I've put together a little guide on how to react in social minefields. It's by no means all inclusive but it might help you in the future. All learnt by the kind of experience which only seems funny after the event - or right in the middle of the event, if it's highly inappropriate to laugh.
When Aunt Agatha tells you about her bad knees/aching feet/dodgy hip this is not the time to explain the effect of extra weight on the aging body or to expand into an informational discourse on obesity in modern society.
a. Smile in what you hope is a sympathetic manner and make kind noises (remember they shouldn't be the same noises you make when the dog has hurt his foot).
b. Say how sorry you are and try massaging the affected part of her body. This has the advantage of helping people discover they have more mobility than they first thought.
c. Tell Aunt Agatha that thinking about physical ailments makes you physically sick, then run off to the bathroom and stay there until she leaves.
d. Refer her to your mother who is good at pretending sympathy.
Your sister's obnoxious child is ripping leaves off your potted palm and has locked the cat in the fridge again. Do not pull the child outside by the ear or tell your sister she has spawned direct from a small, dingy room in hell.
a. Tell your sister you sprayed the plant with toxic chemicals as it was infested with arachni-larvae which like feasting on tender young flesh.
b. Remove the plant and stand over the child for the remainder of the visit, giving them a fair but firm expression.
c. Ask your sister to leave as you have a terrible stomach upset and may need to change clothes (this is a last resort as sometimes family will stick around out of sympathy and then you're back to hiding in the bathroom and imitating the sounds of an embattled digestive system).
d. Refer them to your mother and go out, anywhere, until they've gone, taking the cat with you.
Your best friend comes to you with romantic problems. Do not tell her exactly where she is going wrong, how she always had bad taste in men or that if she never grows up she will end up having the same crisis again and again.
a. Listen quietly and sympathetically without judging (I'm sorry, apparently this is the right approach. No, I don't understand it either).
b. Explain you have limited experience in affairs of the heart and offer to take her to your gaming club as they always need more women members there.
c. Load The Sims and show her how to manage romantic situations, including any alien encounters she might have in the future,
d. Refer her to your mother who will most likely tell her exactly where she is going wrong, remind her of her bad taste in men and then tell her to grow up, before giving her a hug.
Your neighbour keeps parking their car in your space, or blocking your drive. Do not call the police on them to avoid direct confrontation or have a meltdown on their front step.
a. Forge a medical parking badge and put it in your car, then explain you have clients who need to see you at short notice. This should shame them into behaving but be prepared to explain what medical services you offer (IT support does not count, sorry).
b. Pay local hoodlums to hang around by their car, leering at it. Eventually they will crack and park it in a locked garage somewhere.
c. Use their car to rest against as you work on your laptop in the street, connected to their WIFI. Once you've downloaded the full series of Apoctica and her Many Admirers, you can go back inside - until the next day.
d. Stand and stare at heir house at midnight every night until they move home.
Your work colleague outperforms you and also talks about you behind your back. They think you need to come a long way to reach their level and aren't afraid to let your boss know this. Do not, I repeat, do not! hack into their life online and send them into a spiral of disrepair they will never escape without professional help. (You should save this for the very special people in your life).
a. Explain to them how much you admire them and ask for their help on a regular basis. This should ensure they are so bloated with pride they end up doing your job as well as their own, thus solving the problem of your performance and freeing you up to do more important things while at work.
b. Make friends with their friends using the unusual charm you keep for emergencies, then leave them socially isolated and unhappy in the workplace.
c. Fix your boss's computer/life problems/mother's rental agreement issues and become the golden child at work, untouchable by any colleague, however talented.
d. Stare at them from across the office, wherever they are and from wherever you are, at least ten times a day. Keep your face blank and emotionless (yay for aspies!) and watch their nerves shred. When confronted, say you were thinking and didn't notice where you were looking, then temporarily stare at someone else to prove the point.
Your significant other wants to move the relationship forward. Apparently this means living together and combining all aspects of your life, like putting up with their love of soap operas and having Sunday lunch with their mother every week. Do not end the relationship on a whim or state, in a high and fraught voice, that they are allowed to use your spare room and their mother can come over as long as you are OUT.
a. Talk about your feelings (I am so sorry! Yes, this is what is supposed to happen! I know!) Be prepared to write them down first as it's easy to forget what you were going to say when you have no real intention of sharing.
b. Talk about their feelings and point out where they are going wrong. Once you have them crying in the middle of the rug, explain how to fix things and bask in the glow of having used logic appropriately and also avoided their mother ever visiting you again.
c. Introduce them to anime/sci-fi/Game of Thrones/Discovery Channel and make them watch everything you love. No getting out of it. Keep it up until they can't remember ever watching anything else. Then wait to see if they discuss moving in again.
d. Don't keep the cats out when they come round (I realise this is very specific advice but it can also be applied to your dog or dogs, the neighbour's small children, your embarrassing family members or a hired troupe of circus artistes).
e. Consider explaining the next stage to you is updating your relationship status to 'It's Complicated' on Facebook.
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