For me, mornings at work are the worst. It seems like everyone wants to indulge in some meaningless, idle chatter.
Everyone I walk past says "good morning" in some falsetto cheerful voice when, to be quite honest, it's too early to tell exactly how the morning will turn out. Perhaps the server will crash and I'll have to spend the entire day fixing it. There have been days like that.
Perhaps the "good morning" is an echo of hope? Maybe people think that by saying the phrase, they'll stave off some unwelcoming morning news. Regardless of the reason, I've quickly learned that to say nothing in reply is considered the height of rudeness.
My hearing problem doesn't help either. Sometimes I'm not sure if someone has spoken or not, or even if they were talking to me. I'm not certain how often I miss their greeting entirely but I'm sure that it happens quite frequently.
So I mentally fumble out my pseudo-happy mimicry of "good morning" but the most I manage is a quietly mumbled "...morning..." or perhaps, "hi".
Then there's the CEO's morning greeting. If there's one person in the whole of my workplace that I should be trying to impress with a morning greeting, it's him. He strides by, oozing power and confidently states his greeting of "good morning, Gavin". An extra-powerful greeting because it includes a name. My own inaudibly squeaked reply of "...hi..." Just doesn't cut the grade.
Sometimes I try to be quick off the mark and reply "Good Morning + name" but invariably, my nervousness makes it come out all rushed and it doesn't do me any favours.
Social Issues, Not Shyness
You'd think that with this particular social difficulty of mine, that I'd be awful at public speaking. Instead, it's quite the opposite.
I've been a computer teacher at an adult education college. I'm frequently a trainer at work, in one to one situations and in classrooms. I've also been called upon to be a presenter many times on all manner of topics from computer security, to workplace policies and the introduction of new systems.
I've always been told that I've excelled in these roles.
I think that so long as the lines of conversation stay rigidly on-topic, I'm ok. It's the small-talk that causes me issues.
Skin Thickness and Survival
Compared to many aspies, I've got rather "thick skin". I can ignore most comments, corrections, "sour" glances and criticism. My general take on this is that I'm the expert on myself. Everyone can hold opinions on whatever they like but nobody else will have a more correct opinion of me than I do myself.
Sure, this probably makes me rather pompous but it also provides excellent protection. I have a friend who is quite sensitive about these sorts of things. He's generally afraid to approach people altogether now and he feels that everyone is attempting to attack him.
Avoiding Social Paranoia
It's a short road from social anxiety to social paranoia and the worst way to push an aspie along it is to be critical of their attempts to socialize. This is one of the main reasons why parents need to be "on top of things", such as bullying, teasing and exclusion when their child is at school. The school years are critical formative years.
In the case of my friend, I've found that you can't protect your child by shielding them from the issues but instead must lead them to confront them and return with their self-worth intact (or preferably strengthened).
My anxious friend was over-mothered during those years. If there was as problem he'd rather not face, his mother simply kept him home for the day. He didn't have to worry about being teased after school either - his mother would drive him to and from school every day. The problem was that as a result, he never learned to defend himself - and not just physically, but mentally as well.
If your mental defenses aren't strong, then you quickly find yourself believing all the negative things that others are saying about you. This leads to depression and also makes you less likely to want to socialize in future - in case more bad things are said about you.
It's a vicious circle.