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Missing link

From a conversation with my sweetie Joyce:

I'm thinking about how, when I am with a group of people who don't know each other, and all of a sudden I notice that some people have made connections. And I have no idea how or when it happened, and it didn't happen with me. There is some sort of body-language-reading and/or empathy going on there that I am bad at, either because it's a talent I lack or because I don't have a lot of experience with those situations. It's frustrating.

I wonder how often other people feel that way. I wonder how often self-identified "socially normal" people feel that way.

Comments

( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
linenoise
Jun. 3rd, 2002 07:47 pm (UTC)
I'm sort of in the middle. A lot of times I feel like you describe, and I notice connections, but don't form any. Other times, I just click with someone.

I don't understand, either way.
mittelbar
Jun. 3rd, 2002 08:18 pm (UTC)
Not sure I understand. Suddenly people are striking up conversations, but not with you?

Always? Or do you sometimes find yourself conversing with someone?
firecat
Jun. 4th, 2002 01:02 pm (UTC)
It's not always conversations per se, sometimes it's that I suddenly realize some people have become very friendly with each other and I didn't notice how it happened, but sometimes it is conversations, yeah.

Sometimes I find myself talking with someone.
leandra333
Jun. 4th, 2002 03:15 pm (UTC)
This might have something to do with the whole "instant intimacy" thing that I have seen more and more of lately. I have been surprised by some who I thought were pretty close friends but in fact had just met once or twice.
firecat
Jun. 4th, 2002 03:22 pm (UTC)
What is "the whole 'instant intimacy thing'"?
leandra333
Jun. 4th, 2002 03:48 pm (UTC)
My interpretation has been sent to you via email.
kshandra
Jun. 3rd, 2002 08:22 pm (UTC)
*seeble*

dafydd and I have talked about this a lot. It makes me want to give up on going out socially - when, of course, the only way to get beyond it is to keep trying.

Maybe we should go out and get ignored together. ;-)
firecat
Jun. 4th, 2002 01:06 pm (UTC)
Maybe we should go out and get ignored together. ;-)

That sounds fun!

Does dafydd experience it too?

I guess you think you can learn how to counteract it? So you think there's a skill involved?
leandra333
Jun. 4th, 2002 03:22 pm (UTC)
Can I go too? I'll lure them in with a smile and eye contact and you two can do all the talking. Huh, huh, can I? :-)
firecat
Jun. 4th, 2002 03:25 pm (UTC)
Gosh, can you imagine us three, setting upon all sorts of innocent victims people like that?

[*evil grin*] I can!
leandra333
Jun. 4th, 2002 03:55 pm (UTC)
Mwha ha ha!
kshandra
Jun. 4th, 2002 10:19 pm (UTC)
Does dafydd experience it too?
I guess you think you can learn how to counteract it?


My belief that it can be overcome stems from the knowledge that he taught himself to do so. ;-) Lemme forward him the link to this post, and get him in on it....
firecat
Jun. 4th, 2002 11:47 pm (UTC)
Looking forward to comments from a graduate!
dafydd
Jun. 5th, 2002 10:11 am (UTC)
I'm not sure about a graduate, but I've seen the same thing often enough to come to some conclusions...

I've seen people who can strike up a pleasant, intelligent conversation with anyone. (As distinguished from some bubblehead who will just chatter at someone.) I've seen people who can sometimes get a conversation started, but sometimes fail. I've seen people who just fold into themselves and look lost.

For the most part, I think I see two things. How much self-confidence does someone have? How good is that person at figuring out the right questions to ask to pull their conversational partner out of his/her shell?

I'm fairly good at the first, but I still have a lot of difficulty with the second.

And a third point just occured to me. How interested are you in the people around you? (Rhetorical you.) If one displays an honest interest in what their conversational partner is saying, that partner is encouraged to continue talking. I'm spotty at this. I don't fake this kind of interest well.

firecat
Jun. 5th, 2002 10:53 am (UTC)
Yeah
I'm a "sometimes yes, sometimes no" type, as far as striking up conversations goes. For me it has less to do with self confidence than with my mood; sometimes I just don't particularly want to make the effort. (Probably similar to your "can you fake interest" factor.)

