Social Advice Thread

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by keltena, Aug 2, 2019.

  1. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    Catch-all thread for questions or requests for help with social skills, social situations, etc. If you don't feel like making a whole thread, ask here and maybe someone will be able to help.

    Feel free to be as general or specific as you want; anything from "How the heck do you make small talk?" to "How do I express sympathy without sounding like a platitude?" to "What's appropriate email etiquette when contacting a college professor?" to "Can someone look at these chatlogs and tell me if I said something inappropriate?" fits here.
    • Like x 5
  2. townghost

    townghost mystery crab

    ah hello. i was just thinking about how i don’t know how to people.

    i have trained myself to force myself to say something when i don’t actually have the ability to form thoughts. i can fool people into thinking i’m present in a conversation. which is pretty fucked up! both for me and the other person.

    there is also... the way i can insert trauma into conversations. i’ll say something that is like a vague, 100 layers of bitterness cry for help. then later when i look back on’s not me at all. it’s not what i would have chosen to say. it doesn’t even make sense.

    i cannot into people

    yet. i have some tips.

    always respect people. respect their choices and their attitude. don’t ask for people to justify their choices or their attitude. always give time for people to open up on their own. give time to understand people. if you don’t vibe with someone, avoid them. if you feel like you can’t express yourself around a person, avoid them. if you end up alone, work on yourself. always respect people as if you are at work, because being social is work. it’s your job to present yourself in a certain way. your public face is your personal character.

    i can’t emphasize respect enough! some people demand a high level of respect and will kill you for it. you never know who someone may be. the key is to respect yourself on an equally high level and see that person as an equal. i can’t emphasize enough, never judge someone for what they do. no matter how repugnant you may find it. this is a matter of safety.
    • Like x 1
  3. townghost

    townghost mystery crab

    to make small talk, present yourself as a certain character. start with compliments and kindness toward the other person, see if they want to open up. be very forward and open. don’t look weird, be wearing anything weird, or be unclean. if the person wants to talk to you, let them talk, give your input on their topic, then change the topic to something relevant to you. now it’s your turn to talk. if the person talks too long and doesn’t give you a chance to talk, that’s a red flag. don’t become friends with that person. as you talk back and forth, if you like each other’s sense of humor and share interests or opinions or world views, that’s a potential friend. sometimes you just meet once and have a good conversation. don’t push the person into sharing contact information or going somewhere with you, that’s a red flag.

    what you want is to have several successful casual conversations until you become familiar with each other. the friendship may peter out, until you’re just saying hi to each other and slowly don’t talk at all, or it may develop as you decide to go somewhere together based on what you previously talked about, or help each other with something you have expertise on. always remember respect. don’t devalue yourself or the other person, remember you’re perfect equals no matter what differences you may have. every human is your equal.
    • Like x 1
  4. townghost

    townghost mystery crab

    exceptions to the rule:

    on “looking weird”, that doesn’t mean you can’t wear your own fashion or express yourself. sometimes your weird fashion is a great conversation starter! be wary of just trying to approach people because they look cool though. that can be seen as a shallow approach. don’t expect to have a conversation based on one passing compliment. you GIVE them a compliment, so if you were giving a gift, you wouldn’t expect anything in return. same goes for socially acknowledging people you find cool. that’s why it can be a red flag.


    sometimes the small talk goes so well that you instantly hit it off and decide to definitely meet again, and you’ll get contact information and decide where to meet. have fun be safe!


    on being a character: you don’t always have to be 100 authentic to make friends. you can actually protect your privacy by giving your public face. it takes time to work on who you are in public, and you can gauge reactions from many different people. it’s okay to mirror people a little bit to give them what they’re expecting and make them feel more secure. it’s important NOT to open up too much during small talk. giving too much information can seem desperate. it’s okay to generalize yourself and take inspiration from one of your favorite characters from movies or tv. that’s what people are familiar with, that’s what makes people feel comfortable. just give them a little bit of who you are, and you can adjust it as you feel comfortable. this is a lifesaver!
  5. jacktrash

    jacktrash spherical sockbox

    i assume by 'what they do' you mean what they do for a living, not how they behave.
    • Agree x 3
  6. townghost

    townghost mystery crab

    to be honest, i’m talking about people like drugs dealers and sex workers and stuff like that. to be honest it can be a behavior too, but you have the right to not interact with someone based on their behavior of course.
    • Agree x 1
  7. Alexand

