Act Like a Human | Step 1: Acquaint Yourself with Acquaintances

I’m not the best at consistently acting like a Human, especially in social situations. One fault I recognize about myself is I avoid acquaintances. This is rude and makes me look like a dick. They might not want to talk to me but I’d surely scoff and let a mutual acquaintance know if they were outright dismissive to me.

Unfortunately, I know I’ve done it myself. Not out of malice or a superiority complex, but because I, personally, I didn’t know how to handle the interaction. I get a bit scared and flustered. I feel judged and nervous. I wonder how long do you talk for? What do you talk about? Is her name Mari, Mary, or Margie?

As it turns out, I don’t need to know any of that. I don’t even need to be witty or charming.

The thing with acquaintances is, they don’t expect you to stop and have lunch or spend your entire train ride talking to them. But they do expect you to acknowledge their existence with more than a suspicious, tight-lipped smile.

This is a basic level social paring that only requires basic level social interaction. These things are pretty much formulaic.

EXAMPLE OF A NORMAL, SUCCESSFUL INTERACTION BETWEEN ACQUAINTANCES:

See each other

You Smile Warmly. If wearing headphones, remove at least one.

You: Hey How are you?

Them: Gooood! And you?

You: I can’t complain. (because you can’t, that’s not what an acquaintance is for)

THIS is where things could get awkward. If you don’t want to get into a talky-talk, don’t leave gaping holes in conversation to be filled with open-ended questions like “How’s the job?” “Do you live around here?” “Have you seen anyone else from THAT PLACE WE KNOW EACHOTHER FROM?”

You: It’s great to see you. You look great (compliments are nice)! Have a nice weekend/week/trip/life (don’t say have a nice life.)

Them: Oh my God, you toooo!

Walk away. Even if you don’t need to be away, just clear yourself of the completed task. This includes, not only literally removing yourself from their presence, but also things like putting your headphones back on, or taking out a book to read. You’re done and you’ve moved on and so can they.

It’s that easy if you let it be. Now, all I need to do is take my own advice and remember to act like a human in the face of acquaintances.

Is this a problem only I have? Maybe my step 1 should have been about keeping your crazy to your self…

5 comments

  1. Yup. I get this. And the advice is helpful! I feel like I’m good in social situations until I becomes too aware that I’m in a social situation and that I need to.. well.. be human. Then I get all awkward and sweaty and start overthinking everything. That’s why parties, happy hours and work events give me anxiety.

    1. I realized I do it every morning with the man handing out papers in the subway. It’s just easier and less weird to not ignore a cheerful “good morning.” I even look forward to it some days.

      Other people I’m like, Ugh this again and want to avoid it but it’s faster and less noticeable if I just roll with it.

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