Social interaction: What kinds are hardest/easiest for you?

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Mona Pereth
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23 Jul 2021, 6:48 pm

Everyone, what kinds of social interaction do you find hardest? What kinds do you find easiest?

[Note to the mods: The person quoted below has specifically given me permission, here, to begin this thread with a post containing a quote from him.]

Here, in the separate thread on Assertiveness, after a discussion about popular vs. technical meanings of the term "social interaction":

AngelL wrote:
Mona Pereth wrote:
Anyhow, apparently you find tutoring and teaching to be much easier than other kinds of social interaction? This is true for quite a few (though not all) autistic people, including myself. Quite a few Aspie kids have been called "little professors," after all.


Oh absolutely! I just read my notes out of my head - and if they ask a question, well there's an overwhelmingly likely chance that I've already written a subroutine for that question and will find the corresponding page in my memory and read it back complete. As a matter of fact, I probably wrote a joke into my subroutine to put them at ease and give the impression that we're connecting. Aside from the possibility of a question though, teaching relieves me of the task of interpreting what you say because I'm the one talking. Since I already know the topic I'll be talking about, since I know the material well, and because I've hyper-prepared - I'm typically very successful.

In a social interaction (my definition) I need to interpret what they mean from what they say - even when the two are nothing alike. Then I have to come up with a response, then run that response through a filter that looks for places they'll misunderstand, make the appropriate adjustments, run the new fangled response through the filter again... and don't allow any lulls in the conversation while I'm doing that.


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23 Jul 2021, 7:06 pm

I could never give a speech in front of people because I'd feel too embarrassed. I'd probably start laughing because of nerves. I'd much rather be around people I feel comfortable with and gossip and joke and chat and stuff. Not hard at all for me. It only gets hard if the topic gets boring, like if people start talking about people I don't know or about something complicated like cars or sports (usually men talk about the latter). I start getting restless.
Sometimes men would waffle on about one thing for ages and I actually forget who or what they're talking about and I lose interest. Women are more interesting - they talk about fashion and shopping and feelings and mundane stuff, and they gossip. I love gossip (about people I know).

OK I think I might have gone off-topic there.


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23 Jul 2021, 7:16 pm

My hardest would either anything to do with words or executive function overall -- regulation, attention and control; of emotions, thoughts, senses and behaviors.


Initiating's easy. Keeping the convo's easy. Ending the convo is easy.
Cooperating and seeing someone's point is easy. Asserting and arguing seems easier.
Showing up in stage and host is easy. Being discreet is easy.
Getting the contacts are easy. Facilitating a network is easy.

But not the when-to, on top of what I've mentioned above.


Just... Get rid of my executive dysfunction... Socializing overall will be easy.


Easy enough to actually control the whole social dynamic where I can defend and assert myself, where I can create a space and modify them. Even multiple group socialization.

Instead of wasting my resources wrestling with myself, my reactions vs my intent...
Being 'vulnerable' and 'clumsy', busy 'managing' and 'coping'.


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24 Jul 2021, 12:48 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
Everyone, what kinds of social interaction do you find hardest? What kinds do you find easiest?


Using your definition of social interaction which includes any human interaction...

The most difficult social interaction I've had is having a gun pointed at me by a cop because I failed to understand the ambiguous orders he was screaming at me. (no laws were broken) Some might find it interesting to learn that I served in six combat zones and engaging with the enemy caused significantly less anxiety - after all, the rules there were clear; with the cop, not so much.

I have had a very difficult time navigating situations with authority when authority is wrong. Yeah, that seems rather misleading, let me give an example or two.

