Networking Tip: Forgive yourself your faux pas

Faux pas

I think of each conversation as a draft. A first draft. I have to, because otherwise I would be so mortified at my conversational faux pas that I might never open my mouth again. I have forgotten people’s names (even people I’ve met repeatedly). I have called people the wrong names. I told a writer how much I enjoyed her book, The Blacker the Berry. But she didn’t write it. Oops. I congratulated an illustrator on her Caldecott Honor. Which she did not receive. I have stood awkwardly by two people talking, trying to casually join their conversation. I’ve done it all. And it’s embarrassing. But…I try not to obsess about it! I figure that if I am genuinely open and friendly, it will all work out. Yes, people might think I’m not too bright! But I’m a writer. Conversation is not my strong suit. In the end, it’s about putting yourself out there. If you make a mistake in conversation, apologize and move on. Life is too short to spend a lot of time worrying about it.


About Laura Purdie Salas

children's writer, poet, reader, visiting author, speaker/teacher, mentor, copyeditor, freelance writer
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6 Responses to Networking Tip: Forgive yourself your faux pas

  1. Cindyb says:

    Oh, how you encourage me! These are exactly the kinds of situations I am afraid of doing, but now I will not despair over them. Forward!

  2. I’m glad I’ve already done the worst things for you, Cindy:>) Seriously, these ARE mortifying at the time, I can’t lie about it. But when I think about all the great conversations and connections and relationships I would have missed out on if I didn’t approach people (for fear of saying the wrong thing), I know that those mortifying moments are a small price to pay. Yes–forward!

  3. Start with “Hi, my name is…” Cliche, yes. Useful, though. If you are approaching other authors, remember that they may feel just as awkward as you do, because the written word is their thing, too. I have found it helpful at times to confess my awkwardness. To break the ice, you can always ask how the person knows the host or what brought them to the event (if they say “a taxi,” you know they have a sense of humor!). Yes, take a deep breath, approach someone, put your hand out for a shake, and say, “Hello.”

  4. I find it very comforting to know I’m not the only one who forgets someone’s name. Though my husband got a little upset…:-)

    (I was also happy to find your lovely newsletter in my inbox this morning! Thanks for a fun start to my day.)

    • You are in PLENTY of good company, Cathy. I never feel bad if it’s someone I’ve only met once. But I forget names of people I’ve met many times:>( But at least we’re not the only ones! Glad you enjoyed the newsletter. Thanks for letting me know:>)

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