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Really bad with niceties

Suzanne

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
When people pass on regards and such, I tend to not add my regards.

I have to be asked specifically before I can, but even then, it is hard to do.
 

lovely_darlingprettybaby

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
When people pass on regards and such, I tend to not add my regards.

I have to be asked specifically before I can, but even then, it is hard to do.
Yes sometimes I do not because it is socially exhausting.
But I like being polite it is hard
It is one of those issues where you want to but it is too exhausting.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
Staff member
V.I.P Member
I deliver meals to people every day and 90% of them say thank you. I realized recently that I almost never say “you’re welcome.”

I am very friendly and kind toward them and I always answer their thank yous with something like “have a lovely day dear.” But I understand what you mean - it doesn’t just come out naturally. I think I say very nice things, but not necessarily the right thing at the right time.
 

Gerald Wilgus

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I have a hard time finding appropriate words, yet, especially in times of distress I will say something to let the person know that I am thinking of them. Like @Rodafina , acknowledging that people are heard is important to me, especially as in the past i had felt invisible.
 

Misty Avich

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
It feels more natural for me to do niceties offline, but online it seems to take up more mental effort. I don't know why.
 

LadyS

One eye permanently raised it seems...
V.I.P Member
Same here. It really takes effort and doesn't feel natural. But since this seems to be a common characteristic among autistics, I wonder...is there a scientific explanation for this? Why does it come so naturally with NTs?
 
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Jumpinbare

Aspie Naturist
V.I.P Member
Yes. It seems giving rote responsese pis meaningless. I do make the effort to say thank you when someone does something nice for me, but even there, I occasionally need prompting if I am occupied with something. But you're welcome just seems like empty words, and I don't do empty words well. It's much easier for me to say no problem, because I like helping people so it's a true response. But other niceties just don't occur to me. It's too much like small talk, and I despise meaningless jabber.
 

Mary Terry

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
When people pass on regards and such, I tend to not add my regards.

I have to be asked specifically before I can, but even then, it is hard to do.

That's okay. People infer that the person to whom they are speaking has warm thoughts and reciprocal feelings about the one who sent their regards. No one thinks any the less of you for not saying the "niceties" out loud. They know you are a nice, caring person and that's what's important.
 

Knower of nothing

Well-Known Member
It's a million times easier for me to give a unique tailored-for-the-moment sappy genuine compliment than any of these pre-chewed niceties that make casual interactions go around haha.
 

Au Naturel

Au Naturel
If someone says "thank you," they are recognizing you as a worthy fellow. They want you to know they value what you’ve done. "You're welcome." or the functional equivalent is a reciprocation. Not to reciprocate implies you do not care about their feelings. Caring about other people's feelings is what empathy is all about.

It is possible for "thank you" and "you're welcome" to be reflexive or even insincere. That doesn't matter to me. Being thankful makes me a better and happier person. Parsing out whether the other guy really meant it or not accomplishes nothing but cut into my own happiness.
 
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tazz

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
it doesn’t just come out naturally
Me too. It takes quite a lot of effort to remember to do it and to execute well.
is there a scientific explanation for this? Why does it come so naturally with NTs?
I'm no expert but my understanding is that it goes something like this...

Processing language and interactions is something that develops early in life. Even before birth the relevant parts of the brain are developing and can be affected by various factors including genes and prenatal things. Then as a baby communication skills start to develop. Things like eye contact take place between baby and parents for example. Usually the newborn is instinctively engaging in this process. As a young child things like turn-taking in conversations are picked up - often unintentionally during play with peers and interactions with adults. Sometimes it's more intentional such as being taught to say please and thank you. The need for reinforcing social bonds is also present, as is a need to book-end interactions with non-threatening content - which is a lot of what "small talk" is about - easing into a conversation and then confirming at the end that everything went well and we're still friends.

In someone with autism this usual developmental process doesn't happen the same way. There may not be the same natural desire for eye contact for example, or a desire for reinforcing social bonds and framing conversations with small talk. And even if there is a desire, it may be more difficult for the autistic person to learn those skills - the same way that some people pick up math or learning an instrument easier than others. In some cases the sensory input during social interaction might be overwhelming due to physical differences in the brain.

As an adult therefore, the niceties don't just pop out easily having been learnt and practiced for years as they would do for someone without autism. Instead, they need to be consciously thought about and they are just plain difficult to do.

My feeling is that this is the sort of thing that results in such a big gap between non-autistic people and autistic people. Because niceties are learnt so early in life and are aided by an instinctive desire to engage in them, they just come super-easy and naturally to non-autistic adults. It's very difficult for them to understand that it's a skill that is learnt and some people just aren't as proficient at it or able to cope with the sensory input.

I sometimes think it's a bit like if someone without autism was asked to perform a complex sum before the conversation could start. They'd find it jarring and difficult, and perhaps a bit frustrating that they had to do it every time. Because of the extra effort involved with no obvious purpose, they might tend to skip it unless they consciously reminded themselves to do it. Or they might find it tiring and stressful... sound familiar?!

Most of that is just what I've picked up from different sources and healthcare professionals recently. As I say I'm not an expert. And you may already know all that and you were after a bit more detail and depth - sorry can't help there. :)

Edit: added a couple of notes about sensory input.
 
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Rodafina

Hopefully Human
Staff member
V.I.P Member
I'm no expert but my understanding is that it goes something like this...

Processing language and interactions is something that develops early in life. Even before birth the relevant parts of the brain are developing and can be affected by various factors including genes and prenatal things. Then as a baby communication skills start to develop. Things like eye contact take place between baby and parents for example. Usually the newborn is instinctively engaging in this process. As a young child things like turn-taking in conversations are picked up - often unintentionally during play with peers and interactions with adults. Sometimes it's more intentional such as being taught to say please and thank you. The need for reinforcing social bonds is also present, as is a need to book-end interactions with non-threatening content - which is a lot of what "small talk" is about - easing into a conversation and then confirming at the end that everything went well and we're still friends.

