Asperger’s and Tips for Coping with Life #3

Asperger’s Coping Mechanisms (3 part blog)

There are things in life that are rarely taught or talked about and for neurotypical people it seems they were just born with this knowledge. For those on the Autistic Spectrum (ASD) becoming self-aware, acquiring coping mechanisms and giving yourself thinking time to cope with situations that may arise means you can be less confused and feel more confident.

Remember that your perception of the world is a little different, it just means that your brain works differently. Not everyone works in black and white (all or nothing) most work in greys so it can be harder for them to empathise and understand if you appear to be obsessed or single-minded about something.

There are some books out there with guidance, but I’ve put together my own brief list as not everyone wants to read a book.

Here are some more tips to cope in society when you have Asperger’s

Feedback – Asking for feedback is one of the very best ways to become more self-aware and it will help you to tweak any behaviours that don’t quite give you the results you want. Many people are untrained in the art of giving feedback or evaluation so you may need to help them by coaching them. Tell them what you want to comment on. What did they observe?  What was factually correct, what examples can they give, what recommendations do they have for corrective action or improvement? It’s a good idea to coach them to avoid using words like should, must, wrong, bad, awful, difficult, perception, and generalisations.  They can’t speak for others and shouldn’t try to, it’s what a lot of people do to take the limelight off them so listen out for “we”…., it should be “I”…..  They should just tell you their own personal observations and recommendations from their perspective.

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Calendar – Everyone (neurotypicals or Aspergic alike) will have their own preference for scheduling and controlling their time and routine. It’s a common misconception that those on the Autistic Spectrum need a rigid routine and have a meltdown if it’s not stuck to rigidly. However, you might find comfort in a general framework to your life. Spontaneity and being flexible is a useful attribute to practise if it doesn’t come naturally. It can be very challenging working someone who never plans, always does things on the fly and it can make more work for you if you work closely with them, so working with them closely and their manager will hopefully help you to overcome this annoying problem. It won’t go away on its own.

You might need to have plenty of notice of an event, even if it’s as small as a family member coming round for a cup of tea.  It might be that anything sooner than two weeks is too spontaneous for you.  Try to find out what your most comfortable timescale is so that you can let others know how they can plan in events and meetings with you and whether you need a reminder every few days to help you feel comfortable with it.  It takes away your stress and will assure others that you are co-operative and self-aware.

Travelling abroad – Doing homework is the best way to make your trip smooth and event-free. Some airports have 360 degree virtual tours, some airports (like Shannon, Ireland) have special baseball caps for Autistic people to wear (if they want) which will help the staff to be extra kind, careful and understanding of any anxieties that might be displayed.

Planning well in advance and ensuring you have printed out all your documentation the day before, have copies of important documents like Passports kept safe and told someone you trust back home your itinerary and contact numbers at hotels etc.  This will give you peace of mind and make the travelling experience much less stressful.  I always make a comprehensive list at least a week in advance so that I have time to collect everything together.

Be mindful to ask lots of questions when travelling to new cultures as misunderstandings can arise if assumptions are made about how to behave in society.  What might be right in one country might not be in another.

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Getting your message across – Self-awareness and self-improvement are the keys to unlocking coping techniques that work. Personal development is a very useful way to tap into your strengths and weaknesses (we all have them) and work on the things we’d like to improve upon. Get Your Message Across can help you do this, building your arsenal of skills for life.  CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is often forced on people with Aspergers’ because there’s not a lot else out there to help.  The key is to find something that works for you and that you can trust, and that you believe in.  It’s like saying affirmations – you have to believe them otherwise they are pointless.

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Sensory Sensitivity – see my other blog on this subject, as it so vast a subject, for my sensitivity and coping mechanisms.

Remember to read Asperger’s & Tips for Coping with Life #1 and #2 too

For upcoming classroom and online courses on improving your confidence or your communication skills, you can check out Sam’s website below. Sam also conducts coaching for friends and families of those with Asperger’s working on coping mechanisms and challenging behaviours, and life coaching to help with goal setting and accountability.