1. I headed up to the customer service counter at a supermarket. There was no one in line. A manager was there but pre-occupied. I said, "Excuse me, ..." and was cut off sternly and condescendingly, "I'm busy; you're going to have to be patient." I responded, "But..." and was cut off again, "Did you not hear me?" I was asked while being glared at. So I stopped talking and waited patiently. Finally, after dragging this out for as long as possible, the manager sauntered over to the counter, making a production of it. "Now," they said, quite satisfied with themselves, "what can I do for you?" My reply? "Nothing." Their countenance changed immediately from self-satisfied to furious. "You tried to interrupt me twice and you didn't want anything?" they yelled (and they did yell). "Oh no," I said, "I wanted to tell you that someone was walking out the door with four bottles of whiskey they hadn't paid for, but there is no reason now as they're long gone with a ten minute head-start. Have a great day!"

2. Doctors. I am feeling a bit depressed right now. Nevertheless, I'm keeping it from my doctor as I am looking to make some lifestyle changes (I already have made some, but they are new and the results from those changes won't register yet) rather than get on anti-depressants. I know that this doctor has a tendency to throw pills at whatever problem is facing him, so I am hiding my true mental health situation from them. Why keep them then? Because some doctors have a tendency to throw pills at problems while some are loath to do so regardless of how big the problem is. I need my meds for panic attacks - which aren't frequent, but they're frequent enough. Last doc would accept that I don't want to get back on anti-depressants right now but wouldn't write me anything for anxiety.

3. Bosses/supervisors. I get hired because I know my stuff. He's my supervisor because he's a type A personality, or because he's the owners son, or because he knows how to delegate, or whatever... So, we pretend we're on the same team because we have the same goal - making the company successful. It's hard to manage these interactions when he makes poor decisions. i.e. I worked for a company which produced a product that I have received international recognition for my expertise. As such, I was in management. My supervisor was brought in because the investors knew his family - he had no experience in the field. In an effort to increase our bottom line, a directive by the ownership team, my supervisor became determined to give the foyer and offices a complete make-over - total cost: $35,000. I wrote up a proposal and presented it, in which I showed that part of our production equipment was operating at only 64%. Replacing these parts would cost us $22,000, but in doing so would increase production over 56% [64% --> 100%] and increase profits by 171%. We went with redecorating for a company that didn't cater to the public - in other words, no customers ever entered our business and saw the foyer. Yeah, kind of lost my mind with this one.

My problem is, when the redecorating was chosen - the only thing I can see is that he didn't understand my proposal because no one is that stupid - it's not possible. So, of course, since we both want the business to be successful, and he is acting in a way that is counter to that, I assume that he simply doesn't understand. So I explain it again...and again, fully prepared to keep explaining it until he 'gets it'. You can imagine the problems this causes - and if you can't, they're many.

Lecturing - easy. Stand-up even - also easy. A pod-cast would be easy. Anything interaction in which a conversation doesn't have to happen.



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25 Jul 2021, 12:15 pm

AngelL wrote:
I have had a very difficult time navigating situations with authority when authority is wrong.

Yes, situations like that can be extremely disconcerting for me too, especially when the person with authority is not only wrong but also in a hurry.

I do have a question, though, about one of the situations you described:

AngelL wrote:
3. Bosses/supervisors. I get hired because I know my stuff. He's my supervisor because he's a type A personality, or because he's the owners son, or because he knows how to delegate, or whatever... So, we pretend we're on the same team because we have the same goal - making the company successful. It's hard to manage these interactions when he makes poor decisions. i.e. I worked for a company which produced a product that I have received international recognition for my expertise. As such, I was in management. My supervisor was brought in because the investors knew his family - he had no experience in the field. In an effort to increase our bottom line, a directive by the ownership team, my supervisor became determined to give the foyer and offices a complete make-over - total cost: $35,000. I wrote up a proposal and presented it, in which I showed that part of our production equipment was operating at only 64%. Replacing these parts would cost us $22,000, but in doing so would increase production over 56% [64% --> 100%] and increase profits by 171%. We went with redecorating for a company that didn't cater to the public - in other words, no customers ever entered our business and saw the foyer. Yeah, kind of lost my mind with this one.

