Surviving the party

Over the course of my professional career, I observed that social gatherings and office parties are a weekly occurence.  While many thrive in these situations for others it can be a stress attack in the making.   Although I am a member of the later category, I have learned some valuable tips to help get me through the entire gathering.

1) Do Not Stim

This is probably the most challenging for me since it has and always will be a part of my nature.  It is my automatic default response whenever I am in an uncomfortable situation.  Unfortunately, the world around me does not understand or accept stimming.  Always keeping that in mind, I find it helpful to hold a drink in my hands for the duration of the event.  It re-directs my energy allowing me to focus more on the surrounding environment and less on doing something that is normal to me.

2) Shake Everyone’s Hand

I am not a big fan of this and it may be something I will never understand but like other things in life, I just go with it.  First off, in my opinion hands are the breeding grounds for germs so why willingly pass it on to other people.  Secondly, I do not see how moving someone’s arm up and down making his or her underarms jiggle constitutes as a “normal” part of interaction.   Anyway, since this is an expectant party of social situations I try to get this done as soon as possible preferably at the beginning of the party.  If I do this immediately I will not come across as rude and it is one less stress to deal with.

3) Pretend to be interested

Once again, this is not one of my strong points but maybe like a good bottle of wine I will get better with age.  I have probably one of the worst cases of ADHD so I am never really present in a conversation.  Typically, I think about other things I want to be doing instead of being where I am or what I am going to eat for my next meal.  Unfortunately, when in a social settings I cannot just get up and leave like I would if I were home so I have not choice but to hear the nonsensical noise coming from the group. Luckily, I realized that the simple jester of nodding your head and saying “ok” actually gives off the impression that you are actively listening to whats going on.

4) Laugh At Jokes

I do not have the best understanding of humor when I have a direct interactions with someone because I cannot differentiate the tone of voice to which the other person is speaking.   I basically only know that a joke has been told when the teller of it starts laughing or smirking right afterward.  To try to avoid any awkwardness such as laughing at inappropriate content I find it helpful for me if I surround myself  by a group  people I have some what of a  comfort level with.  That way I can get a better sense of what is going on and start laughing when they do even though I haven’t really understood what was said.

5) Keep thoughts to yourself

This is the difficult thing  for me mostly because I  appreciate  absolute honesty but as I continually learn and observe more I see that most people are offended by this.  Unlike those who are close to me who accept my what I really feel approach,  this could have disastrous results in my professional career.  After years of training I have finally learned to keep my real opinions in my head and give the answer that those around me expect to hear.  It gets you further in the long run and you wont appear to be an insubordinate worker.

I hope you can take these guidelines to help work your way through any social situation. Good Luck.

Thank you for reading!

Autistic Female

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