View Full Version : Frustrating miscommunications


Fortune
03-17-11, 02:00 PM
So there's this thing that I do, where I try to write exactly what I mean without subtext. It's not that subtext is impossible for me, but rather that is not how I normally communicate. Unfortunately, it seems like - often - people look for hidden meanings and motivations without even really thinking about it. Like, "You said X, which means Y to me, and therefore I will respond to Y."

At this point the conversation becomes confusing and frustrating, because I have no idea where Y came from. And I try to explain, "No, I really meant X" at which point it becomes a kind of doom spiral of clarification followed by insistence that I must really have meant something else and even my clarifications must really mean something else, because obviously I can't be trusted to describe my own motivations.

What I have trouble with is working out when the best time to disengage is, when attempts to actually explain myself are hopeless wastes of time.

If there is subtext to this post, it's that I am understating just how frustrating this can be. This isn't about a single situation, but something that has happened many times over the years, resulting in some not very entertaining arguments. What gets me is how it seems to happen the same way over and over again, and yet what specifically I my be saying/doing to trigger this response is completely unclear to me. It seems like every situation is more about how the person reacting to me perceives the interaction. So, the only commonality seems to be a tendency to read into what I say, and not specific kinds of phrasing or terminology.

So, does anyone else get this? Because it is so annoying.

RedHairedWitch
03-17-11, 02:07 PM
I mean what I say and I say what I mean. There is no subtext or hidden agenda, if you see one that is YOUR issue.

Uh I wind up having to say that a lot.

Fortune
03-17-11, 02:19 PM
I mean what I say and I say what I mean. There is no subtext or hidden agenda, if you see one that is YOUR issue.

Uh I wind up having to say that a lot.

Thank you, yes, exactly.

My version is usually, "Where are you getting that? I meant exactly what I wrote."

sarey
03-17-11, 05:04 PM
some people have problems understanding what you mean, just like some with autism/aspergers have communication problems, so does others just in different ways, wide variety of communication problems that people can have.

Lunacie
03-17-11, 05:10 PM
Yeah, I find it very annoying when someone responds to what they think I've written, rather than what I tried very hard to make clear.

It's not like I don't make mistakes myself, we all see things through the filter of our own personal experiences which may be quite different from another person's. If someone seems puzzled by my response or asks me where the heck I got that from, I try to get them to clarify what they were saying so that we're on the same page.

But I get people who read me wrong and when I try to explain or clarify what I really meant - they say I'm backstepping and not owning up to what I said before. Which I didn't actually say, it's just how they took it. People like that really annoy me. I tend to ignore them once I get the way they react.

daveddd
03-17-11, 06:54 PM
it happens to me often

im a terrible typer , so i limit what i write as much as possible

sometimes it can come off wrong

fracturedstory
03-17-11, 08:53 PM
This is exactly what I'm going through. Not so much online. I usually do include a subtext and other times I don't care if what I do say offends people or they completely twist the meaning.

I can be in about 3 or 4 states online.

1) Meds have kicked in, and may be working a bit too well. I speed through the posts and suddenly I'm off cleaning the kitchen without realising it. May be overly sarcastic and feeling giddy.

2) Meds have kicked in but I spend a bit more time on my posts and have more time to add a subtext to posts.

3) Non-medicated, overly sarcastic and can either get into an argument and just ignore people. Or I don't need meds to focus and can get in a discussion long enough to add a subtext so I don't offend anyone.

4) No focus. Skim most posts and add a 3 word reply. Pretty sure I didn't add a subtext.

State 2 and 3 are probably the only times when I feel like actually getting my point across.

But when speaking to people offline is where the confusion and frustration begins. People lose patience with me because seemingly simple everyday things don't cross my mind, so this is where arguments start. It's not a matter of 'you're stupid' but 'you're unreasonable.' I suppose it is futile for anyone to call me stupid because being literal minded I would challenge them to a physics test.
My biggest problem is when people think I should know better when they know I'm autistic. The other thing I hate is when people think they know how I'm feeling and when I explain myself they think I'm lying - and if there's one thing I hate it's being accused of lying when I'm not.

APSJ
03-17-11, 09:27 PM
Yes! This happens to me all the time, though more offline than off.

In my case, it seems hostility is often inferred from wholly neutral or positive statements I make, and it's determined that a discussion on why I dislike or am upset with someone is necessary. My insistence that no such conversation can meaningfully take place since I do not dislike, and am not upset with the person, is just further proof of my contempt for them. Things work out though. After a couple of times, I *will* start to dislike the person.

