Have you ever bumped into someone you know at the worst possible time? For introverts, this scenario can be pretty awkward. The thing is, we introverts like to mentally prepare before socializing. We’re not always ‘on’, as many extroverts tend to be. If we’re not expecting to see someone we know, we’re probably in introvert mode, lost in our own thoughts.
Unfortunately, we can’t always avoid unexpected encounters. Here are the awkward stages an introvert goes through when we run into someone we know.
1. Do I know them?
There is that blissful moment of uncertainty, when you’re not sure if it’s that guy you met at a dinner party six months ago, or his doppelgänger. You’re hoping it’s the latter. But no…
2. Do they see me?
It is THAT guy. But there’s still a chance he hasn’t seen you. Or maybe he has, but he’ll do you both a favor and pretend he hasn’t. Then you can dodge an awkward small talk bullet and go your separate ways.
3. Awkward eye contact
You make eye contact and all hope of pretending you haven’t seen each other is gone. Your eyes lock and you brace yourself for what’s next.
4. The showdown over who will approach first
Who will approach first? Someone’s gotta initiate this unwanted exchange, so you can get it over with as quickly as possible. You’d prefer if it wasn’t you, but now that your cover is blown, you try to be polite. You don’t want to hurt the guy’s feelings. You’re an introvert, not a jerk.
5. Playing it cool, too cool
When you bump into someone you know, you overcompensate for how awkward you feel by trying to play it cool. But the harder you try to be cool, the more it backfires. You feel like Tin Man, stiff and unfeeling.
6. Painful small talk
Now that you’re face-to-face with your long lost acquaintance, you have to find something to talk about. Since you weren’t prepared for the exchange, the words don’t come easily. You get stuck going through the motions of boring small talk, even though neither of you really wants to talk about the weather. But it gets worse.
7. The dreaded question
The only thing worse than talking about the weather with someone you haven’t seen in a while is this question:
So, what have you been up to?
How do you answer such a broad question when you know the person just wants a quick little summary with a cherry on top?
We introverts have enough trouble verbalizing our thoughts as it is. Ask us a super broad question that could have a zillion different answers and we’ll probably get tongue-tied.
8. A swift escape and a sigh of relief
Luckily, the awkward conversation is over fast. One of you finds an exit—“Oh, look at the time, I’d better get home to feed my cat”. You both know it’s a lie, but you don’t care.
You say sayonara and breathe a sigh of relief that the awkwardness has ended. Time to go home and feed Piglet the cat (because you’re a hipster introvert who gives her pets ironic names, obviously).
I hope you could relate to the 8 awkward stages of running into someone you know. If you’d like to make these kinds of exchanges a little less awkward, and actually start connecting with people in your own introverted way, get my free Introvert Connection Guide.
Over to you
Do you dread running into someone you know? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you! ?
P.S. If you’re new here, let me introduce myself. I’m Michaela, introvert author of The Irresistible Introvert and the creator of this website, which has reached millions of awesome introverts since its creation in 2013. I invite you to stick around and read more articles. Also, download my free Introvert Connection Guide.