a door for someone, the question becomes, how long do I have to keep holding open the door for others? I have been stuck holding open a door for 2-5minutes. It was agonizing. If you shut the door too early, people will think you’re rude or some kind of brute. Leave it open too long and you suddenly become a doorman, not that there’s anything wrong with said profession. I don’t want to be a volunteer doorman. What social situations make you feel awkward? Which do you dread and how have you solved them? Let’s all be awkward together!


  1. Hehehe, I love you Febe! I feel your awkward pain. I have one to add: when you're with a group of people, and some of them leave, and you're left with one person you don't know very well. Even if it's just dinner or a bar and someone goes to the bathroom or to order a drink. You're then stuck with a near-stranger, and you don't know whether to make small talk (another thing I'm bad at) or just wait. Ugh!

  2. I love this post, Febe! I am exactly this way as well. I think my most socially awkward situation is the greeting and stop and chat. I smile and nod when making eye contact, and if someone says hello in passing, I'll reply in kind. I feel that this should be the extent of a greeting in passing. I hate the stop and chat; I never know what to say.  My own mother called me a snob because I didn't mindlessly chat with a bunch of people I didn't know at some large gathering a while back. Ugh! I am terrible at small talk, so if I don't know someone, I just don't talk to them unless I have a reason. But I hate that this makes people think I'm a snob. There's just no easy way to be social for me. I laughingly call myself "socially retarded" because I always clam up and never know what to say in social situations. Oh, well. 

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