Negative social behaviors from attempting to be normal?

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LK
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22 Sep 2009, 11:26 pm

The basic question: have you developed negative social behaviors because of attempting to alter your natural behavior so as to not offend/confuse/weird out NTs?

I used to talk alot, to my friends at least, but I realized I often offended people. Sometimes simply sounding "smarter" than everyone else offended people. I also realized that no one really cared about most of what I had to say.
In an attempt to seem more normal I became very quiet and when a thought came to my head I would ask myself "Do they talk about this subject? If they do, will my information offend them?" I often could not answer these questions so I would just keep my mouth shut.
Now when I am with other people I assume everything I have to say is something which should not be said. So, I am oddly quiet which no one seems to like.
I met a young man with autism the other day. We talked briefly and now I am communicating with him via email. I enjoyed talking to him immensely but when I was sending my last email to him I realized I was doing what I taught myself to do over the years. I started wondering if I was annoying or offending him. I am anxious if he does not email me quickly because I think I have offended or bothered him.

Has anyone else done this? If so, how have you corrected it?



Aimless
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23 Sep 2009, 4:58 am

I used to constantly self edit before I spoke and rarely spoke. After anti-depressants I became less anxious about how I was perceived and became more verbal. I still think the same thing but now I'm more likely to say it out loud. I'm very aware if something I say would offend someone so I keep my mouth shut but I'm not so good at editing out what others might find boring or weird. I find trying for the right balance is tiring.



Mozzie
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23 Sep 2009, 5:27 am

that's exactly what i have.. so far the only advice i got about this was - oh come on, take it easy, you shouldn't worry about that, be yourself and everything will be fine...

*be yourself*... great :/ when i'm myself, i don't talk. when i talk, i'm giving info.. just like the computer.. but others understand my *giving info* as *showing off with my knowledge*, so they don't want to talk. if i try to *socialize* and talk to the others, i usually say something extremely stupid, so the others start to ignore me.. i have no idea how to help you, i have the same problem :/ the worst thing is that when i write an email or sms someone - when i don't get the answer, my first thought is - oh sh*t, i said sth wrong again, this person is now angry, what the hell am i doing wrong???



angelicgoddess
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23 Sep 2009, 5:34 am

I guess social behavior is a study of knowledge of its own for people like us... so I guess the only tip i can give you is start studying! Watch soap opera's, sitcoms and lots and lots of other people and do as they so.
Either that or just be fine with being a bit weird... aren't all real interesting people weird?
I sure as hell am, and proud of it (or I try to be ghehe)



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23 Sep 2009, 8:17 am

yup.. done exactly the same thing.



Mozzie
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23 Sep 2009, 8:27 am

i've tried to watch tv, but first of all i find it extremely boring.. besides, even when i try to learn anything from watching oh-so-emotional soap operas, i feel like sitting on a lecture in a chinese university... i just don't understand ANYTHING.



Hmmmn
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23 Sep 2009, 8:58 am

LK wrote:
I would ask myself "Do they talk about this subject? If they do, will my information offend them?"


I think you're asking the wrong questions. In a converation that's already ongoing I've found it's not a good idea to introduce new subjects, rather than 'do they talk about this?' maybe ask 'do I know anything about what they're talking about?' if not you can ask questions which gives you more time to think and gives you more info to work with.

If you're asking 'do they talk about this subject?' there's only two answers, yes or no. If yes then you're in luck but don't get carried away as a conversation needs balance. If not you're likely to come out with what's known as a non-sequiter
Quote:
A non sequitur (pronounced /ˌnɒnˈsɛkwɨtər/) is a conversational and literary device, often used for comical purposes (as opposed to its use in formal logic). It is a comment which, due to its apparent lack of meaning relative to what it follows,[1] seems absurd to the point of being humorous or confusing, as in the following joke:

Q: How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Fish.

The use of non sequitur in humor can be deliberate or unintentional. Literally, the expression is Latin for "it does not follow."[2] In other literature, a non sequitur can denote an abrupt, illogical, unexpected or absurd turn of plot or dialogue not normally associated with or appropriate to that preceding it. It is a type of logical fallacy.

The non sequitur can be understood as the converse of cliché[citation needed]. Traditional comedy and drama can depend on the ritualization and predictability of human emotional experiences, where the Theatre of the Absurd uses disjunction and unpredictability.


