11 Mar

Isn’t it funny how some people tie you up in knots from the minute you go to open your mouth? Not because you’re embarrassed or nervous particularly, nor because you secretly fancy the pants off them. There’s no obvious explanation for it, except that words never flow freely when you try to engage.

There are those where the conversation is effortlessly fluid, seamless, easy. All the words come out in the right order; you sound confident, articulate and persuasive. Conversation bounces back and forth in perfect tandem, easily and playfully. You feel as if you’ve known them for a lifetime and you never have to explain yourself to get them to understand. In their precense you are Joan Collins – sassy, confident, sharp.

There are others where you always go to speak at the same time, and follow it up with awkward silence. Where the right words are never at hand, and you grapple around until having to make do with the vocabulary of a pre-schooler. Where you can’t make them understand however hard you try; you just feel and behave like a schmuck without them doing or saying anything.

Is this what they call “interpersonal dynamics”?

It amazes me that so much can be going on below the surface, and that it can impact even before you make any physical or verbal contact. Body language, gesture, eye contact, power struggle – facets of behaviour and comparative self-perception that are largely unconscious but can drive every single interaction we have with that person. And so out of our conscious control.

I find it unnerving and it frequently frustrates me. Why can’t I be Alexis Carrington all the time?

20 Responses to “Tongue-tied”

  1. Mom-on-a-Wire (Alethea) March 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    That is exactly why I love social media! Talking to an avatar is so much easier!

    • marketingtomilk March 12, 2011 at 8:34 am #

      i think social media allows me to be Alexis at all time, because i get to preen and practise behind a computer screen, and am never put on the spot.

  2. Vegemitevix March 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Just today I had someone tell me that I’m hopeless for a professional communicator! 😦

    • marketingtomilk March 11, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

      well sadly they’re a schmuck and always will be. AT least you can practise your arse licking. x

  3. Rosie Scribble March 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    I know exactly what you mean. Us humans are incredibly complex aren’t we? I’m better at writing things down and than actually saying it out loud, but I don’t always get that right either! Hope you’re okay, by the way.

    • marketingtomilk March 12, 2011 at 8:38 am #

      That’s where tweeter is the dangerous side of social media – you can’t stop, wipe and start again until you’ve said it perfectly.

  4. Iota March 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    How do you think this plays out in blogging or other social media? Do you leave different types of comments on different blogs? Or does it level things out a bit? No body language, gestures, eye contact…

    Interesting post.

    • journeyto2 March 11, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

      I’m sure that just as we may write about things differently in different spaces – flippant, witty, deeply, considered – according to the subject matter and context, we respond in the same way with comments in social spaces. I have two blogs and write differently in each, being aware of the differing audiences also. V good post.

      • marketingtomilk March 11, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

        I agree with this, but i think the point i’m making in my post only relates to “real” life and live interactions. I certainly don’t get tongue-tied behind my keyboard!

  5. Lucy March 11, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    I yearn to have the verbal prowess of CJ Cregg from The West Wing – “You get my support the same way I get yours – When I agree with what you’re saying, or when I don’t care about what you’re saying.”


  6. susie@newdaynewlesson March 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    I think a big part of the problem is that we have whole conversations in our heads based on our ASSUMPTIONS of what the person is thinking instead of just asking.

    • marketingtomilk March 12, 2011 at 8:36 am #

      i can’t tell you how spot on this is.But why does the little voice come out to play with some people and not others?

      • susie@newdaynewlesson March 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

        LOL-because there are things called paradigms and saboteurs.

        I wrote about something similar a while back.

        I have found that if I find myself having a conversations in my head, I stop and confront the other person with my doubts. Something along “I feel you are mad at me?” or ” I am sensing that you don’t understand what I mean?”

        It helps to stop the “self” conversatin as fast as possible.

  7. kelloggsville March 11, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    Oh I manage to make myself look like an uneducated fool in front of the same people over and over again (actually you are one of them!) and with others, as you say, I am relatively normal me. Strange how it happens. It goes beyond words too. If I can drop something, or mess something up completely, it tends to be in front of my Mother-in-Law. She thinks I’m a complete fool too! Can I be Crystal?

    • marketingtomilk March 12, 2011 at 8:30 am #

      There you go, you’e totally grasped my meaning in this post. You stumble over words, drop things, fall over – in front of person A, but you behave like a goddess with person b. why? Does that make me a goddess? i have no idea why you feel uneducated in front of me, i always saw you as one of my most charming commenters. Perhaps person A doesn’t see me as as much of a schmuck as i first thought….
      ps Crystal? you serious…..

      • susie@newdaynewlesson March 12, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

        I also think it has to do with what YOU think the other person thinks of you. Also how you feel about yourself in regard to the other person.

  8. TheBoyandMe March 12, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    This is oh so familiar to me! Some people have the ability to make me doubt every word that is leaving my mouth. We have a long-distance friend who makes phone conversations almost impossible because of his ‘un’social skills.

  9. March 17th March 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    Love this, I’ve been having the same thoughts – actually I’m pretty sure I speak out loud to myself these days. Often it’s persons A & B the wrong way round, if that makes sense. An interesting dialogue too on social media, I’m old enough to want to be formal and acronym free so I am slowly finding my way. Great post thanks x

  10. Simone March 12, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    Yep. Very true post, my freind. There are a few people who spring to mind where awkward pauses and rushed sentences are the standard experiences of our conversation.
    It’s definitley a chemistry thing.
    And a ‘wannabe mind reader” thing too.
    Some people I have those painful interactions with because I really don’t know what to say, we have nothing in common and we are thrown together in some way.
    Others, its like you sense that they have prejudged you and so you are on the back foot before you open your mouth to change feet.
    The first type don’t bother me so much. i can shrug and say “oh well, we just don’t click” but the second type, those are the ones that you walk away from whilst kicking your own backside and lamenting the fact that you ever have to emerge from behind your witty thoughtful articulate online blog-persona!!!

I'm all about the debate. Would love to hear what you think.

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