    Alexand Rhymes with &

    ...I hope it's okay to ask really dumb questions for Social Advice Reasons here. :D;;;

    Here's the one on my mind right now: is it socially acceptable to sit on the floor in public spaces? By which I mean like, if you're in the hallway of a building, and you need to check something on your laptop, but there aren't any seats around you where you could sit down with your laptop. Is it okay to just sit against the wall, on the floor? Or does it depend on the type of sitting? For example, is it socially acceptable to squat (i.e. keeping your feet firmly planted on the floor) but not to sit (i.e. with your legs folded and your feet underneath your butt)? Or, can you sit with your legs folded, but not with your legs crossed?

    The reason I ask is because I sit on the floor in public spaces all the time, but I don't see other people doing it. I'm worried that it's because you're not Supposed To. I mean, I'm pretty sure you're not Supposed To lie on the floor in public...but I've been assuming that sitting is okay...

    (...I have a lot of questions in life that basically boil down to "is it socially acceptable to do [x thing] in public". >>;;)
  8. townghost

    townghost mystery crab

    it’s generally not considered proper to sit on the floor. the reason why is that people’s shoes touch the floor, so you can get “dirty” sitting that way. squatting is better because again, only your shoes touch the floor. sitting outside in a park is fine, though.
    • Like x 1
  9. Chiomi

    Chiomi Master of Disaster

    The only dumb question is the one that goes unasked, or some similar platitude? But really, I think that if you have a question asking it is only ever to the good.

    I think there are a couple levels of acceptable. Is anyone ever likely to ask you not to do it (as long as you're not blocking the way)? No. Acceptable on that front, and tbh I'd say if you've got shit to do just do it.

    But on the level of 'is it kinda weird'? Sometimes, depending on circumstances. I go to a fair number of conferences, and by afternoon on Day 2 people have zero fucks to give about most things and will be sitting on the floor in the hallway in their business professional clothes trying desperately to finish their powerpoint for five minutes from now. But usually, under non-conference/convention circumstances, people will more commonly find a seat, stand around awkwardly holding their laptop, do it on their phone, or promise to do it when they can sit down and then never follow up. Squatting would, I guess, be more expected than sitting, because less chance of mussing your clothes?

    In general, though, I think it'd fall into the broad category of "mildly awkward in some circumstances, but not outright socially unacceptable."
    • Agree x 4
    • Like x 1
  10. jacktrash

    jacktrash spherical sockbox

    it really depends on the public space. in schools and college buildings, libraries, and that sort of place, as long as you don't block traffic, it's totally cool. also in hotels and convention centers during a crowded event like a convention or conference.

    in places where retail type stuff is happening, like shopping malls and movie theaters, it's ok for short periods of time but you might be asked to move along and it's poor form to kick up a fuss. if you need to be sitting and someone asks you to move, ask them to help you find the nearest seating area, or explain the situation (e.g. "my mom told me to wait here, but my leg kinda went out on me and i need to rest it; if i go to the benches around the corner she can't see me. can i just hang out for another ten minutes?")

    in places where it's important to keep the traffic lanes open, like a hospital, do NOT sit on the floors.

    on the street, cops will eventually move you along and they might be jerks about it. except during street festivals and parades, in which case go for it. otherwise, find a park or some public stairs or something where you can't be accused of blocking traffic.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
    • Agree x 3
    • Like x 1
  11. jacktrash

    jacktrash spherical sockbox

    this kinda sounds like something a parent would say to a child because oh god don't make me have to get old gum out of those pants again. :P

    i mean, don't sit on the floor in the bus station, it's disgusting there. but i'm p sure chel isn't talking about the bus station. it's fine to sit on the floor in the airport. they vacuum those carpets every night.
    • Agree x 2
    • Like x 1
  12. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    I think everyone else has covered the question itself well already, but I wanted to echo Chiomi and mention that for the record, this exact kind of question is honestly one of the things I was thinking of when I suggested this thread! Not that being the OP makes me the thread police, but I've recently realized how valuable it is to have a place to ask questions that feel weirdly specific or dumb/awkward to have to outright ask about social norms and expectations, and that's part of why I thought having a thread would be nice. So yes, definitely on-topic.
    • Like x 6
  13. keltena

    keltena putting the fun in executive dysfunction

    Here's a question: How do you respond to compliments slipped into the middle of an otherwise separate conversation? For instance:

