Oh, phew: being awkward is good for your social life.

Image: Pitch Perfect.

Are you that person who always replies “You too!” when a waiter tells you to enjoy your meal?

Perhaps you’ve absentmindedly ended a work call with “Thanks, love you”, or waved back at someone who definitely wasn’t waving at you — and then tried to pass it off as an exaggerated shoulder stretch.

These faux pas always seem disastrous at the time, and leave you searching for the nearest sinkhole to jump in. Don’t despair, though — a little awkwardness doesn’t make you a social liability. It’s quite the opposite, actually.

According to a fascinating video by Vsauce, feeling awkward about that your odd behaviours is simply an indication that you understand “smooth social exchanges” — and hope to contribute to them.

You know what’s awkward? Telling a lie and getting caught out, as these Mamamia staffers learned. (Post continues after video.)

“People who demonstrate self-consciousness when needed are communicating cooperative intentions which helps them get along well with others,” presenter Andrew explains.

“Awkwardness nudges us to avoid certain actions in the future and smooth things out when they happen.”


See? You’re actually attuned to social codes and you have the very best of intentions — it’s just that your execution gets a bit gawky from time to time. It happens to the best of us.

Besides, having too little or too much consideration for smooth social interactions is “not healthy”, Andrew explains, so consider your self-consciousness a blessing. (Post continues after gallery.)

There’s more happy news. Showing embarrassment or discomfort at appropriate times (like when you ask a colleague how they are after they’ve already answered the question) actually makes other people see you as more trustworthy and they’re more likely to forgive your social missteps. It’s endearing.

To further allay your fears, Andrew explains that other people don’t necessarily perceive your awkward faux pas to be as catastrophic as you do.

These onlookers might experience some second-hand embarrassment at the time (which is an indicator of empathy, by the way), but chances are in the grand scheme of things it’s not really something they’re going to dwell on.

Baby cringed as soon as these words escaped her mouth, but Johnny Castle probably didn't even register.


It's a different story for whoever commits the awkward act — because negative emotions have a more significant effect on our thoughts and memories, it's going to seem like a much bigger deal for a longer period of time.

Essentially, don't beat yourself up too much for going in for a fist bump when your acquaintance offers a handshake. We've all been in the awkward trenches, and life will go on.

What's the most awkward thing you've ever done.