Since I was pretty young and aware of other people, I’ve always been a people watcher. I like hanging out in public places and just watching what happens between and among people. I’m really interested in what makes people tick. (In a parallel universe I’m pretty sure I experiment on people’s brains! But in a good way, of course!)
Generally, I don’t like to get involved in situations, I just want to see what evolves and then I hypothesize on cause and effects, tuck away the information and then see if future events either confirm or deny my theories! But there is one situation that I always get sucked into participating in and that is a group presentation, or a class, or lecture or discussion.
Now my most overwhelming trait is shyness, unless I know you well, then you will never believe that I could ever be shy. When I’m in that group environment I don’t really want to talk. But the situation builds to a perfect storm against me. First of all, I’m a person who learns by listening instead of taking notes. So I always make eye contact with a speaker. Always. And having given a few presentations and led a few discussions I know how utterly dreadful it is to face a group of people who are giving you no feedback. No noise, no movement, no eye contact. I know I’m supposed to wait to give those shy types the time to get some courage up to speak, but if you’ve ever been in that situation you know that nano-seconds tick away like hours.
So as I sit there waiting for someone else to say something, my stomach starts to churn for the presenter/lecturer/presenter and my body starts to twitch as if I’m divining for any activity from others around me. I feel the blood rushing to my ears and my brain starts shouting “Somebody SAY SOMETHING!” And all the while my eyes are looking right at the person who is waiting for some feedback. Then they turn their head and see me looking at them and…my mouth explodes with a rush of words that is a release of tension both for me and (I hope) for the situation.
The problem is that it doesn’t fix the situation. People still remain shy or uncommunicative or unwilling to participate and I still feel for the presenter. So I continue to (possibly too often) blurt out my thoughts or opinions or conclusions to keep the conversation rolling. Then I worry about being one of those people that hogs the discussion/conversation. Am I like a nasal spray, that helps with congestion in the beginning, but causes the congestion to worsen over time? I’ve been in discussions with conversation hogs and I find them to be very annoying. I really don’t want to be That Person. This is something that I worry about.
What do you do in these situations?
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