Why am I bad at answering open-ended questions?

Page 1 of 2 [ 20 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

Shadewraith
Toucan
Toucan

User avatar

Joined: 19 Nov 2011
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Posts: 260

10 Jan 2012, 10:54 am

Yesterday, at the end of my therapy session, my doctor and I discussed how it's easier for me to answer questions that have an absolute answer. I work well with absolutes, black or white, yes or no. This is why I'm good with the stuff that I'm doing in school (currently taking a Cisco CCNA/CCNP course). But when I'm asked something like "what do you feel like doing?" or someone puts me on the spot and asks me to play something for them on my guitar, I freeze up and look like an idiot.

We talked about how it's because of the way I'm wired and about how I'm a bottom-up thinker. He suggested that I come up with a list of predetermined answers for when I get asked these questions, but we didn't have enough time to go into why I'm like this. I was wondering if anyone else had a similar problem and maybe an answer as to why I'm having this problem? Aside from having a list generated in my head, is there a way to get better at this?


_________________
Radda Radda


Trinidy
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

User avatar

Joined: 9 Jan 2012
Age: 37
Gender: Female
Posts: 40

10 Jan 2012, 11:16 am

I am the same way XD I get all uhhhh <.< what do you want to do?



mar00
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 12 May 2011
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Posts: 603
Location: Germany

10 Jan 2012, 11:20 am

Sure, these questions make no sense. I usually try to translate these questions into my own language rather than take them literally. I think for some polite reasons they are so open-ended, abstract, however, the one who asks usually wants some particular outcome. So exploring that really helps. Also asking for clarification - but NOT in Aspie fashion, in some 'effortless' NT way - is the way to go. You can also mirror the question, which is a rare gem for an Aspie, but a great fun once learned :D



bluntedboywonder
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

User avatar

Joined: 30 Dec 2011
Age: 38
Gender: Male
Posts: 69
Location: Maastricht, The Netherlands

10 Jan 2012, 11:29 am

Shadewraith wrote:
Yesterday, at the end of my therapy session, my doctor and I discussed how it's easier for me to answer questions that have an absolute answer. I work well with absolutes, black or white, yes or no. This is why I'm good with the stuff that I'm doing in school (currently taking a Cisco CCNA/CCNP course). But when I'm asked something like "what do you feel like doing?" or someone puts me on the spot and asks me to play something for them on my guitar, I freeze up and look like an idiot.

We talked about how it's because of the way I'm wired and about how I'm a bottom-up thinker. He suggested that I come up with a list of predetermined answers for when I get asked these questions, but we didn't have enough time to go into why I'm like this. I was wondering if anyone else had a similar problem and maybe an answer as to why I'm having this problem? Aside from having a list generated in my head, is there a way to get better at this?


Often, these kind of questions baffle me. I think most of the time you're not even expected to give a coherent answers, but mumble something like "oh I don't", "alright", "hmmmm"


_________________
Was signed, BluntedBoyWonder

Diagnosis: Have Aspergers - Diagnosed


ToughDiamond
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 15 Sep 2008
Age: 66
Gender: Male
Posts: 7,252

10 Jan 2012, 11:58 am

Shadewraith wrote:
when I'm asked something like "what do you feel like doing?" or someone puts me on the spot and asks me to play something for them on my guitar, I freeze up and look like an idiot.

That's exactly what happens to me too. I can perform music well enough if I work out a set list beforehand (and rehearse it), but I can't just pick a song at random......I've sometimes thought it might just be that I use a capo for most songs and can never remember which position it needs to be in, but I've been in situations where I've had a list of around 20 songs, complete with capo positions and keys, and I still froze up....I started looking from the top of the list downwards, and for every song title I just thought "no, the second verse/chorus/bridge is silly/offensive/too much of a challenge." I guess the social stress of the occasion is part of it, and another part is that for my own stuff I tend to prefer to take lots of time - days - to determine the optimum set list....not that I actually spend much time pondering the choice, though that can happen if I really get involved....mostly I just need to sleep on the idea and when I next think of it, things begin to fall into place.

I guess Aspie perfectionism is involved too. It's hard to just pick a song if I don't have the time to select the best possible one, It's probably impossible to do that anyway, however long I spend trying, because each audience member will have their own idea about what reaches them best, and I rarely know much about the musical tastes of my listeners, or even if they like my stuff or are just being polite.

