Monday, 28 June 2010

Approaching Someone to Talk To - Finding my Window of Opportunity

In my earlier post The Toilet can Sometimes be my Best Friend I explained my tactic for getting out of awkward conversations, used primarily at organised socials but also in other social settings when necessary. Now once I'm back into the main hall, ready to socialise again, the challenge can often be knowing how to approach the person I wish to talk to. Now I can go up and talk to anybody and start a conversation, I'm not shy about that, the problem is when that person I wish to speak to is already in a conversation with one or more other people, how do I find a way in? I'm faced with the challenge of finding a 'window of opportunity' (as Tony Blair used to put it regarding Britain joining the Euro) to approach that person, when it appears that the conversation that person is engaging in may have reached a pause, or better still, clearly ended.

Looking out for a window of opportunity to chat to someone is tricky because you're having to do two things at once. You're having to at least try to look as though your confident, and not lost socially, whilst keeping an eye on you person you're wishing to speak to. Then, when you think you've found your window of opportunity, you don't want to appear abrupt or as if you're interrupting them. The business of approaching someone engaged in conversation is much harder for someone with Asperger's Syndrome and requires more concentration then it does for someone without Asperger's. Hence I may appear very anxious looking in a social setting, and my expressions and body language may possibly be misinterpreted as being unfriendly, when you're simply having to try much harder to do what others are doing with ease.

And to make matters worse, there can be many moments when a conversation between two or more people appears to have reached a standstill, only for it to start up again. When approaching you risk the embarrasment of getting the timing wrong, looking like your butting in, starting to make eye contact with that person for half a second before you realise the conversation hasn't ended after all, or saying 'Hello' or something without a responce, discovering you didn't quite find your window correctly.

With all that said, there are times when I may find an easy window of opportunity with someone and end up having the conversation I am looking for.

Now a little note to end this post: As I was writing this post, I was conscious that people might take a poor view of me, thinking I am favouring talking to one person compared to another. If that's what you're thinking, I'll just say that I love to interact with a very wide range of people, but at a given social event there may be a perfectly legitimate reason why I may rather talk to Person A than Person B or C, particularly if I am in the business of trying to build up a social life and possibly exchange contacts. So I plead with you all to reserve judgement here.

1 comment:

  1. Great reflective account Chris of interaction skills and how you see your place in social situations.
    I believe that most people feel this sometime in their lives, the only difference between us all is the way in which we cope with it or react to these situations at the time and long term.
    I have found that even when we are in conversation with each other we have several layers of communication going on at the same time. This can be visually, are we are thinking about what to say next can contribute to a less productive chat as we aren't really listening to the other person, are we interested in what the other participants are saying, do we respect or empathise with the discussion/individuals and most importantly are we actually engaging or simply passing time until we get to talk to the person we really want to talk to all have a beneficial or negative effect on the conversation flow.
    I believe the secret is to engage, listen, ask open questions and share in a two way conversation yet not being too concerned when you haven't contributed to the flow. Social events should be an opportunity to see different perspectives on areas we haven't thought about and in doing so assist in our own development as individuals as well as being fun.