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7shadesofblack
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24 Nov 2023, 11:07 pm

Are all autistic people unable to pick up on tone of voice? Because I definitely detect a tone but the majority of the time people sound mean and insincere. I work in customer service and I just ignore people who say "excuse me" or "sorry" when I pass by them (with more than enough space for us both to be passing) because it sounds like they're pissed at me and don't actually mean to apologize, more like they want me to apologize or something.

It's possible I'm misinterpreting their tone, but can someone with autism just misunderstand tone instead of not noticing it at all?



bee33
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25 Nov 2023, 12:28 am

Sometimes people will say "excuse me" to mean "you are in my way" or "get out of my way" even when you're not. So it's possible that you are not misinterpreting their irritation and hostility.

Generally I think it's better to err on the side of caution and give people the benefit of the doubt. Partly for your own peace of mind. And sometimes people are irritated because they are having a bad day and it might not be a bad idea to give them a break even if they are being kinda jerks.



7shadesofblack
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27 Nov 2023, 9:21 pm

Hey, thank you for the response. You're right that I need to remind myself that these people are probably having bad days, it's just that I have major depressive disorder and almost never really take anything out on anyone. My friend with major depression is the same way, as well as my brother who has bipolar disorder. But not everyone is like that so it's a good thing to keep in mind that they must be feeling bad.



colliegrace
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27 Nov 2023, 9:29 pm

Customer service employees are treated as almost subhuman by much of the public and I'm not sure why


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ASD, most likely have dyscalculia & BPD as well. Also dx'd ADHD-C, but don't think it's accurate.
RAADs: 104 | ASQ: 30 | Aspie Quiz: 116/200 (84% probability of being atypical)

Also diagnosed with: seasonal depression, anxiety, OCD


MatchboxVagabond
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27 Nov 2023, 9:39 pm

7shadesofblack wrote:
Are all autistic people unable to pick up on tone of voice? Because I definitely detect a tone but the majority of the time people sound mean and insincere. I work in customer service and I just ignore people who say "excuse me" or "sorry" when I pass by them (with more than enough space for us both to be passing) because it sounds like they're pissed at me and don't actually mean to apologize, more like they want me to apologize or something.

It's possible I'm misinterpreting their tone, but can someone with autism just misunderstand tone instead of not noticing it at all?

It varies, and even for those of us that can, it doesn't necessarily mean that we're able to do so all the time. I'd wager there probably are some that can, but I definitely notice the ability goes into the circular file when I'm tired and stressed.
colliegrace wrote:
Customer service employees are treated as almost subhuman by much of the public and I'm not sure why

One of the things I like about autism, is that much of the time when people are being rude, I don't even notice.
bee33 wrote:
Sometimes people will say "excuse me" to mean "you are in my way" or "get out of my way" even when you're not. So it's possible that you are not misinterpreting their irritation and hostility.

Generally I think it's better to err on the side of caution and give people the benefit of the doubt. Partly for your own peace of mind. And sometimes people are irritated because they are having a bad day and it might not be a bad idea to give them a break even if they are being kinda jerks.

It's been my belief for years now that in cases where you can't reasonably work it out, you're probably best just interpreting it in whatever way is most convenient. Or just ask if that's a possibility. In most cases where you truly can't work it out, it probably doesn't much matter anyways.



7shadesofblack
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27 Nov 2023, 11:26 pm

colliegrace wrote:
Customer service employees are treated as almost subhuman by much of the public and I'm not sure why


I figure it's because people are insecure and unhappy with their own lives and they can get away with mistreating customer service employees.



7shadesofblack
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27 Nov 2023, 11:32 pm

MatchboxVagabond wrote:
One of the things I like about autism, is that much of the time when people are being rude, I don't even notice.


God, I wish I didn't notice. I think I'm really high-functioning, enough that it made figuring it out extremely difficult. My past several therapists didn't want to give me referrals to get a diagnosis so I'm stuck for now without one. I think a couple people hinted to me this past year that I am autistic but I don't know whether they actually were hinting that to me or if I just read into it too much. I have really severe social difficulties and practically everyone is rude and cruel to me, it would be a blessing to not notice.



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28 Nov 2023, 12:01 am

7shadesofblack wrote:
colliegrace wrote:
Customer service employees are treated as almost subhuman by much of the public and I'm not sure why


I figure it's because people are insecure and unhappy with their own lives and they can get away with mistreating customer service employees.

I expect there's a lot of truth in that, but I also think some of it is down to anger at having been sold something that doesn't do what it says on the tin, and an expectation that customer services won't be helpful (many companies make it hard to get satisfaction, and if they hire customer services people at all, they put pressure on them not to give much away). Though I'm not making excuses for customers being nasty, because it's unfair to the poor sod in the firing line. It's often a displacement thing, they can't get at whoever it was that's really to blame so they attack the nearest thing to the culprit's representative that they can find. It's common (and very regrettable) behaviour in the animal kingdom. I always try to take care to avoid take my revenge on the wrong person.

As for picking up on tone of voice, I notice it a lot myself. I think it's because I'm rather blind to facial expressions and other kinds of body language, so tone of voice is pretty much the only signal of emotion I can read. Like a blind person who can hear very acutely. I'm also strongly aware of put-down phrases and other emotionally-loaded words.



