For someone who works in the communication/public relations industry I’m decidedly not a people person. Really, one of the best ways to ruin my week is tell me I’ve got to attend a social function and hobnob with the people there in the name of fostering good corporate/public relations. Work the room, you know – make contacts, give out calling cards, talk about the company, all while determinedly sticking a smile on your face and occasionally letting out your best society laugh. I’m just not the kind of person who thrives in that kind of setting. I generally end up staying in one corner with the people I came with, nibbling on some pastry and just letting my eyes travel around the room, which is of course not exactly what they mean when they say you should “circulate.”
I don’t even make friends easily; it takes me quite a lot of time to grow close to another person, so it would really be a stretch to throw me into a roomful of people and expect me to establish some sort of rapport with them. With a script or prepared presentation, probably – if I know what I’m talking about. With an interview guide, yes, give me an interview assignment anytime. But with a cocktail/ hors d’oeuvres in one hand and society laugh at the ready, no, I’m sorry, but no.
I’m not a snob or anything like that. I think I’m basically, well, shy (yeah, really!). Whether it’s the result of genetic makeup, growing up bullied by three older sisters, or maybe even growing up nurturing insecurity over a chipped front tooth (oh yes, childhood – a minefield of hang ups) I don’t know, but I’m shy, at least around strangers. Also, my inability to interact in social situations is probably a combination of shyness and a natural desire to ensure that when I say anything it will be the brightest and wittiest thing the room has heard. Unfortunately, and a think a lot of people will agree with me here – the brightest and wittiest thing the room has heard will occur to you long after the perfect moment for saying it has gone – let’s say, while you’re on the cab home, or removing your earring, or lying in bed half-asleep. Or maybe even not at all.
It’s something that one gets better at with practice, I guess. It’s just that I don’t know if I want to go through all the hassle.