Social awkwardness can be a common experience for people living with disabilities. Especially if you’re very self-conscious.
Many years ago I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, just like my three sons. But I’ve worked so hard over the years to become so proficient in social strategies that today I no longer fit the diagnostic criteria.
I remember the days when I pissed people off by saying the wrong things, was accused of insensitivity because of my blunt honesty and the list goes on. I was so hungry for belonging that I stopped at nothing until I achieved it.
Unfortunately, until you have the skills you need, you could end up trying so hard and feel so afraid you’ll look bad in front of others that you become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This topic came up in one of my group coaching calls yesterday. I’ll give you a synopsis of what I taught my clients.
People judge! That’s a reality. No matter how open minded you believe yourself to be, your mind likes to label and categorize. It’s your awareness of and acceptance of this fact that determines how much it influences you. If you deny that it does it’ll sabotage your relationships.
So what the hell do you do when you’re afraid of being judged by people who will likely judge you anyway?
You use a strategy a refer to as “Social Disclaimers.” This means you explain the rhyme and reason for a social quirk their likely to encounter while interacting with you and why it’s to their advantage to roll with it.
The anatomy of a social disclaimer is:
1) Describe the quirk
2) The problem it solves for you
3) The need it meets for them
Here are a few examples:
1) Eye Contact – “I just want you to know I may look away while you’re talking to me, that’s so I can tune in better to what you’re saying because I really want to hear you.
2) Monologuing – “If I ever get long-winded when I’m talking about something, please interrupt me I’m totally cool with it. I also want to hear your thoughts too.”
3) Boredom – “I sometimes forgot others aren’t as interested in certain things as I am. So if you ever get bored please ask to change the subject. It’s not all about me.”
4) Foot in mouth disease – “Sometimes things sound better in my head than they do when they come out of my mouth. If I ever say anything that upsets you tell me right away so I can clarify. I care about your feelings so I want to eliminate any misunderstandings between us.”
These are just examples and they’re more art than science. The key isn’t to memorize them but to develop your own based on beliefs that this kind of disclosure is necessary for healthy relationships.
There are likely many old ideas, habits and experiences you’ll have to work through before you find the confidence to use these strategies comfortably and consistently. That’s why this subject comes up on my group coaching calls. Because you don’t have to figure this out alone.
More people than you realize are living the same struggle and are getting the support they need to be more socially successful. I can help you too. Learn more at http://ResilienceWarriors.solutions
Thanks for being you,
You’ll have your share of naysayers when you’re neurodivergent. When I first enrolled in the Social Work Program, I had a professor who didn’t like me. She went out of her way to try and get me to drop out of the program. It was the early 1990’s and about a decade before I’d learn