Over the years, I’ve learned most of the social skills I missed out on as a kid, but I’ve grown in my own direction and I can’t ever completely hide that.
Being overtly different from the people you meet puts one in danger of ostracism.
Over time I’ve found a few ways to reduce the likelihood of this outcome.
People are psychologically geared to live in small tribes. Whenever we meet strangers, they are not truly people in our eyes.
Thus, the importance of initial impressions.
This is the time in which you are either grouped into the ‘insider’ or ‘outsider’ bin.
Once a person you have met has succeeded in establishing an empathy bond with you, you can begin to gradually relax, but at first, a single misstep can end in ostracism. You have to establish that you’re someone who can be sympathized with.
-Always eat meals with the people you’re living/working with if possible.
Humans instinctually form communal bonds when they eat together.
Eat what they’re eating, even if it tastes horrible, at least for the first few months.
This is the easiest and most effective way not to get ostracized.
-If you are offered some food, a ride, whatever—never refuse, even if you don’t want or need it. Even if the one who offers isn’t your favorite person. To accept is to become a person in their eyes and a member of the community.
Helping others makes people feel good. By extension, they will feel better about you.
When younger, I interpreted what people were saying much more literally. I got in trouble countless times by offending people who were just trying to be nice.
-With members of the opposite sex who are close to your age, never, ever try to ignore them. Both males and females will subconsciously feel rejected, even if there’s no attraction.
Courteous attention and some polite conversation can prevent what could otherwise cause the worst sort of social tensions.
Females especially, are prone to mobilizing all their friends and boyfriends against you if they feel you’ve given them the cold shoulder. And they will nearly always succeed in kicking you out.
This is one of the most common ways I’ve gotten myself ostracized.
Because of the general negative social feedback I got, I didn’t realize until my late teens/early twenties that women found me attractive and were trying to flirt or just trying to feel personally validated by receiving attention from a man they found attractive.
-Keep divergent interests in sci-fi/fantasy, computer games, any unusual hobbies concealed until you’ve known people for a few months. Anything nerdly or out of the ordinary that’s put fragrantly on display right away will cause people to judge you quickly.
-Show familiarity with their favorite brands, TV shows, bands, etc. Go on wikipedia if necessary.
I generally don’t research the group’s belonging tokens online because it’s usually not necessary to achieve the bare minimum of avoiding expulsion. Besides, I don’t want to clutter my mind with that stuff. Worse, one can come across as a douche or a soulless walking encyclopedia if you know the requisite information but clearly aren’t enthusiastic about it.
But wiki-clicking is worth considering if the stakes are particularly high.
-If you see public opinion turning against you, control the damage as best you can and make an exit plan.
Once you’ve overstayed your welcome, things will get ugly.
This one took some years to sink into my head. Socially inept, I would always think that things would just proceed normally, willfully ignoring or missing all the little warning signs that people drop.
I eventually stopped lying to myself and formed an axiom: If you are not seen as part of the group, the group will devise a way to eject you sooner or later. On the instinctual level, you are not a person to them. Beware!
The good news here is you mostly just have to handle the introductory first few months reasonably well. Once people feel that you are an ‘ordinary’ human being they usually won’t begrudge unorthodox habits and interests.
You won’t be everyone’s best buddy, but people will tolerate you and let you live in peace.