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Tom
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28 Mar 2009, 7:39 pm

I've noticed something about when people talk and hang out. Some books about social skills etc say you should find out what hobbies people have, and then talk about their hobbies, to make them like you. Some books even said, you should pretend to be interested in their lives, even when you are not, and people will like you.

But I have noticed that when NTs get together, they don't really talk about hobbies or shared interests that much. They just joke around, make fun of each other, making fun in an affectionate way, sarcastic retorts, banter etc. This puts people at ease with each other, because it shows that they are relaxed enough to mess around like close people do.

Wheras, aspies say "I can't get on with my collegues, because we have nothing in common. We don't share interests, so we have nothing to talk about".

But I have noticed, that NTs don't talk about interests that much at all. Not unless they actually have a shared interest. Usually they just joke around, relax, have fun. I have known "unusual" NTs who don't have many mainstream interests, like football or drinking, yet still have no trouble being liked and entertaining people, because of their humourous personality.

And this is where I think Aspies fall down, because we don't grasp sarcasm, double-meaning humor, affectionate teasing, harmless jokes. In fact we have trouble telling the difference between this kind of harmless humor and genuine nasty teasing, which makes us vunerable sometimes. We also have trouble making these kind of jokes ourselves, in case they come out wrong.

I talked about this on wrongplanet, and some of them said "oh, i hate that kind of interaction, I prefer to talk seriously, I hate dumb jokes and mock-arguments".
Which is everyone's choice, of course. But, I think we should work out how NTs interact, before we make the decision whether we want to join them or not.
Lets first figure out how they talk, and then, after that is sorted, everyone can make their own choice. Decide that kind of interaction is dumb and they're above it, or say "well, if thats what it takes to be liked by NTs, then I'll try to learn it". Lets at least give everyone the choice before making value judgements.

Maybe some who thought they did not like talking to NTs, will find out they do after being given the confidence to improve their social skills. Maybe they will decide that now they have a hope do it more sucessfully, they can enjoy hanging out with people.



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28 Mar 2009, 9:41 pm

I think that the observations you've made about NT interactions are absolutely correct. I'm a NT middle-aged female and most of my conversations with friends and colleagues are full of the sorts of banter that you've described. We generally only talk about "interests" if there's a particular reason to do so- for example, if we've been involved in an activity relating to that interest during the weekend and want to talk about it.

I have an Aspie friend whom I regularly chat with online, and early on in our communications he tended to sound very humorless and literal and not understand any wordplay that I tried to use in our conversations. However, he's now become used to my rather jokey style and can respond with similar humour. I've learned to clearly mark any humorous comments with emoticons to show that I'm joking and I also quickly clarify my meaning if he seems to have misunderstood.

This only works for text-based chat; if we speak with each other verbally, he still finds it difficult to say much at all, but in our text-based conversations, I think he copes very well with my NT conversational randomness. :)

I don't see any reason why the rules of NT friendly banter couldn't be learned by an interested Aspie. There ARE rules, although I'm not sure whether anyone has tried to formulate them. As a NT with an interest in linguistics, I think it's a very interesting topic that you've raised here. I look forward to seeing other responses. Jenny



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28 Mar 2009, 10:39 pm

> I don't see any reason why the rules of NT friendly banter couldn't be learned by an interested Aspie. There ARE rules, although I'm not sure whether anyone has tried to formulate them. As a NT with an interest in linguistics

Well, please, have the NT's formulate them, because we are no judge. I took a course in uni on philosophy of language. One topic covered was Paul Grice's four communication principles such as save face, be relevant, and so on. Can't find a good link now. This was a couple decades ago and much more has been done since. I thought the rules were a brilliant description of how communication works. One still has to apply it, though.

What we need is not only the rules, but a context in which to safely practice them. Sure, there is the world and that is what I do, but some training and guidance would still help even at my age -- and I feel great regret I didn't get it a long time ago.

Re the original post, very good points, and I tried to learn these things by copying, playing with what I saw, et cetera, but it was very uncomfortable which I think makes it even more difficult. People are "socializing" because it feels good, and if one participant is struggling it comes off weird and new connections end up getting truncated fast. "Socializing" -- this is vague hocus pocus to me, in my mind.

> Maybe some who thought they did not like talking to NTs, will find out they do after being given the confidence to improve their social skills. Maybe they will decide that now they have a hope do it more sucessfully, they can enjoy hanging out with people.

