Friday, January 8, 2010

Getting Along With Others

Being personable makes a WORLD of difference in what behavior workplace peers will tolerate.

And the great thing about us as Aspies is, if we can make "being sociable" our special interest for a time, then we can learn how to get along with people. It's not easy at all, and I find it very draining. BUT it can be done! We can learn from research (internet, etiquette, tv, etc), from interacting with each other (this group, our families, AAGW meetings and other "safe" places), and from PRACTICE.

I am a BIG fan of practice. I used to really hate travel, because I always like things to be the same and to be routine. BUT I now look forward to traveling for my job because each trip is a no-harm-no-foul way to practice meeting people, making them feel special, and getting them to talk about themselves. Those, along with the confidence it takes to strike up a conversation with a total stranger, are some of the skills it takes to get along with others.

If I'm not tired and on people overload, I practice talking to the people on the airplane. The shuttle driver, the person who does my tickets/keys/waitress, etc. I know I won't likely see these people ever again, so if I mess up then it's ok. I won't have impacted my life or my son's life.

The problem, at least for ME is: I can read articles/research all I want, but for some reason it takes practice, practice, practice to be able to learn social cues and learn when I've stepped on someone's toes. I'm getting much better, but sometimes I still act like an ape (such as calling someone out in front of everyone who was bringing outside food into Teaism). If any of you knew me 7 years ago, you'd definitely say I was 100% improved.

I find that reality tv helps, LOL, though I rarely have time to watch it.

This year is the first year I can say that I've done really well talking to people and "getting along with people" more times than I've flubbed it. I've learned a lot of interesting things about people I never would have learned, and it's just more pleasant than sitting by yourself lonely.

I wrote the above on an aspie-only message board where we were talking about how important it is to get along on the job. In spite of my other posts about being lonely, I have learned to make friends and get along with people. I can go somewhere and chat up someone and hang out for an evening and "not be alone."

BUT, what I need to work on now is developing close friendships- the kind where you can bare your soul and know that the person still accepts you the way you are. And for most of my life, I never cared about that (is that an Aspie trait?) but now I do. The "experts" say it takes about 2 years to fully vet someone and know that they are trustworthy enough to be in your "inner circle." So I'll keep being personable, keep being friendly, and keep retreating when I get into "people overload" rather than have a public meltdown), and maybe in a couple years, I'll have the close friendships I see others have.