Sam Warner 07973 490150              Email: sam@get-your-message-across.com

Sam’s website: www.get-your-message-across.com  

www.toastmasters.org     www.shropshirespeakers.org.uk       www.ludlowspeakers.org.uk

Asperger’s & Tips for Coping with Life #2

Asperger’s Coping Mechanisms (3-part blog)

There are things in life that are rarely taught or talked about, and for neurotypical people it seems they were just born with this knowledge. For those on the Autistic Spectrum (ASD) becoming self-aware, acquiring coping mechanisms and giving yourself thinking time to cope with situations that may arise means you can be less confused and feel more confident.

Remember that your perception of the world is a little different, it just means that your brain works differently. Not everyone works in black and white (all or nothing) most work in greys so it can be harder for them to empathise and understand if you appear to be obsessed or single-minded about something.

There are some books out there with guidance, but I’ve put together my own brief list as not everyone wants to read a book.

Here are some more tips to cope in society when you have Asperger’s

General Rules – Some rules are rigid and some rules are flexible. It’s very useful to ask clarifying questions to find which are which. It’s important to understand that lots of people say they are going to do things, and then don’t follow through. They mean it when they say it, they are not lying but many people suffer from procrastination or try to please others by saying yes all the time even if they don’t have the capacity to fit it in. It is our gift to be understanding and tolerant of this and help others to achieve their goals by being helpful and supportive, not judgmental and critical. We should never judge others by our own standards as there are rarely the same.

Jobs and Interviews – Body language and the way you dress is very important in interviews, so get some advice from a trusted friend so you don’t create a problem you didn’t need to create. I’m not saying you can’t have a personality and show your style, but it’s probably better to wait until you have secured the job before you do that if you are a little Avant Garde or eccentric (both great attributes to have but not usual for neurotypicals). Try to do some rehearsal with a trusted friend, a little role play, and anticipate which questions you think they will ask so you don’t get caught off guard. You should assume they will ask you things like “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and “ Tell me about a time when you overcame a problem or confrontation”. Do some research on the company but don’t be a know it all. Another favourite question is “Tell me about yourself”. This can be confusing as you’ve probably already sent them your CV and application form or letter, but they wan to hear a summary in your own words to hear how you communicate. If they ask about your hobbies, keep it to a brief overview unless they ask more probing questions about a specific subject. Some jobs will be very difficult to do if you have ASD, mostly those that require a lot of public interaction, and making assumptions about human behaviour and using intuition.

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Only 15% of all Adults diagnosed with Autism are in work!

You could ring them before the interview if you felt comfortable speaking to them on the phone to let them know you process info a little differently to the general public and you’d like some more direct questions int he interview to help you relax and be yourself.  They will get more out of it too, so it’s in their best interests, and if they are not willing to adapt, then chances are they will not make any allowances in the job either – so do you really want to work for them?

When you are in your job you can find out who you can trust and what the rules are, what can be flexible, and how the “game” is played so that you are not at a disadvantage. One of the best things you could do is interview everyone you work with to find out how you will be working with them, what their expectations of you are and so you can tell them how you like to work too.

Meek Assertive Aggressive
Looks down.

Keeps his fists clenched (a closed signal).

Often speaks too quietly.

Steps backwards when spoken to.

Has a weak handshake.

Is easily put down by others.

Is often angry with himself for allowing others to take advantage of him.

Is shy and withdrawn in company.

Cannot accept compliments.

Says ‘oh dear!’ and ‘sorry’ too much.

Has an upright but relaxed stance.

Maintains eye contact when listening or speaking (for over two-thirds of the time) looking at faces as a whole.

Has a firm handshake but not too firm.

Is able to say ‘no’ when needs must.

Can express his true feelings.

Is interested in other people’s opinions as well as his own.

Tries to treat everyone as equals.

Stands still with stiff, rigid posture.

Keeps his arms folded.

Shouts and points finger.

Bangs desk or table.

May give eye contact almost the whole time he is speaking (looking straight into the eyes).

Is better at talking than at listening.

Likes telling others what to do.

Thinks his own opinion is always right.

Likes to tell other people they’re useless.

Tends to make himself quite lonely because people feel they have to be careful around him.

Taken from ‘Coping: A Survival Guide for People with Asperger Syndrome’ by Marc Segar

Education – Bragging and showing off are unattractive and should be avoided where possible. Be assured that in a conversation where you are knowledgeable about the subject – it will come across quite clearly without you having to prove it, or demonstrate it. There are times and places where showing off your knowledge is fine (perhaps at a club of like-minded enthusiasts comparing collections or information). It might be that you are not very good at getting high grades in tests and exams – don’t be put off. Just because you can’t conform to a set way of regurgitating information does not mean you don’t know it and can’t apply it. It is usual that those with ASD have more acute problem solving skills, blue sky and detail vision and the ability to focus like no-one else. Try not to compare yourself with others and celebrate your strengths, whatever they are for you.