But what I'm really curious about is what causes some conversations to go past small talk. I guess that boils down to a question of how strangers decide they are interested in each other.
dafydd
Jun. 5th, 2002 10:57 am (UTC)
Re: Yeah
Hmmm... I don't know, really. Something that says "Hey, I'm not having to fake interest in this person!"

lcohen
Jun. 6th, 2002 03:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Yeah
usually i'll hit a few lobs about things that i'm interested in to see if the person lights up. hopefully they're doing the same thing so that i can start being a little more targeted as conversation continues (if not then we're going to be doing the polite social chatter thing pretty soon here). if they light up and they're interesting, the best way to connect is to open up. sometimes it backfires horribly--the trick is talking to enough people that you get a good sense of where it will be okay. if you open up and they open up then the process continues and builds upon itself. i have had the experience of knowing someone for a long time and connecting to them late in the game, but i have to say that most of the time, i get a feeling that i'd like to know them better pretty soon after meeting them. the decision point with me isn't always "things in common" in the sense of "oh! we're both interested in theatre" or whatever--one of my best friends is someone with whom i share almost no interests like that. but she and i have a similar sense of humor, we think about people and relationships the same way--we like to have the same sorts of conversations, if that forms a picture.

does any of this help?
firecat
Jun. 6th, 2002 03:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Yeah
but she and i have a similar sense of humor, we think about people and relationships the same way--we like to have the same sorts of conversations, if that forms a picture.
does any of this help?


Yes! I think you're saying connecting with someone socially/conversationally is a bit like falling in love... it happens on some subterranean, non-rational, not-easily-analyzed level, and it doesn't really have that much to do with surface traits.

Am I close?

As for the parts that are accessible, I think you're right that part of the trick is to do it with enough people... if only to get a sense for how often it happens (the signal to noise ratio?)
lcohen
Jun. 6th, 2002 08:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Yeah
>Yes! I think you're saying connecting with someone socially/conversationally is a bit like falling in love... it happens on some subterranean, non-rational, not-easily-analyzed level, and it doesn't really have that much to do with surface traits.

Am I close?


yes, exactly--for me it's the same sort of click without the romantic part.

>As for the parts that are accessible, I think you're right that part of the trick is to do it with enough people... if only to get a sense for how often it happens (the signal to noise ratio?)

yes, i'd agree with that, with this proviso--i've gone through some periods where i met a lot of compatible, connectible folks, and then i've gone through dry spells even though i would have told you that i was getting out and meeting the same quantity of people (the six months after my divorce sticks out as a memorable dry spell where it felt like i wasn't meeting anyone i wanted to spend another minute with, let alone date).

and i do want to mention that while i'm not someone who's really had trouble connecting to people throughout my life, at that post divorce point i felt that i needed to get new and different people into my life and i took some time to sort of step back and try to analyze what it was that i did when i did this sort of thing successfully with an eye towards doing more of it. so i do think that much of this way of connecting can be learned once you learn to recognize the sorts of people to whom you might connect.
firecat
Jun. 6th, 2002 10:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Yeah
Oh oh oh, that really resonates. I am going to link to it in a new entry if you don't mind.
lcohen
Jun. 7th, 2002 07:15 am (UTC)
Re: Yeah
>I am going to link to it in a new entry if you don't mind.

please go right ahead--i'll look forward to the ensuing conversation ;-).
(which actually raises the question of whether this process happens more frequently for any particular person in written conversation than it does in person, she mused.)
firecat
Jun. 7th, 2002 03:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Yeah
please go right ahead--i'll look forward to the ensuing conversation ;-).

well, I did, but I dunno if any conversation is going to ensue at the moment with all the surrounding drama. I'll try again in a few days, maybe.
leandra333
Jun. 4th, 2002 12:52 pm (UTC)
In trying to conquer my somewhat social anxiety, I have found that smiling and making eye contact can get a stranger's attention which in theory should make it easier to start talking with them. Unfortunately, I've only got the smiling and eye contact part down.
firecat
Jun. 4th, 2002 01:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've learned how to talk to a stranger (it is easier when I am hosting, and then I sometimes practice carrying it over to situations where I am not hosting).

What I'm talking about here is a situation where I am in a group of people, and I never get past "stranger small talk" with anyone, but suddenly notice that other people have gotten past it with each other. And I don't know how that happened.

I do know I don't smile and make eye contact "enough," at least for the purpose of getting noticed. But I really don't like doing those things as superficial social gestures. Do you think that's the main reason others hook up more than I do?
figmo
Jun. 4th, 2002 03:13 pm (UTC)
Sometimes folks click better with other folks than with you.

It's nothing to be ashamed of; it just happens.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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