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Feeling Alone

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Peridot
5 hours ago, Sanctuary said:

I think it may have been Peridot sometime ago who likened himself (and maybe others with ASD) to extras in a movie. We are often the ones who just seem to be part of the scenery or crowd whose words and personality can be overlooked. Among friends or acquaintances our status rises to bit-part actors or even to "supporting actor" but rarely do we become the stars or even "central performers".

Yes, I do remember saying something like that a while ago.

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Nesf
2 hours ago, Sanctuary said:

I would also say (at the risk of seeming pompous) that a lot of social conversation seems banal to me and makes me reluctant to contribute. It also often covers topics of which I have little experience or interest although they are fascinating to others.

I agree, small talk can seem banal and rather pointless to us, but to most people is has a social function - it's not about the words or the subject itself, but about the exchanging of emotions - this is how people bond with each other. We find small talk boring because we don't use this form of communication, we communicate in words, not emotions, so the 'effect' is lost on us.

2 hours ago, Sanctuary said:

You're right that being invited into a conversation can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes we'd rather just sit on the sidelines or not be there at all. However on occasion we are looking for an opportunity to get involved and that invitation is welcomed. It's a social skill to recognise when someone might welcome being drawn into an encounter or conversation and when they'd rather not get involved - it's a difficult skill but on the whole I welcome someone who shows that sensitivity to reach out to others and break out of the social "bubble" that some groups become.

I agree that people could make more of an effort to draw a person who finds it hard to participate into the conversation. People are often downright rude - they interrupt, don't listen, don't let people speak, talk over the top of others. As Aspies we tend to assume that we are ones lacking in social skills, but NTs can have varying social skills too, and in every group there is usually one person who dominates the conversation and won't let others speak - this is also down to personality.

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ZacWolf

In January I had an important job interview for a  job I really wanted very badly, so I hired an interview coach.

The very first thing he taught me was:

"You are responsible for how you make another person feel."

At first, I laughed, and he asked me why I laughed, and I had to ask if he was really serious, and he told me yes he was. I'm 51 years old, and never in my entire life have I *EVER* felt it was my responsibility for how I made another person feel when I interacted with them. After thinking about it for a while, it hit me like a sledgehammer that not understanding this was at the core of SO many bad interpersonal interactions from my past.

But even with that newfound understanding, I looked at this guy with all seriousness and asked him truthfully, "Isn't that exhausting?"

It makes no sense to me that instead of teaching everyone how to feel good about themselves and be cognizant of both their abilities and limitations, instead, we force this responsibility on Others; what a waste!

 

I think for introverts and those of us with different social expectations, the entire process of interacting with someone is always going to be a net loss of energy, whereas extroverts and their ilk actually receive energy from all or parts of these types of interactions to make the interaction either a net gain or at least a zero-sum energy expenditure.

From this point-of-view, I have always defined "loneliness" as social situations where, of your own free will, you are willing to expend energy, yet instead of being grateful of that, Others take for granted that it's just your responsibility. {shrug}

 

P.S. I didn't get the job. 😪

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Sanctuary
10 hours ago, ZacWolf said:

In January I had an important job interview for a  job I really wanted very badly, so I hired an interview coach.

The very first thing he taught me was:

"You are responsible for how you make another person feel."

I'm not quite clear what this interview coach meant. If he were saying that our actions have consequences and have some impact on the mood and feelings of others that is a fair enough statement and we should always be mindful to be polite and helpful to others. If though he were saying this was solely our responsibility that is quite wrong as how another person feels is down to many factors. I would say that often individuals with ASD or social anxiety become too mindful of the impact of their interaction on others - they worry too much about how their words and actions are interpreted. This can then result in anxious and unconfident behaviour which contrasts with the greater spontaneity and confidence of neurotypical people. There are no easy answers in these situations and I'm sorry you didn't get the job (something I've also experienced all too many times). Sometimes it is best to just act in ways we feel comfortable rather than putting on an act, although of course politeness and helpfulness are always required.

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Nesf
11 hours ago, ZacWolf said:

"You are responsible for how you make another person feel."

