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Anyone struggle with conversation and especially banter?

(14 Posts)
Orionion Fri 24-Nov-17 22:17:48

I’ve taken ages to articulate what I want to say (in line with my title!) and I probably haven’t been very successful but here goes.

I have confidence and assertiveness issues due to certain life events I won’t go into, which I’m working on through various forms of therapy and counselling. I suppose this is unearthing a lot of stuff for me and raising lots of questions, so this is where this is coming from.

Deep down - which I’ve never admitted to anyone - I think my lack of confidence comes from having a huge chip on my shoulder about my own intelligence, or lack of it.

On paper it looks good. I have a degree, a post grad degree, I’ve had OK jobs, but nothing amazing and my lack of confidence probably stopped me from going higher than I did. Anyway I really struggle with conversations, from polite chit chat at the school gates, to spending an evening with closer friends, and if I find myself in a group situation where there is lots of (amusing and witty) banter, I I find myself out of my depth and can’t really join in apart from laughing. With planned meet ups, I stress about what I’m going to talk about, if I’ll be able to keep up, if I’ll be able to think of the right questions to ask. I often have brain freezes and sometimes come out with a total non-point that leaves me and the listener swiftly having to move on because what I said made no sense at all. And I kick myself for it inside.

I really wish I was better at conversation and moving from one subject to the other and I admire people who can do this seamlessly, even when their brains and thoughts seem to move to fast they jump from one subject to the next and then forget the initial point they were making (that would never happen to me!).

Anyway what it boils down to is I don’t think I’m that intelligent. I’m slow. I need things spelled out to me clearly. Yet academically I blagged it, and I can somehow bluff my way through life and people think I’m intelligent enough. I know I am good at some stuff, but not the stuff I’d really love to be good at but I’m just not.

I know lots of people feel like imposters in their careers (think there was a thread about this), but what I’m feeling is on a more basic level.

Anyway I just wondered how common this feeling is about panicking about what to say next in a conversation, and wishing I had a witty retort that some people seem to be able to do naturally.

dantdmistedious Fri 24-Nov-17 22:26:24

I don't feel like an imposter in my role, which is quite successful but I cringe at small talk. I actively avoid people all the time. If I see someone I know in the train I avoid eye contact or walk the other way, I don't do school hate chat, I deal with people by text rather than the phone. I dont get involved in tea rounds or going for lunch with colleagues. I'll time my lunch to miss out of having to walk with others.

I m polite, friendly, popular and dare I say successful at work but everyone is at more than arms length.

I'm very happy how I am but it took a while to accept it!

My worst nightmare is making small talk.

dantdmistedious Fri 24-Nov-17 22:27:04

School gate, not hate, I'm not that bad!

user1483644229 Fri 24-Nov-17 22:32:43

From another perspective I would put myself in the category of being good at small and banner but it is not natural at all. I hate it and feel like I am 'on' when doing it. Usually only doing it because I feel I should socially. Not sure if that makes sense but what I am saying is that even when people appear to be cracking it, it can be hard work for them too

user1483644229 Fri 24-Nov-17 22:33:14

I doubt my intelligence constantly by the way!

newmummysw Fri 24-Nov-17 22:45:03

OP I can identify with you completely! Chat and small talk don't come naturally to me at all, unless I am very close to the person. I met up with someone I hadn't seen for a while in the summer, and I made a list of topics on my phone ahead of time in case I couldn't think of things to say!

I also struggle hugely with self confidence and assertiveness, and am also going through therapy and counselling currently. I find it has made me even more acutely aware of my shortcomings! On paper it all looks ok too (degree etc), and my husband doesn't understand why I feel this way about conversation!

Orionion Sat 25-Nov-17 08:48:06

Newmummy, interesting you are having counselling too. I think the hardest part is facing up to all this stuff, it is much easier to keep your head in the sand or just not even be aware of it. It’s empowering though to learn and although it makes me feel inadequate and sometimes incompetent, I hope I can build on it and become stronger.

