“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This quote embodies the reason that empathy and awareness of others is so important. Aspie’s and Autistic people tend to have vast knowledge on a specific subject and are very generous in sharing that knowledge with others. It can be difficult for them to recognize that others may not be as interested in the inner workings of the combustion engine, or the intricacies of horseback riding. After all, they enjoy these subjects, who wouldn’t want to learn more?
Unfortunately, this insistence on imparting every last bit of knowledge on a subject, meant to be a generous gesture, leads to others feeling insignificant and ignored. They will remember this feeling the next time they meet this individual with ASD and likely avoid any interaction.
When seeking relationships with neuro-typical people it is important to remember that conversation is primarily to create a bond. Relationships are indeed about how you make people feel. An important way to help people feel good around you is to listen. Everyone feels good when they are heard. Listening is so much more than just waiting for the other person to finish talking. It’s being aware of how a person feels as they’re talking, acknowledging it, and discussing what follows rather than pushing ahead with what you were intending to say. Often preplanned comments no longer fit the conversation flow and broadcast the fact that you are focused on yourself. If you need another reason to listen, each person has a mystery you haven’t discovered. The only way to discover this mystery is to listen.
Listening requires flexibility, as the next line in the conversation is directly related to what was said before. The work is worth it, because if the person feels heard, they will feel happy in your company, and you will have the opportunity to create a beautiful friendship.
Rebecca J. Weaver is a Certified Autism Specialist at Independent with Autism, working to empower individuals with ASD. Need help creating your success strategies? Check out IndependentwithAutism.com for more information.