12

I find that there are some situations where I am not sure whether the other person enjoys my presence enough to warrant further interaction. For example, if you meet someone during a talk at the end of a conference, talk with them for 5-10 minutes, and then get up to leave, do you wait for them and walk out with them or would they wonder why you want to walk out with them if you just met? Or if some people you met at the conference walk in line behind you while at the airport, is it acceptable to join in on their conversation? Or if some people that you just met are talking about going out with some people that they know a bit better and you're standing there awkwardly, is it acceptable to ask if you can tag along?

I fear that in these situations, if I do act, then they may think something along the lines of "I barely know this guy, why is he (any of the above or similar actions)?" Most people will say yes to be nice the first couple times, but I don't want to be with/inconvenience them if they'll be thinking the above text.

5

This will be different in every situation, as people are all different, but in general, if you are in a queue and overhear conversation, you shouldn't join in unless invited. Exceptions may include specific topics that mention you, mutual fans of sports teams etc.

If you just meet some people and they are about to head out with friends, assume you are not invited so say your goodbye. You may find they then ask you if you do want to come along.

If you are having a one to one conversation and it is not yet finished, then continuing to talk as you leave should be fine. You could ask, though, in order to definitely get an answer. Something like, "I'm really interested in your viewpoint on this. Shall we continue the discussion over a coffee/beer/whatever?"

3

I fear that in these situations, if I do act, then they may think something along the lines of "I barely know this guy, why is he (any of the above or similar actions)?"

Obviously, you do care about others being well, I think this is a very noble trait.

The examples you offer do not seem intrusive to me, you already made contact at the conference, and they always have the choice to withdraw from the conversation.

You could offer meta-communicative questions like

Mind me joining your conversation?

to get an official invitation.

Waiting for them, you could say something along

So, did you attend last years XY conference at Sydney, too?

... which would probably be understood as a friendly and interested way to keep the contact going - in my experience, most people do value this, and if there are specific reasons that they prefer not to, they’ll find ways to let you know in a friendly and polite manner.

IMO, the awkward feeling you describe is a by-product of social interactions with strangers for about 85% of humankind (the other 15% being on the far end of the extraversion-scale will experience this when not in contact with others ;-))

I’d recommend “taming” this feeling by...

  1. interacting with strangers just for the sake of it

  2. make it your goal of eliciting a (small) “no” response from strangers at will every day.

The second suggestion can teach us a great deal: What it takes to get a no, how friendly and politely most people decline requests (use this to learn declining gracefully!), and how people look and talk when they decline.

You will train yourself to decode nonverbal cues of acceptance and declining that will serve you when joining in a conversation with people you barely know etc. and thus make you more secure and confident around people.

And you will experience that being told “no” feels a bit awkward at first, and then starts being less important every time you get that response.

3

You are fundamentally asking two questions, that I believe have different answers:

Am I inviting myself unnecessarily ?

It isn't really possible to know how other people interpret or will react to you inviting yourself in. Some people love engaging others and being engaged by anyone, whereas some prefer keeping to themselves. If you don't know much about the people you engage you can't guess what they will think.

How do I tell if I'm being clingy ?

On the other hand, once you engaged someone there are a few hints you can pick up to figure out wether they think you're annoying or not:

If the other party seems disinterested in what you say and seems to constantly concentrate on something else than you, they're probably not too eager to stay around.

To realize that they aren't interested, look for the small details: Are they answering with short dismissive sentences? Do they constantly look around or pay attention to something else? Are they facing away from you?

If yes, just let them be.

Conclusion

IMO you shouldn't be afraid to engage others for whatever reason and to invite yourself wherever you can. However be also ready to drop off and let people be as easily as possible. If you have any doubt on wherever you're bothering others, don't push your luck and step off.

  • 1
    @Belle-Sophie thanks for the feedback, I didn't want to actually hilight the sentence, so I just added some detail on what I meant to give it more importance. – everyone Apr 17 '18 at 9:10
  • could the down voters please give me more feedback as to what is problematic about my answer ? – everyone May 6 '18 at 16:55
1

You may be overthinking this a little. In the situation you are describing you have little to lose by asking if you can tag along. The people are virtual strangers, so if you misjudge something you'll likely never see them again. Yet at the same time, if you are attending an event together you do have at least something in common, so you have every reason to believe that they will be welcoming.

Imagine what the world would be like if there were NO social awkwardness. We would probably talk to everybody we encountered, even if it was just a few words. We'd say hello to people you pass in the street instead of looking at our shoes. But the way the world is means that we often avoid the small encounters and are constantly on the lookout for big, meaningful ones - and that is a shame, because we can all get something positive out of any human contact, no matter how brief it may be. If you initiate a conversation and it goes nowhere, so what?

To directly answer your question of how can I tell if you're inviting yourself unnecessarily, I would say that you probably can't. At least not before you make contact. Just put your fears aside, start a conversation, ask to tag along, or whatever. In the situation you describe, many people will be in the same position as you - hoping to tag along with somebody else - or at the least they may likely have been in the same situation in the past. That is not to say that everybody will be friendly and welcoming, sad to say that some people aren't like that. But that is their problem, not yours. If they don't want to talk, that will be apparent. If that is the case, just say it was nice talking to you and end it there.

0

In all the situations you described, it should be possible to just ask. Try to ask open-ended questions.

Example:

if you meet someone during a talk at the end of a conference, talk with them for 5-10 minutes, and then get up to leave, do you wait for them and walk out with them or would they wonder why you want to walk out with them if you just met?

Just ask: Do you mind continuing this conversation on the way out?

Or if some people you met at the conference walk in line behind you while at the airport, is it acceptable to join in on their conversation?

Sorry, but I can´t help overhearing your conversation. May I join in?

Or if some people that you just met are talking about going out with some people that they know a bit better and you're standing there awkwardly, is it acceptable to ask if you can tag along?

Special case - here it could be better to just hint that you are interested and wait for them to invite you: Sounds like fun, what you guys are planning. If you want to be a bit more direct: Guys, I´d love to tag along with you sometime, i you´ll have me, of course.

Take the hint, if your conversation partner makes up excuses to reject you. Key is do ask this casually and accept a no.

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