Sunday, March 23, 2008

Why are aspies so "unfriendly"? - Morning Greetings

Aspies are often described as unfriendly, yet we (reportedly) have the unique ability to be friendly with everyone regardless of physical characteristics such as age or color. So why are we perceived as being so unfriendly?

The Early Morning Aspie-Initiated Hello
In the morning as I stroll through my office to get a cup of coffee, there are always a lot of people with their heads down doing work, looking for things or otherwise engaged in activities. Interrupting them to say "Good Morning" makes no sense to me.

In any case, how do I know if it's good? and don't they already know that it's morning? Usually, I'll truncate my "sayings" to Hello, or Morning, and even then, I'll say it very quietly.

I just don't get it you see. Half of the people in my office will ask me a work-related question at some point during the day and I'll often greet them with a "hello" then. The other half usually don't ask for help and can probably go months without saying anything to me - so why would I need to have said "Hello" to them every day? Like I said, I don't get it - and I don't feel that I know what hello means in a modern context anyway.

I have a non-bothersome rule in place for these sorts of encounters. If I walk past someone and they look up at me, I'll say "hello" but if they keep their head down, then I'll just keep walking and let them get on with their work.

The Hello Response
The other thing that happens in mornings at the office is that people walk past and say "Good Morning Gavin!". I'm usually stuck for words - even though it happens every day. I'll often respond with a quiet "Hi" or "hello", sometimes even a "Good Morning" but it's very very rare that I'll say good morning followed by their name.

Why no names? Well, much has been said about the long term aspie memory but there are some serious problems with short-term retrieval. It takes a few seconds to get people's names out and sometimes they won't come out at all. I'm so used to avoiding the issue by not saying the name that I do it automatically.

Of course, there's also that voice in the back of my mind saying - "you can't simply repeat what they're saying with their name on the end". Possibly you can, but to me, that's not individualistic enough.

So, if there's an aspie ignoring your greetings at work, try talking about something without any introductions. You'll probably get a much better response.


PLANET3RRY said...

So true. What makes it worse is that I am not really a morning person. I have changed my morning diet some to give me more energy (smoothie) and that helps.

I work in a small office and for the longest time, I was stumped with the whole morning thing. Now, I have my routine to come in and put my stuff done and immediately say "Morning:. Somehow, the person who says it first says the least. I dunno, must be my office. So, I can get my computer up and running and somewhat unpacked before starting the morning.

stitchndeb said...

Oh yeah, I agree. The other thing I'm confused about is handshaking. Some people always want to shake hands with me as a greeting every time they see me, and it's confusing because I already KNOW these people. Handshakes seem like something you'd do to people the first time you meet them, not every time you see them. It feels like being a used car salesman. Yet I'm called the odd one for not automatically thinking of shaking hands with people.

Meredith said...

Yes, yes, yes. Fortunately, the staff at my school has used to me not using greetings at all (because greetings are useless and annoying, not because I don't like the people using them), so they don't expect greetings from me.

I seriously don't know what friendliness has to do with bothering each other with meaningless phrases. It breaks the line of thought, causes unnecessary tension and has no purpose in general.

Anonymous said...

i say hello without the name...

Balach said...

"Good morning, E!" I hear that anywhere from one to 20 times before the kids are out the door. (The oldest is suspected Aspie/maybe only ADHD, mostly because of the repetition.) My response?
Hey there... kiddo/buddy/little one/sweetie/pal/cool cat... Yeah. I'm that guy. I don't use people's names in the real world either. I just say hey there! Or some kind of rhyme. My favorites are "What's happenin, captain?" "What's up, buttercup?" and "What's poppin cherryblossom?" Also, occasionally I have Bye Bye Birdie going through my head.
They aren't the perfect solution, but hey, it works!

Audra said...

Yep, I'm one of those too.

I actually get kind of annoyed when people I don't know use my name, which is one of the many reasons I have a hard time with my current retail job. When people come up and say, "Hi Audra, how are you?" it just totally throws me off-guard and causes me endless stress because: A) I did not introduce myself to them, and B) I'm left wondering if this is someone I should know and can't remember.

I would love to chuck my name tag and stick to generic "hellos." But really, if I had an option, I'd just skip the intro and get down to business!

Anonymous said...

I'm NT (I think) and we own a veterinary clinic. When clients are in the reception area, my husband (the doctor) may come in from the examination room and talk to the receptionist without acknowledging the waiting people.

As a child I was already taught this is very rude. He does not think so.

Your collegues can get used to your pattern of behaviour, but for the clients, who come in maybe twice a year it does not make sense.

Unwritten rules? Oh yes!

Anonymous said...

It's funny. I know exactly what you're talking about. However, I've accustomed myself to do the opposite. Every time someone walks into a room, even if I've already seen them all day, "Hello" comes out like a reflex. I get the feeling that maybe I say it too often, but if I don't say it when people DO expect it, they start asking me if something's wrong. I've had times where a person walks into the room, steps out for something, then comes right back in. I would say "Hello" both times, automatically. Then, when the other person looks at me strangely, I laugh it off with something along the lines of, "I didn't realize it was you again." I guess we've encountered the same problem, but taken different solutions.

toughmuddertrainingblog said...

"In any case, how do I know if it's good? and don't they already know that it's morning? "

that sounds almost word for word like a mini rant I had the other week on this topic.

this amuses me

Lbiased Woohyundamnbiaswrecker said...

So this is an aspie thing... I thought I was the only one doing this XD
I was diagnosed with ASD just recently and I'm so relieved to know it, I thought I was a crazy person. :D
And I don't use names too, I don't know why but I just can't, when I use them it feels so unnatural.