As far as my music goes, I guess I could solve the problem by making sure I had a list of fairly reliable songs with the capo positions, and just try to be a bit more gung-ho about picking one at random and making a start. It goes against my grain but it's a lot safer than it feels. Getting drunk may help, reducing the inhibitions the way it does, but if the material (or the social challenge) is in any way tricky, I don't recommend it.

"What do you feel like doing?" has its own problems. I guess I don't really function as a hedonist, I'm more geared to due diligence and (kind of) keeping my own selfish preferences out of the arena.....in a sense I'm the proverbial wise man who can do only what I have wisely concluded I must do, while the fool, in blissful ignorance, does what he wants with immediacy, and therefore is in some way my superior. I guess as an Aspie I've had to survive on my wits and intelligence for so long that I'm afraid to just let go of it. I think a lot of good can be done by trying to get into the habit of asking myself "how critical is this decision, realistically?" Once I've reassured myself that it doesn't matter much one way or the other, I'm probably more ready to just do the third song on the list, or whatever.

There's a particular problem with choices when I have no comprehensive list at my fingertips. Aspies often like things to be clear cut....how can it be clear cut if I can't even see the menu clearly? I think it helps to try to remember that it's not necessary to have an exhaustive understanding of all the options, unless it's a really critical decision. But still nothing occurs - "what would you like for dinner?" tends to scare me because offhand I can't think of anything, so I tend to answer with a question like "what's easiest for you, darling?" which doesn't often go down well......people do seem to like me to express a preference sometimes, and in a sense it's possibly antisocial of me to duck the question. I'm sure it would help to cultivate that hedonistic outlook, to see the world as my oyster and myself as having a right to a few nice things and favours. That's probably becoming a more realistic thing for me now that my economic future is getting secure and there are no great threats plaguing my life.

Even so, old habits die hard. And with alexithymia, I don't often know when I'm getting too anxious and anal about things, so it's kind of hard to apply corrective adjustments on the fly. Social occasions are usually very much on the fly. But with sustained effort, I believe progress can be made, albeit gradual and peppered with relapses.



Last edited by ToughDiamond on 11 Jan 2012, 5:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

AbqAsP
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

User avatar

Joined: 25 Dec 2011
Age: 38
Gender: Male
Posts: 41

10 Jan 2012, 12:05 pm

I'm horrible with this. In my research, it seems commonly easier for people with AS to make multiple choice decisions if there is a list, I've found. My therapist always wants to know how I feel, and I can answer waaay better if I have my list of options, instead of having to 'make up' answers. If I don't have the list, I get grilled for the answer until I'm so frustrated, that 'frustrated' the only thing I can recognize.

When I was in a relationship, the question 'what to do or eat' killed me for the same reason. I could only ever think of what we'd done recently, not come up with something new.

When someone is asking for information that they need, I definitely have them clarify over and over until I can tell them what they want. This is more theory of mind I think, I can't make up the answer because I don't know what they're asking for.

If your therapist is looking to read about this aspect, it is mentioned in a textbook by Valerie Gaus, CBT for Adult AS, although Valerie suggests making a list, so I don't know if that's what you'd prefer. Surely using a list is not for everyone.

Oh, and it makes a difference to make the list actual instead of mental; it eliminates the distress of remembering all of the options while deciding upon them.


_________________
I tried teaching myself slap bass, but the best I can do is flap bass.
Your Aspie score: 158 of 200, neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 44 of 200
You are very likely a Doggy


Douglas_MacNeill
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 10 May 2007
Age: 54
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,402
Location: Edmonton, Alberta

10 Jan 2012, 12:10 pm

Shadewraith wrote:
Yesterday, at the end of my therapy session, my doctor and I discussed how it's easier for me to answer questions that have an absolute answer. I work well with absolutes, black or white, yes or no. This is why I'm good with the stuff that I'm doing in school (currently taking a Cisco CCNA/CCNP course). But when I'm asked something like "what do you feel like doing?" or someone puts me on the spot and asks me to play something for them on my guitar, I freeze up and look like an idiot.

We talked about how it's because of the way I'm wired and about how I'm a bottom-up thinker. He suggested that I come up with a list of predetermined answers for when I get asked these questions, but we didn't have enough time to go into why I'm like this. I was wondering if anyone else had a similar problem and maybe an answer as to why I'm having this problem? Aside from having a list generated in my head, is there a way to get better at this?