Fortune
03-17-11, 11:39 PM
some people have problems understanding what you mean, just like some with autism/aspergers have communication problems, so does others just in different ways, wide variety of communication problems that people can have.

Right. I have AS and I have communication problems. I deal with this by asking people what they mean and listening when they explain, if I can. What bothers me isn't so much the miscommunication itself, but the unwillingness to accept that I know what I was trying to say and thus what I was not trying to say.

Yeah, I find it very annoying when someone responds to what they think I've written, rather than what I tried very hard to make clear.

It's not like I don't make mistakes myself, we all see things through the filter of our own personal experiences which may be quite different from another person's. If someone seems puzzled by my response or asks me where the heck I got that from, I try to get them to clarify what they were saying so that we're on the same page.

But I get people who read me wrong and when I try to explain or clarify what I really meant - they say I'm backstepping and not owning up to what I said before. Which I didn't actually say, it's just how they took it. People like that really annoy me. I tend to ignore them once I get the way they react.

Yeah, we all make mistakes, and these mistakes aren't necessarily a part of a disorder or anything - just sometimes people don't understand each other.

It's that last paragraph. I hate that so much. I don't really have a good way to deal with it other than simply walking away.

This is exactly what I'm going through. Not so much online. I usually do include a subtext and other times I don't care if what I do say offends people or they completely twist the meaning.

I don't usually think about subtext (except when I do). Usually I'm just trying to get my thoughts written out.

But when speaking to people offline is where the confusion and frustration begins. People lose patience with me because seemingly simple everyday things don't cross my mind, so this is where arguments start. It's not a matter of 'you're stupid' but 'you're unreasonable.' I suppose it is futile for anyone to call me stupid because being literal minded I would challenge them to a physics test.
My biggest problem is when people think I should know better when they know I'm autistic. The other thing I hate is when people think they know how I'm feeling and when I explain myself they think I'm lying - and if there's one thing I hate it's being accused of lying when I'm not.

Yeah - I get it in real life, too. I remember an ex-roommate of mine deciding I wasn't going to pay the rent that month based on how she interpreted my facial expression when she asked me if I was going to pay the rent in a week. Since I'd never given any indication I wouldn't, I feel like there was more going on.

Being accused of lying is one of my hot buttons too. It triggers quite an emotional reaction.

Yes! This happens to me all the time, though more offline than off.

In my case, it seems hostility is often inferred from wholly neutral or positive statements I make, and it's determined that a discussion on why I dislike or am upset with someone is necessary. My insistence that no such conversation can meaningfully take place since I do not dislike, and am not upset with the person, is just further proof of my contempt for them. Things work out though. After a couple of times, I *will* start to dislike the person.

Oh, yes, yes. I hate this so much. What more frequently happens in real life is that people go and talk to someone else and then I find out second or third hand that I was apparently mean to someone without realizing or intending to be.

Nitz
03-20-11, 10:04 AM
ARGH!!!
This is the most annoying thing ever existing!!!
When I do that, even the most literal minded person can get it, because I use it to extreme(like saying "I'M OK!!! FINE?! I'M NOT ANGRY WITH HER, "REALLY!" ") so you need to be completely unware to voice pitches AND sarcasm(and STILL get along perfectly with NTs so I won't notice you) to realize it, AND I do it around NTs only, because somehow saying my feelings directly is impolite. And then they expect me to realize they're hurt & angry when they say in a completely normal voice "I'm great, thank you".

I've been working for years to be better than my missing nonverbal tools resul;ting from either NVLD or mild AS. >>

After more than 10 years, I'm still being accused for evilness when talking to someone about things that upset him after they LIED and say they don't. ><

My Aspie fiance's having it extremely harder. And he has the worst guide ever - ME. HE even TEACHES me social cues! I hate those!

Well, enough whining for this post. :S

babidi
03-20-11, 11:51 AM
4 later

sarey
03-20-11, 01:25 PM
Right. I have AS and I have communication problems. I deal with this by asking people what they mean and listening when they explain, if I can. What bothers me isn't so much the miscommunication itself, but the unwillingness to accept that I know what I was trying to say and thus what I was not trying to say.


not everyone is like you though.
clearly i wont get through here with what im trying to say though, so whatever.

Fortune
03-20-11, 01:30 PM
not everyone is like you though.
clearly i wont get through here with what im trying to say though, so whatever.