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Most people don’t understand Asperger’s at all – you have to help them understand sometimes

Social Rules – Its important to keep yourself clean and tidy in order to make it easier for others to stand near you and listen to us and talk to you. If you think people are avoiding you, perhaps check to make sure you have any body odour under control, or you don’t have bad breath or smelly feet. Often people will not tell you about this unless you ask them directly. If they do respond to you confirming it, then the appropriate response is to thank them (not get defensive or have a meltdown) and then do something about it.

Humour and Conflict – An autistic person’s sense of humour is often about things which suggest silliness, ridiculousness or which appear slightly insane. You might find yourself the butt of neurotypicals jokes because they don’t know how to handle someone who is different and have a hard time dealing with their own insecurities. Humour in humans sometimes replaces violence that animals would normally display. If a joke aimed at you is not too harsh it may be a good idea to laugh at yourself. If a joke or some sarcasm aimed at you is too harsh, you can say ‘what do you mean by that’, ‘why did you say that’, ‘what’s that supposed to mean’, or ‘that’s not very nice’. You may have to use your discretion in order to choose a suitable answer but putting someone else on the spot can be quite a good defence. If a joke or some sarcasm aimed at you is downright hurtful, here is a last resort you can use. Calmly say that you found the joke hurtful and ask if it was meant to be hurtful. If the other person says ‘can’t you take a joke’ or messes you around in some other way, stick to your guns and just calmly ask them again if they meant it to be hurtful. If they answer ‘no’ then you have got what you needed. If they answer ‘yes’ then calmly walk away and in future make it very difficult for that person to talk to you until they apologise of their own accord.  You will have given them a clear message that their plan to make themselves feel good at your expense is noted and will not be tolerated whilst keeping your dignity intact.

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Getting your message across – Self-awareness and self-improvement are the keys to unlocking coping techniques that work. Personal development is a very useful way to tap into your strengths and weaknesses (we all have them) and work on the things we’d like to improve upon. Get Your Message Across can help you do this, building your arsenal of skills for life.

Sensory Sensitivity – see my other blog on this subject, as it so vast a subject, for my sensitivity and coping mechanisms.

Remember to read Asperger’s & Tips for Coping with Life #1 too, #3 coming soon

For upcoming classroom and online courses on improving your confidence or your communication skills, you can check out Sam’s website below. Sam also does coaching for friends and families of those with Asperger’s working on coping mechanisms and challenging behaviours, and life coaching to help with goal setting and accountability.

Sam Warner 07973 490150              Email: sam@get-your-message-across.com

Sam’s website: www.get-your-message-across.com  

www.toastmasters.org     www.shropshirespeakers.org.uk       www.ludlowspeakers.org.uk

Asperger’s and Tips for Coping with Life #1

Asperger’s Coping Mechanisms (3 part blog)

There are things in life that are rarely taught or talked about and for neurotypicals people it seems they were just born with this knowledge. For those on the Autistic Spectrum (ASD) becoming self aware, acquiring coping mechanisms and giving yourself thinking time to cope with situations that may arise means you can be less confused and feel more confident.

Remember that your perception of the world is a little different, it just means that your brain works differently. Not everyone works in black and white (all or nothing) most work in greys so it can be harder for them to empathise and understand if you appear to be obsessed or single minded about something.

There are some books out there with guidance, but I’ve put together my own brief list as not everyone wants to read a book.

Here are some tips to cope in society when you have Asperger’s

Worrying & Stress – Find people you can trust to talk over your concerns privately. Always ask yourself: “Can I do anything about the thing that bothers me?” If the answer is yes, then do it, even if it’s finding another person to help if it’s beyond your capability. If it’s no, then you can give yourself permission to put that in a mental box and put a lid on it. Your energy is precious, so use it wisely. (Don’t spend it on stress.) In order to solve problems you need to think clearly, you do this with a positive mind. This also helps to stop guilt from creeping in

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Positive Mental Attitude – Keep a log of all your achievements, and things you are proud of. You can use this to feel better when things are not going so well. You are not looking at the world through rose-tinted specs by believing that positive things can and will happen. You are choosing to welcome positive thoughts and hope into your mind that will make you feel better about yourself and more equipped to deal with the unexpected. This is something to practise every day. Affirmations can be useful to put you in the right frame of mind at the start of each day but they do have to be believable.

