Tag Archives: Friends

Reflecting Upon Our Social Interactions

Omigosh, was I really that unaware?

Recently we had lunch with some new friends. The hanging baskets cascaded their vivid blooms, the food and wine were perfect and the conversation flowed.

But the next day, reviewing one aspect of the conversation, I realized I had been guilty of that intense self-immersion we Aspies often experience.

At one point the conversation centred on an author I had recently met and whom my guest had recently heard interviewed on CBC Radio.  I waxed eloquent on my favourable estimation of this writer.  I elaborated on how we had come to know him and how respectful and talented we found him to be.

But not once did I ask our guest what impression he may have formed from hearing the author interviewed!!

Not only did I fail to learn more about our guest from his impressions, but I also lost the opportunity to later pass on feedback regarding the interview to our gifted friend.

And again it struck me that we all need to be aware of how we come across in social interactions with others.

Clearly social encounters present a learning platform for us.

Reviewing our most recent social encounters, reflecting upon how they went, upon both the positive and the negative, is a powerful exercise.

But it must be done without judgement, of ourselves or of others.

For me, a positive reflection of my interaction with others is simply an objective review of a conversation.  Where might I have been more thoughtful or encouraging of the other person?  Where might I have asked for clarification?

The key is to be kind to myself as I reflect.  To counsel myself as I would someone younger who has come to me for help.

When you reflect, love that you are learning, baby step by baby step, even as you make mistakes, perhaps even real blunders.  And then look for a way to move forward.

For instance, we have made plans to see these folks again, and when we do, you can be sure I will make a point of asking our friend about his impression of the interview.  He may not recall as much now, but I think he will be pleased that I remember our previous conversation and am interested in his point of view.

Everyone likes to have their thoughts, and especially their opinions acknowledged, and it is both polite and compassionate to be courteous to others when they address us.

My partner once received a card from a colleague who wrote, “You are the only person I have ever known who, when you ask me how I am, wait patiently for an answer.”

Whether it’s someone’s passing greeting in the hallway, or opening remark in the office lunchroom, or conversation over a meal, it is respectful to listen and to consider their words, rather than just thinking of what we want to say next.

Maybe sometimes we really just don’t care!

Here’s the thing: the first step in having others care about us, is caring about the collective others out there.

We must never stop attempting to make real, honest conversational forays. Yes, we are entitled to be selective in our conversational partners, but not exclusive.

Honest and frequent self-evaluation can help us to breeze through social encounters.

Try it!  A whole new world of social ease will present itself.

Margaret Jean

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The How-To Behind Friendship (Not Just For Aspies!)

Making friends and keeping friends: Research confirms these are two areas that seem to seriously challenge children with Asperger’s.

 So says Anna Matchneva, a lecturer and one-on-one counsellor who works closely with children on the autism spectrum and their parents.

Rejected:  This is a category of children Anna often sees.  She is not referring to parental neglect, but to the playground or social setting.

The rejected child is one who tries to join a group but is denied access.

Mostly we will never know why some people choose not to be friends with us.  But totally there are things we can do differently.

For instance, we might approach a group and start talking about whatever is on our mind when really?  We need to listen.  Try to pick up on what the others are saying.  Take a little time to formulate a brief remark in line with their conversation.  Don’t try to work in your current interest.  Stick to their conversation.

But hey, that’s easy to learn, right?  Just take a little time before speaking.  Listen.  Try to understand what they’re talking about.  Not just what they’re saying, but what they mean.

 We Aspies get a little starved for attention sometimes and that can make us talk too much, too loud, too soon.  But it’s easy enough to get over those habits.

I know myself, I have to be careful not to dive hell bent for leather into a topic, completely overwhelming and boring the people who were kind enough to invite me into the group.

And anyway, not every group wants another member.  They may be having a private conversation.  They may believe they have nothing in common with you, and therefore, not see any point in trying to make friends.  Maybe they are happy just as they are.  Then you need to find someone else to talk with.

Remember, your focus can be a very good thing, even if others don’t want to share in it.  It’s similar to the single-mindedness that made Taylor Swift a star and Bill Gates a computer mogul.

Try to listen first.  Take a minute or two to find out what the group and the conversation is about.  And when you do speak, smile, keep a neutral tone, and above all, be brief!

And please note–Aspies aren’t the only people in the world who have trouble making and keeping friends.  Lots of people do!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean

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What It Is To Be A Friend…

Would you solicit three friends to help you carry another friend who was paralyzed to see a healer?  And imagine if when you and your friends get to where the healer is, the place is packed, and crowds surround the outside of the venue.  There is such a crush of people, you realize there is no way you can push through the crowds with this man you’re carrying and get in. 

In church this morning, I thought about how Jesus was as popular back then as say, Dr. Oz, is today.  And what if you and three other friends carried this guy all the way to where the doctor was speaking, and you found yourselves, perspiring, tired and thirsty, stranded outside the venue in the heat, no tickets left, no room to squeeze in to catch a glimpse of him, no way to hear what he was saying?

What would you do then?  Would you put the mat down (because it was a mat and not even a stretcher), and turn to your buddies and say, “Well I don’t know about you, but I’m missing the end of a playoff game, and since there’s no chance of us even getting in…”

Would you turn to your friend on the mat and say, “Well, I’m sorry, friend, but it looks like this is the end of the road.  We did everything we could.”

Both of those responses seem fairly reasonable under the circumstances, don’t they?  But they weren’t that kind of friends.   They were the kind that say, “Don’t worry, pal.  We came here so you could see Jesus and we are not leaving until you do.”

And not only did they stick around.  They sat down to figure out how they could get him in to see Jesus.  Finally, one of them must have said, “If we can’t get in the doors, and we can’t get in the windows, the only thing left to try is the roof.”

And the Bible says that they got up on that roof, and they made a hole in it.  They DUG a hole in the roof, that’s what it says.  They didn’t argue about whether or not it was legal, or whether or not they would be sued, whether or not they had come prepared to climb up a building with a crippled guy on a mat, or to dig a hole in a roof.  No.

They said, “We came here so you could see Jesus and we are not leaving here until you do.”

And then they lowered the man down, mat and all.  And Jesus could have looked at them and said, “What in the world do you think you’re doing?  You just wrecked the roof!” 

But he didn’t.   Jesus saw beyond that.  He saw their determination, and their absolute faith in his power to heal their friend. 

And so he healed him.  And the man took up his bed and walked out to meet his friends.  Walked home with them.

Now we have already talked about what great friends that man had.  Friends who did not abandon him when he lost his ability to walk.  When his life suddenly and drastically changed and he could no longer accompany them on their outings and in their businesses.  Friends who helped him find a cure.  Friends who carried him when he needed to be carried.

But have you thought about what a great friend the bed-ridden man must have been to them?  Otherwise, their love for him would not have been so great.  Their determination to have him healed would not have been so focused, and so creative.

In Unforgiving, I talk about growing up with Asperger’s and how being a Christian and a believer was helpful to me.  And this morning in mass, this story about Jesus and the men who brought their friend to be healed, told me again what it is to be a friend.

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