These are what gets us the funny looks from our friends. Do it every now and then and you'll be seen as eccentric in a funny sort of way but do it all the time and you'll be seen as selfish and indifferent to others feelings. This is what I'm working on currently.

I think the answer is to only talk about the things that are being discussed at that moment. Conversation moves quickly and for people who have to work hard on thinking what to say it's really annoying when you've got a great idea or conversation piece but everyone else is talking about something else. What ever you do do not stop and rewind the conversation just to get your point in, you must let it go and prepare the next remark. If you try and do the rewind thing then it'll come out as a non-sequiter even if they were just talking about it and only recently moved on.

The above sounds tougher than it is and is actually quite liberating, getting out from under the yoke of our ideas and interests. I'm not saying people should be improvising all the time but that it's not always necessary to have something prepared, a few stock (or stuck) phrases will get you by when the mind goes blank - 'mhmm' 'yeah' 'no way!' and my personal favourite 'really?', these give you a little time to think of some more to say. Asking questions about things you're not sure of seems to be cool too as people like to talk about themselves and others for some reason.

I've only been thinking about this for the last couple of months and only been practicing the last few weeks and I've still to read the small talk books I've ordered so this is just what I think.

ps. a note about special interests: my best friend, who I've been mates with for over 10 years, is very interested in a couple of the things I'd call my interests. The thing I'm having to learn though is that no matter how interested he is in these things he'll never be interested in the way I am. This is someone who's symapthetic to both me and the subjects I want to talk about but he will still only take so much before it becomes obvious he's getting annoyed and wishes I'd shut up already. When I talk about these things in context, ie. when everyone else is talking about them and when I don't hog the conversation, my thoughts and knowledge on the subject are appreciated.

Holy crap, that's really long! Sorry. It'll give you something to chew on anyway :lol:



Last edited by Hmmmn on 23 Sep 2009, 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

DeadFire87
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23 Sep 2009, 10:16 am

Mozzie wrote:
that's exactly what i have.. so far the only advice i got about this was - oh come on, take it easy, you shouldn't worry about that, be yourself and everything will be fine...

*be yourself*... great :/ when i'm myself, i don't talk. when i talk, i'm giving info.. just like the computer.. but others understand my *giving info* as *showing off with my knowledge*, so they don't want to talk. if i try to *socialize* and talk to the others, i usually say something extremely stupid, so the others start to ignore me.. i have no idea how to help you, i have the same problem :/ the worst thing is that when i write an email or sms someone - when i don't get the answer, my first thought is - oh sh*t, i said sth wrong again, this person is now angry, what the hell am i doing wrong???

This is me as well. I think I kinda cracked under the pressure of thinking I was doing something wrong and sent way to many messages to them recently. They haven't replied to one of them. I am an idiot. I hope they will still talk to me. So far nothing though.

Mostly the only talking I have done over the years is to my cousins about gaming info and news of new stuff in the gaming world. All I do say is info about video games. I don't know how to handle anything else. I wish I could change myself though. I have been trying to change myself around a little lately and it hasn't really worked out all that well just yet. I am sure that maybe at some point though if I keep trying to talk to someone eventually someone will want to be my friend. Been messaging new people almost every week. In hopes someone will talk to me at some point. Only 1 reply out of maybe 25 or so messages so far and I don't know how to respond to that person either. I have said nothing since they replied.



Willard
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23 Sep 2009, 10:19 am

I self-edit even when I'm talking to myself. Constantly revise and restate for clarity. Hell, I can't make a post here without editing three or four times.

I think that's the thing I enjoy in writing horror fiction - then I can really let go and be as shocking and offensive as possible and it's not only acceptable, the more awful and disgusting, the better. :D



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23 Sep 2009, 11:34 am

I don't think that there is anything wrong with a little self editing. Even Neurotypicals do this. It's called "think before you speak."

The basic question that I ask myself before I speak is "will what I say make people feel good or feel bad" The second question is "is this appropriate an appropriate statement or response in this conversation" For instance - If someone is talking about shopping for clothes and stuff, I might say "you always look so nicely put together. I especially like your earrings." This is appropriate to the conversation (the topic was shopping for clothes and stuff) and it elevates the person I am addressing by complimenting them. If the conversation was about the death of the same persons beloved pet dog of 15 years and I said, "Oh, by the way, I always loved your taste in clothes - especially your earrings" It would be horribly inappropriate. I would be complimenting the person, but they would feel so sad because I would not have been listening and supporting her in her grief over her lost pet. Neurotypicals need to feel that someone is listening to them and hearing their story.

