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C2V
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26 Aug 2016, 11:33 am

It goes without saying that autistics have problems communicating.
However especially recently it seems more pronounced to me, in instances where I am making perfect sense, and it's quite simple, but others can't seem to grasp what I'm talking about. I tend to assume it's me - but sometimes it's other people.
Example - Today I dropped into a tattoo parlour to ask for a likely quote. Naturally, I prepare. Check my speech abilities by doing some vocal exercises subtly in the car - check, language skills working. I then prepare what I intend to communicate in the most succinct way and review my speech - yep, sounds sensible. I go in, remember to smile at the woman behind the desk, and I repeat my speech. It's really very simple - I had a tattoo done several years ago, but it was never particularly well done and I haven't been satisfied with it. Since then, it has been damaged by scarring and thus, looks pretty poor. I would like to know if they do alterations (some artists don't) and I would ideally like the original tattoo reworked by adding a lot more shading to achieve a photorealistic effect, with the possibility of adding more in the future. How much would that likely cost?
The woman just stared at me. I stared back. She went to get someone else and they tried to figure out what I meant. They asked to see the original tattoo, unceremoniously grabbed me and positioned me how they wanted to see the tattoo and started talking over my head to each other. Then oddly started talking about how if I wanted it expanded it would take several sits and cost me around $700, but in a way that I perceived as me inconveniencing them or asking for something unreasonable. They didn't detail exactly how they would alter it or elaborate in any way.
I asked if they do appointments or drop ins, and thanked them for the quote. They looked at each other confused, and one said "So ..."
A that point I just thanked them and left. What the hell? I was making perfect sense, this was not complicated, and no one seemed to be able to behave in a way I understood at all.
Anyone had instances like this? Where you think you're making perfect sense and everyone else responds as if you're speaking Urdu?


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BirdInFlight
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26 Aug 2016, 11:50 am

Yes, I absolutely have had that experience. I can't think of any specifics off hand but your post sent a zap of recognition; I've had the same kind of reaction from people to whom I thought I was expressing myself clearly. Even after rehearsing and refining the most concise way to say something before "going in."

I don't know what happens. I really don't. I've never figured it out.

And the fact that this doesn't happen this way all the time -- that there are times when everything goes smoothly and nobody looks at me like I have two heads.

So, yeah, I don't know what to tell you, except I totally relate. This has happened to me all my life, on and off.


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On the other hand, friends will never need an explanation, and enemies bent on disliking me will never accept one.

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26 Aug 2016, 11:53 am

All the time, but I don’t consider myself an authority on what makes sense and what doesn’t. When someone says A, I understand A, not B, but I’ve been chastised a lot of times and told any normal, sane person would understand B. I can never guess when A means A and when it means B or C. Since it’s already been established that I’m the one whose sanity is in question, others have absolute power when talking to me. No matter what I say (even words perfectly understood when others use them), they always have the option of looking at me like I’m an idiot or otherwise speaking nonsense not even worthy of an answer or an explanation of what they don’t understand. They can’t be bothered to make the tiniest bit of mental effort to process it like they routinely do in every conversation, and it’s my fault.


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RabidFox
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26 Aug 2016, 12:14 pm

That sounds really odd. It doesn't seem like they could work out what you were saying at all.

When "normal" people talk, they have different ways of saying the same things. Perhaps they thought that you sounded robotic or felt like you were speaking too fast? If you rehearse something over and over again, your flow and speed may become off. You get so accustomed to hearing it that you may miss the parts that could confuse people.

Not to put the blame on you. Just a suggestion.



Spiderpig
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26 Aug 2016, 12:54 pm

Maybe they just tune out your words if they don’t see the right kind of body language.


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AgentPalpatine
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26 Aug 2016, 2:04 pm

