Am I doing conversation 'right'? Part 1

Am I doing conversation 'right'? Part 1

When learning social skills as a child, conversation is sometimes compared to passing a ball back and forth to each other. You ask a question and the other person answers it, and then asks you a question back, and so on.

But this doesn't feel natural to me.

I can do it to some extent, but it all feels a bit false. I have to make a conscious effort to keep it going and follow the 'rules'. I feel awkward, and I suspect I come across as looking awkward too.

So what does feel right? Well, instead of a game of tennis, with the ball being hit back and forth, I play something different. In my game, I'm going to keep the ball until you're ready to take it from me. I won't put any pressure on you to take it until you're ready, but I'm delighted when you're ready to take over. You don't need to wait until I invite you over, you can just take it from me. That means that if you interrupt me, I'll be okay with it - if it's really important for me to finish my point, I will do, but then it's all yours. Conversations can often be fast paced, with quick thinking and talking, and I love it.

When I have the ball, I'll often tell you about personal experiences, and this can be done for a variety of reasons:

Empathy - if you're going through something, I will likely empathise by telling you about a time where I have felt or done something similar. I'm not trying to take the spotlight off you, it's just to show you that I have some idea of what you might be going through. When someone does that to me, it makes me feel like I’m not alone and I often learn something from their experiences too.

Entertaining - if something funny has happened to me, I'll tell you about it, and maybe even make you laugh. Hopefully you'll have a funny story to share too!

Comfort - if I'm feeling nervous, talking about a personal experience, or even better, a special interest, will help to calm me and make me feel more relaxed.

Hold the floor - if you need time to 'be', I'll hold the floor, and give you time to gather your thoughts, relax or feel better.

So, to get back to my original question about whether or not I'm doing conversation right - it all depends on whether you view allistic conversation as 'right' and autistic conversation as 'wrong'. Who's to say that one is better than the other? Maybe both are valid? Allistic conversation is probably the default conversation style in society at the moment, but who knows if this will always be the case...

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