Coping with Conversation

Social interaction is like navigating a maze.  One wrong turn can lead to disheartening rejection.  But, a lot of difficulties arise from misinterpretation and misunderstanding.  These are some tricks I use to try to get through successfully.

Take charge of social situations.  Social interactions are shaped by both participants.  If someone is being grumpy, be kind to them.   How the other person acts does not determine how you act and there is no rule that one must follow the other’s lead.  Stay true to yourself.

Listen and think about what the other has said.  There is a pressure to respond quickly in conversation; resist it.  Often it is hard to understand the context.  This can lead to an inappropriate response.  If you’ve got nothing to say or need more time, try repeating what the other has said in a different way.  This can result in the other revealing more information which can help you to contextualize their comment.

Don’t be afraid of disagreement.  People are not always going to see things the way you do.  You don’t need to convince them otherwise.   It’s okay, their differing view does not invalidate your experience.

Keep in mind that you never really know what’s going on in someone’s mind.  Don’t behave as though you do.  Respond to the other’s words,  rather then trying to figure out any hidden meanings.  That’s not to say there aren’t hidden meanings, just that you don’t have to figure them out.   You can try, but you may get it wrong and that could lead you further down the path of miscommunication.

Verbal interactions can be overwhelming.  There is so much going on in even a casual exchange.  It can take me hours or even days to understand the true implications of a conversation.  That’s not something the will change, but these strategies have helped me cope.





48 thoughts on “Coping with Conversation”


    • Hyperborean on April 9, 2015

      Very sound advice. Much of it applies to NTs as well as people with AS.

    • Amity on April 11, 2015

      Nice article androbot01, thanks for sharing your tips.

    • djteamcyber on April 12, 2015

      This is very helpful, I will try this. Thank you

    • infilove on April 12, 2015

      I think it’s easy to overlook the fact that a simple conversation- even a quick few sentence exchange is indeed very in-depth and complex. I think this can cause many people to beat them selves up for thinking it was overwhelming.

      • androbot01 on April 17, 2015

        That’s so true. There is so much going on in an exchange – verbal and non-verbal. Even just passing someone while walking can be confusing for me. It is overwhelming. And frustrating because I never really feel that I know what is going on. I try not to beat myself up to it and accept the way I am.

    • narcolepticpenguin on April 20, 2015

      One thing growing up on the spectrum,that helped me alot gain confidence with talking to people was, I would practice not breaking eye contact with a mirror,also sunglasses can help,just knowing that they cant see your eyes can help. also I watched a lot of stand up comedy,if you can make people laugh they will certainly listen even if you come off as a bit akward

    • kraftiekortie on April 24, 2015

      Thanks, Androbot1!

      I will keep your advice in mind–especially when I blurt out nonsense when there’s actually nothing to say.

      Sometimes, silence could be as eloquent as a great speech.

      • androbot01 on April 25, 2015

        Silence is a powerful tool.

    • Loborojo on May 11, 2015

      I still catch myself, again and again, of talking and talking and leaving no room for the other. I realise that even with people I barely know who just invited me to come over for a drink. I talked to him for an hour, half way I realised his friends who had only told me their names, had been sitting there without being involved in the conversation. I apologised for it when i realised it.

    • saltvand on June 2, 2015

      Great advice:-) It is somewhat similar to my conversation strategies, which I wish I had learned 20 years earlier.

    • conchscooter on July 1, 2015

      Very helpful. I try to remember most NTs forget these encounters soon after they happen and don’t keep running the tape in their heads like I do.

    • bobbybaggio on July 2, 2015

      Really useful advice. Thanks for sharing.

    • rick Walker on July 4, 2015

      Yes to all you said. I’d like to say that most aspies are capable of being highly sincere and caring. This goes a long way to developing deep relationships. Listen to people. It’s amazing how they will open up. With warm connections comes intuitive interactions. People who love you often don’t care much about things like eye contact. We need to realize that we can be choosy in the friend department. Also work is a great place for sincerity, caring and honesty to shine through. People I managed over the decades generally eventually respected me for being a fun, happy, caring, competent person who obviously took pride in being quirky. Of course I worked in Seattle which is somewhat aspy friendly.

    • rick Walker on July 4, 2015

      Also, remember people are not like us. They are manipulative with hidden motives. Find good people who aren’t very prejudiced. Learn to trust them if they prove themselves. Life is way too short to waste on ignorant jerks. And as hard as it is to imagine, the majority of people lie to themselves and others about many things. This goes way beyond white lies. Of course most of these people consider themselves to be good. Remember what Jesus said: “don’t caste your pearls before swine.” And there are plenty of neurtotypicals who are genuine and non-judgemental. Just be natural and genuine yourself.

