• Cory Morrison

Learning socially acceptable comments

Updated: May 5


Two men sit at a table across from eachother talking
(Photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash)

People with autism can often have difficulty knowing what to say in social situations. They can sometimes accidentally offend other people. HFA Today lists a couple of examples of what to say and what not to say in given social situations to help people on the spectrum with social skills.


These examples may also give people on the spectrum an idea of how other people’s perspectives may work in social situations. They can sometimes have deficits with understanding empathy.


Q: What did you think of my piano solo?

A: That was really good. Keep practicing.


What went wrong here?

When Person A asked Person B “What did you think of my piano solo?”, Person B said they need to keep practicing. If a person says you need to practice, it often means that they think you could improve. Person A might feel discouraged because Person B thought the performance wasn’t good enough. Person B might not realize that his/her choices of words were offensive, especially because their first comment was “That was really good.”


Q: What did you think of my piano solo?

A: That was really good. Keep playing.


What went better here?

Person B used the word playing instead of practicing. When Person B told Person A to keep playing, Person A may feel, “Hey! I must really be good at this! I should keep doing what I do!” Person B may also feel good because he/she wouldn’t have to worry about putting Person A down by accident. Both parties feel good. Another way to look at this situation is this: You practice something if you’re not quite ready for the actual thing. You play and perform when you feel you got it 100 per cent.


Q: Would you like to attend a meeting?

A: No! I’m busy! I have plans!


What went wrong here?

Person A politely asked Person B if they would like to come to his/her party, but then Person B abruptly said, “No! I’m busy! I got plans!” Socially acceptable interactions mean not acting more abrupt, angry, or annoyed than you need to be. If Person A were continually harassing Person B, the reaction would be understandable. In most cases, however, this response is not okay. Both parties end up feeling more hurt or annoyed than they could have felt.


Q: Would you like to attend a meeting?

A: I have plans, but thanks for the invite.


What went better here?

Person B admitted to Person A that they have plans, but they did it in a manner that wasn’t abrupt or rude. The period this time indicates a less harsh response. He/she also said, “Thanks for the invite.” This phrase is good to use because one positively acknowledges a kind gesture the other person uses. Person A may or may not feel okay about Person B not coming to the meeting, but Person A would at least feel good that they didn’t seem annoyed.

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