C2V wrote:
It goes without saying that autistics have problems communicating.
However especially recently it seems more pronounced to me, in instances where I am making perfect sense, and it's quite simple, but others can't seem to grasp what I'm talking about. I tend to assume it's me - but sometimes it's other people.
Example - Today I dropped into a tattoo parlour to ask for a likely quote. Naturally, I prepare. Check my speech abilities by doing some vocal exercises subtly in the car - check, language skills working. I then prepare what I intend to communicate in the most succinct way and review my speech - yep, sounds sensible. I go in, remember to smile at the woman behind the desk, and I repeat my speech. It's really very simple - I had a tattoo done several years ago, but it was never particularly well done and I haven't been satisfied with it. Since then, it has been damaged by scarring and thus, looks pretty poor. I would like to know if they do alterations (some artists don't) and I would ideally like the original tattoo reworked by adding a lot more shading to achieve a photorealistic effect, with the possibility of adding more in the future. How much would that likely cost?
The woman just stared at me. I stared back. She went to get someone else and they tried to figure out what I meant. They asked to see the original tattoo, unceremoniously grabbed me and positioned me how they wanted to see the tattoo and started talking over my head to each other. Then oddly started talking about how if I wanted it expanded it would take several sits and cost me around $700, but in a way that I perceived as me inconveniencing them or asking for something unreasonable. They didn't detail exactly how they would alter it or elaborate in any way.
I asked if they do appointments or drop ins, and thanked them for the quote. They looked at each other confused, and one said "So ..."
A that point I just thanked them and left. What the hell? I was making perfect sense, this was not complicated, and no one seemed to be able to behave in a way I understood at all.
Anyone had instances like this? Where you think you're making perfect sense and everyone else responds as if you're speaking Urdu?


One part I'm not sure of from your OP, did that shop do the original tattoo? I'm writing this assuming they did not.

Without a recording of the conversation, telling what happened is impossible. That said, I'll go down some possibilities.

1. You came in speaking a different language, possible but extremely unlikely.
2. The receptionist and the artist were having other issues, if not intoxicated (it's not unheard of in that industry), and you were merely in the way on that one.
3. The receptionist is new, see option 2.

The part that makes sense is that they were confused at the end. They assumed the sale, which is generally correct sales training. However, people who aren't used to that method get confused when someone leaves when they are closing the sale. That's not on you, that's on them.

My suspicion, without knowing exactly what country/region you're in, is that they were fairly calm with you, because touching you, at least in the States, is a serious escalation of personal space, and not one done with a frigid potential customer. They thought they already had the sale.

Notice that most of these situations are completely on them. I've been in these situations with inexperienced people, and that's the reaction. I had them when I started out.


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HighLlama
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26 Aug 2016, 2:08 pm

BirdInFlight wrote:
Yes, I absolutely have had that experience. I can't think of any specifics off hand but your post sent a zap of recognition; I've had the same kind of reaction from people to whom I thought I was expressing myself clearly. Even after rehearsing and refining the most concise way to say something before "going in."

I don't know what happens. I really don't. I've never figured it out.

And the fact that this doesn't happen this way all the time -- that there are times when everything goes smoothly and nobody looks at me like I have two heads.

So, yeah, I don't know what to tell you, except I totally relate. This has happened to me all my life, on and off.


This perfectly summarizes my experience communicating with others.


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naturalplastic
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26 Aug 2016, 6:00 pm

In all fairness you were linking together several requests from the tattoo folks.

a) I already have a tattoo, but it was botched.

b) I want you to somehow fix my botched tattoo (that was some other artist's fault and not you people).

c) I want you to do more than just fix it, I want you to...go for this particular visual effect I have in my mind.

d) I want you do that, and also to do it in a way that would be... ohhhh...open ended... so I can come back and expand upon the design on periodic revisits to your tattoo parlor.

e) OH... and I am not saying I will agree to all of this. I just wanna an estimate so I can shop around.

And youre having this conversation before you even show them the actual tattoo on your body yet.

I am not familiar with world of body ink. So I dunno how that subculture works. But it does sound youre cramming a lot into one request. I might have stared at you as well.



C2V
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27 Aug 2016, 1:17 am

Quote:
In all fairness you were linking together several requests from the tattoo folks.

a) I already have a tattoo, but it was botched.

b) I want you to somehow fix my botched tattoo (that was some other artist's fault and not you people).

c) I want you to do more than just fix it, I want you to...go for this particular visual effect I have in my mind.

d) I want you do that, and also to do it in a way that would be... ohhhh...open ended... so I can come back and expand upon the design on periodic revisits to your tattoo parlor.

e) OH... and I am not saying I will agree to all of this. I just wanna an estimate so I can shop around.

And youre having this conversation before you even show them the actual tattoo on your body yet.

I am not familiar with world of body ink. So I dunno how that subculture works. But it does sound youre cramming a lot into one request. I might have stared at you as well.