    • valen1234 on July 30, 2015


    • tp2sad on August 21, 2015

      What are your suggestions for a caring school environment for fha kids?

    • tp2sad on August 21, 2015

      I mean so they can stay genuine without being bullied

    • miakris on September 17, 2015


      I have heard this Speech over and over again!

      Who wrote this is wrong!

      Be yourself! Maybe you are american. Then I just say: Be yourself!

      If it is difficult, then it is their fault.

      Be yourself and be Nice.

      And if you are like me, Your life will og every wrong way.

      Please do not give up.

      I have been everthing and tried everything.

      I want to og Fishing With some Nice People.

      I am smart and I am good.


    • esoterica181 on October 13, 2015

      Hello, I liked reading this article. Unfortunately, it doesn’t capture the hardest part about conversation for me which is tainted by depression and can be characterized as “what’s the f’ing point.”

    • pinksparklecandy on December 3, 2015

      its alway been hard for me to talk to peple i try but its too hard and once they know i got autsim they all go away :(

    • jandkinthesouth on December 9, 2015

      Thank you for the article. I am new at all this and everything you wrote was very helpful to me.

    • bagnoschiumadipino on January 4, 2016

      If I think about what has been said, by the time I understand it the conversation topic has changed and it is far too late for a reply to what I just understood or even for bringing the topic back by repeating the comment.. This is just one of my problems

    • IgA on February 22, 2016

      I get tired when I have to verbally interact with people for more than 5 minutes if the topic is 100% social. I can talk longer if it is task related, but can’t work and talk at the same time — the talking has to be done before a task begins and/or after the task ends. I devote all my attention to the task, because I want to do a good job. I mess up when forced to do both together. People get mad at me for not being able to do both together, and stopp cooperating. I try to explain to them this is not a personal insult to them when I can’t talk to them when they demand me, but they don’t understand. Splitting my focus is too hard, and this small inability has caused so many problems.

    • Aspergirl1981 on March 1, 2016

      Awesome article. Very helpful advice!!

    • Titan_plated on March 2, 2016

      Thank you for this article! The most hard part for me is to resist temptation to respond immediately. Sometimes my words come out to be stupid, sometimes even rude because i interrupt (i don’t have feeling when to listen when to talk). That is why i usually avoid conversation, except with my family.

    • Neolewis on March 7, 2016

      In my experience people will bully you into agreement because that don’t respect your view or even understand it. As a result I find myself having to justify myself to certain individuals.
      I’ve always respected the opinions and views of others. It appears mine isn’t respected.

    • tiredofNTabuse on March 28, 2016

      I feel as though I am always being interrogated by neurotypicals. I have been wrongly accused of everything. From being high on drugs or drunk when I’m not to even crimes I didn’t commit. I can’t handle talking to anyone but my husband for more than a few minutes without putting my foot in my mouth and saying something dumb or quoting movies or songs because I have no idea what these people want me to say!!!

    • tiredofNTabuse on March 28, 2016

      I also replay conversations in my head days and weeks after they happened and wonder why I didn’t say the right thing and clarify. I really beat myself up about it because I have a high IQ but can’t communicate with people at all!! It’s like I was given too much book smarts but no people smarts. I can relate only to my family and my animals and other aspires sometimes

    • tiredofNTabuse on March 28, 2016

      I am also tired of NT’s accusing me of bizarre behavior just because I pace when I’m nervous or twirl my hair or thump my leg up and down!! It’s my body I should be “allowed” to do whatever I want with it. I will stim away!! It’s not their place to judge me!! I don’t have to be like them!!

    • tiredofNTabuse on March 28, 2016

      I hate when NT’s stare at me like I am an alien from another planet and mock me for whatever reason, like I’m not dressed like them or talk like them, when they stare at me with their devil eyes I can feel it and it’s soo hard not to melt down!!!!

    • FloridaWacky on April 23, 2016

      I’ve used mental and/or physical lists of questions and answers for after the standard greetings. And don’t even ask me about appropriately normal body languages, gestures and gesticulations. It’s a game of monkey see monkey do or hope you guess right.

