Either we are born without them, or they were never taught to use or something, but intellectual types seem to (generally) lack people skills. It's a dreaded phrase, I know. But living in society brings the requirement of interaction with other, non-geek, life forms.
I don't know what it is (maybe a Shadow Syndrome), but geeks in general (myself included) lack the built-in communication skills that the 'straights' have. You wonder why you have a hard time communicating to non-intellectuals? Part of the problem might, in fact be you.
Classic verbal interaction is based on silly concepts, I know; most of is is stuff that makes little sense and is inherantly esoteric and wastful. But that does not dimminish it's effect on Joe Q. Public. Tradition is very important. Tradition is tradition. Among the more outstanding issues:
- Eye Contact... - I have a very hard time with this one, myself. When you meet someones' gaze (not a fixed stare, mind you), it's a signal that they have you're attention. I know, I know, you can listen while doing your work, but few normal people seem to grasp the concept of multitasking. If someone important is talking to you, just stop what you're doing for a second and look at them, at the very least to acknowledge their pressence.
- Give them time... - They may have a hard time explaining a concept to you, but just let them finish -- they'll feel better about it. You might know how to finish their sentences and explain an idea better than they, but stepping on someone's feet, so to speak, is not the way to make (or keep) friends.
- Don't Assume too much... - Never assume that the person you're talking to is on the same mental plane as you. If they look like they have no idea what you're saying, they probably don't. Try to figure out how to 'read people'. Reading peoples' responses (another skill I was born without) can be vital to acertaining their mental state. Now, this is not to say that eveyone else is stupid -- you will, invariably, come across someone who know what you're talking about better than you. Expect that to happen now and again.
- Let them be right... sometimes... - As geeks, hackers and nerds, we're complete jackasses when it comes the the facts. If everything isn't just so, we generally spazz. Please, let the others be right sometimes. If the facts they get wrong aren't life-threatening, just let it slide...
If you're like I am, and don't possess these skills from birth, there is hope. Fake It. I'm serious. It's not easy, but possible. How? Now that's easy:
Taking Dramatic Theatre and Forensics in school were two of the best things I ever did. Stage acting is just highly refined interpersonal communications, distilled down to it's component elements. Somewhere out there, every possible scenario has been played out on paper; and what better is thy're *easy* to understand. And as for Forensics and Debate, these provide an amazing insight into how the mind works, and how meaningful discussions can be created. I've come to realise that the geek mind operates sufficiently different from most others to be a slight inconvenience.