DOs and DON’Ts for Social Interactions in a Corporate Scenario
I had fun finding the literal meaning of this word ‘Awkward.’ Well, it’s at your discretion, you can search for it too. Let me confess that as a child I had thought that ‘Awkward’ was a Marathi word!
Today, I’m glad to be on a platform where I can share few tricks and etiquette to avoid feeling awkward during social interactions, especially considering the corporate scenario. Few of them are from personal experiences over the years and few from what I happened to read online. Hope these keep you from feeling awkward.
No ‘One Word’ Introductions
The communication specialist Leil Lowndes suggests that it is good to always add something to the introduction, be it while introducing yourself, your occupation, your city / state / country or while introducing someone else.
Let’s have a look at few examples…
For instance, while introducing myself, instead of saying, “I’m Sony and I am heading the training department”, I could say, “I help in organizing various trainings and provide a platform for knowledge enhancement within the organization.”
Now, if I’m to answer that I’m from Pune and introduce my city, my answer would depend on whom I’m interacting with.
If he or she is a student / teacher / professor, I could say, “I’m from Pune which is also known as the Oxford of the East, and is an education hub with many colleges, some of which are 100+ years old, like (and name them)”.
However, say the person is from the defense background. In that case, I would say something on the lines of, “I’m from the city which has the NDA.”
Even though I’m talking about the same city in the examples above, the introduction of the city depends on the person I’m interacting with. For this, we need to ensure we know enough facts about our city so that we can introduce it considering the inclination of the person who is with us.
An Awkward Moment During a Conversation
Once at a corporate dinner I walked up to Ria with an acquaint named Manas and introduced him to Ria saying, “Ria, this is Manas.” Ria smiled and said “Hi Manas” to which Manas responded with a smile. I left them alone.
After the dinner, I asked Ria, “How was your meeting with Manas?” Then I added that he is shy but likes trekking and reading and we all are MMB alumni.
Ria said, “Sony, you should have mentioned this while introducing us. We could have had a good talk because I also enjoy trekking and reading. After you left, it was an awkward moment for both of us. We both went blank and after exchanging smiles, both of us got back to the people we were previously interacting with.”
I learnt my lesson that while introducing two people who are complete strangers (not from the same organization or fraternity), it is a good idea to add something about their interests and hobbies.
For instance, you could say, “Meet so and so. He / She loves participating in marathons or playing badminton or is an amazing cook or is a foodie or a cinephile etc.”
Hence, when we practice the ‘No One Word Introduction’ rule, we give the other person multiple options to strike a conversation and this helps us in avoiding long silences, being blank or feeling awkward.
Before I sign off, I shall share some quick tips from communication experts that will help you have meaningful interactions with people you meet in a corporate scenario, or any social gathering.
- Communication specialists recommend that before joining any formal or informal gathering, do watch the latest news and do read about the city and country where the event is being hosted.
- This is something which always sails us through when we wish to avoid the awkward silence during conversations.
- Prefer giving more attention to the other person’s liking or area of interest and try to be an active listener.
- This definitely earns you brownie points.
- Avoid asking “what do you do?” Instead you could ask, “How do you spend most of your time?”
- This will keep you from offending someone who has just lost the job or someone who is a home-maker or has quit the job to take care of a newly born, etc.
- Avoid unpleasant or negative discussion of any sort, especially in your first interaction. Also, avoid being a cribber or a critic.
- This way you will be remembered as a positive / cool person.
- Barbara Cartland said, when asking about someone’s family (when you are not aware of their family members / background), it would be wise to ask “Who all are there in your family?”
- This would not offend the person, if he/she has recently lost a parent, had a separation, etc. It also gives you a better idea about asking for any further questions related to the family, accordingly. I started using this tip during my graduation and realized its significance in 2014 while conducting HR interviews for T/DG.
We all know that language could take a second place when it comes to in-person interactions.
Even before we speak, our body language talks and reveals a lot more to the person we are about to begin the conversation with.
So in addition to the words you choose, things like the confident eye contact, handshake, unfolded arms, a bright smile while greeting, etc. are significant non-verbal aspects that create a significant impact on the success of your interactions with people.