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Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome with Ty Tashiro

Have you ever felt awkward in a social situation? In this episode, Dr. Dan’s guest is Ty Tashiro, Ph.D. the author of AWKWARD: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome.   A psychologist and interpersonal relationship expert, Ty Tashiro gives Dr. Dan and listeners an illuminating look at what it means to be awkward and how we can all embrace our personal quirks to harness our potential and more comfortably navigate this complex world.  

For awkward people (this includes adults and children), the simple act of navigating everyday situations can feel very overwhelming. Often unable to grasp social cues or master the skills and grace necessary for smooth interaction, they feel out of sync with those around them.  How can parents help themselves and their children embrace their awkwardness?

Growing up Ty Tashiro was awkward himself — he could do complex arithmetic in his head and memorize the earned run averages of every National League starting pitcher but he struggled during interactions with other kids and was prone to forgetting routine social expectations.  Dr. Dan and Dr. Tashiro explore Ty’s personal story, the differences between boys vs. girls as well as the nature vs. nurture origins of awkwardness. A highlight of the interview is how parents can feel comfort and find community knowing their children are not alone. Parents must be patient, supportive, and not overreact to their child’s awkwardness. Awkwardness can mean your child is passionate, driven, or even gifted.

Dr. Dan explains that most of us feel a little awkward sometime in our lives, and that awkwardness is not social anxiety. When a parent remains calm and gives children a social script while acting patiently they can teach their children how to feel empowered to better navigate the complexities of the social world.  Supporting our socially awkward children will help their self-esteem and potential.  And it can also foster empathy and kindness.

During the Parent Footprint moment, Ty talks about his own childhood interest in baseball statistics and how his passion could have been perceived as awkward or even worrisome for his parents.  But when his parents bought him a special encyclopedia he realized not only did his parents accept him but that they loved him unconditionally and they were really with him.  Decades later this anecdote is still a powerful one for Ty.

Ty Tashiro, Ph.D., is also the author of The Science of Happily Ever After.  His work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time.com, TheAtlantic.com, and on NPR and Sirius XM Stars radio. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota, has been an award-winning professor at the University of Maryland and University of Colorado, and has addressed [email protected], Harvard Business School, MIT’s Media Lab, and the American Psychological Association.  He lives in New York City.  For more information visit:  http://tytashiro.com/

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