The Truth Behind "Geeking Out"
You know that moment. You’re talking enthusiastically about a topic that you’re passionate about. The words are coming fast and without effort, and every point you make seems to fill you with more energy and confidence.
And then, just as you’re at the apex of momentum, you pause to catch your breath and… you see the other person. They’re staring at you like a deer caught in the headlights. Maybe they’re fidgeting nervously and trying to find a way to change to subject.
And immediately the wind goes out of your sails and the embarrassment and self-doubt set in, and you start wonder what you did wrong. You start to wonder if it’s childish to be so passionate about something so trivial or obscure. You think maybe it’s abnormal to be so excited about the topic since nobody else seems to be.
Here’s something important you should know: Your passion wasn’t the problem.
In general, people enjoy witnessing passion and excitement. Most of us would much rather be part of an enthusiastic conversation than an ambivalent one. In fact, the more energy a discussion has, the more we want to join in!
…and that brings us back to the “deer in the headlights” stare.
What most often makes the other person uncomfortable in this type of situation is that they want to participate in the discussion, but don’t know how to contribute.
Maybe they feel like they don’t know enough about the topic. Maybe they don’t understand it at all. Maybe their opinion is the opposite of yours, and don’t know how to disagree. Or maybe they completely agree and can’t think of anything to add.
Now having said that, does that make this kind of moment any less uncomfortable? Probably not. It can still be a challenge to steer the conversation in a way that helps others feel like they can contribute. It takes effort. But knowing what’s really going on can help.
Bottom line, when this kind of situation comes up, don’t spend your mental and emotional energy apologizing for your passion. Doing that just makes both of you more uncomfortable, and it associates negativity with something you love. Instead, focus your energy where it will do the most good: Encouraging and enabling the other person to engage.