How to improve social skills without knowing what's wrong

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VeggieGirl
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02 Feb 2013, 9:05 pm

How do you improve your social skills when you don't know what you're doing wrong? Someone just mentioned that I have "interpersonal" problems, and I don't even know what I am doing wrong! I am a very nice person. I don't argue with people. I collaborate with people when needed. Yet apparently, despite my work, I still have deficient social skills. And I have no idea what I am doing wrong, other than maybe I am not outgoing enough.

Does anyone have any advice on how to improve your social skills without knowing what you are doing wrong?



ASDsmom
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02 Feb 2013, 9:11 pm

"Interpersonal skills include, not only how we communicate with others, but also our confidence and our ability to listen and understand. Problem solving, decision making and personal stress management, are also considered interpersonal skills."

I had to look it up to know exactly what it meant. Does any of this ring true to you?
One way of improving our social skills is to ask a trusted friend/family to explain to you what they notice.

Me, I have a tendency of interrupting people, sometime. It's not that I mean to, I just have these thoughts that want to jump out. I have to make a conscious effort to "hold my tongue". It's getting better.



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02 Feb 2013, 10:21 pm

I put that kind of stuff into three categories, one of which you can learn (skill), one of which you can’t learn (instinct) and one of which is deliberate abuse by sociopaths.

Part One: Emily Post. The stuff you can explain in rational terms or put in a book. The kinds of things one can learn and apply to more than one situation. Traffic regulations are the best example: the rules are the same for everyone.

Part Two: Things people do instinctively and don’t even know what they’re doing or why. If you ask, they’ll make up some excuse for their own behavior and honestly believe the excuse, but the truth is that they have no idea, and therefore can NOT explain it to you. You might catch a clue if you study psychology, anthropology and such, but that stuff is only good for figuring out what just happened. After it’s too late for you to do anything about it.

Part three: You can’t learn it because they don’t want you to know. It’s like a never ending game of “Calvin Ball,” in which the only rule is that you can’t use the same rule twice. Also, it’s not what you do, but who you are. Double standards everywhere. Like when you have to kiss their butts and thank them for the privilege. And when the predators have decided you’re a target, you’ll never be allowed to do anything right.

Keep working on the learnable skills part.
But don’t believe everything people tell you.
And don’t beat yourself up for the stuff you can’t do.



infilove
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02 Feb 2013, 10:33 pm

I find it helpful to have someone close to you that's NT that can go out and hang out with you. I.e. I have a few close NT friends that know me that I often hang with that can often coach me and give me constructive critism and on some occasions even back me up if I faulter. I find that to be helpful. Siblings can really help you here!


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Moondust
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02 Feb 2013, 11:53 pm

I'd start working on the issue of reciprocity. That's where we have most trouble generally.

But in general, my life has been a long string of improving social skills that didn't need improving and didn't make any difference. Precisely because how can I improve if I don't know what needs improving to start with. The hard part is knowing what we're doing wrong. Improving is easy. From my experience, people are very unreliable sources of feedback. At best, they don't know on a conscious level what you're doing wrong or how to phrase it. Usually, they give up because it's too much effort. And at worst, they want you in the dark so they can take advantage of you.


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vk2goh
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03 Feb 2013, 6:51 am

VeggieGirl wrote:
How do you improve your social skills when you don't know what you're doing wrong? Someone just mentioned that I have "interpersonal" problems, and I don't even know what I am doing wrong! I am a very nice person. I don't argue with people. I collaborate with people when needed. Yet apparently, despite my work, I still have deficient social skills. And I have no idea what I am doing wrong, other than maybe I am not outgoing enough.

Does anyone have any advice on how to improve your social skills without knowing what you are doing wrong?


I feel the same way as you. I really hate having to admit that there is something wrong with me no matter how hard I've actually tried to fix things. I always end up in pointless arguments with my family about it.

Its really hard to improve your social skills without knowing what you are doing wrong. If you should get someone to point out your problems, make it someone who you can trust and that will respect you no matter what happens



gigstalksguy
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03 Feb 2013, 8:53 am

Social dynamics is such a complex business because there are so many different types of social situations we all face, and require slightly different skills. However there are several principles that I have learned, partly through coaching, so I hope this helps.

Firstly, if we're honest, we are all more interested in ourselves than anyone else, so when you having a casual conversation you need to consider this and show an interest in whoever you're talking to. The trouble is, if you do this by asking loads of questions it becomes like an interview and its hard work for the other person, so you want to listen carefully to everything they say and respond with interest and some social intelligence. If you need to 'invest' something into the conversation, people will enjoy talking to you more

For example, I once had a conversation with a guy who was a friend of friends, he told me he'd just finished uni doing sports coaching and now looking for job, so I said "so are you thinking of something like a PE teacher?" This is way better than saying "so what kind of job do you want?" because here I am making an intelligent assumption based upon what he just told me. Think about other people you talk to, you probably enjoy chatting with the people that show interest in you and listen and respond with understanding. This is a good way to start. Hope that helps, (if not just ask). :D


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Cookiemobsta
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03 Feb 2013, 11:02 pm

Two ways.

A friend/family member/counselor is the best way. Have them observe your interactions, and then reflect back to you the areas they see you need to improve.

You can also use social skills guides. Read a book or use a website (like the one in my signature) that teach you how to do a particular part of social interaction. Then, compare your behaviors to the guide. So for instance, if a guide teaches you how to ask good questions, compare the questions you ask versus the advice, and then try to adjust your questions to what is written in the guide. This is not as good as having a live person to help you, but you can work on it on your own whenever you like, which is helpful.



Stargazer43
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04 Feb 2013, 12:04 am

This is a big problem I have as well. I do have some ideas as to what I may be doing wrong, but certainly nothing conclusive. I have seen therapists in the past to work on improving my social skills and it does help, they can tell you some of the things you may be doing wrong, but not all of them. I think that this is something that a lot of people on this forum struggle with: being "almost" good at socializing, but just not quite there, and not really knowing why.

Perhaps you could ask the person who said you have interpersonal problems exactly what they meant. If they are open to helping you, see if they can suggest how you might go about improving. I wish that I could offer you more advice, but unfortunately I'm in need of some advice of my own on this topic lol.