A single rose can be my garden….a single friend, my world. Leo Buscaglia
Finding Friends Is Like Playing The Piano
(You can listen to the full episode at the bottom of this post)
You don’t want to hear me play the piano. Trust me.
I would sound like a cat, yowling in a back alley at 2 am.
However, if I read a book about playing the piano, and then started practicing everyday….
And then, if I hired a piano teacher…
And if I continued to practice and get better…
I wouldn’t be an expert pianist. I wouldn’t be playing for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
But I’d probably be good enough to play for you.
Every Aspergers/autism person can find a friend by learning social skills. Why?
Social Skills Are the Building Blocks for Friendship
Learning to read body language, start and maintain (and ending a conversation), and show empathy are key social skills to pave the way to friendship.
As in the example about learning to play the piano, Daniel Wendler (my guest on this interview) is like your virtual piano teacher, teaching you how to play. He’s learned social skills, and now he’s passing his lessons along to you.
You Only Need to Be Good Enough
You don’t have to be a public relations guru, or a celebrity talk show host.
You just have to learn social skills well enough to make a friend.
Examine your expectations: have you been too hard on yourself? Relax, and realize that you can learn these skills by reading and practicing.
The Power of One
Daniel shared, in this interview, how powerful it is to go from Zero friends to One.
Once you make that first friend, you’ll have the confidence to start reaching out to others.
This Week’s Podcast Guest: Daniel Wendler from ImproveYourSocialSkills.com
Daniel Wendler gets it.
In fact, he’s the one who shared this analogy about finding and making friends.
Daniel Wendler was in high school when he was diagnosed with Aspergers.
He shares his story in this TedX talk.
After having endured years of social challenges, Daniel decided to tackle social skills when he learned about Aspergers.
Having had some success, he wanted to share what he learned with others.
And ImproveYourSocialSkills.com was born.
Highlights from my Interview With Daniel Wendler
- Daniel’s struggles to connect with others, growing up, and the painful experiences he went through as an elementary and middle school student, to the point that he felt as though he had been cursed.
- Daniel’s diagnosis of Aspergers, and his response to learning about it
- How Daniel’s discovery of social skills helped him leverage ways to connect with others
- How he learned that people give off signals, helping him understand whether they are interested in interacting or not
- How his discovery of social skills taught him that he was not helpless
- Why Daniel launched ImproveYourSocialSkills.com
- How enjoying aspects of his Aspergers helped him accept his diagnosis of Aspergers
- Challenges along the way as Daniel worked on applying social skills
- How structured, safe environments can contribute to a sense of safety when younger
- The importance of making one friend
- The importance of having realistic expectations of “fitting in socially”
- Daniel’s approach to reading about, then practicing social skills
- Some of the contexts/events in which Daniel met his future four closest friends after college, in Austin, TX
- The importance of putting yourself in social situations in order to practice skills
- Daniel answers objections to learning social skills: “I’ve tried this before, and it hasn’t worked, people are too mean, or misunderstand me too much.”
- Daniel’s interesting thoughts about whether one needs to be able to read facial expressions, versus learning to read whole body expressions
- Tips about the next steps beyond social skills and friendship: dating
- How to communicate regarding the physical aspects of a relationship
- What dating is NOT about – including what the gurus say
- What dating IS about
Finding Friends: Helpful Links and Resources Mentioned in the Interview
Connect with Daniel Wendler:
Personal Website: http://www.danielwendler.com/
Improve Your Social Skills: http://www.improveyoursocialskills.com
Find Daniel on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+.
Action Steps You Can Take Today
Purchase the Improve Your Social Skills, Kindle Ebook, by Daniel Wendler (22 five start Amazon reviews and counting!).
If you don’t want to purchase the book:
1) Go through the basic social skills guide to get you started. Free! Master it, and then move on to buying the book or joining the membership, then think about.
2) Become a member at Improve Your Social Skills: The costs are very reasonable. Choose from Basic, Ad Free, and Lifetime Memberships. Covers topics of Group Conversation, Making Friends, Empathy, Dating, Meeting People
3) Once you’ve gone through all of the above material, practice conversation, either with family members or acquaintances. If you’d like more direct feedback, Daniel has arranged a service called conversation partners. These are two of his friends who will converse with you, and then give you feedback about how you’re coming across.
4) After all of those steps, you may want to consider personal coaching with Daniel. It’s a bit more expensive because Dan has limited time while he works on his doctorate.
5) For additional support, head on over to the Reddit social skills forum, which Daniel helps moderate.
6) Finally, Daniel also recommended that you consider going to a professional counselor, especially if you’re also dealing with anxiety and/or depression.
Join the Conversation
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