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I can't connect with people superficially. It causes problems.


Today I went to a new barbers and got my usual. The guy was a socialite and kept trying to spring up conversation with me. By the end he'd been silent for 10 minutes and looked rather uncomfortable. He kept looking at the door like he was hoping someone would come in and talk to him. The people who had come before me had no issue striking up a chat with the guy.

I have described one incident, but this is a constant problem. I can't easily endear myself to people because I just don't seem to know what to say. I can't empathise and I can't connect, and I can't just be simply light-hearted and funny. It's a very uncomfortable position to be in since I'm aware it makes others feel bad and I don't like causing difficulties for other people.

If there's not a purpose relevant to me in the conversation, I cannot sustain it. I can't even autopilot through a chat; I just clam up and go silent. Does anyone know what I can do, or what I'm missing? I'm not particularly shy. I'm an actor by hobby and have no problem with my stage presence and when I'm working off of a script. Am I just stupid and unable to improvise a decent conversation? Is this a natural skill I should have that I lack? Help!
I've had a problem with this, especially when I haven't been feeling well. I've gone so far, many times, to cut or clipper my own hair to avoid the situation.

Once in a while I've gotten the kind of barber or stylist who pays attention to their job and leaves me be. Once in a while I've just come out and said, "I don't want to be rude but I'd rather just sit here quietly and only answer questions you have about what I want done," and sometimes it went well; other times it didn't.

One problem with talking when we don't want to--other than feeling pressured and uncomfortable--is the stylist often screws up the cut so busy blabbing away. I'm paying the person to cut my hair not be my bestie for 30 minutes.

Looking over your post I did wonder if you could create a script, no kidding, long before you need your next hair cut, and improve on the script as you go, i.e. make a list of topics that do interest you, narrow it down to some that might interest the barber, and hone it.

In other words, "take charge of the experience."

I'd go in, say, with three all time favorite films; books; interesting historical events; local favorite restaurants, et cetera.

Or bring a magazine with you, and once you've given instructions, say something like, "I've got some reading and a deadline, so do X and Y, ask if you need any more instructions, and I'll sit here and prepare for my [class, meeting, what-have-you]."

Brain storm solutions, try out each one, see what works, make changes as needed:

You're an INTP; you can do it.

And always be on the look-out for the barber or someone in a similar position who isn't as talkative. I've found that the managers of inexpensive salons are, over all, far more likely to respect my need to less talk, more work from them; they want repeat business more than the rank-n-file stylists (generally). Same with the owner:

Shop around. It's your head, your money, your time: Make it count.

And good luck.
 
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