 

Asperger’s is a gift, we all just need to learn how to use it

Anticipation & Preparation – By anticipating certain situations, you can remove a lot of the stress. If you can run through conversations, scenarios and environments that you are going to face then you can prepare for unexpected events, questions or responses. It means you don’t have to worry so much about knowing the right answer instantly or knowing what is going to happen. You use your imagination to run through the situation in your mind. It’s very calming and gives you more confidence.

Body Language – Includes facial expressions, gestures, eye contact and tone of voice. Unfortunately you can’t learn this like a school subject, everyone is so different and you have to get to know people in order to understand the cues and what certain things mean in a given situation. Sarcasm is one the hardest things to understand and you will earn that not everybody says what they mean. There’s a lot of hints, nuance & suggestion in everyday language. Don’t be afraid to ask questions is the body language doesn’t match the words or it’s just not clear how you should be reacting. It’s unusual for people to be deliberately misleading. Also your use of body language is important in your communication – become more self-aware & think about if it matches your words and intent. Eye contact can be tricky because too much or too little becomes noticeable & sometimes uncomfortable, so a little of both is fine.

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People with Asperger’s are all different just like neurotypicals

Conversation – Take turns to allow both parties to have a say. When the other person is talking you need to give them visual clues that you are listening and that can be a nod of a head, saying “uhah” and smiling using a bit of eye contact. If you don’t want to be touched during conversation with someone (not everyone is self-aware and some people are very tactile), you might need to say something or stand a couple of feet away to put some space in between you and them.

Emotional overload – Anger, excitement, joy and sadness are all valid emotions that can be expressed visually, with body language, facial expressions, words and energy. Understanding what is appropriate in a given situation is very helpful because we don’t always want to stand out in the crowd and we want to feel accepted by others, not stared at. It might be appropriate to take yourself off somewhere else for a few minutes to express yourself if the occasion doesn’t fit how you are feeling. But don’t be fake and don’t subdue your ebullience or joy

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Not always truthful – Sarcasm, white lies, fantasy play, exaggeration, figures of speech, jokes, teasing, and misunderstandings are all ways that we get caught out. Doubt creeps in. Are they telling the truth? Is this a joke? Do they mean it? Do I laugh now? It can be very confusing and it may take you a while and a kind friend to help you understand who are the serial jokers and fibbers. When you are amongst real friends you can let them know that you are a bit gullible because you take things on face value, and like to keep people to their word. Then they know your boundaries and needs.

True Friends Hoax Friends Enemies
Treat you the same way they treat all their friends. May treat you differently to how they treat others. May ignore you most of the time.
Make you feel welcome in the long term as well as the short term. Might make you feel welcome in the short term and then drop you in the dirt. Will make you feel unwelcome and will notice all your mistakes and may bring them to the attention of other people.
If they give you compliments they will be genuine and sincere. Might give you many compliments which are NOT genuine. May give you anything from sarcasm, put-downs and temper tantrums to the silent treatment.
Will treat you as an equal. Might often make unfair requests of you. Will often treat you as a less important person than them.
May help you to see the truth behind other peoples hoaxes when suitable. Might want you to make a spectacle of yourself May set you up to receive aggression or scorn from others.
May threaten not to be your friend anymore or play on your guilt if it is to help them get their own way.
What to do: What to do : What to do :
Repay them with the same attention they give you and listen to them Stand up to them and don’t feel guilty about telling them to p*ss off if they have said something which is obviously unfair You might have done something to annoy them or they might just be jealous of certain skills or knowledge you have. If it is jealousy, they will never admit to it.
Accept any compliments they give you by saying a simple ‘thank you’ and then you won’t make them feel silly in any way for having complimented you.

Try to show that you like them using eye contact

They could be the kind of person who gets pleasure out of hurting people more vulnerable than themselves because they feel weak and inadequate inside. Remember that. If you find them on their own at any time they might switch to being quiet and shy towards you and you might be able to ask them awkward questions as to why they behave differently towards you than they do towards other people. Also, if they can give you a good enough reason, it might be a chance to apologise if you have annoyed them in some way and say that you will try not to annoy them as much in future.

