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Dealing with Awkward People

How difficult it is to deal with awkward people! Or at least, people who are predictably awkward but vary their behaviour so you don't see the warning signs until it is too late.

I find it very useful to have ways to behave in certain situations. We all learn it growing up, how to behave when x, y and z happens. And then, as an aspie, we tend to learn it again once we are fully grown and are forced to realise that x, y and z also become x.1, y.3 and z.10.

Learning and growing are a lifelong commitment for me and I feel very strongly about improving the way I deal with other people. I do try to avoid cringe-making or sorrowful situations, even if I don't always succeed. Learning is still vital, even if it sometimes feels never-ending!

So how does it happen that an awkward person or a tricky relationship can still surprise, even years after we have realised or admitted to ourselves that this is not an ideal situation?

I think it comes down to two main areas:

1. My own inability to recognise behaviours as similar when to other people they are obviously almost the same and

2. Other people's ability to use my diffuse coping mechanisms against me.

Number 1

For instance, I might be well aware that Awkward Person takes offence at the little things I say or do, so I try extra hard to say or do the right thing. Then they take offence anyway and go off on a tangent, listing what I have done wrong this time.

To me, this seems like a whole new situation. If only I had kept my mouth shut/expressed myself more readily. If only I had realised they were upset! Yet what I don't see is that the Awkward Person is just doing the same old act of taking offence.

What seemed like a unique situation of them being upset because I (fill in blank of whatever the flippin heck I did this time) is in fact their standard reaction to a certain point in a lifelong scenario of Being Upset. I just happen to be in the frame at the same time as they feel it is time to be offended again. Do you see?

Number 2

And here we have the crux of the matter when it comes to the responsibility of the Awkward Person in their relationship with me, the aspie: I am easily confused and distracted and less likely than others to recognise a pattern of behaviour at the time it is occurring. If a person is truly Awkward, then they know this about me and understand they have free rein to create what seems a new situation to me but which is, to them, a familiar scenario.

If I am unable to see the pattern, or only liable to understand it after the event, then the Awkward Person is safe in dealing me a dog-eared set of cards as I will only see the pattern on each individual card without realising we are playing with a marked deck.

I am easily manipulated because in many ways I am used to getting things wrong and so in a specific situation I am also more likely to take the blame. I will judge each situation on its own merits, struggling to see it is very similar to others from my past. I may not see the similarity until the kind of heart point it out to me and even then I will have to hold it up before me to make sure.

I am an easy target, in other words, a person who can be relied upon to judge as I see at that time and not necessarily judge the Awkward Person and their marked deck in the way that I should.

Readers, I am not here to be downbeat about it. I have learned that the people who stick around in my life are mostly the kind of heart who wouldn't dream of using my own nature against me and who view my general befuddlement as amusing at best and exasperating at worst. They don't see my fuddled nature as an opportunity to trick me.

Unfortunately it is rare for any of us to have a life free of at least one Awkward Person and I am still learning how to cope with them. I am trying to understand the roles of Numbers 1 and 2 in this process but I have come to an important realisation: there is a rule Number 3.

Number 3

It is not my fault, readers. That is my thought, at the end of dealing with the Awkward Person. And I am training myself to make it the question I ask at the start of each tumult. Is it my fault? Am I really to blame? And, perhaps more importantly, Do I want this in my life?

I count myself lucky to have the kind of heart who I can turn to and ask, Is this my fault? and then be scolded lovingly for asking.

As for the Awkward Person, I wish them the wisdom to ask the same questions of themselves.


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