I don't have the best social awareness, though I try to compensate, so occasionally after a party, or just time around people, a friend will message me to let me know that I was coming off creepy around someone.

I consider this a good thing, the issue is that I can't usually work out what it was I actually said or did that came off badly, and they aren't usually forthcoming with detail, seemingly because it's an awkward topic.

Is there a polite way to ask them to go into specifics? I know it's going to be awkward, but I also know that remaining oblivious and making people feel uncomfortable at parties is probably worse in the long run. I've tried hinting, but they will tend to be evasive, and it's natural for me at this point to let them be, as I hate awkwardness.

  • 7
    How old are you? Where do you come from? Are the messages in good spirit form someone that knows of your issues or are they not? I think how to ask people for criticism is a great question, but maybe you should work on it a bit. A 17 year old that is just annoyed by you and wants you to stop coming to his parties because you creep everyone out is a completely different than a couple of 30 year olds with issues of their own helping each other out
    – Raditz_35
    Jan 30 '18 at 9:46
  • We're both university students in the US (I'm actually Welsh), he seemed to want to let me know, and he still explicitly invites me to parties and such.
    – J. Galilee
    Jan 31 '18 at 5:29

You should ask where you went wrong at the same time when they tell you this. I'd suggest not to ask it in front of all. You can say like,

Oh, thanks for letting me know. I didn't realize. Can you please tell me where I went wrong? What should I have done instead of this?

You can skip the latter once you're aware of what to do or you have a better idea. If they tell you this and you can improve, then it's all good.

After getting information from them, try correcting your behavior. If you don't follow this, you will not only be making people uncomfortable, but also discouraging other people from explaining things to you in future. Those suggestions may not be pleasant to hear, but we all have to learn how to behave, so take them as a constructive feedback. You can also think about how you should have behaved and then compare it with their suggestions. In this way, you will learn effectively and will not make people uncomfortable in the first place in order to learn.

Remember to not to argue with what you are told or justifying your action because this will also discourage people who are trying to help you improve your social skills.

After been in the same situations for many times, I asked where I went wrong. Their suggestions, not all but most, worked and helped improving my behavior.

I have seen people not learning from their mistakes. I've also seen them saying "but..." and arguing and justifying their actions when someone told them not to behave as such. I'd suggest to avoid this.

If they don't tell you and you have no idea what to do, try reading gesture and reactions of people at the parties next time. This way you will know what to do and what to not. However, I'd advise not to do this in a way you make person in front uncomfortable.

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    I feel like the parts about not being defensive or argumentative need huge emphasis. Even people who are socially apt but have slight tendencies toward being technical will fall right into this trap. It doesn't matter if you don't agree with someone's assessment of your behavior, their opinion is their opinion, and trying to point out where you think their opinion is wrong is going to catapult you out of their favor.
    – thanby
    Jan 30 '18 at 16:26

The key is not to do this via a written message, but either in person or over the phone. This way, you'll understand much more, and the other person will be naturally more encouraged to watch for your reactions, your understanding, and your confusion.

At some point one has to start asking oneself whether the other person is really being as benevolent as he would like to believe. There are constructive ways of letting a friend know about a social boo-boo, and there are hurtful ways.

I suggest that after you've had a chance to get a fuller explanation from your friend, you explain that when you get a message with negative feedback, it makes life difficult (e.g. brings on insomnia, digestion problems -- whatever the case may be). And therefore you'd like to ask that negative feedback not be shared via a written message the same evening as the incident.

Edit There is another approach possible, and that is to ask this friend to help you during the interaction, as a behavior buddy rather than as a behavior cop, with a prearrange signal to let you know that it's time to pause and reflect before continuing down whatever path you are on.

  • 4
    Where does the OP say that they have problems with negative feedback? It seems like the OP is wanting feedback and constructive criticism. Could you elaborate on how doing it in person will help get their friend to go into the specifics?
    – sphennings
    Jan 30 '18 at 6:40
  • 1
    @sphennings - I'm suggesting that OP ask him or herself whether s/he has a problem with the feedback as it's being provided. If the feedback given is not specific enough to be truly useful, then my additional suggestion may help. // Getting the feedback through a live conversation allows for give and take, adjustments based on observations, and clarifications. Jan 30 '18 at 17:57
  • If OP's friends message him to let him know of his behavior, he should use the platform of that friend's choice for communication. No one wants to receive a call after starting a conversation via text message, so OP should respect their choice. Not to mention that non-instant communication relieves pressure for otherwise high-tense conversations, which may help tremendously here. Sorry, I do not like the implication of this answer. Telling someone their message makes life difficult will make that person just keep silent in the future, guaranteed.
    – Clay07g
    Jan 30 '18 at 20:37

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