Continuing in my experimental series of brief social tips!
Remember to ask questions.
I gather many people struggle with this one, including many allistic and neurotypical people. As such, I just want to put it out there – ASK QUESTIONS!
Ok, context might help. Specifically, if you are trying to get to know someone, or even just have a conversation, always ask questions. This is especially true when talking to someone who is on the quieter side. Louder more talkative people seem to be very good at just volunteering lots of information and talking on and on about whatever it is they have going on. Not everyone is like that, though, and if you want to get to know someone who is more introverted or generally quiet, ask them (us. or me) questions!
A good way to accomplish this is to start generic and gradually get more specific. Start with the broader questions like “how was your day?” or “what sorts of things do you like to do?” or “what did you do today?” Based on their answers, ask more questions, getting more specific. So, for instance, if someone asks me what I did on any given day I might say that I went horseback riding, or did some writing, or made something. I make a point to not go into more detail because I know my propensity for monologuing and I try not to unless a person shows interest. So if a person is interested in getting to know me, the best way to do so is to engage me with the things I like. You don’t have to do them yourself, just ask me questions about what I did, how it was, how things work, what skills I need, etc etc. Ask questions, and then ask more questions. For instance, I have not played minecraft in a very long time. Nee, on the other hand, plays every evening. And every evening I sit with him and he’ll show me what he’s built and I’ll ask about what he’s done, ask more questions about what I don’t understand, ask yet more questions to get more detail, etc. This also works vice versa – he engages with me in terms of my writing and my crafting. We each make a point to actively talk to the other one about what we like to do, even if we don’t share that particular activity.
I say this especially because some people seem to think that the best way to get me talking is for them to talk. And if they do enough talking at me, eventually I will talk too. It does not work that way – the more you talk, the less I talk. The end result is that some people will talk at me a whole lot, and even be very happy with the conversation, but ultimately learn pretty much nothing about me even though they claim to want to do so. Really, it’s counter-productive.
I try to ask people questions too. I find it is a skill that gets better with practice and I often need to consciously remember to ask questions, rather than assume that people will talk if they have something to say. People like knowing that I am interested in what they do or say, and one important aspect of showing that interest is to ask about it.