Awkward | Ty Tashiro

Summary of: Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome
By: Ty Tashiro


Dive into the unique world of socially awkward individuals through this summary of Ty Tashiro’s book, ‘Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome’. Discover how these individuals perceive their surroundings and social interactions differently than their non-awkward counterparts. Learn about the challenges they face in the workplace, social settings, and family life, as well as in developing and maintaining friendships and romantic relationships. The book also delves into the neurological aspects of social awkwardness and how it can be a strength in certain areas. Get ready to embrace the world of awkwardness and appreciate its hidden potential!

The World through Awkward Eyes

Awkward people perceive their environment differently than non-awkward people. They struggle to see the big picture, but excel in perceiving certain parts of it with great clarity. When organizations focus too narrowly on measurable results, they can frustrate and limit their highest potential members, including those who are awkward. These individuals prefer to work alone in areas that have their own logical structure. Awkward people have a passionate desire to comprehend fully the subjects they find interesting and often see issues that other people overlook. They tend to work in back-office jobs, rather than directly serving customers.

Awkwardness and Social Exclusion

This book highlights that awkward high achievers are often so focused on their interests that they miss important social cues. They may not seek popularity but rather understanding and acceptance from others. The author argues that these individuals need guidance on how to improve their social awareness to avoid exclusion from friendship groups. Social outcomes are seen as magical rather than predictable by awkward people, creating a challenging situation for them. While some of these situations can be amusing, they can lead to social isolation, which is as damaging as not having access to food or water.

Decoding Social Interactions

The human brain has two distinct networks – social and nonsocial, each serving a unique purpose. Awkward people often display irregular patterns in brain imaging studies, indicating they must decode social information much like solving an equation. They need to learn to recognize facial expressions and linguistic signs to decode social cues. Ralph Adolphs and his associates discovered that non-awkward people look at a person’s eyes to read emotions in contrast to awkward people who tend to focus on the area around the mouth. While awkward individuals may struggle with recognizing irony or humor, they have an advantage in figuring out characters’ perceptions and feelings from something written. The lives of talented people may be far from perfect, and this imperfection can lead to socially inappropriate remarks in awkward individuals, causing them to fear saying anything that might offend someone.

The Paradox of Emotions

Emotions can appear fragile, yet offer opportunities for better relationships and increased understanding. Awkward individuals may react differently than expected towards various situations, causing confusion. Some people disregard emotions for their lack of aptitude, while others worry about emotions hindering rationality. This paradoxical nature of emotions challenges individuals to perceive them as both a strength and a weakness.

Understanding Awkwardness

Awkward individuals should not let their social clumsiness define them. The ability to understand someone else’s social mind is a crucial element in developing social skills. People with good social skills develop a theory of how others think and feel almost unconsciously. In contrast, awkward individuals find it more challenging to comprehend someone else’s social mind, even if they’ve previously interacted with that person.

Friendship Principles

Thomas Berndt of Purdue University discovered that people who are well-liked adhere to three principles: fairness, kindness, and loyalty. John Gottman and his associates at the University of Washington found that people keep track of others’ actions and maintain an “emotional bank account.” For every negative act, four or five generous acts are required to maintain positive relationships. Gratitude motivates us to reciprocate kind acts. Awkward people need to deposit small acts of kindness in their friends’ emotional accounts to ensure likability and a positive image.

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