"Consulting a wide array of works, from self-help books to psychological and anthropological studies, Pryor outlines the ubiquitous nature of awkwardness in modern society . . . For many readers accustomed to the relentless cool-scrutiny of our online world, Pryor’s warm, intelligent reassurances will be much appreciated."
—KIRKUS REVIEW (starred review)
“I feel seen! In Good Awkward, Pryor puts her finger on something most of us are afraid to admit—we don’t always know the right thing to say, our attempts at small talk fall flat, we get shot down when we venture into new territory. I found myself nodding along to the many relatable examples of how we stifle ourselves because we are afraid of being anything but the polished professionals we want the world to see. But Pryor explores how embracing our inner awkwardness can actually help us perform better at work—and in life. When we free ourselves from the fear of looking less than perfect, we realize that our awkwardness can be a superpower. Highly recommended!”
—KAREN DILLON, Former Editor of Harvard Business Review and New York Times bestselling coauthor of How Will You Measure Your Life?
“Smart, witty, and full of fresh insights—Henna takes us on a ride of rediscovering an emotion that we all feel, but rarely give the attention it deserves. Great leaders in the modern era need to embrace their awkward to build communities and make meaningful contributions. Thankfully, Good Awkward is here to show us how to do it.”
—LINDSAY KAPLAN, Cofounder and Chief Brand Officer, Chief
“Good Awkward is a revolutionary and game-changing book. If you get stuck because you worry about saying the wrong thing or the thought of sitting through an awkward silence is unbearable, this book (and Henna Pryor) will change your life.”
—MICHAEL PORT, New York Times and WSJ bestselling author of Steal the Show
“If mental blocks around awkwardness have kept you from taking the next right step in your career and life, you need to read Good Awkward. Henna Pryor combines insightful research and a playful writing style to bring a fresh perspective to taking the professional risks we all need to take to succeed—in work and in life.”
—RUSSELL WILSON, American NFL Quarterback, Denver Broncos
“Henna Pryor manages to hit all the high notes—smart AND relatable, authoritative AND self-deprecating, vulnerable AND expert. When a book on ‘success’ is both thought-provoking AND laugh-out-loud funny, well, that’s pretty special. And bonus points for the vivid visual descriptions of her own awkward experiences. Given all but a rare few of us secretly harbor some feelings of awkwardness, my wish is that everyone read this gem of a book—and then relax a little bit, worrying less about how others see us and more about showing up as our awkward, real selves.”
—KAREN WRIGHT, Master Coach and CEO of Parachute Executive Coaching
“Whip-smart. Funny. Insightful. Inspirational. If awkwardness has held you back and you’d rather use it as an advantage at work and in life, READ THIS BOOK!”
—JOANNA LOHMAN, Former US Women’s National Soccer Team Player and Mental Performance Coach
“Success requires courage. But how do you overcome the awkwardness that often comes with taking risks, facing challenges, and stepping out of your comfort zone? In her brilliant book, Henna Pryor offers a practical and playful guide to becoming the bravest you. Timely and refreshing, Good Awkward helps you turn your kryptonite into a superpower!”
—SANYIN SIANG, Duke UniversityProfessor and CEO Coach and Advisor
“Being human inevitably means being awkward. Thankfully, Henna Pryor has given us a highly entertaining and substantive guide to why that’s important, both personally and professionally. You’ll learn how to turn even the worst awkward moments into the best parts of what makes you who you are.”
—TAMSEN WEBSTER, Author and Message Designer
“Good Awkward reassures us that awkwardness is normal and provides a path through the cringe to the connections, contributions, and conquests that lie on the other side.”
—LIANE DAVEY, Organizational Psychologist and author of The Good Fight
“Humorous, insightful, and practical! Henna gives us permission, as well as an instructional guide, to change mindsets and create better interactions.”
—FOTINI ICONOMOPOULOS, Speaker and author of Say Less, Get More
Pryor outlines a strategy to make awkwardness work to your advantage in this self-help book.
In her nonfiction debut, the author, a workplace performance expert, speaker, and executive coach, explores the nature of feeling awkward, questioning where it comes from and observing how people typically react to it. Pryor likens the sensation to a balancing act, with risk tolerance on one side and confidence, experience, and, especially, conformity on the other. The fulcrum is a quality the author refers to as “EEE”: Easily Empathetically Embarrassed. Consulting a wide array of works, from self-help books to psychological and anthropological studies, Pryor outlines the ubiquitous nature of awkwardness in modern society (“Even if you’ve lived a pretty charmed life with relatively few uncertainties,” she writes, referring to the Covid-19 pandemic, “the beginning of 2020 blew up that track record for every damn one of us”). She notes the high social costs associated with awkwardness (“we avoid it like the plague and work hard to eliminate it at all costs”), but she insists that embracing awkwardness is perfectly natural, even on an evolutionary level—she asserts that if somebody feels awkward in a social interaction they should give their brain “a little nod of gratitude” because registering wary awkwardness in such circumstances is exactly what the brain’s designed to do.
In the course of fluidly readable chapters full of insets and numbered points, the author lays out dozens of approaches to dealing with the “mental blocks” that people tend to put up in their own minds regarding awkward moments or situations. Throughout the text, Pryor takes an easy-going, approachable stance, regularly assuring her readers that she herself has a long history with awkwardness, asserting that if she can work through some of the most self-defeating aspects of it, so can they. At every point, she stresses that awkwardness is a natural reaction to uncertain situations; she contrasts this with overconfidence, which the author identifies as a weakness. “Feeling awkward means you’re taking chances,” she writes in a typically encouraging line, “and I love that look on you.” She reassures her readers that the judgment of others is seldom as bad as people think it is, owing to a psychological phenomenon known as “the illusion of transparency”—in reality, others can’t read our insecurities as well as we assume they can. Pryor is wonderfully convincing when pointing out how much of a difference that knowledge should make to how self-critical we are—as she spicily puts it, “Most people don’t give a rat’s arse about how you look or what you’re doing.” Pryor notes that due to social media’s amplifying effect, we now live in an era of “cringe,” when it seems like the slightest awkward moment will be broadcast around the world. The author also argues that “bravery requires being off balance,” and that real growth can be achieved only by occasionally feeling the awkwardness of not knowing what you’re doing. For many readers accustomed to the relentless cool-scrutiny of our online world, Pryor’s warm, intelligent reassurances will be much appreciated.
A well-researched and well-designed call to embrace awkwardness.