Some people on the autism spectrum can have difficulty with reading social cues. “One of the hallmark traits of people with autism is that they don’t really pick up on, understand, or accurately process all of the nonverbal aspects of communication, which is really a big part of what makes communication, relationships, and interactions awkward and more challenging for autistic people,” Beurkens explains.
But they’re certainly not the only ones. Those with other neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD or some learning disabilities can also struggle with them, according to Beurkens, as well as those with particular mental health issues. Social anxiety, for example, can cause someone to misinterpret social cues as always being negatively targeted toward them, Beurkens says.
If you think you might be inadvertently missing social cues, Nuñez suggests practicing observation, presence, and self-awareness, as well as asking yourself questions like, Am I looking in this person’s eyes? Or, Am I matching their energy?
If you feel missing social cues is negatively affecting your life on a regular basis, it may be worthwhile to talk to a professional.