My problem is, when the redecorating was chosen - the only thing I can see is that he didn't understand my proposal because no one is that stupid - it's not possible. So, of course, since we both want the business to be successful, and he is acting in a way that is counter to that, I assume that he simply doesn't understand. So I explain it again...and again, fully prepared to keep explaining it until he 'gets it'. You can imagine the problems this causes - and if you can't, they're many.

Did you ever ask your boss why he thought that the redecorating was more important than replacing equipment to improve productivity?

One possible explanation that popped into my head just now: Although no customers would ever enter that foyer, was it at all likely that the investors would pay a visit? If so, perhaps your supervisor felt that the investors would be more impressed, and hence likelier to invest more money, if they stepped into a nicer looking building? You say he was hired because the investors knew his family, so perhaps he knew more about the investors and their mentality than you did?

I do know that funding sources can have weird priorities and irrational motives.

I'm reminded of something that happened when I was in college. I lived in a dorm that was located about a 15 minutes' walk away from the main campus. In order to get to the main campus, students who lived in this dorm typically walked through a hospital (associated with the university's medical school), and then past a physical plant that provided steam heat to all of the university's buildings, and then past a corner of a nearby cemetery, and then across a railroad track.

A lot of us students complained that we didn't feel safe walking past the physical plant and the cemetery late at night, because the path was not well lit. All we wanted was a few more street lights, plus maybe some security cameras outside the physical plant.

But then the university decided to build an entirely new path for us. To build that path, they even had to buy a sliver of land from the cemetery.

The new path was, alas, far less direct than the old path, so it was a longer walk to campus than the old path was -- or at least a longer walk to the parts of the main campus that most of us needed to go to. And because it was a longer walk, the expensive new path never got used very much. Most of us continued to use the old path.

When I asked why they chose to build a new path rather than just put some more street lights along the old path, I was told that it was much easier to raise funds for totally new construction than to raise funds for minor improvements to old construction, even though the former costs a lot more than the latter.

Anyhow, back to your former boss and his seemingly bad decision. Another possible reason for the reluctance to replace production equipment might be that it might have implied an admission that errors had been made in the purchase of the original production equipment, and perhaps your boss perceived that to be a political no-no?


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Last edited by Mona Pereth on 25 Jul 2021, 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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25 Jul 2021, 12:51 pm

I find it hard to decode the unspoken rules in real-time though I can often figure things out after the fact if I have time.
I find it especially hard to understand people who fake noverbal social queues - sales people - psychologists - aggressive people who are focused on personal gain over honest communication (often found in business - often in "higher up" positions). My brother works for the United States State Department. He never communicated honestly about anything, he hides personal information, and manipulates every situation to his own desire. This faking of noverbal information which I have a hard time decoding in the first place is the hardest for me to understand. I must first decode the noverbals, then redecode the false layer to try to guess the true layer - usually power based or - as Dale Carnegie calls it - the need for a "Felling of importance". I deal best with computers, which hardly ever have a secret motive or hold a grudge - and honest and/or technical people. I find that things that some people can decode quickly and automatically require me a lot of effort to decode slowly and with a lot of conscious thought. I also sometimes have trouble understanding people from a foreign country where the non-verbal and social rules are different. Part of the reason is that it is considered bad maners or even "prejudiced" or "bigoted" to be honest and straight forward about these misunderstandings. I have tried to research these things - there are places where international business etiquette rules are spelled out in detail, but it can still be awkward to talk about these things for fear of appearing "bigoted" so there are many layers of indirection.

Also my ability to decode nonverbal (and sometimes verbal) social queues decreases when I am emotional - so highly emotional situations magnifiy the above effects.

I also have to be guarded about "impulse control" in many social situations, I have a tendency to say or do the wrong thing at the wrong time because of poor "impulse control" but this overlaps the above two factors. It can affect the above two factors and it can be affected by the above two factors.


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25 Jul 2021, 2:20 pm

Groups are hard, can't get a word in edgeways sometimes.
Can't finish a sentence without being interrupted.

One-to-one is easier.
Only bad thing is I feel used as a sounding board sometimes.
The good thing is, people share things with me they don't tell their closest friends and know I can be trusted.



