06/08/2013 08:12 BST | Updated 06/10/2013 06:12 BST

A Cure for Social Awkwardness


Recently, while getting ready to attend a colleague's mid-week party get together, potential city types networking event. A dear friend of mine, whose name for the sake of poetic identity I shall call Chris. Admitted a rather curious fear. He conveyed that he wallows with dread when attending any social engagement and suggested that we down a bottle of Merlot to take the edge off his frustrating tick. Like any good friend, of course I stepped up to the mark and very much obliged. Yet, this request for the entire duration of the ceremonial Friday night prep and tube ride to our destination, was to dominate all discussion.

Like many, despite the confidence and charm Chris regularly exerts, he is often overcome with the awkward and self-aware insecure feelings whenever found in social situations.

This puzzled me. He's a tremendously charming fellow that often drops the most humorous of yarns, enchanting all girls in the vicinity to arch their heads and reveal that ever pleasing parade of horse shoe pearly whites; clearly an alpha male power if ever there was an example and like many of our mutually close brethren, I envy such natural ability. Thus I am so very puzzled by such a confession, yet at the same time, it encouraged me to share a rather interesting theory and method that could present a cure for social awkwardness.

Darren Brown is a ridiculously talented individual, of course famous for his feats of mind controlling tricks and illusions, he's also a fabulous artist, amassing an impressive portfolio of highly detailed caricatures. However, appealing most of all to my appetite and first great love of reading, are the exceptional prose and the detailed cultural commentaries that can be found within his two published works.

His first book; Trick of the Mind, introduced me to some rather lovely new words such as 'Ambivalence' which if reading this on your iPhone... highlight and click define, you'll soon discover means to love and hate at the same time. But it was the 'cold reading' section in the back of the book that intrigued me the most. He claimed that everyone becomes self-aware in social situations; placing hands in various positions of awkwardness, desperately trying to portray a look of comfortable confidence.

I am all too familiar with such a feeling. Often wondering what else to say in a conversation that has naturally come to an end. I'd always felt that a cure for social awkwardness didn't exist and that in time my confidence would simply turn into arrogance and I wouldn't give a monkeys what people thought of me as chances are, the pile of regrets would become bitterness and I'd simply hate everybody far too much to ever even want to share a conversation with such fools. That was quite the sentence!

Darren does however point out that the reason such chats wind down in this way, is that both parties feel the exact same self-awareness. He then went on to explain that If you're aware of the fact that they also feel the exact same way as you do, then the next time you converse with someone you can hold this knowledge firmly in your mind and feed off the knowing that they too are uncomfortable, thus making you, that little bit more comfortable.

Knowledge of this social condition can be a very powerful tool indeed, and certainly for any friends you have such as Chris that require a pre-party edge remover that is certainly a far healthier, less smelly alternative to the inhibition dropping powers of alcohol.