I have gotten better and better at this over the years. Some people who are less skilled at social interaction and reading cues may need to carefully edit and ask for clarification more when in conversation. The habit will help you be a part of the overall community. Remember, communication is between TWO OR MORE PEOPLE. If you want to go on in a stream of conciousness, talk to your plants or your pet cat. Do what Willard does and write in genres where this is acceptable and beneficial. If you want to talk to people - it means listening, responding and sharing - to do this, we need to self edit.



ZhyKitty
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23 Sep 2009, 11:59 am

This is my life too, only I dont edit ANYTHING.

How do you do that offline? I need to learn it.

I get so excited about some things and then I speak so long and so fast...people interrupt me, I can tell I've offended them - etc. ALL the time. I HATE it when I'm having a conversation and I realize the other people couldnt be less interested in my amazing library of facts on certain subjects and that most people are just not interested in the subjects that absolutely consume me.
What's sad is - I desperately want them to weigh in thoughts and opinions on the things I love to talk about but you can tell from the way it feels (I experience physical sensations based on emotion. It's great because I know what they feel but it stinks because I'll puzzle for hours over WHY they felt like that.) that they are bored or just barely tolerating talking to me.
It's so discourageing but at the same time I spend SO much time alone that when I do get around people I talk nonstop.
I dont mean to do it and worse, am unable to edit anything I think from coming out of my mouth when I get excited.
I just say anything.
As long as what you are saying is true it should be okay but a great deal of the time it isnt.
What neuro-typical people consider acceptable to be said in conversation is a puzzle I just cant solve.
I can tell by voice inflection when someone is telling a lie. You can hear and feel it - but for some reason lies are ok and the truth is not....
I told a woman in blockbuster video she shouldnt wear a tight orange spandex outfit that was all stuck in every fold of her and she kept trying to dig it out (I only said "that" as in "shouldnt wear that") and Ithen I said "It makes you look like The Great Pumpkin." I said it so nice! I only meant to help and I lowered m,y voice so no one else would hear since she was grabbing and pulling in private areas.....
She was furious.
My son tried to explaoin to me why I shouldnt have said it but iut happens to me ALL THE TIME.

...I bet it happens to a lot of us.

Dont feel bad...you're not alone.
I pray all the time for a friend like me in real life.
I have a twin sister but she has an autistic condition that makes her very hard to communicate with. She cant take care of herself like I can.... and her thoughts make little sense to me most of the time.

Anyway, do just rambled off topic....I do that a lot, at least here I can go back and edit. I wish real life had that function.

Try and be happy about being different and stop worrying about self editing.

I dont ever self edit unless I am in a place where it could b4e a disaster for me to talk at all so I just say nothing - other than that I say whatever comes to mind and I just listen when people say "you cant say that" and then I file that away.....but I dont worry.
You shouldnt either. I bet you're great.



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23 Sep 2009, 12:06 pm

I have found that I don't win either way.

If I watch what I say and ultimately say a lot less, it could work against me. I certainly feel less "part" of a group when I keep my mouth shut and hesitate to contribute.

If I speak my mind, I definitely risk offending others.

I suppose watching what you say is the lesser of the two evils, though.



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23 Sep 2009, 12:17 pm

Yes, I swear & can occasionally say gross pervy things now (though I still can't follow "NT type speech" & still take phrases like the f word (when applied to others) literally) :oops: :lol:.


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23 Sep 2009, 10:50 pm

I have a housemate who is an Aspie, and he does this thing where he just starts talking... and doesn't stop. It's the over-explaining of things, really, like he'll start telling me that some new game is coming out, and go on and on and on about it, when the basic information, "game X is coming out soon" has already been communicated. If I want to know more, I will ask.

We've gotten to a point where I can just say, "okay, too much information" and he understands that it's time to stop, which helps a lot, and nobody gets butthurt over it.

I have my own problems with socializing and "acceptable" human social behavior. I don't understand human social cues or body language. But I can fake it really well, which has become an invaluable skill. That, and an innate ability to sense tension/stress in others, and recognize when things are about to "blow up". If I "feel" that someone else is angry or violent, I will turn around and run away. (Part of that intuition probably comes from my oh-so-wonderful ex-fiancee, who was an abusive jackass -- you learn real quick to avoid getting hit or yelled at. Eh, he's a whole 'nother thread, though.)