    • [email protected] on May 1, 2016

      I’ve always felt like women who have AS are especially scrutinized in conversation, since we’re expected to be more social! I also tend to blurt things out because I feel like I’m expected to respond intelligently in a social situation. Unfortunately the opposite tends to happen & I put my foot in my mouth. I hate hate HATE when this happens & therefore tend to avoid social situations altogether. Thank you for reminding me that not everyone is scrutinizing me, and that it’s okay to use silence!

    • JosefaBohn on August 29, 2016

      I really enjoyed reading this article. Thanks man.

    • BrookelynR on September 27, 2016

      Very interesting article. These will be good tips for me when I have a conversation because I’m different from my peers and what it says is true about me. Like we say, communicating is hard for us people on the Autism Spectrum. Thanks for writing it.

    • Benjamin the fool on October 28, 2016

      Good advice and good to know I’m not alone in that.

    • monson86 on October 30, 2016

      I found this article to be very helpful and will try to apply this at my next social interaction.

    • Grishnar on January 2, 2017

      I’m going to print this out and keep it next to my desk at work …. in an open-plan Hell.

    • Oliver13 on January 21, 2017

      How. Arches

    • ghostPastry on February 14, 2017

      All of this is so hard to remember in the moment… I don’t even know who I am, much less how to stay true to that while also behaving in a way that’s socially appropriate. -_-

      That said, this was very well-written and something I’ll probably read several times. All worth remembering and repeating to myself. Thank you.

    • colina on May 30, 2017

      Some good points in your article Androbot. Like you, I try to help aspies have better conversations too. My approach is to suggest ways to practice because just remembering advice is not the same as actually changing behavior–when conversation is so scary.

      Take a look at Love and Dating>Understanding Intimacy, and let me know what you think. Good luck.

    • jidecamoda on June 13, 2017

      These are helpful tips, unfortunately while I am actually engaged in a conversation all I can think about is assessing when it is appropriate for me to speak, and what is the “correct” response to other person so that I do not offend them with my straightforward words.

    • marlyn morgan on August 29, 2018


    • marlyn morgan on August 29, 2018

      thankyou, that sums it up.

    • Jakki on September 28, 2019

      Thank you for this .

    • missymisfit on December 19, 2020

      Thank you, that’s helpful. I can cope up to a point and seem confident and can keep up a bit. Sometimes a helpful cliche can help if you don’t know what to say, although I don’t like using them. As soon as someone reacts to me negatively, like when I’ve misunderstood what they said or repeated it back wrong, then I bow out of the conversation and let them end it. In a group conversation, I don’t even bother, I just stand and smile and then leave when it’s clear it’s just between them. I have had people bond with each other over their dislike of me! Teaching kids is a lot easier even when they are sometimes rude, beccause it’s almost scripted and the expectations and rules are easy – it’s adults I can’t get. When I come across an Aspie, it’s a real treat and I feel much more confident when talking to them and with Aspie kids, I am so protective.

    • UsedHardPutAwayWet on January 9, 2022

      All my life I’ve struggled with noticing and reading the expressions/postures/etc. associated with “getting along” with others. I identified my deficiency early and read a LOT about how to do it and it did NOT help me really at all. This – to me – is a plain affirmation that I’m on the ASP profile.
      I do sometimes notice expressions on other’s faces – it’s like taking a still photograph of another person’s face – usually AFTER I think they think I should have noticed and when we’re conversing about socially charged subject matter.
      I’ve also gotten feedback in informal settings that I’ve got a knack for speaking about things like human sexuality in a “matter of fact” manner. Another affirmation to myself that I’m on the ASP spectrum.
      Now I tend to adopt the “less is more” approach to human conversation and interactions where I stringently limit my breadth and depth of subject matter and reciprocate with body language instead as it seems to insulate me from being seen as socially awkward if I’m speaking and someone else becomes uncomfortable with the subject matter without my promptly noticing that that has happened.
      This conversation thread caused me to remember a lot of my social history regarding human communications and I hope I’m not hijacking this thread by posting what I just did.

    • 1cinderella on January 12, 2022


    • malco on July 2, 2022

      I have to admit that small talk bores the sh*t out of me. No point that _I_ can see which makes me a loner at parties. Not that I am rude to others – at least not intentionally. I generally quickly withdraw and go nurse a cup of coffee – I stopped drinking alcohol years ago when it simply made me blob out on the sofa instead of being a stimulant as did when I was much younger. I cringe when I think of the (social) mistakes it helped me make back then. I never really knew how different I was from others apart from a total inability to connect/communicate.

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