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Book Review: Awkward

We all have awkward moments, in fact. The unintentionally insulting blurt. The joke that lands like a lead balloon. The forgotten identify within the midst of introductions.

But in his partaking and sensible new ebook, Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome, psychologist Ty Tashiro addresses not the occasional fake pas, however the life lived awkwardly, “to explain why some people experience awkward moments not as an exception to the rule, but as a way of life.”

Awkward individuals may persistently overlook to greet individuals once they enter the room, discover eye contact unbearably intimate (inflicting them to overlook social cues) or chatter on about esoterica, unaware of eyes glazing round them.

“Awkward people see the world differently from non-awkward people,” writes Tashiro.

“When non-awkward people walk into a room full of people, they naturally see the big social picture. They intuitively understand things like the emotional tone in the room or how formally they should act. By comparison, awkward people tend to see social situations in a fragmented way. It’s as if they see the world with a narrow spotlight that makes it hard to see the big social picture all at once,” writes Tashiro.

It might sound rather a lot like autism, however Tashiro teases out the variations between awkwardness and autism or Asperger’s. He finds that awkward individuals are typically fairly snug with the label, recognizing and accepting it even when they want it weren’t so. Tashiro readily owns his personal awkwardness, and attracts from his personal life in addition to case research for example and clarify all through the ebook.

Tashiro recollects, for instance, early in his junior excessive profession when he and his “band of misfits”—stymied by the MTV cool of their new faculty—determined that it doesn’t matter what the opposite youngsters thought, they might simply do what they all the time did: play.

“After some deliberation, we decided to go with one of our playtime activities from sixth grade, reenactments of wrestling matches from the World Wide Wrestling Foundation,” writes Tashiro.

The factor ended badly, each bodily—when Tashiro went flying right into a metal fencepost—and socially, once they realized that the opposite seventh graders weren’t becoming a member of in, however have been standing round watching the present.

“How could I not see that wrestling reenactments were a bad idea?” He questioned later, as he recovered from a near-concussion.

On one hand, your coronary heart breaks for little Ty, whose childlike spirit was on the verge of being crushed by social pressures. On the opposite hand, an lack of ability to learn social cues and conform to norms, at the least to some extent, is a social legal responsibility that may have an effect on all the things from junior excessive social standing, friendships and jobs to intimate relationships.

“When someone is chronically awkward, then the accumulation of their awkward moments can threaten their social inclusion,” writes Tashiro.

Tashiro’s mother and father, who realized his struggles early on, made some extent of drilling “life skills” into him. For instance, earlier than they went right into a fast-food restaurant, his “parents would park our station wagon, turn to the backseat where I sat, and one of them would say ‘Let’s get mentally prepared.’…My parents’ series of well-orchestrated questions led to Socratic dialogues about how I would engage with others.”

The dialogues included why they have been there, the place he ought to go once they entered the shop (to the top of the road), learn how to put together earlier than he acquired to the counter (determine what to order, get his cash prepared), the right way to converse to the cashier (eye contact, undertaking his voice, say please), what do to and the place to face after he ordered. This strategy, whereas slightly draconian sounding, plugged into Tashiro’s methodical thoughts to interrupt down parts of interplay and supply concrete expertise.

Tashiro makes use of analysis and anecdotal case research to elucidate the notion variations of awkward individuals, which research recommend might contain a genetic element. He outlines a few of the methods awkward individuals can use their hyper-focus and methodical minds to study to learn social cues as they might some other talent.

In the chapter “Emotions Make Me Feel Funny,” Tashiro factors out that whereas awkward individuals typically know once they have violated societal expectations, they don’t all the time know why. He suggests expertise to assist awkward individuals translate feelings into actions that may restore injury, together with a chart itemizing what an emotion is, what it means and what the right response is.

Tashiro even takes the dialogue all the best way to flirtation, intimate relationships and the bed room. His tone is simple and compassionate, with clear affection for his fellow blunderers. Woven all through are causes the qualities that trigger awkwardness can be belongings, and the final chapter delves extra deeply into this, connecting the dots between awkwardness and giftedness, the adaptive qualities of awkwardness and the advantages of awkward individuals’s intense focus.

Useful for these questioning about their very own tendency in the direction of social blunders, mother and father involved for awkward youngsters or educators who need to assist youngsters succeed, Awkward takes an amorphous sense that “something ain’t right about that boy” and shapes it into one thing we will perceive and work with.

Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome
Ty Tashiro, PhD
William Morrow (April 2017)
Hardcover, 288 pages

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