I get that others put it on to some degree, but there are so many who speak with such ease and flow, and are interesting to just sit and listen to. I wish I could capture people’s attention when I speak but I don’t, I do the opposite.

CynophobicSadness Sat 25-Nov-17 09:15:55

You're not alone. On paper, and to those around me, I'm described as being 'intelligent' but I have doubted that my entire life. Due to bullying both at school and home, my entire childhood and early adulthood was blighted by zero confidence and low self-esteem that has continued into my adulthood. Despite doing better than anyone told me I would I still feel inferior to absolutely everyone. I also struggle with smalltalk and general conversation because I spent so long hiding in the background desperate to be unseen so as to avoid being bullied. I never learned how to social on a normal natural level.

I no longer get bullied but I'm a SAHMt at the mo and struggle with the school gate chitchat... Even though I'd love to make some friends as I'm very lonely. There's a couple of mums who I talk to if I bump into them but I actively try to avobecauseing into them because I struggle with knowing what to talk about and at some point there's always an uncomfortable awkward silence. I hate myself for it, because I'm actually a really nice person. But I worry I come across as rude and aloof, when really its just a severe lack of confidence.

I'd also love to get back into work but I'm awful awful awful at interviews, and I avoid so many applications for jobs that state 'must be confident at communicating' or 'must be outgoing' because even though I could do the job, I don't want to let them down by not being the bubbly confident outgoing individual they're looking for.

I've had counselling and CBT but nothing has worked for me so far

CynophobicSadness Sat 25-Nov-17 09:18:09

*avoid bumping into them

Orionion Sat 25-Nov-17 10:28:51

Cynophobic, when I read other people’s posts I’m screaming I’m sure it’s not true, I’m sure they are not that bad and it’s really just me.
I wish I could put my lack of confidence down to something specific such as bullying, but I can’t, apart from a couple of minor incidents, I wasn’t and I don’t really know the cause. I was an overweight child though and I remember from a very early age being very self conscious about this and there was always the odd comment about it. Since then I’ve always gone up and down with my weight. I blame my parents for that as there was no medical underlying reason for it, but I’ve never brought it up with them as I’m too scared and ashamed to.

newmummysw Sat 25-Nov-17 10:38:12

I know what you mean OP about watching others speak with ease and wishing I could do it too. I feel like I have a neon sign over my head with DIFFERENT and an arrow pointing at me!

I find at work if I need to go and ask someone something I don't like to interrupt them, I can't tell you the number of cringeworthy times I have hovered awkwardly by someone waiting to be noticed! I just s feel so fake if I try to approach someone and be all bubbly and confident as if I'm not being a nuisance!

Snugglyboots Sat 25-Nov-17 15:00:32

Yes, I really struggle with chatting unless I have known someone for ever!! Or there's the odd person I seem to be able to naturally just have a chat to but generally I have nothing to talk about. NOTHING. I know very little. I have a post grad qualification so may seem ok academically but I don't retain information. I also don't like to hear my own voice. I get terribly lonely but I can't make friends either. Very sad

needark Sun 26-Nov-17 20:31:30

You basically just described me in every way, I could have written it word for word. I find work almost painful, as people talk crap most of the day. I just can't. When I do interject nobody seems interested anyway.

Panicattheschoolgate Sun 26-Nov-17 20:59:59

Sometimes. Most of the time I just except it’s who I am. I would like to be more out going and be able to make conversation. I agree with the hiding from people you only slightly know. It’s quite funny when you think of it. Most people make me feel dumb but I think the more I believe it, the more others do too. I’m not slow joe and defo not clever Clara but im somewhere in between. Maybe the more comfortable I am with that fact, the more comfortable I will be around other people. I’m so scared people think I’m dumb. Hell they probably think it but what’s it matter. If they genuinely think that, then they don’t know me and are t worth my time......That was kind of cathartic for me

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