Taken from ‘Coping: A Survival Guide for People with Asperger Syndrome’ by Marc Segar

Friends – Don’t be a space invader (standing too close) and don’t try to monopolise the conversation no matter how passionate or knowledgeable you are about the subject. It’s a lot more pleasant to take turns in talking, but also to have someone listen whilst you are talking, and to be listened to in return. It’s okay to have just a handful of friends, you don’t have to have lots of friends. Just a few that you trust and whom don’t take advantage of you.

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Sensory Sensitivity – see my other blog on this subject, as it so vast a subject, for my sensitivity and coping mechanisms.

Read Asperger’s & Tips for Coping with Life #2 and #3 coming soon

For upcoming classroom and online courses on improving your confidence or your communication skills you can check out Sam’s website below. Sam also does coaching for friends and families of those with Asperger’s working on coping mechanisms and challenging behaviours, and life coaching to help with goal setting and accountability.

Sam Warner 07973 490150              Email: sam@get-your-message-across.com

Sam’s website: www.get-your-message-across.com  

www.D71toastmasters.org

www.shropshirespeakers.org.uk

www.ludlowspeakers.org.uk

Too Much! Asperger’s Sensory Overload

Parents with undiagnosed Asperger’s

Having discovered that I’m an Aspie late in life (I’m 43 and found out about 6 years ago) I didn’t know that most of the other people around me were not experiencing sensory overload in the same way as I was.  It didn’t help that I grew up in a slightly unusual household, both my parents having Aspergers (but didn’t know it of course).  They were  sensitive to sound, smells, movement and light.

I have memories of my Father in particular struggling with me sitting on the floor in front of him whilst watching TV.  I am a fidget and rarely sit still for long, or I am often to be found doing something else like cross-stitch at the same time as watching.  The movement really annoyed him and I was told to sit still or leave the room as there was no-where in the room I could sit away from his peripheral vision.  I simply can’t sit still so I spent many hours in our kitchen watching our little black and white portable TV on my own instead.

My Father also had a hard time with strong smells.  Garlic was banned from the house, as was perfume, and air fresheners.  One quick sniff of my teenage clothes would inform my Dad if I’d had a sneaky cigarette on the way home.

I remember my Father getting really angry when a car engine could be heard idling for a few minutes late one night right outside our house, he put his dressing gown on, went outside and asked them to either turn the engine off or leave!

My Asperger’s has got more noticeable for me as I have got older

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My tolerance for these things has got progressively worse as I’ve got older.  I might even say like Father like Daughter in some cases.  Where I might have thought Dad’s reaction to the car engine was over-the-top at the time, when I have the same situation before me I feel that rush of anger after only a few seconds, so I totally get it. He was actually being restrained!

The problem for me is when several senses are overloaded simultaneously.  This poses a problem because I need to withdraw, regroup and make sense of the situations one by one before I’m back to an operational state.

I’ll give you an example.  Parking the car. It’s not a particularly hot day but it’s warm enough that as I’m trying to figure out the best space to go in (which can take me a while as I wrestle with the decisions about whether the space is large enough, am I too close to the next car, do I need to get into my boot, do I need to pay?) I get agitated and start to feel hot (touch/temperature), and I turn the radio off because it’s wittering on and adding to my discomfort (sound), then it might be really bright today or there’s a reflection from a window that blinds me for a moment (sight).  At the same time some twit walks behind the car as I’m reversing into a space. (sight)….Meltdown!

Here’s how my Asperger’s affects how I react to senses

Taste – I have very sensitive taste buds.  My poor hubby loves spices and heat and “exciting’ food, but I’m happy with very simple food because I enjoy all the subtle and delicate flavours. I really struggle with strong flavours and cannot do chillies or garam masala. I also have trouble with certain textures but maybe this is more like a touch sensitivity?