I realize that, yes, its probably just me, its a personal pet peeve, when people just talk without getting to the point (or even having a point), or just keep talking after the information has been communicated, but is it really too much to ask that someone just shut up?? (I also hate huge pauses in conversation. Mom does this, starts telling me something, even something important, and stops in the middle of a sentence, and I'm sitting there like, "yes, yes, come on, TELL ME ALREADY!" Drives me nuts!)

Personally, I take after my Dad -- I communicate to convey information, such as my current emotional state, or what I did today, or what I ate for lunch; you won't get editorial content unless it's pertinent information, such as "I tried a new food, and I liked it." I don't "do" small talk, in fact, have no clue how to "do" small talk, and tend to get irritated with it. I am also brutally honest -- if you ask for my opinion, you will get just that: my uncensored opinion. I don't see the point in "softening the blow" or dancing around the subject, and don't particularly care if someone's offended -- get over it or get out.

As for social skills, the only real answer is to practice, practice, practice. I know, cliched, but it's true. It also helps to have a trusted friend or relative (even a classmate or co-worker) to subtly step in and cue you in with a pre-arranged signal when you're stepping outside the bounds of "acceptable" social behaviors. Or you could just do what I do, and cultivate a reputation of being eccentric and unique, play it up as an attribute.

From personal experience, anyone who demands that you change to meet their criteria isn't someone you'll want to be around for long.

Gawd, and everyone wonders why I prefer to hang out with pot-heads. Some of the most tolerant people I know, man, they don't care that I'm disabled, they don't care that I have issues, when there's a circle, we're all equal, and all sharing on an equal basis. True friendship doesn't depend on "faking it" -- a friend will accept you as you are, and help you work on your issues if you ask them to help. A true friend will love you, eccentricities, oddities, bad habits, and all. Family is the same way. (Though they will occasionally remind you that you're out among "Normals", and you might want to, you know, tone it down a bit. Or, like my parents, suggest taking a walk or otherwise getting away from the situation, if you can't handle it.)

...

...

O_O

Er... damn.

Sorry for the rant, there. Sometimes I start typing (or talking) and stuff just comes out without me really thinking about it. I'll just stop now, before I produce a Wall-o-text.



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24 Sep 2009, 1:49 am

Mozzie wrote:
i've tried to watch tv, but first of all i find it extremely boring.. besides, even when i try to learn anything from watching oh-so-emotional soap operas, i feel like sitting on a lecture in a chinese university... i just don't understand ANYTHING.


Yeah, I guess it must be extremely hard to learn something you're not interested in! I'm lucky I'm interested in communications, even thought it doesn't come natural to me. I guess it is like learning Chinese without liking it... if you can't get yourself to learn something.... that sucks. Chinese people won't like when you start blabbering stuff that sounds like chinese to you. As NT's don't like it when us aspies start talking the way wé think is appropriate.

Social contact costst me a lot of work, time, energy and headaches. But to me it is well worth it. My brother is as aspie as me but got rejected as a kid, he cant get himself to learn "Chinese" either. We don't really get along, we hardly talk actually. The fact is; its hard to talk to someone who just has a few interests that don't interest you. He can only talk about his dog and computer science, neither of which I perticularly like. If I change the subject he gets grumpy or leaves.

So our conversations are mostly like this: we get together because we're family (once or twice a year) he starts talking and I listen as long as I can, and ask 'the right' questions for him untill I can't focus anymore and we go our own ways. Not really something I look forward to to be honest. I know he can't help himself... but neither can I! I'm not in this world to please others.

Social contact is all about questions. You don't ever have to talk about yourself, people love to talk about themselves. asking questions is what makes you popular. not deep questions, just pretty much repeating something anyone said with a question mark will do basically.



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24 Sep 2009, 2:22 pm

LK wrote:
In an attempt to seem more normal I became very quiet and when a thought came to my head I would ask myself "Do they talk about this subject? If they do, will my information offend them?" I often could not answer these questions so I would just keep my mouth shut.
Now when I am with other people I assume everything I have to say is something which should not be said. So, I am oddly quiet which no one seems to like.


i know what you mean. i think i was always like that though. because ive always been anxious to please. XD

wait....NTs never think the things we keep to ourselves?