My brain has trouble keeping up with my mouth. This is why whenever I prepare for an oral presentation or talk, I have to write down everything I’m going to say; not notes with bullet points, but every sentence and word, as if writing an essay. This is why I prefer talking online over face-to-face or phone conversations (go ahead and call me a coward; I don’t care). This is also why I suck at discussions and discourses where rapid speech is required (especially rapid intelligent speech). A lot of times mid-conversation I’ll get stumped on some words and end up speaking a few words of gibberish because I was trying to say something too fast. I guess to sum it up, I have trouble thinking and talking simultaneously, which causes some slight embarrassments and deficiencies when I talk with strangers and/or meet new people.
Example: getting acquainted with your friend’s friends. On more than one occasion I have been introduced to my friends’ friends. Politeness (and non-awkwardness) dictates that I tell them my name and ask them all what their names are. So like a well-mannered and semi-social person, I ask the new people individually what their names are and then pause to let all their names come in one ear and out the other. 5 minutes later I realize that I don’t know any of their names, as if I hadn’t asked them in the first place. So when I see any of them again I have to act apologetic and say “I’m really sorry, I forgot your name. Could you tell me again?” when the truth is I never really remembered it from the beginning. Usually I make the conscientious effort the second time around, especially if the other person remembered my name, which is hard after the first time.
Another example: After completing some transaction with any salesperson. Usually the salesperson will say “Have a nice day” and I will immediately and robotically say “You too!” without thinking. It’s like the whole “Hey how are you?” “Fine, and you?” thing. Anyways, why is this “Have a nice day” “You too” thing a problem? Because sometimes the salesperson doesn’t actually say “Have a nice day.”
Incident #1: Amsterdam airport. I was in a shop with Eugena and Phil during our layover before flying to Berlin. Eugena buys a shirt and the lady at the register starts making small talk (which is another awkward story on it’s own). After we’re done the lady says to us all “Have a nice flight!”
Almost involuntarily I blurt out: “You too!…………I mean…uh have a nice day!” Laughter ensues.
Incident #2: Getting gym membership at 24 Hour Fitness in California. It was like 8 pm. After I filled out all the paperwork and paid the membership fee, the salesperson said to me: “Have a good workout!”
And of course, my reflexes answer for me: “You too!…….I mean um..have a nice da- er – I mean evening….” after which I proceed to walk away really fast.
From now on, I will pay extra attention to what salespeople say to me so I don’t look like a shallow person whose social abilities consist only of formalities.