Avoiding Awkward Situations

Unknotting the Tongue Tied: Cutting the Cord on Circuitous Conversations

The other day, I was meeting a woman I didn’t know well for coffee. I found myself having one of those “off” days where I felt like everything I said and did was awkward. I started to feel weird about my arm movements, as well as my facial expressions. As if I needed more things to worry about, I realized I was repeating the same phrase (“Absolutely!”) over and over again. Even though I was fully aware of this, I couldn’t stop. Has this ever happened to you?  So here are some ways out of this “awkward circuitous conversation.”

Facial Expressions:

Focus on your face and the rest will fall into place, is a new phrase I just made up but it really seems to work. When you find yourself smiling and repeating something like, “That’s good,” take a break from talking, take a break from thinking and just move your face. You can turn your smile into more of a scared face, you can wink, you can frown, you can even smirk – and a new phrase should pop into your head. For example, with the scared face, “That’s good” might turn into “That’s scary good.” Although it’s only a slight change, it makes a big difference. Instead of seeming generically supportive, you become uniquely and fearlessly supportive. Just remember to look confident as you say your new phrase, because if you don’t, you just sound insane.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should not even for a second look confused by your own facial changes, even if the person to whom you’re speaking seems confused. Just remain calm and believe that a new and interesting phrase will come to you; once it does, all of your strange faces will be forgotten.

Tongue Twisters:

With the use of a simple tongue twister, you will be able to impress anyone with your articulation and enunciation skills. You will also be able to get your own repeating phrases out of your head. You should have a “go-to” tongue twister such as, “She sells seashells by the seashore,” or “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” If possible, try to make your phrase of choice be relevant to the conversation. This may not be possible, however, since most tongue twisters have absolutely no significance beyond the fact that they’re difficult to say. But there is no reason you can’t make it have meaning. You can do this by adjusting your tone for the conversation at hand.  For example, say someone is telling you a serious story involving a lot of drama. You are worried for them, but you realize you’ve said “Oh, no!” fifty times during the conversation. A nice alternative would be to say, “A big black bug bit a big black bear, made the big black bear bleed blood.” Say it very somberly with profoundness, as if you were saying “Oh, no!” I assure you, the person will be freaked out, in the best possible way.

A tongue twister, when recited perfectly, will both distract and exude confidence; in fact, when done well, it should bestow greatness unto you. It should make those surrounding you feel proud, moved, and blown away. If for some reason you feel too embarrassed to recite the tongue twister aloud, you can always whisper it. But remember, whispered tongue twisters are harder to master, so don’t get discouraged and start yelling about it if you can’t say it perfectly. This screaming will just bring you negative attention, which is the polar opposite of the respect and esteem one gets from a perfectly executed tongue twister.

New Phrases, New You:

Before stepping out into the world of scary and unknown conversation, why not think of some new phrases to use? Think of some of your favorite television shows, movies or literary characters that inspire you and try to combine all of these into one, wonderful phrase. For example one of my favorite television shows is The Simpsons. One of my favorite movie quotes is from Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.” When Homer’s iconic catch phrase, “D’oh” is combined with Yoda’s mantra you get, “ D’oh no try.” It’s short, sweet and to the point. And most importantly, it’s a phrase that is completely your own.

Thinking of new phrases, working those tongue twisters, and letting your face be your guide should empower and uplift you. These should also bring joy to those you are speaking with. As always practice makes perfect. And remember that you are your own harshest critic. Absolutely!

Featured image via Glamour.

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