Don’t Avoid the Awkwardness…


I have been thinking a lot lately about awkwardness.

I watch people of all ages actively avoid situations they feel awkward in or aren’t sure how to engage in, and allow their uncertainty to hinder them.

I have started to realize that it seems that often we avoid things that put us in an awkward situation or scenario that we don’t know what to do… So, instead of viewing it as a hard thing we must step into, we avoid.

For example:

  • We get on our phones while we wait for coffee or food.
  • While waiting for a friend to arrive, phones are often our go-to awkwardness avoidance device. (I’m totally raising my hand as a guilty party)
  • The guy won’t ask the attractive, funny woman he is maybe interested in out for coffee.
  • Someone is struggling, but we don’t send them words of encouragement.
  • Even if someone doesn’t “need” help, but it would be nice, we don’t offer just to be kind or make it easier for them.
  • How about just eye contact and good morning?
  • What about a simple hello and asking the cashier how they are doing before you start literally issuing an order at them?

I have started making it a practice of my will to putt my phone away, or leave it in my pocket on purpose when I am out in public or waiting for something. – You know what I have discovered? I will reach for it about every 2 minutes.

So, my coping mechanism is that I have started just checking the time and putting it back away to slowly break myself of this habit.

What I find funny is, when I am at home or at work, I will walk away from my phone and leave it somewhere for hours at a time… When I am hanging out and talking with my friends; good luck getting me to respond to a text quickly…

Why the gap between compulsively checking every 2 minutes and going hours without it even on my body? – My ability to walk away from my phone for hours at a time shows that my struggle is not addiction related but rather situational awkwardness related.

On the flip side, I have been mulling over this idea that as a believer, a follower of Christ, how am I communicating that I love or even just slightly care about them if I never even acknowledge they are there?

“They will know us by our love.”

They won’t because we avoid awkwardness and uncertainty as a preservation and anxiety reducing strategy.

Awesome. So, will they know us by our eye contact and hello at least?
How am I supposed to show love or mild interest for someone else if I seek to reduce my own awkwardness and anxiety first?

In Romans it says that we are to “Practice Hospitality”. – I write more about my thoughts on that here and here.

But, there is a theory that if you want to become an expert or master at something, you must put in 10,000 hours of practice.

Have you spent 10,000 hours on any character discipline at all; let alone hospitality?

  • Have you gone above and beyond trying to hone your skills of engaging well with strangers?
  • Do you work at acknowledging and seeing people in any situation.. forget about “loving them well,” how about even just showing that you see them and they matter?
  • Are you trying to get better at speaking encouragement to those you encounter?

What if you fail?

Are you getting up and starting over? Learn from your mistake, evaluate how you can do better moving forward. It is simple, but does not feel great.


  1. Step into awkwardness this week. Dig down deep inside of you, and decide that today you will do one thing differently.
  2. Decide to willingly be in an uncertain situation and practice handling it with grace and patience.
  3. Choose to talk to the person standing closest to you when in a moment of waiting for coffee, an elevator, your food, the metro.

Here are a few self-development tips and topics to help you grow yourself.

Ask two questions of someone, and wait to hear the answer.

If you notice someone showing signs of emotion (joy, anxiety, frustration etc..) Ask them about it…
“You seem pretty upset, are you having a frustrating day?” – Wait for an answer and then offer a real word of encouragement: “I’m sorry, that’s so frustrating! Would you allow me to buy you a cup of coffee or tea to improve your day?”

A few examples of putting a simple spin on normal questions: 

  1. How is your day going?
  2. What do you do for work? – Do you love what you do?
  3. Are you doing what you dreamed of as a kid/teen?
  4. Your style game is spot on today! Where did you get ____ (jewelry or clothing that you particularly like)?
  5. What’s your favorite thing to do/order here? (Depending on if you’re at a restaurant or just in public)