At first, I laughed, and he asked me why I laughed, and I had to ask if he was really serious, and he told me yes he was. I'm 51 years old, and never in my entire life have I *EVER* felt it was my responsibility for how I made another person feel when I interacted with them. After thinking about it for a while, it hit me like a sledgehammer that not understanding this was at the core of SO many bad interpersonal interactions from my past.

I disagree with your coach. You can't be responsible for other people's feelings, people are responsible for their own feelings and have to deal with or take control of them. For example, if I say something that another person takes the wrong way and is then offended, then it's not my fault. I'm not responsible for how a person might choose to interpret something I said or did. If I don't like something or don't agree with a fact that another person tells me, then it's up to me to deal with it. Or someone could just be having a shitty day, am I respensible for they way they feel?

However, if I deliberately insult or hurt someone, then yes, I am the cause of this feeling (though the person still has to deal with this, I can't deal with it for them). But I don't deliberately insult or hurt people because once bad feelings are caused, they are there forever, and I have empathy, I'm not that kind of person.

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ZacWolf
4 hours ago, Nesf said:

I disagree with your coach.

 

At first, I disagreed as well, but no matter how irrational, or how much we disagree, the simple truth is that the vast majority of people DO work this way, so if you want to have successful interpersonal relationships then this is simply a rule you have to integrate into your cognitive arsenal. {shrug}

When I was younger I would have, like you, disagreed vehemently and even resented the necessity of it, but just like I've integrated concentrated eye contact and smiling into my cognitive arsenal, I have likewise started to integrate this into my check-list when interacting with people, and I must say that the results are difficult to argue with.

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ZacWolf
6 hours ago, Sanctuary said:

I would say that often individuals with ASD or social anxiety become too mindful of the impact of their interaction on others - they worry too much about how their words and actions are interpreted.

 

This is a very good point. I am still new to this and as is my usual modus-operandi, I tend to believe that everyone acts as I do; lack of confidence never being something I've suffered from...

The important thing the rule is trying to convey is that you have a responsibility to VERIFY how you're making another person feel. Realizing that even those not on the spectrum have differing levels of empathy, and as a result, it is too easy to confuse projection with empathy. This coach also told me that his goal was to make these "rules" intuitive, and I had to stop and explain to him that because I was on the spectrum they would never be intuitive, that they would always be something that I would have to consciously/cognitively apply, so while I could get better/faster at identifying a situation and matching the proper rule to that situation, it would never be natural/intuitive as he understood it.

So, even in these cases that you mention, the "rule" could be applied if one internalizes the fact that being TOO mindful of impact can leave the other person feeling just as negatively towards you as would overconfidence or being mindless. I interpret the rule as a challenge to not just ignore, or even worse to guess, how I'm making someone feel, but to actually check in with them.

I believe that when establishing rules for cognitive reconditioning, it is important that the rule be short and especially be very open-ended and open to interpretation. It has been my experience that the best rules are those that I initially disagree with (often vehemently), but that I apply with a certain degree of faith until I establish enough real-world data to decide if the outcome outweighs the means.

My first major job was at Walt Disney World and I have to say that because of their intense customer service focused training, I am a completely different person than I would have been without that conditioning. The job set me on a career path that I am only just now beginning to put into perspective.

In my last job of 15 years, at about the 7yr mark, I connected with a Manager in a way that felt great. He understood me, and he understood how best to apply me (or so I thought). I was his attack dog. Anytime one of the projects he was responsible for was missing deadlines, hitting dead ends, or struggling with bad team dynamics, he would place me on the project and it was my job to identify the problem. Sometimes that was an actual lack of resources (easy to solve; add more people, or do enough work for them to get them back on track), other times it was identifying a lack of skill or actual incompetence of the team or individuals. Here's the point; the only person's feelings that I was concerned with was my Manager, so the idea of how I made other people feel was frankly something that never even crossed my mind. In retrospect, I'll even admit to taking a perverse pride in the times when a team or an individual said something couldn't be done (or done in the timeline allotted) and I would go off in about two weeks and actually solve the problem (going so far as to develop a piece of code or create a tool to solve the problem), and come back and say "See, not only is the problem quite solvable, I've actually solved it for you." It never even once crossed my mind that such actions would (much less could) actually wound their pride.

