One challenge for Aspergers in adults is understanding that the way we talk and present ourselves to others affects how they treat us.
Aspergers In Adults Communication Requires Self-Awareness
I used to lead groups for teenagers at a local hospital inpatient unit. One day I sat down to lead group and wondered why the kids were giggling and talking to each other. No matter how much I tried to redirect their attention to the topic at hand, they only seemed to get more distracted as I talked.
Finally, one kind teen had mercy on me and whispered to me, “Mr. Borgman, you’ve got to check your zipper!”
You guessed it: the zipper was down 🙂
This is a funny story at my expense, but it illustrates what happens if we’re not aware of ourselves when we get into a conversation with someone. People get distracted, annoyed, laugh at us, or write us off altogether.
Aspergers in Adults Communication Requires Awareness of Others
Leil Lowndes, in her How to Talk to Anyone, 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships, talks about the How of starting small talk.
She was invited to speak at a Mensa convention, a social group of people who score in the top 2% in intelligence. She got into the elevator with a number of people from the convention. On the way up to their respective floors, the elevator started jerking. “Hm, the elevator seems a bit shaky,” she remarked to the people in the elevator.
Suddenly, each elevator occupant, feeling compelled to exhibit his or her 132-plus IQ, pounced forth with a thunderous explanation. ‘It’s obviously got poor rail-guide alignment,’ announced one. ‘The relay contact is not made up,’ declared another. Suddenly I felt like a grasshopper trapped in a stereo speaker. I couldn’t wait to escape the attack of the mental giants.
She writes that she reflected on that moment when she got to her hotel room. It wasn’t that the comments weren’t interesting; it was that they gave too much information too soon. She was tired. The high energy and intensity of the comments “jarred my sluggish state.”
Make A Mood Match
Matching Others’ Mood Makes A Big Difference In Relationships and Communication
My family and I were travelling out-of-state. We were hungry and tired when we stopped at a local fast food restaurant. While we waited at the cash register, two people behind the counter were laughing and joking with each other. In the back, the food preparation people were walking around like corpses from an episode of the Living Dead. Each employee was communicating a message to us, the customers. “We don’t care about your business, and we don’t care about our jobs.” I don’t know if they really felt this way, but they obviously weren’t showing they cared.
I’ll contrast this experience with a waitress my wife and I met at a local diner where we went for brunch.
This waitress looked at each of us, signaling that she was paying attention to us. She smiled, showing that she was being friendly and wanted to help us.
She saw that we were customers, understood from our tones of voice and facial expressions that we mainly just wanted to eat and receive good customer service. We weren’t in a hurry, but we didn’t want to wait forever. This waitress checked in with us, but not too much. She was quick, efficient, and friendly.
The first establishment I mentioned above won’t ever get my business. The wait staff didn’t look at us, took a very long time to get our food ready, laughed and made jokes to each other in front of us, and turned away from us as if it was really hard work to serve us. However, I’ll probably go back to that diner I mentioned above, because the waitress matched our mood so well.
What’s a mood match? It’s listening to a person’s voice to detect his or her state of mind. Once you’ve listened to the tone and pace of voice, take note of the person’s expression to see whether she or he is happy, bored, or uninterested.
Think about pairs skating. Each skater has to individually learn certain moves. But then she or he must match the partner’s movements as well.
In the same way, you can watch for certain clues to make a proper mood match.
Listen to the tone of voice.
Is it loud, soft, or variable, or monotone? You can respond with the same tone to make a match.
Listen to the pace of the voice.
Is it fast, slow, or in-between? You can respond with the same pace of voice.
Check the person’s facial expressions.
Does she or he look happy? Excited? Bored? Sad? Anxious?
If you need some help learning facial expressions, check out this article about understanding facial expressions.
An intriguing book [based on relevancy and quality reviews on Amazon.com, ] to help you learn facial expressions, is The Micro Expressions Book For Business, by Patrick and Kasia Wezowski.
I hope you enjoyed this communication tip for Aspergers adults. You can read more tips from Leil Lowndes in her book, How to Talk to Anyone, 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships.
Tell me your thoughts. Do you think the mood match technique is helpful? Why or why not?
photo credit Alan Turkis