we are all awkward creatures

On today’s episode of the Ask a Manager podcast, I talk with awkwardness expert Melissa Dahl, who’s the author of the amazing book Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness (paid affiliate link).

We talked about what causes situations to feel awkward, why we’re all especially prone to awkwardness at work, the amazing letter here from someone whose coworkers overheard her roommates having sex during a conference call, and much more.

The show is 28 minutes long, and you can listen on .Or you can listen above.

Or, if you prefer, here’s the transcript.

{ 16 comments… read them below }

  1. Holla*

    Tangentially related…. but, I can’t help but share the documentary series Mortified. I have never been more relieved to be a weirdo and humbled by the brave folks who shared their most embarrassing moments and gave me peace to accept some of mine.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I LOVE Mortified. It’s a podcast too!

      Also, Melissa did a Mortified show for part of her book, where she was writing about forcing herself into awkward situations.

        1. Wired Wolf*

          I was going through some very old hard drives and found a few of my fanfic attempts….only one was worthy of being reworked (and has now ballooned into a 90-page monster that still has gaps). The rest…YIKES. S0me of the files were corrupted and unreadable by any of my current programs, and I can’t help but wonder if the hard-drive gremlins did that on purpose…

    2. Holla*

      Ok, so both these comments make me happy because a) I didn’t know there was a podcast and b) I also rationed the episodes for exercise and NOW I can ration the podcast for it!! A most excellent day.

  2. LaDeeDa*

    If you like Mortified you will also enjoy Canada’s “Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids” podcast.

  3. Susan Calvin*

    I love that the first example you mention is the accidental hug, because that’s the epitome of “hilarious, but also second-hand-mortifying” to me! As opposed to, say, the not-porn story, which is potentially damaging enough that the yikes outweighs the humor to me – but then my CEOs so far were all really nice folks who probably would’ve just rolled with it)

  4. Jules Verne*

    I actually have a friend who has gone to a professional cuddler and/or “cuddle parties”, where people give others physical comfort for free.

    I think sometimes we forget that especially for male-coded individuals, people are often discouraged from hugging or touching. Some people are isolated by disability or other circumstances that mean they don’t get many / any hugs in their life, when touch is vital to the human experience. Hugs really, really improve your mood, and some people don’t have a partner / family member / friend in town from whom they get hugs on a regular basis.

    I definitely get why people would have an “omg so awkward” reaction to the idea of cuddling with a stranger. But it’s useful to remember that not everyone has easy & regular access to hugs!

  5. Meredith Brooks*

    Oh god, I’m having flashbacks to the end of my company’s holiday party. I gave my staffer a hug and a kiss on the top of her forehead as I was leaving. The hug was reciprocal, but the way the hug transpired led her head to being right by my chin and my body went into muscle memory from visiting with my nieces. Fortunately drinks were had by all and it seems to have gone by without any further notice.

  6. Close Bracket*

    I love how people on the spectrum are the ones described as having “social deficiencies,” as though non-autistic people are such social geniuses. *eyeroll*

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