Here’s an activity I highly recommend for science fiction writers (or anyone, really): watch your favorite funny YouTube video with someone from another country. It’s got to be your very favorite, the one that rendered you into a weeping, stomach-aching mess. And you can’t share it by sending a link along into the ether. You’ve got to be with the person. You’ve got to be close enough to catch every muscle twitch, every batted lash. One of two things will happen. If you’re lucky, your foreign friend will laugh just as hard as you did, you’ll be reassured of your common kinship, and the two of you have fuel for inside jokes for years to come.
The more likely outcome, at least in my experience, is social purgatory. You’ll sit there for an excruciating three minutes or so, your grinning eagerness disintegrating as your companion watches humorlessly, perhaps with a puzzled wrinkle between their eyes or a smirk that suggests they get the joke but can’t imagine why anybody bothered making it. You’ll glance at each other when the video ends, awkward and confused. At this point, invite your friend to share one of their favorite videos, if they haven’t already leapt at the chance to cleanse their palate. Put the shoe on the other foot. Feel reality start to unravel as you wonder what sort of lunatics would find this funny.
Now bottle that experience, and uncork it as needed. That’s how you write aliens.