Appearing sociable, but lacking depth in understanding.

Being sociable. This is something I have had problems with all my life but only really noticed was a problem after I left high school. I am quite able, when meeting new people, at coming across as friendly, cheery, sociable, knowledgeable and able to have a deep and meaningful relationship. (At least I think I am based on people’s reactions and comments). However, once a person has gotten to know me a bit more they start to notice that my ability to be sociable doesn’t really stretch beyond that first meeting. People begin to notice an oddity about me; I don’t quite fit. I struggle to keep conversations going and they can be mainly one-sided. I tend to listen rather than speak and my reactions are somewhat delayed. I don’t ask people questions about themselves/their families/pets/work/etc. I don’t call people by their names. I usually respond to their conversation with stories (often humorous) about my own life/experiences. I can offer suggestions or advice but it is usually logical and not emotional. I have a set of responses to emotional conversations which are learned and rehearsed and are not natural. I tend to use the same sympathetic face and comments for most situations and I hold off on any real empathy. I’m not tactile so won’t offer hugs or handshakes or even a pat on the back. I will come across as being too formal and polite (I’ve only recently noticed this) for the situation/relationship, even speaking to people I’ve known for years as though I’ve just met them. My processing speed is slower than most people’s but rather than pausing to allow the information to sink in I will respond with a learnt response, often giving an inappropriate response. I tend to anticipate what response I will have to give before a person has finished speaking, if a person changes subject or alters the subject I don’t realise until I have already given my set response which then becomes the wrong response (ie, expecting the end of the sentence to be funny but it changes to serious and I laugh, because I had a response to funny ready and not serious). I have trouble making sense of noises when there are a lot of them, I can’t distinguish between someone speaking to me and the music in the room so I end up not hearing either. The more sounds there are and the higher the volume the greater I struggle until I just give up and sit in ‘silence’. I can’t look people in the eyes when speaking as I need to focus on their mouth in order to hear what they are saying. my ability to hear what someone has said comes from half listening and half lip-reading, this is why I struggle with phone conversations.

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