Dear Aunty B,
I went to a fundraiser last week. I had to psyche myself up to go as I hate walking into a large function where I am unlikely to know anyone.
I approached the first group nearest the door, which was a group of women and introduced myself. Then I asked one of the women what she did and why she was here, which is what I was taught to do in a workshop I did on social anxiety.
I was then told that I was pushy and it was very rude to “penetrate” a group and try to “establish a hierarchy”. Then she turned her back on me, leaving me standing there like a shag on a rock (my worst nightmare).
Is she a bitch, or have I failed to read the social signs once again?
It all depends on the context. If the fund raiser was for “Unemployed Mums” and you bowled up and asked a group of them what they did, then, maybe yes, that’s a touch insensitive.
But if it was a chamber of commerce function where you are all busily swapping business cards, then it is her – not you – who has misread the social signs.
No one likes to be rebuffed – and for your information, most people hate walking into a room where they don’t know anyone.
But you were. So what? You took a risk. You didn’t immediately talk about yourself but showed interest in the other person. So, good for you.
If you feel anxious next time you have to “penetrate” a large group, think of all the times you have gone into a social situation and your techniques have worked.
I do think that, no matter the context, she was rude. But may I make one suggestion? Before you launch immediately into the what and the why, why not try a more innocuous remark first.
Your Aunty B