When You Say Nothing At All
By Dan Coulter
"You say it best, when you say nothing at all," is a line from a country song by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz. You may have heard the song in the movie, "Notting Hill."
While written as part of a love song, the line also applies to other parts of life.
There's a huge range of what's called non-verbal communication that can say as much or more than words. Non-verbal communication is also called "body language."
Learning how to read and use non-verbal communication can be as valuable to a person with Asperger Syndrome in normal conversation as learning to speak French before you go to France.
Without using your voice, you can say volumes with your facial expressions and your hands, even with your posture and how you position yourself in relation to other people. In fact, you're communicating non-verbally even when you're not aware of it. And you could be sending signals that are the exact opposite of what you intend.
If are speaking, your words can be saying one thing, and your body language can suggest you don't mean what you say, even if you do.
How do you learn to use non-verbal communication while you're talking or not talking? Taking a social skills class or getting one-on-one instruction from someone who understands body language are two of the best ways. But there's some excellent information online that analytical folks with Asperger Syndrome can study.
We now know that a motivated brain can reprogram itself to learn things that don't come naturally. Sometimes to the point that a person with a neural disability can surpass others who don't have his or her challenges.
Now consider that fact in light of news reports that say many recent college graduates who have the requisite job skills are not getting hired because they lack the necessary social skills. Some of these reports blame texting and other social media, but they mention a lack of both interview skills and social skills in the workplace.
This is a troubling development, but it may represent an opportunity for people with Asperger Syndrome.
If you work hard at overcoming Asperger social challenges, improving both your verbal and non-verbal communication skills, you could actually do better in a job interview than a typical college graduate.
Here are three links to websites that can help clue you in to some key communication skills.
An about.com guide that offers some excellent explanations and examples of body language. http://psychology.about.com/od/nonverbalcommunication/ss/understanding-body-language.htm
An explanation of body language on a career-oriented site called "MindTools." https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/Body_Language.htm
A slide show at boston.com about mistakes that keep college graduates from getting hired. This show is actually full of great social skills advice for anyone planning to interview for a job. It was created by Mark O'Toole - managing director of PR and content at HB agency, a marketing and communications firm. http://www.boston.com/yourcampus/news/boston_university/2013/06/eleven_reasons_why_new_graduates_will_not_be_hired.html
You can find more online resources by doing your own web searches for terms such as "non-verbal communication", "body language", and "social skills".
History is full of examples of people with challenges finding ways to succeed. They're usually people who work at it and work at it. This makes sense. Because the only way to ensure you won't succeed is to give up.
Many people with Asperger Syndrome have significant talents they can use to help them make friends, get dates, land jobs, and more -- if they can first master some basic social skills. They don't all have to become social experts. Just become competent enough to help others look past their challenges and see their abilities.
If you can accomplish that, sometimes your abilities can speak for you, and that's a form of non-verbal communication where many people with Asperger Syndrome can shine.
Imagine putting yourself in a position where your Asperger abilities speak for you, when you say nothing at all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR -- Dan Coulter is the author of the thirteen videos and two books about Asperger Syndrome and autism. You can find more articles and information on his website: coultervideo.com.
Copyright 2013 Dan Coulter Used by Permission All Rights Reserved