What about you? Had any success? Does it feel good? Do you understand socializing?



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28 Mar 2009, 10:50 pm

What struck me most in what you said is that NT's just say things to be "comfortable" around each other. Well, I never feel comfortable with them, no matter what they say!

(unless we can speak about a subject of mutual interest.. or I pretend to be interested in what they're saying, just because I SHOULD to make a friend!)


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28 Mar 2009, 10:56 pm

Quote:
whitetiger wrote:
What struck me most in what you said is that NT's just say things to be "comfortable" around each other. Well, I never feel comfortable with them, no matter what they say!

(unless we can speak about a subject of mutual interest.. or I pretend to be interested in what they're saying, just because I SHOULD to make a friend!)


my sister and her partner have just "dropped by." what the frig is that anyway? dropping by? WHY?

I have retreated in here to my room and am about to avoid them by going down to my studio to paint...which was the plan anyway.
THey are out on the back deck "gasbagging." i cannot relate. there is an undulating stream of random topics being covered and considered and discussed. I cannot keep up -4 people is TOO MANY for me.

and I am still left to wonder what this "dropping by" is all about? 8O



Ladarzak
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28 Mar 2009, 11:38 pm

> What struck me most in what you said is that NT's just say things to be "comfortable" around each other. Well, I never feel comfortable with them, no matter what they say!

Ooh, that's so right. If I say what I think, they will be uncomfortable, too.

Is it possible to expand the comfort zone, though? I think it would be, in many cases if not all.



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28 Mar 2009, 11:49 pm

Quote:
Some books even said, you should pretend to be interested in their lives, even when you are not, and people will like you.


Why would I do that? I don't want to be stuck with people who are not interesting to me. I don't care about being liked, and socialising is difficult enough without adding boredom to it.


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29 Mar 2009, 12:08 am

In response to Ladarzak's comments, I don't think Grice's maxims (you can find them the Gricean Maxims on Wikipedia) would help very much with NT friendly banter, although they would have some relevance. The maxims are perhaps more applicable to situations in which language is used to share information. In friendly chatter, these maxims are often breached because the real intention is to establish or build relationships, not to convey any particular information. For example, people who are close friends may insult each other, use sarcasm, tell a lie as a prank, give only a grunt in response to a question, waffle on at length about nothing much, etc.

Typical friendly banter would go something like this:

1. Begin with a greeting, for example "Good morning!" or "Hi, (Name)!", then ask a question like "How's it going?", "How was your weekend?" or "Have you been having a good day?"- intended to elicit a response from the other person. By asking the person a question like this, you are indicating a friendly interest.

2. Listen while the person responds. If the person says something that can be asked about further, for example, he/she tells you about seeing a movie over the weekend, ask what he/she thought of it. Listen while the person tells you about it. You might like to add a brief opinion of your own ("Oh, that's got Nicole Kidman in it, hasn't it? I can't stand her!"), or just show that you're listening by saying things like "Oh, that's interesting."

3. The person should should then respond by asking you about your weekend/day/whatever. Give a brief but friendly response (about 2 sentences, perhaps.) If the person asks for further detail, add another sentence or two.

4. At this point, the banter can either develop into a longer conversation, or one of you can say something like, "Well, I'd better get back to work. See you later." The other person might respond with a joke or friendly whinge about how hard the two of you have to work.

This is a very basic outline of a bit of friendly chat, but it can vary a lot depending on the relationship between the speakers. NTs generally conduct these sorts of conversations more or less automatically- I've often heard them coming out of my own mouth with very little conscious thought. It's not really the content of the conversation that's important, it's almost purely a social ritual- the interaction with the other person shows that you are willing to be friendly and give a few minutes of your time to the relationship. In linguistics it's called "phatic communication" and it's all about developing social relationships. If you DON'T join in this sort of communication, NTs will tend to view you as unfriendly or perhaps very shy.

I hope this is helpful- I know it must sound a bit pointless. Jenny



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29 Mar 2009, 12:45 am

> In response to Ladarzak's comments, I don't think Grice's maxims (you can find them the Gricean Maxims on Wikipedia) would help very much with NT friendly banter, although they would have some relevance. The maxims are perhaps more applicable to situations in which language is used to share information

The face saving one is very relevant -- one can joke well IF one knows what offends or not.

