Book: Good Awkward
By Henna Pryor
Reviewed by: Glain Roberts-McCabe
In Good Awkward, author and TEDx speaker Henna Pryor invites her readers to “embrace the embarrassing and celebrate the cringe to become the bravest you.” The book is a fast-paced and conversational 155 plus pages divided into three main acts: Where awkward comes from; The mental myths and blocks; and, how to apply good awkward. Packed with stories from Pryor’s own experience as well as various celebrities, athletes, consultants and clients, this book will give any reader many highly relatable moments.
The opening act sets the stage with an exploration of awkwardness, why awkward feelings are highly subjective and how embracing authentic awkwardness can be a career accelerator. Within the second act, Pryor helps readers challenge some of the myths that we hold about awkwardness (e.g. it makes you look weak), why other people aren’t thinking about you as much as you think they are; and, provides some reflection points to help readers begin to reframe their thoughts and feelings.
In act three, the reader is given a number of ways that to embrace the ‘SUCK’: start Small, then get increasingly Uncomfortable with bigger risks; cross the ‘Cringe Chasm’ by focusing on self-improvement and goals to make the leap; and, Keep perspective by recalibrating expectations. The final chapter also provides ideas on how to inject more “good awkward” into teams by leveraging some of the principles of improv.
As someone who’s repeatedly been told that my self-deprecating sense of humour gets in my way and that I’m “too humble,” I was interested to read Good Awkward to see if I could change some of my own inner narrative around what it means to be taken seriously in a field overrun with PhDs and credentials without resorting to being too serious all the time. Happy to say that the lightbulb went off for me as I read the section on how to use self-deprecating humour effectively (turns out, I wasn’t). This is a really quick read and I enjoyed the mix of real-world examples and the author’s own personal experiences mixed with the research that underpins her hypothesis that being awkward can be the career differentiator you didn’t know you needed.
As always, I’m a fan of practical strategies and this book delivered. There are some very simple suggestions outlined throughout the book and some self-reflection questions that will certainly make you pause. (Remember, simple isn’t always easy… a lot of Pryor’s tips involve working on shifting your inner narrative). As an added bonus, I learned a number of new terms. My favourite being ‘faux-nerability’ (fake vulnerability) which is the act of sharing oneself for the sake of manipulating others. (Ick!)
I also learned that when I once tripped on my face coming out of an elevator for a job interview, I unintentionally benefited from the “Pratfall Effect.” My dramatic entrance endeared me to the President’s EA who became a wonderful champion and encouraged me to go for a promotion only a few months after I had been hired. And, let’s face it, any author who can turn a Ferraro Rocher chocolate into a visual to explain a business concept has my vote!
Recommended for anyone who may be looking for ways to reframe and move past awkward and embarrassing experiences.
You can learn more about Good Awkward by joining Glain and author Henna Pryor for our October Ask the Expert session on October 26, 2023. Register here.