I realize other people can have trouble understanding me because of other communication issues. I don't have problems with people having communication issues. I also realize other people are not like me, and do not expect other people to be like me, or to react to every situation like I do.

I have trouble when - for whatever reason - someone else's perception of what I thought or intended when I said or wrote something takes complete precedence over anything I might say about what I said or wrote. That once the miscommunication happens, clarifications are unwelcome or are themselves perceived as something else entirely. That the miscommunication, regardless of what the cause is, is expected to be the reality.

I am not sure what you mean by "clearly I won't get through here" after one exchange, however. Have you ever had the impression that I am stubbornly insistent on not listening to others?

sarey
03-20-11, 02:37 PM
"I have trouble when - for whatever reason - someone else's perception of what I thought or intended when I said or wrote something takes complete precedence over anything I might say about what I said or wrote. That once the miscommunication happens, clarifications are unwelcome or are themselves perceived as something else entirely. That the miscommunication, regardless of what the cause is, is expected to be the reality."

have you ever considered that there may be a reason for that?
for example, they may have other pressing problems, such as mental health problems, developmental problems, personality disorders, i know that my BPD can cause me to react in the way you are speaking of and with my communication problems that doesnt help matters.

you speak as though these people do it on purpose. they may have other problems that make this happen for them.

if it bothers you that much, why not try and understand why it happens with whoever does it with you, and discuss it with them.
perhaps you should focus on becoming more accepting of these problems yourself so the frustration doesnt interfere with things between whoever it is making it easier to discuss it with them and easier to find the solution.

Fortune
03-20-11, 03:09 PM
have you ever considered that there may be a reason for that?

for example, they may have other pressing problems, such as mental health problems, developmental problems, personality disorders, i know that my BPD can cause me to react in the way you are speaking of and with my communication problems that doesnt help matters.

you speak as though these people do it on purpose. they may have other problems that make this happen for them.

if it bothers you that much, why not try and understand why it happens with whoever does it with you, and discuss it with them.
perhaps you should focus on becoming more accepting of these problems yourself so the frustration doesnt interfere with things between whoever it is making it easier to discuss it with them and easier to find the solution.

I think I failed to explain myself clearly - the misunderstanding itself is not the problem. Misunderstandings happen. It is when trying to discuss the misunderstanding that the problems come up, and that I get frustrated. How can I be understanding and discuss the matter when attempts to discuss the matter are met with reiterations of the same misunderstanding, or more elaborate misunderstandings that I find more difficult to untangle or respond to? How long should I continue to participate in an exchange that seems to be defined by someone else's perspective on what I am really thinking and feeling and a refusal to accept my attempts to explain my intentions?

I don't think people are doing this deliberately, and I did not try to give the impression that I thought people intentionally set out to misread what I wrote. I do not understand why some are unwilling to take what I say or write at face value and perceive subtext that has no relationship to what I was saying, but this is rarely frustrating when I stop to say "No, this is what I meant" and the conversation moves on.

It is when the conversation does not move on that I get frustrated. That at some point, after enough attempts at clarification, I lose my willingness to assume good faith because everything I say is interpreted through a particular lens or that I am not granted an assumption of good faith myself.

If someone clarifies to me what they meant vs. what I interpreted them as saying, I try to pay attention and adjust my interpretation. I know my communication and ability to interpret everything I read is not perfect, and that I do not always succeed at dealing with clarifications, but how thoroughly should I accommodate someone else's communication difficulties when those difficulties keep shutting me out of a conversation involving me?

I hope this clarifies my original post.

tipoo
03-20-11, 03:34 PM
That happens to me a lot, and its certainly very annoying. Tenfold more so when the person gets stuck on Y no matter how much you insist it was merely X.

sarey
03-20-11, 04:40 PM
perhaps the person is insecure about y and is fixtated on it and because of whatever reason they have causing them to react this way, x doesnt come into the picture when y causes so much problem for them?

sarek
03-20-11, 05:09 PM
You may have a very good point here. Miscommunication is certainly as much about the other person as it is about ourselves. I know people who will interpret everything they hear in terms of 'y' not matter how hard I try to emphasise 'x'

Fortune
03-20-11, 05:24 PM
When that happens I tend to disengage and see if things cool off.

Right now I am actually involved in some communication that seems to go wrong whether or not I say anything, and both of us have communication issues for different reasons. Mostly, it's someone making a fight with someone else somehow about me as well, and I am completely uninvolved in the situation otherwise. I have no idea how to talk to her to not make things worse, even though not talking is also making things worse, so... distance, I guess, since it means less stress for me.