I’m alone in a roomful of people–people I don’t know!
And I want to make a good impression. What do I do now?
In Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I talk about the gaffs I made at a dinner especially arranged to introduce me to some theater people. I really wish I ‘d had Dr. Carducci’s book and Jeffrey’s videos back then! These two experts on small talk really know how to ace a social situation.
You’ve just listened to Jeffrey’s video. He’s a guy who’s given more than 3,000 presentations and met many people. His comfort level with strangers is very high. But even he says it takes practice.
Dr. Bernardo Carducci is head of The Shyness Institute at Indiana University South East, so he has a lot of research behind his book, The Pocket Guide to Making Successful Small Talk; How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere about Anything.
Like Dr. Bernardo Carducci, Jeffrey Benjamin says step up and introduce yourself to someone standing near you.
Don’t interrupt a conversation to do that. Just find someone who is standing alone and go for it.
This is called breaking the ice and while to an Aspie it can feel just as dangerous as falling into freezing water on the skating pond, practising this manoeuvre will make it less stressful each time.
Both experts say listen. Listening in this sense, means being able to repeat back key phrases of what the other person has just said.
Repeating back a brief summary or phrase tells the other person you truly are listening, not just waiting for a pause in the conversation so you can jump in with your favourite topic. Listening like this also keeps you on topic mentally.
Benjamin actually says Listen more, talk less. This is the best advice anyone can give, and probably the hardest for an Aspie to follow. Discipline yourself.
Benjamin’s last item? Be positive. Dragging negativity around is not only pointless? It’s also terribly boring. Bring a positive attitude to the party. After all, you got invited didn’t you?