Anyway, I didn't mean to say the maxims were generally relevant but my point was that even if we know a rule, it doesn't mean we'll know how to apply and vary it. Kind of like music theory rules if you have no feel for the sounds of the music and how they really fit together. Or math rules, for that matter, the critical difference being it was assumed by many we all naturally learn social rules, whereas we aren't all expected to be good at math or music.



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29 Mar 2009, 1:37 am

Sorry, Ladarzak, I didn't intend to suggest that the maxims had NO relevance, just that phatic communication can often breach them because the purpose of the conversation is to strengthen a relationship rather than communicate anything in particular. Also I was trying to respond to your other suggestion, which was that NTs should formulate the rules for friendly banter. My attempt to do that was only a simplistic one, though, because the permutations are endless and depend on a lot of factors.

I also take your point that there is a lot of difference between knowing rules and being able to apply them. I had difficulties with social rules myself until I was well into my teens and can still remember how it felt to watch other girls interacting in all sorts of (often unpleasant) ways and having no idea what they were doing. I took refuge in books instead. Somehow the pieces started clicking into place for me when I was 15 or so, but I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to feel that sense of social exclusion into adulthood. Jenny



Tom
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29 Mar 2009, 5:17 am

Last year I had a new job and made some good friends - friends who were very NT and social, but kind and accepting to me. I madea point to observe them and see how they flirted, joked etc.

I also read a lof of dating and social self help books, and they said pretty much the same things I observed.

To cut a very long story short, I had a lot of success last year using what I'd learned getting on with people, making friends, and even trying for romantic relationships.
Every success I had in making a friend made me more confident and spurred me on.

I also got it wrong a lot of the time and spent a lot of time shy and withdrawn!

I agree that it's difficult to learn, and it may not be possible for all aspies. I also agree that it may not even be desirable, but surely putting people at ease is a useful skill to have, even if you don't plan to use it often.

I believe most normal friendships and relationships go like this -

Two people meet, and start "joking around", having mock fights and the like

This makes them feel at ease with each other, as it's like what brothers and sisters do. Its like "we're having a fun sarcastic argument, cause we would never have a real argument"

It also lets them get a feel for each other - by seeing what they find funny, they can safely figure out their personality, opinions, interests, what offends them, etc. Then can then use this to decide if this is a person they want to know seriously.

If they see from this banter that it's the kind of person they would want to be close friends with, then they move on to deeper frienship - real chats, serious subjects, talking about real opinions. The "banter" is a stepping stone to ease into real friendship.

But aspies aren't good at the light banter part - they want to jump into "serious chat" right away. But without the banter stage, they can't ease into that stage, so they get stuck and struggle.



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29 Mar 2009, 6:53 am

i think i could learn some of the rules if i tried hard.
but i could never practice them because i would be faking it if i acted in a way contrived to appeal to average people. it would look fake and hollow to them as well.

even if i did know the rules, and "acted" them to the best of my ability, i would never be like one of them.
the reason is that they enjoy the social banter for it's own sake. it is an end result for them.
there is no further goal to achieve with them than just perpetual banter. they banter away through their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and on to old age. i see elderly people that still live for the social swirl of jest and jibing etc.
if there is nothing to attain beyond banter, then i fail to see why i should learn it.
and, as i said, even if i did, it would look stunted and rehearsed.

once, at an office christmas party, i tried to engage in some "banter".
people were insulting each other in a friendly way, and all were laughing.

example of their intercourse which i was learning from:

judy (to john the accountant who has a big beer gut): well john, when's it due? (referring to his look of pregancy no doubt)
john: ha ha ha. it'll always be due!! at the rate i drink! ha ha ha!.
judy: ha ha ha ha ha!! !! ! (she pats him on his belly) is it a boy or a girl?
john: well whatever it is, it's drunk right now. he he he he.
....etc.
later, i heard (nick and snez)
snez: hey nick! can you bend down so i can check my makeup (nick has a shiny bald head (snez was a funny girl (i laughed at her wit))).
nick: only if you don't slap me when my face hits your lap....
etc...

later, i tried that recipe i thought i learned on a woman who was trying to include me in the proceedings.

her: smile mark.
me: what about?
her: you don't have to have anything to smile about. by the look of your face, you've never smiled. but me, i smile all the time.
me: yes, by the look of the lines on your face, you started laughing at birth and have
never stopped.
her: huh?
me: i meant the crows feet errrr....
her: you're a rude c*nt!! !
me: errrr...
her: f*ck you you assh*le. (exeunt)

it does not work for me.

i do not enjoy their "knockabout" way, and i do not want to join it.



