A post by benjasattva
and subsequent conversations with Erin about its subject matter. Sorry, his post is friends-locked, so I cannot link you over.
It appears to me that there are people who can detach themselves from their social interactions and gauge how things are going and what they could do to affect it in a reasonably objective manner. That is, they seem to have a meter on the inside of their head that tells them whether they're making any forward progress (in romantic or platonic directions), and what a good course of conversation/reaction/&c. would be.
I am not one of those people. Generally all my planning ends once I actually start talking with a person, and even then, it's minimal: "What would be the least annoying/disquieting way to get this person's attention?" "Are they likely to be in their current conversation for too much longer?" "Are they single and/or attracted to my gender [if they are female and I'm interested, of course]?"
Once in the conversation, I run entirely on autopilot. Whether I bring things up is based solely on their relevance to the topic at hand and whether there's a "slot" available for me (Oh goodness, I just used TDMA terminology...). While I have a rough idea of when I'm making someone uncomfortable, I can't really assess my current status in their worldview until long after the conversation is over and I've had the ability to observe their reactions to me and compare them to their reactions to others, and where I judge them in that person's hierarchy.
This, of course, does not hold via IM (but can during email).
Which side of this social divide do you sit? Is it possible to jump to the aware side without losing the apparent spontaneous character? Am I the only one like this? (Of course not!)