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25 Jul 2021, 2:47 pm

Fenn wrote:
I also sometimes have trouble understanding people from a foreign country where the non-verbal and social rules are different. Part of the reason is that it is considered bad maners or even "prejudiced" or "bigoted" to be honest and straight forward about these misunderstandings.

I'm a bit puzzled here. First off, when you speak of "people from a foreign country," are you talking about people from other countries whom you are interacting with here in the U.S.A., or people in other countries that you have visited? Also, assuming you are talking about people you've met here in the U.S.A., are you talking about ordinary immigrants and/or tourists, or are you talking more specifically about wealthy people who are here on business trips, to whom you are trying to sell something -- and who, therefore, expect to be treated like kings? (I ask the latter because you mentioned reading up on "international business etiquette rules.")

Personally, my experience -- at least with ordinary immigrants -- has been very different from what you've described. If I don't understand what they are saying, I just ask them to repeat it, or I ask for clarification -- no big deal. (Doing so is NOT rude, as long as you aren't impatient or condescending about it.) And, usually, I don't even try to interpret their body language (unless it's glaringly obvious), nor do I think they expect me to. Usually it's enough just to make sure that I understand their literal words, and that they understand mine.

My biggest social difficulties have been with people born here in the U.S.A., who do expect me to be able to interpret their body language and other assorted subtleties. People from overseas expect that they may need to work hard to be understood, whereas people born here are much more likely to get impatient with misunderstandings.


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Mona Pereth
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25 Jul 2021, 5:41 pm

diagnosedafter50 wrote:
Groups are hard, can't get a word in edgeways sometimes.
Can't finish a sentence without being interrupted.

One-to-one is easier.

Often that's the case for me too -- unless the group is well-led, well-structured, and specifically makes an effort to include everyone.

In conversation, I need something to focus on -- either a person or a topic. Meandering small-talk in a group is difficult for me to handle.


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AngelL
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25 Jul 2021, 7:52 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
AngelL wrote:
I have had a very difficult time navigating situations with authority when authority is wrong.

Yes, situations like that can be extremely disconcerting for me too, especially when the person with authority is not only wrong but also in a hurry.

I do have a question, though, about one of the situations you described:

AngelL wrote:
3. Bosses/supervisors. I get hired because I know my stuff. He's my supervisor because he's a type A personality, or because he's the owners son, or because he knows how to delegate, or whatever... So, we pretend we're on the same team because we have the same goal - making the company successful. It's hard to manage these interactions when he makes poor decisions. i.e. I worked for a company which produced a product that I have received international recognition for my expertise. As such, I was in management. My supervisor was brought in because the investors knew his family - he had no experience in the field. In an effort to increase our bottom line, a directive by the ownership team, my supervisor became determined to give the foyer and offices a complete make-over - total cost: $35,000. I wrote up a proposal and presented it, in which I showed that part of our production equipment was operating at only 64%. Replacing these parts would cost us $22,000, but in doing so would increase production over 56% [64% --> 100%] and increase profits by 171%. We went with redecorating for a company that didn't cater to the public - in other words, no customers ever entered our business and saw the foyer. Yeah, kind of lost my mind with this one.

My problem is, when the redecorating was chosen - the only thing I can see is that he didn't understand my proposal because no one is that stupid - it's not possible. So, of course, since we both want the business to be successful, and he is acting in a way that is counter to that, I assume that he simply doesn't understand. So I explain it again...and again, fully prepared to keep explaining it until he 'gets it'. You can imagine the problems this causes - and if you can't, they're many.


Mona Pereth wrote:
Did you ever ask your boss why he thought that the redecorating was more important than replacing equipment to improve productivity?

One possible explanation that popped into my head just now: Although no customers would ever enter that foyer, was it at all likely that the investors would pay a visit? If so, perhaps your supervisor felt that the investors would be more impressed, and hence likelier to invest more money, if they stepped into a nicer looking building? You say he was hired because the investors knew his family, so perhaps he knew more about the investors and their mentality than you did?