In someone with autism this usual developmental process doesn't happen the same way. There may not be the same natural desire for eye contact for example, or a desire for reinforcing social bonds and framing conversations with small talk. And even if there is a desire there, it may be more difficult for the autistic person to learn those skills - the same way that some people pick up math or learning an instrument easier than others.

As an adult therefore, the niceties don't just pop out easily having been learnt and practiced for years as they would do for someone without autism. Instead, they need to be consciously thought about and they are just plain difficult to do.

My feeling is that this is the sort of thing that results in such a big gap between non-autistic people and autistic people. Because niceties are learnt so early in life and are aided by an instinctive desire to engage in them, they just come super-easy and naturally to non-autistic adults. It's very difficult for them to understand that it's a skill that is learnt and some people just aren't as proficient.

I sometimes think it's a bit like if someone without autism was asked to perform a complex sum before the conversation could start. They'd find it jarring and difficult, and perhaps a bit frustrating that they had to do it every time. Because of the extra effort involved with no obvious purpose, they might naturally skip it unless they consciously reminded themselves to do it. Or they might find it tiring and stressful... sound familiar?!

Most of that is just what I've picked up from different sources and healthcare professionals recently. As I say I'm not an expert. And you may already know all that and you were after a bit more detail and depth - sorry can't help there.
Super helpful and interesting perspective and explanation there, @tazz. Makes a lot of things make more sense to me.
 

tazz

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I recently experimented with this.

I generally pace a lot and rehearse social interactions. Sometimes this is in preparation for a specific interaction. But often, e.g. most mornings, I do it just to get my brain up to speed for the rest of the day. So that things like niceties are present in mind and more readily available.

Because this is so time consuming and tiring, and because I get so anxious about social interactions, I've been getting help and trying out a few things to see if I can make things a bit easier on myself.

Recently I attended a social gathering for autistic people, facilitated by a local specialist healthcare service. I purposely didn't pace and practice ahead of the interaction. And tried as much as possible not to think about it ahead of time - each time I started to feel anxious about it I tried to keep myself busy and distracted.

As a result I turned up without my "mask" on. I surprised myself at how different I was. The initial greeting when I got there felt super-awkward and messy. Like the guy on reception did some sort of niceties that I can't even recall, and it took me a beat or two before I realised I was supposed to say something in response. And then while he was sorting out my name badge I was looking around and talking to myself out loud about what I could see. Again it took a moment or two for me to realise I was doing it and then I thought oh that must look a bit odd.

During the event a couple of other people introduced themselves to me. One was another autistic participant and there were no niceties at all - so that kinda went ok. But the other was another of the organisers and during that conversation I was very aware that my hands and arms didn't seem to know what to do.

Usually, if I pace and rehearse, I've got a routine in mind for introductions and things to say. And I am more aware of what my arms and legs are doing - I'm more controlled. And I'm watching out for the times when I need to do niceties, so they come across more quickly and naturally. It's just so exhausting though.

So perhaps there's a balance to be struck. Which is probably more how non-autistic people do it. For a job interview, everyone would be well prepared and rehearse and be more controlled. But for an informal social event there wouldn't be a need for such an effort. In my case, I treat every social interaction like a job interview. Which incidentally is possibly why I can get up in front of a lot of people and do a presentation - it's super-stressful but no more so than meeting up with a friend for coffee. So I'm more able/willing to put up with the stress and anxiety because it feels like I've had to for year after year. Maybe for a lot of non-autistic people the stress of a job interview or public speaking is not so well practiced and rehearsed.

Autism. "Strikes and gutters. Ups and downs." as the dude would say.


Take it easy!
 
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Misty Avich

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
A lot of my social skills did come naturally. For example I made eye contact as a newborn (my parents remember), and I smiled for the first time during my second month (my mum remembers my dad playing with me and found me looking up at him smiling really well). I wasn't delayed in speech development.
At school I naturally was interested in my peers and would play with them and interact. I remember myself doing it.

But I think that NT children only develop typically if exposed to the right environments. An NT child who is abused may develop behavioural, learning or social difficulties, without actually having any neurological disorders. With the right therapy this can usually be reversed in an NT child but even then sometimes the child can grow up feeling insecure or develop mental health problems, etc.

An average NT child who is brought up in a non-abusive environment and attends school or at least has a chance to mix with their peers (if homeschooled) will very typically be average (or above) in social, intellectual and behavioural development. That's why it is an important part of their social development to have play time at school. When I volunteered at a preschool I learnt that their playtime was actually another lesson, even though to the children it was just a chill out fun time, unbeknownst to them that it's actually a way of learning them social behavioural skills and is part of the curriculum.
If a child has autism, ADHD, downs syndrome, learning delays, or any other non-NT brain wiring, they are more likely to have difficulties in some way even when exposed to NT environments.
 

Misty Avich

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Non-verbal cues actually help to prompt me better on when to say niceties. I don't know, it just seems easier and more natural verbally than online.
Often online I've gotten people criticising because I didn't give many niceties and that most interactions were all about me. Not on Facebook but on internet forums. I don't think Aspies should feel pressured on internet forums dedicated for us. It should be a place where we can be ourselves and not take it personally if someone doesn't return niceties or keep saying thank you every time someone replies in their threads.
I've given people support on forums, very good support where I avoided all clichés and just understood their point entirely, only to be ignored or not appreciated. But I didn't take it personally, because they were the same to everyone else too, so I just figured that they used the forums to vent more than praise everyone or make friends.
 

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