Fear of “You can’t sit with us” and the empty table
If you’re an introvert, you are probably a table ranker. When you walk into a room, you immediately rank the tables in the order that you prefer to be seated. The system is simple enough with one being your preferred seating and five being the please don’t seat me there section. Let’s take a look at a sample table ranking system for introverts.
#5–The Guest Table… If you are looking forward to an uncomfortable time, choose the table reserved for special guests. If you are lucky enough to be seated at this table, you are a nervous wreck that you will have to engage in small talk. Even worse, you are concerned that your first impression will be a reflection on the entire organization represented (whomever that might be).
#4–The Quiet Table… This table is filled with other introverts. You would actually like to sit at this table but you don’t. Why? Because it is noticeably quiet and you think that everyone in the room will be looking at you as you take your seat. To the social butterfly, there is uncomfortable silence. To you and the other introverts at the table, there is an appropriate level of silence and a relaxing lack of gut wrenching small talk.
#3–The Jabber Table … This table is filled with people who really are outgoing and actively engage with everyone. At least one person at the table is a walking conversation starter. The occupants of this table are never silent. At least one person is happy to tell stories solely to hear himself talk or entertain others (not really sure which one). You don’t mind sitting at this table because there is so much chit-chat going on that no one even notices you are there.
#2–The Peeps Table… The best feeling in the world (even as an adult) is for someone to wave you over to a table and say “hey, we have a spot for you here.” The Peeps Table is filled with people you know and genuinely enjoy talking to. The conversations feel meaningful and are not strained. There may be silence, but everyone is okay with it. In most situations, this is your first choice. However, there are times when you prefer another table… mostly because you have a sense of humor.
#1–The Empty Table… When you don’t know anyone else in the building, this is the table for you. It is situated in the middle of the room. As the doors open for seating, you make a bee-line for this table so that you can get the perfect seat… the one opposite of the speaker. You know that people who sit at this table will not be talking. Why? Either they are totally interested in what the speaker has to say or they are coming in late and trying to be seated without drawing attention to themselves (usually the later). If you didn’t wear your gab hat, this is the best table in the house!
Hopefully, this sample table ranking system has helped you to do a bit of personal reflection. Since you know that there are pros and cons to every seat in the house, you can squash your anxiety about your table assignment. Now, regardless of where you are seated, you can be mentally prepared for social interactions. And, most importantly, you can enjoy being seated at table number one because you know the perks of an empty table.
Please note that this article is not a reflection of research-based findings.
by writer, Tommeka Semien
Tommeka Semien is a non-profit professional, mom of three and two extras, operator of LN2 Consulting, freelance writer and blogger at www.luckyno2.com.