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The Socially Awkward Hallway

The Socially Awkward Hallway

by John Knicely

KMOV.com

Posted on November 12, 2009 at 10:26 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 13 at 10:45 AM

Do you have a place at your work that creates awkward social situations?  Well, we have one at KMOV News 4.  It's what I like to call the Socially Awkward Hallway.  On a daily basis you can count on numerous moments of social dilemma as you stroll down this hallway.

Let's look at why.  The Socially Awkward Hallway is about a mile long (okay more like 80 yards).  It's about a foot wide (okay more like 5 feet).  It's your only route to numerous essential destinations like the bathrooms, the studio, the tape room, etc.  So you have to use the hallway several times a day and inevitably you will pass someone else every time.  And that's where it gets socially awkward. 
 
If you start down the Socially Awkward Hallway and someone is coming toward you from the other end, what do you do?  Do you acknowledge the person right away with a hand wave or maybe Hello?  At that point they're still a mile away and may not see or hear your greeting.  So then you don't know if they're in a bad mood or they just couldn't see you from such a long distance.  And if you blow the greeting too early the rest of the walk is going to be awkward because you have a good 15 seconds left to fill.  And the silence that ensues is incredibly awkward.  In TV we call that "dead air."
 
So you don't do anything.  Smart move.  But then where do you look?  It's a long, narrow walk and there is no where to look but straight ahead.  So do you make eye contact right away?  Do you keep the eye contact the whole walk?  Or do you just stare at the ground in front of you?  I suggest an initial eye contact, but don't keep it too long.  If you stare too long it's going to seem creepy.  And it's always awkward when you can't sync the eye contact with the person coming your way.
Since there are so many doors along the way you never know if the person you are in this awkward situation with is going to bail early.  So if you don't wave or say hi early, the person might think you were in the bad mood.  But if you say hi early and the person doesn't bail, then you may feel forced into a follow up question or comment that you never intended, like "how's your mother" or "how about those Rams" or "man, this is a socially awkward hallway."
 
As your partner in this social dilemma approaches it's best to try to read their body language.  If you work together you can give enough non verbal communication to time out your greetings just right.  Some solid eye contact when 10 yards apart can then lead to a hello just as you're about to pass each other.  And then your're free...until you have to walk back to the newsroom and once again face the Socially Awkward Hallway.
 
If you made it all the way through this blog you've likely experienced similar socially awkward moments...or you were just bored.  Either way, I want to hear from you.  What are some of the socially awkward moments you face on a daily basis?

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