The upside of awkwardness: Writer Melissa Dahl explains why we cringe, and why it can be a good thing

It’s hard to fault anyone for thinking that awkwardness is to be avoided. The familiar, sinking feeling of knowing you’ve embarrassed yourself does not rank high on the hierarchy of desirable emotions.

Still, says journalist Melissa Dahl, there is something to be gained in embracing awkwardness—and the much-hated feeling can bring us together. Dahl, a senior editor at New York Magazine’s The Cut, is the author of Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness, out today from Portfolio Books. She’s spent two years studying awkwardness, which means immersing herself in the psychological research, but also putting herself to the test by talking to strangers on the subway and reading her seventh-grade diary in front of a crowd.

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Author: Angela Chen

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