Always Knock on the Bathroom Door


Oct 23 2018

Gold Tape

Social Hacks for Avoiding Awkwardness

Something I’ve noticed from recording videos and podcasts:

The hardest part is to get started, but if you have a few words planned out, you can use the same ones over and over again. Mine are ‘Hi everyone! I’m Xandra Robinson-Burns…’. 

The same applies to everyday life. Here are some social scripts I use to avoid awkwardness, overcome social anxiety, and to just get started.

When asking for assistance, in person or on the phone…

Often when I’m phoning customer service, browsing a shop with a certain item in mind, or have a complicated question at the box office, I stumble over my words. Am I talking to the right person? Before blubbering on, I ask just that:

‘I would like to [fill in the blank], …are you the right person to speak to about that?’

Or, ‘I’m looking for [fill in the blank], …are you able to help me with that?’ 

Start with a statement.

Lead with a statement rather than a question makes me feel more confident and grounded. 

‘I am interested in’, instead of ‘Can I?’ Or ‘May I?’. 

I’ve started to notice myself asking for something that I know the answer to. 

Instead of asking, ‘Can I pay by card?’ I say, ‘I would like to pay by card, please.’

When asked for your email address at a shop…

To avoid the frustration of spelling Xandra out loud (Not ‘Sandra’, not ‘Candra’, not ‘Andrea’, not ‘Xander’…), and to save the shopkeeper the grief of figuring out what I’m saying, instead I ask:

‘Shall I type it in?’

They’re plugging it into a computer anyway, and can usually turn the screen around for me to type myself.

One time I asked this, a wave of relief passed over the person’s face, and she said to her co-worker, ‘Why don’t we always do this?!’

Knock on the bathroom door.

When at all uncertain as to whether a bathroom is occupied, I knock. For some reason, this one took a while to become habit. I used to feel so awkward and nervous approaching the door. Maybe a knock would be disruptive? 

When really, it’s more disruptive to rattle the door handle to see if it’s locked. And even more disruptive to try the door and find that it’s both occupied and unlocked! 

Instead of getting all worked about this, now I always knock, as politely as possible!

Take your time.

Pause to process and to breathe. Don’t be so afraid of wasting people’s time. There’s no need to rush.

Sometimes if I’m in a long queue and get to the front, I am flustered, and try to be quick to get out of there, and to progress the line along for the people behind me. 

Escape Rooms have taught me that rushing through something rarely actually saves time.

To avoid that pedestrian side shuffle…

We all know the one: when you’re walking down the street, and someone else is walking towards you. In general, I go with the road traffic: veer to the left in the UK, and to the right pretty much everywhere else.

More importantly: instead of holding eye contact with the person heading in your direction, gaze in the direction that you want to walk. It’s like a turn signal with your eyes. Side shuffling avoided!

The Lesson:

Identify sticky social situations that keep coming up.

What simple script or rule can you use to ease into them?

What social hacks do you use to navigate avoid awkwardness?


P.S. Next week, I’m hosting a free class on bringing more meaning to your everyday life. Join me at Heroine Training 101!

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