Touch – Being too hot or too cold is difficult.  I can equate it to if you really need to pee, it’s all you can think about, nothing else matters.  That’s what it’s like for me in extremes of temperature.  But I am careful not to inflict my temperature issues on others, I wear extra thermals, grab a hot water bottle, or grab an icepack to go on my pulse points rather than throw open windows or put on the heating to affect others around me. I like to be hugged by people I want to hug. But if someone is idly fiddling with my arm or leg or something I’d have to ask them to stop. If someone was kicking my chair or tapping their leg and shaking the floor, I’d have to ask them stop before I got really really angry. (I don’t turn into the Hulk but it’s not pretty.)

img_2938Sound – I have a lot of trouble with repetitive music or music without a clear tune (e.g. interpretive jazz), running engines, hammering, fireworks, very loud noises frighten me, (e.g. balloons popping) garden strimmers, drilling, cutlery on china, and repetitive clicking when playing a video game.  Some of these are tolerable if it’s me doing the activity e.g. drilling and hammering, but I’ll often have my earbuds in playing some music instead.  Just because I’m a walking contradiction I love really loud music when it’s tunes I love.  I’m a rock fan, especially prog-rock band Muse and their concerts are REALLY LOUD!  Hand dryers in toilets hurt so much I have to rush out of the Ladies to get away from it.  It’s like a slap in the face. I don’t know why – maybe it’s a control thing.

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Sight – I’m not a fan of strobe lights, and the similar effect you get when driving past a lot of trees with the sun low in the sky.  Bright lights are challenging, but needed in a room when I’m vacuuming! I have trouble with fluorescent lights that flicker, it’s almost impossible for me to concentrate on anything else and I usually have to leave the room. I can liken it to someone poking me in the eye repeatedly. Some colours when put together really “do my head in” to coin a phrase, and I have to look away.  Very fast action in some films I can’t watch -it’s an overload.

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Smell – If someone smells bad (food related, or body odour or smoke on their clothes) I can’t concentrate on the conversation because the smell is too ‘loud” in my head. I have to step back or try to give myself another smell, perhaps put some perfume on my collar and turn my head, or try to breathe through my mouth. I’m attracted to nice smells like everyone else. I have two cats so I have to make sure the house is clean because I can smell even quite subtle smells and then I can’t think about anything else if they are unpleasant.

Environment – I’m not great with crowds, despite putting up with it for Muse concerts, I feel overwhelmed by sounds and smells and voices.  I don’t feel safe and I become very timid and childlike it its really busy.  I avoid going to Christmas fayres in cities, or just cities unless it’s a very brief visit, and not on a weekend. I even stay in my seat at concerts until everyone else has gone or we are ushered out of our seats so that I can hang back and let everyone else go head of me.

I know we all react differently to different things in different situations, but it would be really cool if people who are unaffected by this kind of sensitivity were caring and understanding to those who are.

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Empathy is hard to force if you just don’t “get it” but it’s within everyone’s personal control to decide how to respond to someone who is obviously having a hard time – it doesn’t matter why they are having a hard time or whether we can relate to it. We can just be kind and offer help and support.

Do you know anyone who has sensory sensitivity?  Could they have Asperger’s? Are you sympathetic to their reactions?

See my video on my take on sensory overload HERE.

If you want to know more about me and what I do, visit my website here:

www.get-your-message-across.com

Because Communication isn’t optional. 

 

Are you really Listening?

Listening skills are so underrated.

I’ve learned a lot of useful stuff over the last few years. I used to dominate the conversation, I would interrupt because I was desperate to say what came into my head before I forgot, I used to talk too much and I would forget to ask people questions and wait to really listen to their answers.  It meant that people didn’t really enjoy spending time with me.  I wouldn’t have enjoyed spending time with me if I had met me.

Have you ever asked yourself, “Am I really listening?”

I bet you have personal, first hand experience of meeting someone new and they monopolise the conversation. They either want to tell you their life story or everything about their amazing new opportunity and they forget to ask you any questions, or to listen to any answers if they did ask you a question. It can be very draining. I bet you’d avoid them if you saw them again….?

I’ve been in many situations in networking recently where I feel like I’ve been grilled, it’s like the other person has 50 questions they needed me to answer before I was allowed a chance to ask them about themselves, and have, you know, a conversation! I feel violated and exhausted, and it doesn’t make me feel valued and accepted.

I don’t know if that’s nervousness on their part, or a way to control the situation, or a way of filtering out people who are useful/useless to them. Whatever the reason, it still leaves me feeling a bit cheated and disrespected. Another person that I’d probably avoid if I saw them again.