I have that problem myself. I usually don't really know what the other person is saying, or what freedom of choice I actually have in the current situation. I've over-learned the skill of probing the other person to try to find out what is actually going on, even if using this skill makes me appear to be less sociable than some. That skill is part of a protective strategy to avoid disappointment, so I would never suggest that you drop it. But do let them know that you're using it, and ask them to help you through.



Dunnyveg
Deinonychus
Deinonychus

User avatar

Joined: 5 May 2011
Gender: Male
Posts: 370
Location: Deep in the heart of Texas

10 Jan 2012, 2:23 pm

Shadewraith wrote:
Yesterday, at the end of my therapy session, my doctor and I discussed how it's easier for me to answer questions that have an absolute answer. I work well with absolutes, black or white, yes or no. This is why I'm good with the stuff that I'm doing in school (currently taking a Cisco CCNA/CCNP course). But when I'm asked something like "what do you feel like doing?" or someone puts me on the spot and asks me to play something for them on my guitar, I freeze up and look like an idiot.

We talked about how it's because of the way I'm wired and about how I'm a bottom-up thinker. He suggested that I come up with a list of predetermined answers for when I get asked these questions, but we didn't have enough time to go into why I'm like this. I was wondering if anyone else had a similar problem and maybe an answer as to why I'm having this problem? Aside from having a list generated in my head, is there a way to get better at this?


As far as open-ended questions go, they usually do have a right and wrong answer. In many cases, an open-ended question is an opportunity for the questioned person to tell the questioner what he or she wishes to hear, which is problematic for aspies.

As an employer, I use open-ended questions to test a prospective employee's judgment. I want to see where they'll take the question. So, barring an ability to tell your inquisitor what he wants to hear, the second-best answer is one based upon good judgment, which is actually what I'm interested in. I don't want employees who flatter me; I want employees who can use good judgment.



Jory
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 2 Jun 2011
Gender: Male
Posts: 17,518
Location: Tornado Alley

10 Jan 2012, 3:50 pm

Definitely.

The worst: "So, tell me about yourself."



vetwithAS
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

User avatar

Joined: 4 Dec 2010
Age: 35
Gender: Male
Posts: 165
Location: AZ

10 Jan 2012, 6:30 pm

Jory wrote:
Definitely.

The worst: "So, tell me about yourself."


Oh God, I hate that question! Just ask me a pointed question and I can answer it just fine.



Who_Am_I
Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator

User avatar

Joined: 27 Aug 2005
Age: 35
Gender: Female
Posts: 13,096
Location: My body is in Brisbane and my mind is in the gutter. :D

10 Jan 2012, 6:37 pm

Open-ended questions have too many possible answers. I find that all the possibilities flood my mind at once, so it locks up and I can't think of anything.


_________________
Music Theory 101: Cadences.
Authentic cadence: V-I
Plagal cadence: IV-I
Deceptive cadence: V- ANYTHING BUT I ! !! !
Beethoven cadence: V-I-V-I-V-V-V-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I
-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I! I! I! I I I


yellowtamarin
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 5 Sep 2010
Gender: Female
Posts: 3,860
Location: Australia

10 Jan 2012, 7:11 pm

Interesting that you put answering a question and playing a tune on guitar together - I wouldn't have thought to associate the same issue with both. But, thinking about it some more, I came up with another one that I have struggled with. I was having some kickboxing lessons with my PT and he decided to try an exercise where he would come at me and I had to choose manoeuvres to get him to back off. I hated this - I would just stand there and not be able to choose whether to kick or punch and in what way. If I had a set sequence of moves I was fine, but with so many choices, I faltered.



Shadewraith
Toucan
Toucan

User avatar

Joined: 19 Nov 2011
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Posts: 260

11 Jan 2012, 10:57 am

Jory wrote:
Definitely.

The worst: "So, tell me about yourself."


This is always goes like this for me, after being asked that question: "What do you want to know?"

"Anything, really?"

"Like, what?"

"I don't care."

Image


_________________
Radda Radda


fraac
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 23 Mar 2011
Age: 40
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,865

11 Jan 2012, 11:05 am

It's because you don't know the assumed context.



J-Greens
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 19 Oct 2011
Age: 31
Gender: Male
Posts: 669

11 Jan 2012, 11:11 am

Can I add, my personal nightmare question: "What do you want for tea tonight?"
Argh!
Thank goodness for Taybarns. Though the quality can slip, quantity and choice are top notch. So I can have pizza, a bit of fish & chips with rice without father whinging on and on...