AngelL wrote:
It's a reasonable thought on your part but, that wasn't the case. I was hired shortly after they opened, they had made 'Mike' the GM already but he had no experience and so, he understandably made a lot of mistakes...very expensive mistakes. The investors had visited many times and stayed in touch with me via e-mail and phone nearly daily. They would come to me for information or advice on how to do something and then would go recommend it to Mike. Mike may have been inexperienced, but he wasn't an idiot; he knew they weren't physicists so when they came up with some great idea all by themselves...he knew where it had come from. He was a really hard worker, but incredibly insecure...and someone for whom the saying, 'Work smarter, not harder" was made. Like I said, he was smart enough, but once his insecurities got activated, his feelings overran his brain. So he hated me, and the only thing that the investors and I knew by the end of my time there (I resigned) that if I suggested something, he would do the opposite. So we made a production out of me never suggesting anything directly, but like I said, he was smart enough to know where the suggestions were coming from.


Mona Pereth wrote:
Anyhow, back to your former boss and his seemingly bad decision. Another possible reason for the reluctance to replace production equipment might be that it might have implied an admission that errors had been made in the purchase of the original production equipment, and perhaps your boss perceived that to be a political no-no?


Another good suggestion but no, the equipment that was only operating at 64% was fine, it was just the equipment had a shelf life and should be replaced every six months - at the time they were 19 months old.



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25 Jul 2021, 8:25 pm

Easiest:

Collaborating on some kind of task with one other person with whom I'm already familiar and comfortable. The nature of the task isn't very important - digging a hole or moving furniture is fine - but it has to just be involving enough that visual non-verbal communication isn't too practical, and breaks from casual conversation for a moment of concentration (on the task or otherwise) aren't a problem.

Or, again with one other similar person, an incredibly deep; penetrating conversation about a topic of particular interest to us both (the kind of thing that would usually elicit "oh, will you two stop being so damned serious for a moment" if there were anyone else present!). In a room where aside from our speech, you could hear a pin drop.

Worst:

Any kind of extremely important official conversation over the telephone (either of those two things on their own are seriously anxiety inducing). Especially if I'm the one who has to make the call (cue hours, days, sometimes weeks or months, of wearing tracks in the carpet while tippy-toe flappy-flappy scripting and procrastinating - or just doing without that money that I really, really needed for essential supplies because, frankly, starving is infinitely preferable).

Negotiating my way through over-familiar, touchy-feely, jostling, drunk, noisy strangers, desperately scanning for a face which looks vaguely familiar before or after a gig (my love of live music doesn't overcome this one very often, sadly, and it led to the demise of my own time performing in bands - I rarely got "stage fright", but I sure as hell got acute "off-stage fright").

Bonus extra:

Anything where there are multiple extroverted people packed into a room and there are several simultaneous conversations going, and I'm not entirely sure whether I'm included in any of them or not. This kind of thing is extremely difficult for me to participate in, especially so if the conversation subjects are anything remotely likely to be popular with such groups of people and the background music is both too loud and horribly cheesy. However, this isn't the worst because it's a pretty easy situation to simply sit back and zone out from without anyone else really noticing most of the time - well; right up until some annoying, patronising git comes over to attempt to "engage my enthusiasm" and illustrate what "fun" I'm allegedly missing out on. It's also not the worst because, as you may have guessed, I gave up on forcing myself to do it a long time ago.


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26 Jul 2021, 3:56 am

Hmm well, I suppose easiest would be a one on one talk to someone about something that interests us both and that both of us know a decent amount of. Official stuff like going to a doctor is also very easy if it's a routine like thing and I know what I'm supposed to say and do.

