I really want to have a scientific career in research, but it requires networking skills and most all jobs require you to get along with co-workers. I struggle with this as I lack social skills and accidentally come across as rude. This has a massive toll on my mental health and also makes me very, very lonely as I don't have any friends. Is there any kind of healthcare professional, or class, that could improve social skills? Would be willing to pay reasonable £. Counsellor is unwilling to help in this area.
I understand how you feel.
I also would welcome some social skills training.
Very glad to hear that you asked this question! I have the same issue as you. I'm doing a postgraduate degree and hope to have a scientific career in research. I struggle with the same things as you do, and haven't been very successful with networking skills and getting along with co-workers. I'm not sure what would be the best way to improve social skills, but would like to discuss and hear other people's suggestions, and maybe we could all come up with some ideas together. Are you currently a student/research assistant/postdoc?
If you're a university student, there may be some workshops for specific skills offered by your uni that might be of some help? They might also be able to offer some mentorship to help you?
I am definitely struggling with this though, I am also a postgrad student in the sciences and whilst I have done some classes which have helped me a little (mostly because there was one good instructor for the same few classes who very much promoted that there was no 'right' way to do all these things and it was down to finding your own way), I do find the generic advice not always helpful. People in my 'lab' are friendly enough to me, but they all socialise together and I'm completely out of the loop (and tbh I don't have much in common with them anyway). I don't have a clue about networking, and any workshops I've taken always assume you can already do the basics of approaching anyone and starting a conversation. We had a career fair type thing a couple of weeks ago with the idea we were meant to network with the companies that were there over lunch and I spent much of the time attempting and failing to approach anyone.
Mind you, certainly in academia there are at least plenty of introverted people who learn to balance their introvertedness with their career. My supervisor for example says he hates conferences (so he doesn't go to that many) and has encouraged me to take a holiday or work from home if I'm feeling all 'peopled out'-we share our frustrations with having to 'people' too much on occasions, it's nice that he can at least understand me from that POV. Of course you're right and networking and the ability to get on with people is important, as is being able to communicate your science to people, but there are a fair few areas of science where you have a lot of control over your day to day work, and can to a certain extent choose how much to engage.
Thanks for sharing this helpful experience of yours. And thanks for reminding me of the skills course and career fairs offered by the university. I have heard of them, but wasn't sure how helpful they would be and I was quite busy so I haven't been to those yet. I'll try to attend a few a some point :)
It's also helpful to hear that you've shared some frustrations with having to 'people' with your supervisor. I haven't talked to my supervisor much about anything other than research, but it seems like a good idea to talk about networking and stuff. I have tried the university counselling and asked specifically about wanting to improve social skills, but only went to one session and stopped because I felt too busy with my work. But it seems like it's a possible counselling topic. aralez, are you seeing a counsellor in a university? Maybe you could try to ask her again, or ask for another counsellor that might be more willing to talk to you about social skills?
It's good to know there are other people in the same boat!
I'm just going into my final undergrad year, currently doing a lab based internship, and hoping to get into a PhD programme. I'm currently seeing a very unhelpful counsellor privately, who refuses to help me with my social skills and seems to be trying to find a reason for my problems outside of Aspergers. I'm hopefully going to transfer to another person soon, fingers crossed they're willing to help!
To be fair, I am recently diagnosed and next year my university is hopefully getting me an Aspergers mentor. I'm not sure what this will be like, but fingers crossed they might make this situation a bit easier. That sounds like a really good relationship you have with your supervisor. I think I'll try being upfront about my Aspergers at interview and see how it goes down. It might help me find a supervisor who understands and will be accomodating.
Something I found useful was to learn stock phrases as a building block for conversation, and then practicing that, as I grew in confidence, I could start to be a more creative and natural speaker. It's not a professional way to do things, but it certainly helps!x
Much love <3