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29 Mar 2009, 7:06 am

b9 wrote:
i think i could learn some of the rules if i tried hard.
but i could never practice them because i would be faking it if i acted in a way contrived to appeal to average people. it would look fake and hollow to them as well.

even if i did know the rules, and "acted" them to the best of my ability, i would never be like one of them.
the reason is that they enjoy the social banter for it's own sake. it is an end result for them.
there is no further goal to achieve with them than just perpetual banter. they banter away through their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and on to old age. i see elderly people that still live for the social swirl of jest and jibing etc.
if there is nothing to attain beyond banter, then i fail to see why i should learn it.
and, as i said, even if i did, it would look stunted and rehearsed.

once, at an office christmas party, i tried to engage in some "banter".
people were insulting each other in a friendly way, and all were laughing.

example of their intercourse which i was learning from:

judy (to john the accountant who has a big beer gut): well john, when's it due? (referring to his look of pregancy no doubt)
john: ha ha ha. it'll always be due!! at the rate i drink! ha ha ha!.
judy: ha ha ha ha ha!! !! ! (she pats him on his belly) is it a boy or a girl?
john: well whatever it is, it's drunk right now. he he he he.
....etc.
later, i heard (nick and snez)
snez: hey nick! can you bend down so i can check my makeup (nick has a shiny bald head (snez was a funny girl (i laughed at her wit))).
nick: only if you don't slap me when my face hits your lap....
etc...

later, i tried that recipe i thought i learned on a woman who was trying to include me in the proceedings.

her: smile mark.
me: what about?
her: you don't have to have anything to smile about. by the look of your face, you've never smiled. but me, i smile all the time.
me: yes, by the look of the lines on your face, you started laughing at birth and have
never stopped.
her: huh?
me: i meant the crows feet errrr....
her: you're a rude c*nt!! !
me: errrr...
her: f*ck you you assh*le. (exeunt)

it does not work for me.

i do not enjoy their "knockabout" way, and i do not want to join it.


I think that's cos she was just a random woman and not someone you knew. I have had similar experiences myself, though no examples really come to mind.

My dad told me that there's some things your not supposed to say to people you don't know. But then I said summat that was apparently disrespectful to my grandma, and I said, "But you said I just can't say it to people I don't know, I know grandma!" and he says, "Well, it applies to some people you do know as well." VERY confusing for an aspie child. :roll: :?


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Tom
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29 Mar 2009, 7:06 am

an interesting failed attempt! i'm trying to learn to get it right too.

I am worried though, that it is all about dominance/superiority.



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29 Mar 2009, 9:21 am

It's improper to directly insult people you don't know, yes. It's also improper to insult people when they're sensitive about it, or when the insult comes out of nowhere. Be polite until you know your boundaries.

When I'm with some of my friends, I tend to make a lot of fat jokes at their expense (I'm very thin, they're a bit chubby). I would never dream of making these jokes towards girls, since many are very sensitive about their appearances. I also wouldn't call a guy I don't know can take it that he's a walking pile of donuts and ham, or yell at them every time I see them with a dessert. It's insulting, see? My good friends know I'm joking because I slowly built up to that point so that they understand when I'm not serious.

Some better jokes for when you first meet someone includes making yourself look ignorant. I've made a lot of female friends by making 'Why are you not in the kitchen?' jokes. I've also made some girls mad when they don't get it. It's tricky, but if your insults aren't funny to the person, they're just hurtful. If they get the wrong impression, immediately recover with 'Sorry, bad joke'. Apologizing is critical here. You'll look like a real jerk if you just insult a person and move on.

See, what's actually going on in this neurotypical banter is that they're trying to one-up each other. They're all trying to be the funny guy. As the banter goes on, the people get more comfortable and start with the direct insulting made in good fun. Towards the end it might even seem like they're being really cruel to each other, but they all laugh anyway. Even harder for an aspie, body language plays a huge role in proving that you don't mean it. Learn to be patient and read the state of the banter before you unleash, and practice at making over the top, sarcastic tones and body language.