Always socially awkward himself, Tashiro has become an evangelist for his kind, penning a book of research positing that there’s an upside to all this nerding out, to the unemotional, hyper-focused qualities of people lacking in the social graces. Lavanya Ramanathan, Washington Post, about Ty Tashiro’s Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome
Psychologist Ty Tashiro is all too familiar with the personality trait of feeling and/or being awkward. Not only has he been there personally, but Tashiro’s investigation reveals that 15% of the rest of us also qualify.
Furthermore, even more of us have experienced awkwardness at least some of the time, and “the average person exhibits 32 percent of the characteristics associated with being socially awkward,” reports Amy Morin (Inc.).
Another thing: “Tashiro explains that being awkward may be in your genes. It’s estimated that it’s 50 percent inheritable in boys and 38 percent inheritable in girls. So it isn’t something you’re likely to outgrow or change overnight.” That is, if you even want to.
First, though, where do You fit in? Try taking his quick quiz and then read on. One of the things I learned about myself, for example:
You might not always be sure how to act in social situations, but that’s partly because you go to the beat of your own drummer. This random quality about you can be a real asset when it comes to finding a new way of doing things.
I then, of course, was encouraged to see the positive side and advised to take a look at the book Awkward for further explanation and understanding.
How can awkwardness manifest toward one’s benefit? Talent and ambition, even giftedness, as well as a penchant for systematic thought are a couple ways. Tashiro says, in fact, that being awkward is “awesome” in the following three ways, per Morin (see the Inc. link for further details):
- Awkward people see things a little different.
- Awkward people are passionate about specific subjects.
- Awkward people are geared for striking talent.
Want to put your awkwardness to the best uses? According to Kirkus Reviews Tashiro notes “that any diagnosis short of autism might be handled in-house or with the help of a good therapist.”
Seems Tashiro himself was tested but not deemed to be on the spectrum. “But he was decidedly different,” The Washington Post reports, adding, “He believes that autistic characteristics, which include poor social skills, turn up in the general population all the time and that the awkward simply have more of them.”
Tashiro affirms to Olga Khazan, The Atlantic, that awkwardness could actually be considered “sub-subclinical autism.” Missing emotion cues and social subtleties, for example, are not only common among those with Asperger’s and autism but also among the awkward.
If you are significantly enough awkward that the above info resonates, Tashiro has some advice if you’re interested. From his chat with Olivia Blair, Independent:
‘Every awkward person I’ve known who has figured out how to become socially proficient or even socially fluent, has been a great observer of the likeable people around them. They will watch how they greet people, the ways they respond to others that show a sincere interest, and even how to wrap up a conversation well,’ he says.
Tashiro also suggests being aware of your manners as most rules of etiquette exist to smooth social interactions.