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Jayo
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28 Jun 2021, 7:33 pm

Here's an interesting little social experiment for us folks with ASD/HFA. I'm sure we know all too well about how many folks will be "frosty" towards us, or avoid or feel contempt for us b/c of our awkwardness with nonverbal nuances, theory of mind and unspoken rules...

So, when you catch one of those NT people alone - not with their group or clique - ask him/her something like:
"I've noticed you seem kind of distant or negative around me, but...I have no idea why. Honestly, I don't." :)

You need to say it with a slight smirk, subtle, with a bit of wavering in your tone in the last part of that phrase... so that they'll pick up that you have at least SOME indication - and you just wanna hear what they have to say. Otherwise, you might come across as pathetic on one side or confrontational on the other. 8O Basically giving NTs a taste of their own medicine - hence the maxim "up to 90% of communication is nonverbal".

I would hypothesize that the response would depend to a large extent on what gender you and the other person are.

It might range from denial, to a blunt "because you're weird / everyone I know thinks that about you, not just me" or an awkward "I don't know...I've never really thought about it..." followed by some token cue to change the subject or that they gotta go do something urgent to get away from the awkwardness. Maybe a small percentage would feel the need to give you helpful feedback without being overly abrasive. It WOULD be an interesting experiment though :)

Incidentally, I've occasionally pondered what life might be like if more peers gave us constructive feedback (a very rare response IME) w/o hidden agenda of disinformation / expecting us to make spectacles of ourselves - would we improve to a greater extent, or not? It's kind of a paradox b/c if enough people respond in a more benign, enlightened way, then it sort of removes the incentive to refine our mannerisms (i.e. no social consequences for breaking "unwritten rules" or taking things literally). But I digress.

In any case, I don't think it would be an outright uber-hostile "Because you're a f***ng loser and you should go kill yourself" - only from those around the age of 13 maybe. In early-to-mid-20s, more rare. Even rarer beyond.
Thank goodness...



ToughDiamond
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29 Jun 2021, 1:14 am

I'm not sure whether you'd want people to try that on people who had been "OK" with us before and had suddenly become colder, or on those who are just uniformly lukewarm from the start. If it's the latter, I suspect it would be invasive to ask them why. My way is just to accept that they're not interested in me. These days I tend to feel that nobody has a particular obligation to get into friendly banter with me, a stranger. Even if they've seen me around before, why should they feel it's their job to befriend me? Sure, it would be nice if people were always friendly, but I've rarely seen that, except in some rural areas where people seem to chat with strangers quite liberally. The denser the population, the more reserved people seem to be, perhaps because cities are relatively dangerous places. If it's a party or something I'd expect a little more friendliness, but I guess a lot of people have their own ideas about who they want to talk to, and it'll likely be in their body language whether they're open to banter with me or not. I don't like it when they seem closed to me, if I'm short of somebody to talk to and feeling out of it, but I feel I have little choice but to respect their decision. Frankly I'm unlikely to even approach them unless I get a signal or two that it's OK, which is probably why I tend to avoid get-togethers.

And I'm sure I often come over as rather aloof myself. My brother in law tried to "socialise" with me a bit the other day, but I was just too preoccupied to know what to say back (I often don't know what to say to people at social events, and I don't really do small talk), and I fear I may have given the impression of blowing him off. If he'd asked me why, I'd have felt cornered. The truth is, although I don't dislike him, I've heard he can be rather invasive and hard to get rid of, and he does seem rather desperate to have a conversation and not get ignored, which makes me wary of giving him an inch. But if he asked me, I'd be very unlikely to bluntly explain that. I might if I had a lot of time free and was prepared to take responsibility for giving such frank criticism, if I felt ready and able to allay any offense I might give him, but I'd have to be very much on form to be confident enough. So I might say something like "it's not you, I just don't have much energy for chatting today" - which wouldn't be far from the truth at all. In effect a question like that would be asking me to operate some very good social skills, and it's been a long time since I've felt adventurous and positive enough about people to fly so close to the sun.

And we were not alone, we were supposed to be celebrating Father's Day, and I fear if too much plain truth had spilled out, the other people might have overheard another big strand of why I was so quiet - I hadn't wanted to go to the ritual at all, it was just to please my father in law, and as my gut had told me not to go, I found myself unable to do anything but tread water. I just wanted to piddle around on the internet on my own really. I sense they'd have all felt offended. I just can't rise to the occasion, so I just give them the occasional nod or smile, try to answer questions, go along with the ritual I don't like, and heave a sigh of relief when it's time to go home.

So maybe that will give you an idea of the can of worms I fear such an experiment might open. Your description of the tone of voice etc. to use isn't clear to me, and if I did happen to ask such a question I'd feel compelled to use my own mannerisms and vocabulary anyway.