This relationship went on for five years. He was promoted twice, and every time he was promoted he promoted me right along with him. I now realize that in actuality this manager was doing me a huge disservice. When we had a company-wide re-organization and we were separated no one wanted to work with me because I had crossed paths with so many people in a negative capacity. I couldn't understand their reticence, because even in cases of outright incompetence we never fired someone, we just moved them onto a different project that was more attuned to their skills and abilities. Furthermore, the projects were completed, and everyone on those teams benefited in terms of project bonuses, success stories, etc., ultimately why would it matter that a few people's pride had to get injured to achieve the outcome?

Because I was only concerned with how I made my manager feel, I was (without intent or malice) wounding the pride of my peers, and as a result, I was failing to build a professional network that could substantially help me today.  When that manager made VP, he no longer had need of me because he was now dealing in more strategic than functional deliverables.

But back to topic...

My takeaway is simple; one can disagree with such rules as much as one likes, but until you try it yourself, to establish enough real-world data, your disagreement gets you nowhere. {shrug}

 

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Nesf
14 hours ago, ZacWolf said:

The important thing the rule is trying to convey is that you have a responsibility to VERIFY how you're making another person feel.

How do you do that? For people on the spectrum, the intuition and ability to read people may be lacking. If someone is openly pleased or angry, then I get it, but when they are trying to supress or mask their emotions as people often do, then I don't pick up on it at all.

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Sanctuary

The coach is right inasmuch that we should be mindful of the ways our words and actions might be perceived by others. We've all had cases where someone has said something to us in a way that makes us feel small or devalued and other occasions where someone seems to have delivered much the same message in a way that is sensitive, supportive and positive. Finding the right words and actions though is not easy, especially in a fast-paced environment. Neurotypicals do seem to have more of an instinctive sense of what to do or say and don't have to plan or "calibrate" their responses in the ways autistic people have to do. They get things wrong as well but seem more able to ride out possible problems. Neurotypicals seem to be more able to build up a stock of goodwill or warmth which means that their blunders are overlooked or forgiven. 

Quote

This relationship went on for five years. He was promoted twice, and every time he was promoted he promoted me right along with him. I now realize that in actuality this manager was doing me a huge disservice. When we had a company-wide re-organization and we were separated no one wanted to work with me because I had crossed paths with so many people in a negative capacity. I couldn't understand their reticence, because even in cases of outright incompetence we never fired someone, we just moved them onto a different project that was more attuned to their skills and abilities. Furthermore, the projects were completed, and everyone on those teams benefited in terms of project bonuses, success stories, etc., ultimately why would it matter that a few people's pride had to get injured to achieve the outcome?

Because I was only concerned with how I made my manager feel, I was (without intent or malice) wounding the pride of my peers, and as a result, I was failing to build a professional network that could substantially help me today.  When that manager made VP, he no longer had need of me because he was now dealing in more strategic than functional deliverables.

All workers can be vulnerable when there is a change of management or leadership. New managers come in and have different ideas. Sometimes they perceive (not always fairly) that the established workers need to be "shaken-up" and either change or "be moved on". Often they want to bring in their own people (either those they've worked before or ones they've appointed themselves) and that can lead to the exclusion of the workforce they've "inherited". If those new leaders move on the same process starts again and can lead to the people they brought in being out of favour with the latest generation of leaders; it can sometimes mean those established workers who had been excluded come back into favour but once again they tend to give preference to their own "selections".

I think it can be especially difficult for any workers who are seen as the "proteges" - rightly or wrongly - of a specific leader as they are particularly vulnerable to change in leadership. If - as you state - they don't have many allies or supporters among other leaders or workers they can be left rather exposed. It is therefore best to avoid becoming identified with a specific leader or senior worker and to have a wider base of support but that is not easily achieved. One of the problems for workers with autism is they tend to lack the breadth and depth of workplace relationships of neurotypicals. Often they seem to be part of no networks or groups or have the specific favour of any manager; occasionally, as you outline, they have one or maybe two sources of support but that is a fragile position. There can though be some benefits to this relative isolation, e.g. the autistic worker is much less likely to be caught-up in cliques and "plots" and that may mean they are seen as more independent and trustworthy than more socially connected workers.

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