Hardest, well, lots of things are hard and I'm not sure what to point out as hardest. I can handle general small talk well when it's about the weather (around here, it's about the weather very often), or some little "what have you been up to lately" -kind of question from the neighbors, or if we're talking about some subject on surface level that I know about, like local politics, but if the subject is something like current popular artists or actors, I'm completely lost. I don't follow that kind of stuff and can't really make small talk of them.
Small talk with relatives is especially hard, too. I don't know if it's like this everywhere, or if it's just around here or just my family (doubt it), but there are some unwritten rules of how much and what is one allowed to or what they're supposed to tell to which relative and what's too much. I always fear of saying too much and making the relative uncomfortable or, which is worse for me personally, my mom overhearing and giving me the look after I've said something. Sometimes I don't even know what I got the look for. And since I usually need a ride to visit relatives, mom tends to be there too. Unless it's some sort of big family gathering, where mom is often busy with some relatives and I can talk to others, so she won't hear.



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26 Jul 2021, 7:55 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
I'm a bit puzzled here. First off, when you speak of "people from a foreign country," are you talking about people from other countries whom you are interacting with here in the U.S.A., or people in other countries that you have visited? Also, assuming you are talking about people you've met here in the U.S.A., are you talking about ordinary immigrants and/or tourists, or are you talking more specifically about wealthy people who are here on business trips, to whom you are trying to sell something -- and who, therefore, expect to be treated like kings? (I ask the latter because you mentioned reading up on "international business etiquette rules.")

Personally, my experience -- at least with ordinary immigrants -- has been very different from what you've described. If I don't understand what they are saying, I just ask them to repeat it, or I ask for clarification -- no big deal. (Doing so is NOT rude, as long as you aren't impatient or condescending about it.) And, usually, I don't even try to interpret their body language (unless it's glaringly obvious), nor do I think they expect me to. Usually it's enough just to make sure that I understand their literal words, and that they understand mine.

My biggest social difficulties have been with people born here in the U.S.A., who do expect me to be able to interpret their body language and other assorted subtleties. People from overseas expect that they may need to work hard to be understood, whereas people born here are much more likely to get impatient with misunderstandings.


Actually this is a good example. You ignored my entire post and pulled this one part out to disagree with me and criticize what I had said as if I were criticizing people from other countries. You are reading things into what I said that I did not say.
I are assuming I must be some kind of bad person, that the experiences I am talking about must be false because they are not your experiences. I am not saying anything bad about anyone but myself. I am saying I have a harder time communicating with people who have a different social context than I do.

I work with computers. I have many co-workers from many parts of the world, who currently live in the USA. They may be peers, superiors or people several steps further from the CEO than I am in the org chart. I have traveled outside of the USA (where I live) to other countries. I often work with people who are currently living in other countries, but who telecommute. I have in many cases no idea if these people are immigrants or simply working in the country (or with the country). They do not offer the information and I do not ask for the information. It is very easy to be labeled a "bigot" if the topic is brought up at all. I am making no distinction about someone who is a citizen or not a citizen. I am talking about the original question - what areas of social skills to I have the most trouble with.

Social skills have to do with decoding meaning in verbal and nonverbal communications that are not literal. These rules often require understanding many different things including context. In the USA I miss a lot of context because I have trouble "reading people" and "speaking" with my social skills. I have even less context when the person grew with different social rules and habits. The idea that there are "unwritten social rules" is true, but these unwritten rules change from country to country. Sometimes from state to state, or even from neighborhood too neighborhood. When I am trying to fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle I make more mistakes when there is a different background. How close should you be standing when speaking to someone - it is different from country to country. Is it good manors or bad manors to use someone's first name, or personal name (if that happens to be your last name) or last name or family name? It changes from country to country. Is it polite to make small talk before business, or business first? What about eye contact? Physical contact? Who speaks first? Who walks first in a group? Food? Eating? Talking about social status? The list goes on and on.

And . . .
Is it considered polite or rude to point out differences?
Is it better to pretend we are all the same - or at least only talk about the sameness?

I was once in England and trying to pick up the local accent - one of the people traveling with me berated me for "making fun of (someone)'s accent". I was just trying to fit in. I could mention many other examples but I would rather not.
As I say - it is easy to be labeled a "bigot".


