For now, the approach to discussing solutions is based on the summary of 10 methods to improve interpersonal skills presented by Allbusiness.com - the link has expired but I want to explain their steps.
“Smile”. A smile requires the brain to process the situation in order to react. Cliques and friendships form based on a commonality of the group’s ability to process the information. As previously described, there is great variation on the individual’s ability to grasp and react at situations, measured in microseconds and hard to describe the concept of quickness on feet.
Solutions to smile problem: discouraged if you are slower than others. That is your neurology so find the group or situation where you fit in. The quickness issue will be a legitimate reason.
No drugs. I have no faith in the medical profession to take a drug to improve quickness. That is not the subject of this report.
Body condition. If you can straighten your teeth, do it but that too is based on your jaw and looks. Take care of your teeth.
Have overall good feeling based on peace of mind that you are operating at your best.
Hard, but observe situation, search for humor. This is a challenge when socializing is hard work requiring will power but it could be a concept to experiment with.
Laughter is a spontaneous action. Each person can laugh at the capacity of processing the impulse. Laughing is a powerful form of communication, saying a lot but not in words. Laughing cannot really be faked. Laughing and smiling are skills that money cannot easily buy as I have observed self-help classes whose dominating participants were the same, quick, responsive people.
2.“Be appreciative”. Today, I am appreciative of the people who made the effort to befriend me. Also, those that I consulted with or had as professors whose efforts helped me. Being appreciative requires one to absorb that is going around the situation, and an autistic person who may block out key stimuli to keep under control may just not be able to be as appreciative as expected.
“Pay attention to others”. It is recognizing what they are doing and trying to absorb what is going on. Do the best you can without yawning or wanting to bite your nails, or just the lost look of tuning out and thinking about something else. An example is participating in a business meeting, and listening to a conversation involving say four people. How do you choose the stimuli to absorb, tune out what is unimportant, without looking strained and knowing you just cannot take in as much as the others. I violated this command by blocking the world out and concentrating on the task at hand.
“Practice active listening”. For me, this is easier in the one-on-one situation than the group. Handling this requires time management, shorter meetings, controlling what you say (talking does not require the same energy as absorbing information), letting people finish what they are saying without cutting them off. No question listening is hard for the autistic person, but some of my job search highlights came by somehow listening. I remember getting two jobs by having the interviewer do all the talking and I just said nothing. When I had to do a lot of talking, I never got the job.
“Bring people together”. This one requires understanding the concept of fairness, evaluating a situation from afar, equal treatment for everyone. For me, the allbusiness.com blurb is fine.
“Resolve conflicts”. Allbusiness.com stresses getting the two parties in conflict together and you mediating it. Somehow find out as much information as possible about the situation. The autistic person would typically have less experience at resolving conflicts.
“Communicate clearly”. Allbusiness.com talks about what you say and how you say, avoid blurting out anything that comes to mind. What happens if you get overwhelmed and the information just comes out or you just can’t listen and need to tune everything out? You can benefit by taking adult education courses for practicing communication, but your potential is limited by your brain wiring. Volunteer work is also a means of using your skills but there is a time cost. If I meet people as a result of this site, communicating with them will be good practice. Listed below are other ideas that can be used to improve communication skills.
Emphasis words. Monotone voice can be avoided by understanding that each syllable of a word has a different pitch or accent, and word combinations also have different tones. Saying “front door”, front is emphasized over door. Most people learn this by osmosis as a child but I did not learn this until age 35.
Use of body. Sitting up straight gets the sound clearer in the chest. Actors do tongue and other mouth-related stretches. The mouth exercises help to minimize jerking of the head while talking.
Pronounce consonants. Pronounce the letters of each word to avoid monotone, speak slowly if necessary. Some people are gifted and can talk fast but talk as fast as you can without mumbling.
Eye Contact. Looking at people is a skill, not staring, but not appearing to wander the eyes. When I was younger, I used to not have any eye contact, using my effort just to talk, not worrying about the consequences of how I appeared to others. Perhaps just hearing and processing what is said and communicating to the other person was so difficult for me that eye contact was a luxury. I do feel this problem can be improved with practice, although it is work and takes patience. I cannot refer to this source at this time about eye contact, but from my perspective, you have to get feedback from others and somehow look briefly at the subject without too much staring, almost being absentminded.
Identity in the situation. Initiation of a conversation is based on your qualifications for the conversation. For example, if you are identified as an accountant looking for audit backup, you can direct your communication based on the qualifications of the other party. You may be able to request communication by e-mail rather than talking. You have to investigate the contact as much as possible; first on the Internet and then if you have other resources.
“Humor them”. Humor is tricky in that you do not want to say something that backfires. You can use the Allbusiness.com advice, but humor can be quite spontaneous and hard to plan in advance.
“See it from their side”. Allbusiness.com is succinct here but do you have the luxury of doing this? For me, it is obvious except if you just cannot absorb the information during the situation, you are in over your head and have to block the world out.
“Don’t complain”. Again, only if you are self-aware can you be clear about whether the situation is fair or not. Sure complaining is bad, but you may have to take the hit of making a whine if you do not know any better. The more one knows about a situation, the less likely the person is to complain