7shadesofblack
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28 Nov 2023, 12:37 am

ToughDiamond wrote:
I expect there's a lot of truth in that, but I also think some of it is down to anger at having been sold something that doesn't do what it says on the tin, and an expectation that customer services won't be helpful (many companies make it hard to get satisfaction, and if they hire customer services people at all, they put pressure on them not to give much away). Though I'm not making excuses for customers being nasty, because it's unfair to the poor sod in the firing line. It's often a displacement thing, they can't get at whoever it was that's really to blame so they attack the nearest thing to the culprit's representative that they can find. It's common (and very regrettable) behaviour in the animal kingdom. I always try to take care to avoid take my revenge on the wrong person.


It is all speculation trying to guess at what is going through these people's minds (which is why it's a waste of time but yet I can't stop myself). You're probably right that they're frustrated over trivial things like that, though. It's probably just that they're stressed out and in bad moods already and then that's the straw that breaks the camel's back, even if nothing actually happens but there is just that expectation that things won't go the way they want them to.

ToughDiamond wrote:
As for picking up on tone of voice, I notice it a lot myself. I think it's because I'm rather blind to facial expressions and other kinds of body language, so tone of voice is pretty much the only signal of emotion I can read. Like a blind person who can hear very acutely. I'm also strongly aware of put-down phrases and other emotionally-loaded words.


I wonder if life experiences might make atleast some of us more aware of negativity than we might be otherwise? If you're always watching out for negativity directed at you, wouldn't you be more likely to pick up on it? I don't really know how that works.

I think I'm like you where I am better at reading tone of voice than facial expressions or body language. I don't actually know what a lot of body language means and I just find myself ignoring it. Facial expressions I don't really feel I can read but I can see hostility in people's eyes. It's part of why I don't like making eye contact other than that it just feels too intense and makes me uncomfortable.



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28 Nov 2023, 9:11 am

7shadesofblack wrote:
MatchboxVagabond wrote:
One of the things I like about autism, is that much of the time when people are being rude, I don't even notice.


God, I wish I didn't notice. I think I'm really high-functioning, enough that it made figuring it out extremely difficult. My past several therapists didn't want to give me referrals to get a diagnosis so I'm stuck for now without one. I think a couple people hinted to me this past year that I am autistic but I don't know whether they actually were hinting that to me or if I just read into it too much. I have really severe social difficulties and practically everyone is rude and cruel to me, it would be a blessing to not notice.

I wish I could say that the grass is greener on this side, but the reality is that both sides suck. Being so insensitive to that sort of thing makes it easy to get taken advantage of. And by the time you do notice, it's much more likely that the options other than fight and flight are already off the table. I get stuck being very proactive about where things are going, which just eats away at my mental capacity.
7shadesofblack wrote:
colliegrace wrote:
Customer service employees are treated as almost subhuman by much of the public and I'm not sure why


I figure it's because people are insecure and unhappy with their own lives and they can get away with mistreating customer service employees.

Yes, I had somebody immediately get very angry when I told him I couldn't check him out. He literally wouldn't even wait a second to let me point out that there's somebody roughly 10 feet away that can do it. (I'm not trained and due to the requirement that 100% of people making age restricted purchases, I would never be able to keep up with the necessary speed to be a checker as carding people is a rather lengthy process for me and mostly involves figuring out if they're old enough and if they seem uncomfortable with me taking so long to card them)



jamie0.0
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28 Nov 2023, 8:28 pm

I do very poorly with tone of voice
I can pick up anger
I can pick up happiness
I'm hypersensitive to tones though, I don't tend to look at people's faces so I have to use their tone to judge if what I am doing is right.
Usually I can only do this if the tone is exadurated (I can't spell) like how you would speak to a small child.
Where I struggle is with the subtle emotions, if someone says "excuse me" but with a slightly annoyed tone. I can't pick up on it unless I can visibly see why they are annoyed. I'm usually over apologetic, and would apologise if it looks like I'm in the way as I see it's the easiest way to move forward.
it's probably a deficit of mine that I don't know how to deal with these situations, but in the bigger picture these small encounters are usually not that all important, unless it's with someone I plan on seeing again.



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29 Nov 2023, 10:20 am

7shadesofblack wrote:
I wonder if life experiences might make at least some of us more aware of negativity than we might be otherwise? If you're always watching out for negativity directed at you, wouldn't you be more likely to pick up on it? I don't really know how that works.

I think I'm like you where I am better at reading tone of voice than facial expressions or body language. I don't actually know what a lot of body language means and I just find myself ignoring it. Facial expressions I don't really feel I can read but I can see hostility in people's eyes. It's part of why I don't like making eye contact other than that it just feels too intense and makes me uncomfortable.


Certainly I have an eye for the negative in people's manner towards me, and in the outcomes of the tasks I take on. My mother was often very negative towards me, but my father was rather the opposite, and the tasks I've performed have generally been successful. I suspect that cynicism runs in the family, so that might well be a factor. But as I know I'm at risk of having an unrealistically jaundiced view of the world, I often try to break out of it and look for the good in people. The curious thing is that when I voice those positive theories, people often disagree with me and suggest more cynical alternatives. So I really don't know what's going on. Maybe I'm just too black-and-white, and can only see people as either demons or angels, but even that theory looks dodgy on close inspection. Perhaps my gut reactions are black-and-white but my thinking is much more nuanced?

With face- and eye-contact, I think I'd dislike it less if I didn't pick up so much insincerity in what people are trying to convey. Plus I'm likely not very good at divining much from it. And when people are really upset, it can quickly overwhelm me if it's sudden.