Don’t you feel great when you feel listened to?

There’s something lovely about having a real conversation, that gentle to and fro, your turn, my turn, sharing of anecdotal stories, the asking of a question and a listening to the answer, and asking a follow up question based on and directly related to the answer. This is building rapport, a relationship and getting to know someone.

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People buy people remember; and even if the person in your conversation isn’t someone you will find yourself working with in the future, you might meet someone else who could use their products or services and with your hand on your heart you will be able to recommend them based on the relationship you built in your conversation.

The other kind of listening that is often missed is looking out for details; names, dates, places, anything that you can repeat back to the other person so they know you really were listening. There’s a technique I use where I repeat what the other person is saying in my head almost like I’m talking at the same time, but it’s a discipline that helps me to block out the rest of the room. Its especially helpful in noisy networking situations when it can be hard to hear clearly or for a sustained amount of time.

What’s your listening technique?

Once out of the meeting, make some notes whilst the info is fresh in your mind about the people you have met. How good will that person, that you just met briefly, feel, if you remember they said their child was going to win an award or they had achieved a big contract, and you ask them how that’s going. They will feel really respected that you bothered to remember. It’s one of the key techniques employed by top charismatic and charming leaders who are extremely successful.

So, don’t be that other person in the conversation that interrogates or won’t take turns; relax, enjoy the dialogue, listen to the way they speak and words they use. Be genuinely interested and offer relevant information. Listen out for an accent, unusual turns of phrase, silently acknowledge if you think they are confident, or shy, or if you think they are just starting out or dab hands, you can modify your language accordingly, (but don’t make assumptions).

It is within you to give the gift of respect and listening.

They might also use similar words in their dialogue like “Do you see what I mean” “Let me paint you a picture” or feel the need to grab a pen to illustrate their point.  Chances are that this is a good indication they will respond to dialogue from you with similar visual references, and you know they will love to see some slides if you are presenting to them.  They might also be influenced by how you dress.  On a similar note, auditory and kinaesthetic people will use different dialogue which will help you understand how to connect with them on an emotional and personal level.  I’ll be doing another blog covering this whole subject soon.

When communicating at home, often the TV or computer will get in the way of communication.  It’s useful to say the person’s name and wait for them to acknowledge you before diving in, so that you know you have their full attention.  “Dave, can I ask you something?”, I wait……….. he pauses TV, looks at me “Go on then, yes”.  Now I know he’s listening and not distracted I can deliver my question or message. If I tried to speak whilst he was in full flow (watching TV for instance) he would not be able to listen to me, or respond to me.  There’s no point getting huffy with someone for not listening if you didn’t give them time to connect with you, and be receptive.

If you know someone else that dominates conversations perhaps you could give them some kind and supportive feedback to help them understand their impact on others. I’ll cover giving and receiving feedback in a future blog.

Remember to ask yourself occasionally “Am I really listening?”

Hope you find this info useful.

Remember – communication isn’t optional. http://www.get-your-message-across.com

Airport Meltdown

My poor husband!

10 things employerImagine the scene, if you will, where a woman in her 40s (me) is bawling her eyes out at the closed gate in an airport, having just missed their flight to their honeymoon.  Good job he’s a caring and patient man!

Well that’s just what happened a couple of weeks ago.  On reflection, I understand why it happened, and I can forgive myself for any embarrassment I caused to my hubby because it wasn’t intentional, and I had lost complete control of my emotions.  I reverted back to a 4 year old version of me who was tired, hot, frustrated, in pain (I’ve got a sore heel and shoulder and we had walked a long way) and now I was red hot angry.

This airport meltdown was either going to come out as tears or something a lot more violent.

Violence is not tolerated (and nor should it be).  I only wish they had a punch bag installed at every gate for each person to express themselves when they miss a flight.  Much less embarrassing.

Thanks to my other half, I was able to get it out via bawling like a toddler (without being shut down by being told to stop crying or to cheer up), and then took a few deep breaths, dried my eyes and took stock of the situation.  It only took me about 4 mins to let it all out, but I’m really glad I did.  I needed to ‘reboot’.

Right then, where to stay tonight, how do we get there and can we get another flight tomorrow?

I think that without giving in to the meltdown, it would have been like a bubbling volcano inside me; I would have been emotional, snappy to my hubby, and aggressive and rude to others.