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28 Jul 2021, 5:23 pm

Fenn wrote:
Actually this is a good example. You ignored my entire post and pulled this one part out to disagree with me and criticize what I had said as if I were criticizing people from other countries. You are reading things into what I said that I did not say.
I are assuming I must be some kind of bad person, that the experiences I am talking about must be false because they are not your experiences.

I'm sorry to have come across to you as jumping to nasty conclusions about you. I am trying to understand why your experiences are different from mine. Hence all the questions I asked.

Fenn wrote:
I am not saying anything bad about anyone but myself. I am saying I have a harder time communicating with people who have a different social context than I do.

I think most people -- including most NT's, not just autistic people -- have a harder time communicating with people who have a different social context than they do. At the same time -- in my experience (at least with in-person interaction here in the NYC metro area) -- when people of many different cultural backgrounds are thrown together, there is also more acceptance of communication difficulties, which makes it easier to straighten out misunderstandings.

Fenn wrote:
I work with computers. I have many co-workers from many parts of the world, who currently live in the USA. They may be peers, superiors or people several steps further from the CEO than I am in the org chart. I have traveled outside of the USA (where I live) to other countries. I often work with people who are currently living in other countries, but who telecommute. I have in many cases no idea if these people are immigrants or simply working in the country (or with the country). They do not offer the information and I do not ask for the information. It is very easy to be labeled a "bigot" if the topic is brought up at all. I am making no distinction about someone who is a citizen or not a citizen.

Indeed it's not cool to ask people questions about things like their immigration status or where they are from, if they don't volunteer the info.

I was trying to get a feel for your overall situation. It now sounds like what you are describing is a situation of international business-oriented telecommuting -- a situation I'm not very familiar with. The experiences of my own that I was referring to involved mostly in-person interaction in different neighborhoods here in the New York City metro area.

Does the international telecommuting that you've experienced occur primarily via email, text-based chat, phone conference calls, or video chat? Which of these media do you find hardest or easiest to deal with?

Fenn wrote:
I am talking about the original question - what areas of social skills to I have the most trouble with.

Social skills have to do with decoding meaning in verbal and nonverbal communications that are not literal. These rules often require understanding many different things including context. In the USA I miss a lot of context because I have trouble "reading people" and "speaking" with my social skills. I have even less context when the person grew with different social rules and habits. The idea that there are "unwritten social rules" is true, but these unwritten rules change from country to country. Sometimes from state to state, or even from neighborhood too neighborhood. When I am trying to fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle I make more mistakes when there is a different background.

That is certainly true. When people come from different cultural backgrounds, there are many more possible sources of misunderstandings.

But what's important, in my opinion, is not just how many different possible sources of misunderstanding there are, but also how forgiving people are about the misunderstandings, and how willing they are to put effort into clearing things up.

When autistic people have misunderstandings with NT's, the misunderstandings are often greatly exacerbated by NT's getting impatient with us about the misunderstandings and refusing to clarify things we should "just know." This makes the misunderstandings much worse than they would otherwise be. But this is less likely to happen when there are fewer things it is assumed that people will "just know."

Perhaps your international tele-commuting situation is a less forgiving environment than my neighborhood? Perhaps, for example, if you are under extreme pressure from your boss to be culturally competent, this makes the environment less forgiving than a highly multicultural environment would otherwise be?

Fenn wrote:
I was once in England and trying to pick up the local accent - one of the people traveling with me berated me for "making fun of (someone)'s accent". I was just trying to fit in.

I've never visited England, but, if I were ever to visit England, I wouldn't try to pick up the local accent. I think I'd be better off leaving it obvious that I'm an American and focusing just on being polite, not on trying to blend it.

This leads me to wonder if some of your difficulties getting along with people of other cultural backgrounds might result from trying too hard to blend in with them, creating an "uncanny valley" effect and perhaps also resulting in people being less forgiving than they would otherwise be.