    • A teacher is asking me about my family. When I mention that my brother and I are close and don't really fight, she comments, "That's because you're such a nice and calm person."
    • Me and a few classmates are chatting about the class material, which parts are interesting/difficult/confusing, etc. While commiserating over difficult grammar rules, one classmate adds, "[Keltena]'s really good at grammar, though!"
    • I'm showing a relative something I wrote, since it's on a subject I thought they'd find interesting. I don't have trouble responding appropriately the first time they compliment my writing, but I'm not sure how to respond to them repeating the compliment over and over as they read through and talk about it.
    I know how to respond to a compliment in general, but this kind of situation keeps tripping me up, because I can't think of any smooth way to respond. If I thank them, it feels like I'd be essentially stopping (or even rewinding) the conversation for a moment to put focus solely on The Part Where You Said How Great I Was, which feels very awkward to me. But continuing the conversation naturally without really acknowledging/responding to the compliment also feels rude or awkward to me, especially in cases where the person sounds like they clearly intended it as a compliment. (And repeated compliments like the last example have the additional layer of "is it expected that I'll only respond to the first instance unless they say something new later, or is it rude if I don't respond to all of them?")

    So... what do you do in these situations? It seems entirely possible that either my instincts are wrong and one/both of the options I described would be fine, or there's a better way of handling it that I haven't considered, but I really can't tell.
  14. WolffyLuna

    WolffyLuna Active Member

    For the first two situations, I tend to go for something along the lines of "Thank you. [Continues talking about original subject]" Acknowledge the compliment, and then kinda-- push the conversation back to it's original topic.
    • Agree x 2
    • Useful x 1
  15. townghost

    townghost mystery crab

    it’s true, but that is how they taught us not to sit on the floor, right? it seemed the simplest way to put it. thanks guys for filling in my blind spots with your posts.
  16. sirsparklepants

    sirsparklepants feral mom energies

    I normally make an acknowledging noise and smile directly after the compliment even if the person who gave it is continuing on - there's generally a small space between sentences for you to jump in with a happy non-word noise ("aww", q happy-toned "mm!" or a quick laugh are all acceptable ime) which lets the compliment happen but the conversation flow. If they put the compliment at the end of what they were saying, I say "Thanks! (continues)" like what @WolffyLuna said. Repeated compliments I tend to nod and smile for after the first one, and when it feels like the conversation is wrapping up, I'll say something like "I really appreciated all your kind words, it was nice to hear" to acknowledge all of them as a whole.
    • Useful x 2
    • Agree x 1
  17. aetherGeologist

    aetherGeologist Well-Known Member

    What is the etiquette for giving creators fanwork at cons? Too creepy? It’s non-shippy fanart if that helps.
  18. jacktrash

    jacktrash spherical sockbox

    if they're in a position where they're expecting to interact with fans, absolutely do it. it's a lovely gesture and 100% they will be honestly happy.

    if they're working or just traveling from A to B, obvs don't interrupt them. but in a meet-and-greet, a book signing, etcetera? do it up.

    anecdata: i once gave jhonen vasquez an actual goddamn oil painting of him in the style of jthm. him: "it's great, but you made me white." me: "i made you blue. cuz you're undead." him: "oh, that works, right on."
    • Winner x 4
  19. WolffyLuna

    WolffyLuna Active Member

    Bringing knitting to a wedding to give my hands something to do: impolite or okay?
  20. hyrax

    hyrax we'll ride 'till the planets collide

    probably not during the actual ceremony, but before it starts and during the reception is probably fine!
    • Agree x 1
    • Useful x 1
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