There’s definitely something scary about admitting you’ve had a giant public meltdown to strangers on the internet.  I don’t know if I’ll be judged or pitied, or supported and reassured.  I know that it turned out to be a good thing, to let it all out like that, but I could tell that people around us were uncomfortable and didn’t know what to say or do.  They might have thought I was been childish or there was some wrong with my mental health.  Or maybe they thought I was a spoiled brat and was having a temper tantrum.  I’ll never know what was going on inside their heads.

What would you do if you saw my airport meltdown?

It’s a difficult question to answer until you’re actually there.  I think if I had been on my own I would have received more attention, but everyone could see I had my man watching over me. I wasn’t alone and suffering.

I’m sure I’ll have more meltdowns in my life – fortunately they rarely get to that level of regression, and I’ll just manage them like I do daily with coping mechanisms, but actually, I really do think the best response to my situation was to cry like that.

Afterwards I was able to explain to some extent what happened and why that was the right thing to do to my hubby. He was kind and supportive and practical. Just what I needed.

Perhaps if you see someone having a big cry like that you’ll be kind, sensitive and compassionate (perhaps you always would have been).  Being an Aspie rarely means having a lack of emotion, its more like there’s too much and its really hard to express it to those on and not on the spectrum.  So the emotions come out at odd angles and in strange ways and often explosively.

Airport meltdowns are anticipated by airports at last!

http://www.autisticglobetrotting.com is a website that was set up in 2010 to help those travelling with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with all areas of the travelling, from the packing to the airport to the holiday itself.  In particular this page helps with airport worries. I wish I’d seen it before I’d flown.  I have travelled a lot in my life, but it’s always been very stressful and full of anxiety and now I realise that it could have been a lot easier.

When we were in Shannon airport in Ireland on our way home I also noticed they had a special service for those with ASD, so we can visit the airport beforehand (in person or virtually) and get to know the airport and what will happen on the day we fly. What a fab and forward thinking idea.

I hope other adults reading this will feel less odd if they have experienced public meltdowns like this, knowing they are not alone.  Also for partners of those having the meltdowns – I hope you have gained a small insight into what might be happening.

Remember, if you have met a person with ASD, you have met a person with ASD. We’re all different and will respond differently in similar situations. It’s just different wiring in the noggin.

Actually for me, I have accepted that it’s quite normal and healthy for me to express myself in this way in the given situation.

I look forward (!) to my next airport meltdown.

Well, maybe not…..

Because communication isn’t optional.

http://www.get-your-message-across.com

Embracing Change

Change?! They can’t do this to me!

How you react to change is up to you

Sam Profile Photo small jpeg copyI’m someone who knows that change can be both scary and good.  I’m sure you also know this.  But did you know that we can choose how we feel about change?

Managing your own feelings about any situation gives you the ultimate control over how you are able to tackle changes in life.

Change thrust upon you

This is the hardest change to adapt to; often involving something or someone at work and worst of all, if it’s presented without any apparent valid reason.  Re-framing is an exercise in stepping back and taking a few seconds to analyse how you are going to feel about this.  If you go along with your habitual self, you might moan and groan and feel awful about it until it beds in and becomes the new normal.  Or, you can choose to embrace it, explore it and make a concerted effort to practise it until you are fully on board and comfortable with it.  Only you can decide if that’s what you want to do.

No change has power over you

You can choose who or what has power over you.  You are the one giving permission to others to hold that power over you by choosing to feel a certain way.  You can choose to change the way you think and to make it clear to others that you are not giving them permission to take advantage of you or ask you to change without reason or explanation.

If something changes, you can ask yourself, “How will it affect me?”, “What can I do about it?” and “How can I make this work?” before allowing a habitual knee-jerk reaction take hold where you allow yourself to feel put-upon, used, not consulted and ordered about.

I’d like to challenge you to make a change in your life that means you re-take control over how you feel (children do it naturally but are trained to act in a certain way by school so that the teachers can control the pupils).  Any changes you have been avoiding in your life (and you might have called yourself risk-averse to explain away your lack of action) can be studied, practised and embraced.  And when changes happen to you, automatically think of them as good and see how you can make it work.

Don’t let change happen to you! You can be in control without being a control freak!  Life is more enjoyable this way.

http://www.get-your-message-across.com