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Joe90
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28 Jul 2021, 6:13 pm

The social things I find easy/natural:-

- Making eye contact when interacting with people
- Doing casual small talk
- Having conversations
- Good at listening, not interrupting people mid-sentence or abruptly changing the subject
- Feeling compassionate empathy for others, showing that I care
- Recognising non-verbal social cues most of the time
- Try to understand and even agree with their point of view even if I don't feel the same way
- Knowing when to lie; not being brutally honest
- Can usually understand jokes, sarcasm and metaphors (even if I don't get a joke I still know that it's a joke and I'll still laugh and pretend to be interested)
- I enjoy company and socialising
- I can express my feelings
- Can usually tell the difference between someone laughing with me and someone laughing at me (even some NTs can't seem to tell the difference)
- I don't monologue or talk excessively about a particular interest
- I have a good imagination


The things that make me socially awkward:-

- Not asking others about themselves; always feeling awkward when I find the cue to ask them things and then backing out and then they think I'm not interested in them
- Impulsive urge to repeat things; habitually repeating a phrase (not all at one time but just enough times a day/week to be considered annoying)
- Due to hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour, I can be annoying (but I am aware that I'm annoying)
- I consciously avoid eye contact with strangers I pass in the street because I think they are staring at me or will stare if I look at them
- I express my feelings too often and too much, to the point where I come across as whiny
- I can come across as nosy (I don't know if I am nosy or just curious or interested in what's going on. But I find life boring when you don't know anything)
- I can sometimes respond to someone confiding in me like "yeah, I feel that way" or "yeah that's how I would feel" or "yeah, I haven't done that", but I'm not intending on making the conversation be about myself, I just like to relate and this is how I do it
- I find it hard to form friendships with NT females my age
- I often mumble, if I'm not mumbling I'm shouting excitedly
- I sometimes say stupid or inappropriate things; make myself look daft (I don't always think before saying stupid things). Like I'll habitually say things that "don't need to be said"
- Very occasionally I can make a "typical Aspie" social error and then beat myself up about it for the rest of my life. Luckily this doesn't happen often (about once a year if that)
- I can talk too much, sometimes at the wrong times (which can be embarrassing especially when I get people going ssshhh) :oops:
- I find some things hard to explain in words, so tend to overuse words like "thing" because I can't think of a 'bigger' word to explain my point
- No good at being in an authoritative position


I can't think of anything else right now but this list sums up rather accurately how I am socially.


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29 Jul 2021, 8:33 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
I've never visited England, but, if I were ever to visit England, I wouldn't try to pick up the local accent. I think I'd be better off leaving it obvious that I'm an American and focusing just on being polite, not on trying to blend it.

This leads me to wonder if some of your difficulties getting along with people of other cultural backgrounds might result from trying too hard to blend in with them, creating an "uncanny valley" effect and perhaps also resulting in people being less forgiving than they would otherwise be.


If someone from England was visiting the united states and they spoke to you with an American accent would you think they were trying to make fun of you? Or would you just think they were talking?

The people I work with may be in the same room with me or may be on the other end of a computer connection.
I actually find I do best in text-chat when it comes to electronic communication. Not as much to figure out. But I work best in a small co-located team as a general rule.

The uncanny-valley thing might have some truth - but frankly I think I fit in better for making an effort than I did before I started making an effort. I think some people are hypersensative about being politically correct.

I was once working with a group of engineers. One was born in Mexico, one was born in India, one was Italian American and one was Irish American. Both myself and one of the engineers were married to someone who was German American - and the subject often came up.

We were all in the same building.

I looked up etiquette rules for different cultures and the results were interesting:

https://businessculture.org/northern-eu ... etiquette/

https://businessculture.org/western-eur ... n-germany/

https://www.globig.co/blog/a-quick-guid ... -in-mexico

https://businessculture.org/southern-eu ... -in-italy/

https://asialinkbusiness.com.au/india/c ... -etiquette

https://bizfluent.com/about-6167549-bus ... e-usa.html


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