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relationships with acquaintances/friends/other mums

(15 Posts)
bellamom Sat 09-Jul-11 10:57:20

i am feeling so low today, and feeling that whenever i am with other people i am not true to who i really am... i become loud, inconsiderate, always interrupt, insensitive, ghastly basically.

my DH says i have a sweet sweet heart and lovely spirit, but somehow it gets lost in translation and i come across as harsh, trivial, dull.

how can i be true to my inner light when out in the world? why am i so useless at making/sustaining friendships? whay can't i do the small talk game very well?

plse help. feeling so down on myself.

GreenTeapot Sat 09-Jul-11 11:10:47

Are you me?! It's what happens when you're nervous. You have a "forward" front which you present. Your anxiety makes you worry more about hiding how nervous you are than how you could be perceived.

Good advice is to ask questions and listen to the answers. It takes the focus off you and makes those you're talking with feel at ease. Apparently!

It is hard, I know, but much healthier to look outwards than inwards smile

mumblechum1 Sat 09-Jul-11 11:12:55

I have an acquaintance who used to be a friend but I've gradually dropped her over the years, as she always dominated the conversation, had no genuine interest in other people and was just too goddam gobby. No one ever tells her so she doesn't understand when people drop her. (mind you, I also dislike her because she's had one affair after the other for 14 years and has screwed her kids up as a result).

Essentially, my rule for not being domineering is to think about how many people are in the group and stay quiet for a reasonable proportion of the time. So if you're in a group of four, you should be listenening to other people for 75% of the time. If you're with one other person, you should be listening to them for half of the time.

If you're in a huge group and there are lots of conversations going on you don't have to worry too much; if you're boring the other person they can wander off and find someone else.

purplepidjin Sat 09-Jul-11 11:14:12

Don't try as hard (I do that too when I'm nervous!) just smile and practise active listening skills - "Really?" "mmhmm" "what happened next?"

Small talk is false and patronising, a genuine interest in what the person is saying will get you much further. Ask questions you really want to know the answer to, like "Where did you get [name]'s shoes, they're so cute?" or "I think I need to do more exercise, would you be able to recommend anything?" which include a very subtle compliment to the person you're asking. Saying a generic "I love your bag, where did you get it?" then changing the subject immediately just shows you're forcing it.

Try out your body language in front of a mirror, too. Sounds like a daft idea, but you can be the most fascinating conversationalist going yet no one will know because you've got your head down to your shoulders and your legs crossed away from the person you're speaking to. Keep your tone of voice low and calm (although not to SuperNanny levels!) - make people listen to what your saying.

None of this will work when talking to someone rude, but at least you'll have the moral high ground grin

HairyGrotter Sat 09-Jul-11 11:19:35

Christ, I'm like that, as part of my degree we have to practice active listening, but it's made me realise, that actually, I don't mind myself too much. I don't mind being a bit forward or gobby, I have close friends who appreciate that about me BUT I have had to limit myself to time with others and actively try and amend it.

It's quite hard, but amending behaviour will happen naturally over time.

bellamom Sat 09-Jul-11 11:28:27

thankyou for really interesting helpful replies,

yes i think becoming a more active listener would be really good for me, wanting to shine less and let others shine/do the talking??? but how can i retrain the habits of a lifetime? how can i stop myself being ghastly? it is always AFTER the event i have hindsight/great insights/ideas on what i could/shoud have said. At the time i am crass/unsubtle/ghastly...

i am far better with writing - i wish i could stop talking and just write notes to people! How to stop myself at the time so that i am not lost in headspin and regrets for days afterwards?????

HairyGrotter Sat 09-Jul-11 11:35:18

It really is about retraining yourself, recognising the processes and stopping them or amending them. I can be utterly vile lol but I can control that as deep down I never want to never be vile again, I quite like being vile at times, it's fun. BUT I had to amend it.

It takes practice, and there will be times when even the nicest, warmest of people are vile or ghastly but don't be too harsh on yourself.

chris123456 Sat 09-Jul-11 11:38:17

Just be yourself and let everyone know that you realise how gobby you are and to feel free to tell you to shut up at anytime as you won't be offended.

purplepidjin Sat 09-Jul-11 13:03:43

Every time you interrupt, apologise.

So:

OP: your dd's shoes are so cute, where did you get them?
Listener: Thanks, I got them...
OP: Oh, you know what Marks and Sparks do some great kids shoes
L: hmm
OP: Oops, sorry I interrupted you. Please carry on. [OP makes deliberate attempt to remain silent for at least 15 seconds]

Or, to judge when it's your "turn" in the conversation, say in your head "must not interrupt" before you open your mouth ive never had to do this ever honest no really i mean it

mumblechum1 Sun 10-Jul-11 07:40:01

On the odd occasion I see the acquaintance I referred to earlier, when she starts showing off/dominating the conversation I either change the subject or just look away and eventually she does seem to be getting the picture.

I would never normally be so rude to someone but she has absolutely no manners and doesn't get subtle hints.

Proudnscary Sun 10-Jul-11 08:16:33

Brilliant advice from mumble re working out percentage to be quiet! I totally agree.

Look, most people suffer from social anxiety. Honestly. So it's fine to have a plan and a strategy, don't feel it should come naturally.

And yes, if in doubt listen. Don't push yourself on others.

Thistledew Sun 10-Jul-11 08:41:19

I think it helps to realise that this idea of 'I don't come across as the person I really am' is nonsense. It is like the philosophical debate of a tree falling in a forest where no-one can hear it makes no sound: who we are as people is only reflected in the way (baring prejudiced views) that people see us.

So firstly, talk to your close friends and ask them if they really see you as gobby and crass. Are you sure that they see this as a bad thing and not as something that makes meeting with you actually rather entertaining?

Secondly, look within yourself. Your husband obviously does not find you gobby and crass. What is it that makes you feel more comfortable and relaxed in a small group than in a large one? Is that feeling something you can work on changing? If you can feel more relaxed, the softer side of your personality will come through.

djlu66 Sun 10-Jul-11 09:06:53

Best advise I ever got was - make sure you are really listening - not just waiting to speak!!!!

turCENSOREDss Sun 10-Jul-11 12:53:18

God, I'm like that. I'm just so full of enthusiasm to talk that I interrupt people or finish off their sentences for them. I get really annoyed with myself but it's like I get a big surge of energy with the excitement from the social interaction that I go a bit mad. (Yes I do realise how stupid that sounds!)
Also I live in England but am not English and I think the contrast in our levels of cultural reserve make me look even worse. BUT it's actually just because I like people and want to be liked!

Fairenuff Sun 10-Jul-11 15:52:00

I have a gobby friend like this and I love her! She is a breath of fresh air. There is never a dull or awkward silence when she is around. The best thing is that she knows what she's like so doesn't get offended when I tell her to can it grin

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