Posted by: CJ | August 11, 2011

Awkward and Inarticulate

In casual conversation I can be awkward and inarticulate. When it comes to querying for information I’m fine. When it comes to answering an extremely specific, well-defined question I am also fine.

But if a question isn’t very specific, and the sort of answer desired isn’t very clear, then I’ll oscillate between rambling or uncomfortably long pauses. It seems like the listener has their choice between an frustrating silence or an annoying flood of useless information followed by some useful information.

I’m awful at giving simple, direct answers. I’ll over-complicate things to death. You want to hear about the forest? I’ll start by describing the various mosses on each individual tree, then the birds that live in each tree, then the animals that eat the birds, and eventually work my way up to talking about the trees. After a detour rambling about the logging industry and farmers. And at the end I think I’ll have told you about the forest.

Even worse is I simply don’t pick up on implicit contexts in conversations. They simply pass me by. Well, not totally or no one would be able to communicate with me. But they pass me by much moreso than other people. (There are some people who I really can’t stand simply because I can’t pick up on the contexts they operate in. People that I like, whose company I mostly enjoy, but who I get really worked up about from a sizeable fractions of the things they say.)

Normally I’m only dissatisfied about my conversational quirks. But today I realized that my inability to contextualize, quickly and concisely state my point, and leave it at that makes it so it’s hard for other people to understand what I’m saying. I don’t communicate my points effectively.

This is less problematic in a technical context because in technical contexts it’s easy for me to boil my points down to whatever the universal technical language is, or to force the other person to boil their points down to technical language.

But outside of technical contexts, or when talking to non-technical people…it’s just awful. I’m awkward and can’t get my points across.

I wish to change that. I’m unsure how…



  1. First, you’re not nearly as bad at that as you think you are.
    Next, google “how to have a conversation.” seriously. there are a bunch of articles, and the few I glanced at had some decent suggestions. (I may have searched on yahoo, fyi)
    Then, relax. listen. be curious–those seem to be the cores of communication in ways, and you’re good at those.

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