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Sanctuary

Conversational confusion

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Sanctuary

Have you ever had a conversation where either you or the other person have misheard or misunderstood each other? Here's a recent and frustrating example for me.

I took my car to the garage to be checked over. It was okay but as I was about to leave the mechanic made a remark that something "didn't lock" - I didn't catch properly what he said because the phone in the garage started to ring at the same time. I couldn't work out what he meant as my car does lock properly and i am obsessive-compulsive about checking locks and security. I then offered some sort of response about the passenger-side door only opening from the inside or maybe that the electronic key fob that locks the car very occasionally doesn't work for a short time but i doubt what I said was what he was referring to so my suggestions probably seemed to make little sense. The phone kept ringing and I knew my car did lock properly so I sort of gave a shrug along the lines of "that's odd " and then left.

Afterwards I felt really frustrated and annoyed with myself as I felt I probably looked foolish. In retrospect i should have suggested he answer the phone and then found out properly what he meant. At the time though I didn't think quickly enough and no doubt the ringing phone made it hard for me to focus. All the same I found it embarrassing and another example of the way in which an apparently routine interaction can go wrong and leave me worried about the impression I've made.

I suppose everybody, on and off the spectrum, has these sorts of incidents from time to time. For those of us with ASD though they seem to happen too often, or we worry too much about how others have viewed what has happened. Not dealing with distractions such as ringing phones, loud music or other background events play their part as well, as does taking longer to process or respond to what others have said, especially if it's unexpected.

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Peridot

That's kind of confusing. Here's how I've understood it:

- You bring your car to the garage to have them check it
- You come back after they're done and they say everything's fine apart from something "not locking"

- You say that's odd and leave

How can they just let you leave like that? They should have explained what it is that isn't locking properly and how it negatively affects your car's performance/what negative effects it has. Otherwise why even mention it? 🤔

But yeah, I've had moments like this. Social interaction between humans tends to be like that. It sort of comes with the territory. When I was younger things like that would bother me for days afterwards but now I tend to experience them like little bumps in the road and I'm not letting things like that ruin my day.

Edited by Peridot

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Myrtonos

As @Nesf has pointed out before, sometimes other people (at least some of them) might only respond to me in a general way or only respond to part of what I said, I don't get the specific information I am after.

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RiRi
7 hours ago, Sanctuary said:

Have you ever had a conversation where either you or the other person have misheard or misunderstood each other? Here's a recent and frustrating example for me.

I took my car to the garage to be checked over. It was okay but as I was about to leave the mechanic made a remark that something "didn't lock" - I didn't catch properly what he said because the phone in the garage started to ring at the same time. I couldn't work out what he meant as my car does lock properly and i am obsessive-compulsive about checking locks and security. I then offered some sort of response about the passenger-side door only opening from the inside or maybe that the electronic key fob that locks the car very occasionally doesn't work for a short time but i doubt what I said was what he was referring to so my suggestions probably seemed to make little sense. The phone kept ringing and I knew my car did lock properly so I sort of gave a shrug along the lines of "that's odd " and then left.

Afterwards I felt really frustrated and annoyed with myself as I felt I probably looked foolish. In retrospect i should have suggested he answer the phone and then found out properly what he meant. At the time though I didn't think quickly enough and no doubt the ringing phone made it hard for me to focus. All the same I found it embarrassing and another example of the way in which an apparently routine interaction can go wrong and leave me worried about the impression I've made.

I suppose everybody, on and off the spectrum, has these sorts of incidents from time to time. For those of us with ASD though they seem to happen too often, or we worry too much about how others have viewed what has happened. Not dealing with distractions such as ringing phones, loud music or other background events play their part as well, as does taking longer to process or respond to what others have said, especially if it's unexpected.

If something like this happens again, I think it would be good, like you said, to try to get away from the phone or ask him to turn it off so you can hear what he's saying. It's a legitimate thing to ask for and if he's an asshole about it then he's just an asshole or hates his job or something along those lines. I know sometimes if a situation is too much we forget these things but if the situation isn't too bad, we can remember, afterward, that the person was an asshole and it was okay to ask him to go outside/a place where you can't hear the phone or tell him to shut it off. I feel like in situations like this we can be harsh on ourselves. I had a bad situation happen to me recently and I even had a meltdown afterwards and kept thinking how dumb I am and even felt suicidal but in reality it was the person being an asshole. 

The conversational confusion happens a lot to me. When the situation isn't that bad, I remember that the other person was an asshole. Some people just don't have the patience or hate their job or even their life and take it out on you. There are a lot of assholes in this world, very little nice people. I know I have delayed processing so my responses can be delayed, few people are nice about it, most people are assholes but we have to remember that they are the asshole. I've had plenty of people who have picked up on my slowness and have tried and sometimes succeeded in taking advantage of me. Those type of people are fucked up. If I see someone is slow, I wouldn't try to take advantage of them because that would just make me a horrible person. 

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RiRi
1 hour ago, Peridot said:

How can they just let you leave like that? They should have explained what it is that isn't locking properly and how it negatively affects your car's performance/what negative effects it has. Otherwise why even mention it? 🤔

I agree. Maybe @Sanctuary did actually hear him despite the ringing and he only said that the car is not locking and didn't go into detail. I agree that he should have explained thoroughly what was not locking, whether the trunk, the left door, the back door, the brakes? 

I think he mentioned it because it is his job to tell him everything he found wrong with the car, maybe so as to not be liable for not telling him even though he knew about that, in case someone comes up to his car and tries to open it or maybe he told him because he knew it wasn't locking and would feel guilty if something happened and he knew and didn't tell him. But to not explain exactly what wasn't locking was wrong if he didn't. 

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Nesf

I have a lot of miscommunications and misunderstandings, because I have misinterpreted something they said, or they misinterpreted something I said, or I misheard something because of background noise. I have learned that it is always best to ask if you are not sure, or to repeat - this is preferable to the potential consequences of a miscommunication.  I also tell people that the noise is a problem for me and often ask them to speak louder, or turn the radio/TV off.

I no longer fret over what the other person thinks of me so much - I left that behind a long time ago, but I often feel that it's my fault and I feel bad about it, even though the reality is that it might not be my fault at all.

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Sanctuary

Thanks for your responses, lots of good points. The garage was doing a mechanical check so if - let's say - a car door wasn't locking that wouldn't affect the safety of the car although of course it would be a security issue for me. However that didn't make sense because I know the doors lock. i would have presumed if it were that vital the mechanic would have asked me to stay and maybe suggest sorting it out. In retrospect i should have stayed to clarify what he meant but I didn't think quickly or clearly enough and - fairly or not - that makes me feel annoyed with myself. i am very self-conscious and worry about the impression I give and this means an apparently routine event takes on great significance although to the other person it may be quickly forgotten. I suppose this is a manifestation of social anxiety. Perhaps it was bad luck that the phone started ringing while he was talking. I would try to handle such a situation better in the future by staying until I found out properly if there was a problem but maybe if something similar happened I would again lose my focus - hopefully not. As Peridot mentioned this will probably bother me for a few more days and then eventually fade into the memory of social awkwardness and historic embarrassment, occasionally flaring back into memory.

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