The nearest I've come to it has been when people who have been warm to me have suddenly cooled off. My first resort is to give it time and see if they warm up again. My second might be to ask, though I'd want to pick the right moment, which might not happen. I've said things like "you seem a bit quiet today, is everything OK?" But depending on how close we've been before, I might not get an honest answer. Like I said, I might not be exactly truth-and-whole-truth if it was me being asked, so I can hardly expect everybody to be that candid or brutally frank. My father put me on the spot once and said I'd seemed distant for months, and asked me why, and I just felt acutely embarrassed and couldn't answer. By that time we weren't that close, and he wouldn't have been a very easy person to have that kind of conversation with. He was a nice man, but very overbearing and verbose with it, and I often felt invaded in his presence, so I'd found myself taking to keeping him at arm's length. He found it hard to attract friends, though some (rare) people got on very well with him. Sometimes I'm just not ready to have such a confrontational dialogue.

Reading between the lines of your post, I sense you want to know why people seem frosty towards you, and why people seem so frosty towards Aspies in general. In as far as they are especially frosty to us, I suppose it's the body language and interpersonal style that's off, maybe they sense that rather than know it consciously, and they steer clear because they don't feel comfortable with the unfamiliar. And politeness in many social circles forbids much criticism and confrontation. Blowing people off without making it obvious is a common social skill, and if the rejected person tries to pin it down and force the mask off them, it would probably just be acutely embarrassing to a polite person.



Joe90
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29 Jun 2021, 6:08 am

Not me, it'd feel too awkward, like a confrontation, and usually these things are great material for gossip or ridicule. I just take a step back and just act nice and like I'm not bothered, that way people can't really find much about you to gossip or laugh about behind your back. I know that everybody talks about everybody behind their back, even I do, but I don't want to be the spectacle.


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hurtloam
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29 Jun 2021, 7:40 am

I've had constructive feedback. I've toned down my manner. I came over as condescending. I really try not to be now.

Apparently I'm "too independent". I told that person to take a hike. When you've been let down a lot it's very difficult to trust people. If I can do something myself, I will do it myself rather than ask someone. So sue me. I don't care if that makes me look like a loner, it's not like anyone was going to help anyway.

My Mum says I'm too intelligent. I'm not changing that either. I can't pretend to like things I don't like just to befriend people I have no connection with.

Feedback isn't always useful.

I've learned that it's better to do my own thing and not burden people with my presence.



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29 Jun 2021, 7:59 am

What the OP proposes is closely related to "Negging" -- a method used by pick-up artists (PUAs) to nudge people out of their psychological "comfort zones" and begin a conversation.


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ToughDiamond
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29 Jun 2021, 8:29 pm

hurtloam wrote:
I've had constructive feedback. I've toned down my manner. I came over as condescending. I really try not to be now.

Apparently I'm "too independent". I told that person to take a hike. When you've been let down a lot it's very difficult to trust people. If I can do something myself, I will do it myself rather than ask someone. So sue me. I don't care if that makes me look like a loner, it's not like anyone was going to help anyway.

My Mum says I'm too intelligent. I'm not changing that either. I can't pretend to like things I don't like just to befriend people I have no connection with.

Feedback isn't always useful.

I've learned that it's better to do my own thing and not burden people with my presence.

Too independent - yet the world talks of dependency as if it were an affliction. There's a saying, "if you want a job doing right, do it yourself," which is fairly close to my gut reaction. But more recently I've noticed that sometimes people actually like helping me, and that it can come over as a bit aloof to never trust anybody with anything, sort of a "stay out of it, you'd only mess it up for me." Still, what can you do when involving others is so often more trouble than it's worth? It might be worth sharing a task as a kind of friendly gesture, and collective working can be very rewarding and create bonds between people, but personally I tend to limit it to tasks where I don't much care about the result, so in a way it's a bit of a placebo.

Too intelligent - what am I supposed to do, take "stupid" pills? I suppose I could always drink alcohol. Again I think I tend to use a placebo, translating my phrases into something less highbrow so they don't get envious of my intellect, and trying not to get too analytical and deep so they don't find it too heavy or hard to follow. Uneducated people don't easily relate to people who come over as educated. Actually my "placebo" technique isn't completely dishonest and condescending, because I have a lot of respect for people who express themselves in simple terms, as long as they're intelligible and saying something worth hearing. Using highly-educated language is probably no better than talking like Trump, except that the former is at least accurate - in both cases there are loads of people who won't be reached and won't like hearing it. I think it's useful to tailor it to the audience. And I think it's useful to mostly keep away from people who aren't very bright, though that's not always possible for all of us.