This is the weirdest thing. I fancy myself as a real people person who can talk to anyone. I'm not like my sister Lori, who could tell her entire life story to a department store mannequin, but I'm a good talker and interact well. That's pretty safe to say.
Okay, so there's somebody I need to interact with occasionally and I'm not kidding, it is so freakin' awkward I can't wait for the exchange of communication to be over. Like whatever I say just kind of lies suspended in the air as if I verbally farted and they're waiting for the stench to dissipate. Forget making a joke of any kind--does not go over at all. As the conversation continues I feel so increasingly uncomfortable that I start stammering and it gets harder to spit out my words and then I realize that I'm sounding like an idiot, which only componds the problem. Then I start getting mad at myself because usually I don't give a shit what people think about me, but this one is just a hard nut to crack and I can't figure out how to deal with this person.
In the past I've known people who simply give you nothing back when you try to have a conversation with them. If you ask them a question, they'll answer politely, but don't return the volley. They don't ask you a question or comment any further, so you're stuck directing the conversation until someone else comes along and saves you. This is not the same thing; this person will offer more, but there's always a slight pause first, as if what I'm saying is so unbelievably off base they don't know how to respond.
When I was working in the field of corporate outplacement, I led job search workshops to folks who had just been let go from their jobs--talk about a tough crowd! But without fail, I was able to engage even the most angry and bitter participants. I remember one man in particular who was so pissed off that he just sat in the back of the room with his arms folded over his chest and an I'm-gonna-kill-someone expression on his face. At the end of our three days together, he hugged me.
The person I'm having trouble relating to is not someone I can avoid, is not an asshole and is actually nice. I'm not losing sleep over this, but I just think it's so odd that I'm a freakin' Dale Carnegie with the rest of the world but can't form a cohesive sentence when this one is around.
Have you ever had this problem communicating with someone? How did you handle it?