Interesting - maybe my well-worked delivery went against me there. I had it all condensed into the most straightforward, minimal, linear model.
However, in the world of tattooing, this is not an uncommon request. I've had several tattoos and been around tattooing, and a lot of people come in with so called "tattoo nightmares" and some crazy story that went along with it and want the artists to rework it into something better. I was just asking for a re-work and gave a bit of info about what I was after and asked how much that'd be. I really didn't understand why, if I was clear and went step by step, they didn't understand this, at a tattoo shop.
I had the sneaking suspicion that it's not just my interpersonal skills that need work.


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BirdInFlight
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27 Aug 2016, 6:46 am

I'm wondering if maybe you should have led with/opened with "I'm just enquiring today about an estimate if that's okay?"

Leading with the "estimate" keyword may have put them on notice immediately that the sale wasn't going to necessarily be "closed" today, but that you just wanted to ask about the work and the potential price.

I do the same thing -- I think sometimes I fail to actually start with the main thrust of what I'm wanting, but instead I kind of build up to it.

But other people seem to find that confusing, and would be better served if I'd started with my main question, point or enquiry.


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~ ~ ~

If you have a problem with something I post, something I believe, something I do or say, something in my sig, or something I am stupid enough to share that I'm struggling with and being caused pain by -- TELL ME TO MY FACE so that I can defend myself, instead of see you make a mockery of or a dig about it later.

On the other hand, friends will never need an explanation, and enemies bent on disliking me will never accept one.

ASD Level 1, PTSD. Plus anxiety with panic attacks, mild sub-clinical situational depression -- and a massive case of sheer freakin' BURNOUT.

~ ~ ~


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28 Aug 2016, 4:37 pm

It could have been too much information for them to process and follow. I find myself having to give people chunks of information at a time and lead them from one chunk of information to the next.

Another issue I have found is that people don't accept information the way it's spoken to them. Instead, they make assumptions about the information and it leads them into weird directions, leaving them confused. (This is the opposite of "taking things too literally," which people on the spectrum are accused of. On the contrary, some NTs suffer from an inability to take in information without embellishing it with assumptions and associations. I can see how doing that can free up mental energy, but it can also make people lazy-minded. ) They may have been making assumptions about the information, for example, that it was the type used by people who are having tattoo work that same visit.



AgentPalpatine
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29 Aug 2016, 9:23 am

I don't believe, for the reasons stated above, that the burden of communication is on the OP in this case.

I've seen this exact situation, except for the touching part, happen multiple times with inexperienced front-line customer service, and that's before throwing this exact industry into the mix.


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29 Aug 2016, 9:32 am

Sounds familiar. You are probably like me, too articulate for the majority of people - you talk in whole, perhaps rather complex paragraphs, not soundbites, and the average NT is only programmed to take in short, simple sentences. You presented them with the big picture, but they were only capable of seeing a snapshot. Maybe you prepared for this conversation in too much detail?

Dr Pepper makes several good points above. NTs are fairly lazy and vague in the way they communicate, both verbally and in writing. Detail and precision tend to throw them. Perhaps we should take that into account.

Another thing Dr Pepper said makes me smile. She wondered if you gave them 'too much information'. In the UK, the National Autistic Society is currently running a campaign to improve society's understanding of autism, particularly how people on the spectrum can be overwhelmed by external stimuli and sensory input in public places. The campaign is called 'Too much information'.

Makes you wonder who it is who has the problem.


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29 Aug 2016, 11:52 am

Yes, this happened to me the other day. I wanted to exchange Sterling for Euros at the Post Office and the server didn't grasp what I meant.

It then dawned on me that she was new because she had to ask for help with the computer system.

So it may often be that the problem isn't the speaker, but the inexperienced customer service person.

Although if it keeps happening there may be a communication issue.

I like birdinflights point about leading with the main point.



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29 Aug 2016, 12:37 pm

I'm just speculating, but I think the problem was not with the content but in the delivery. NTs prefer information to be revealed conversationally. This is to keep the focus on the people participating in the exchange rather than the exchange itself, because for NTs their experience is paramount.
So, when you first speak to the clerk your interest should be in him/her not your request.

As for scripting; scrap it. Trying to stick to a script is way more anxiety producing then being present in the situation. If you are consumed with your script, you will miss cues that could help you communicate.



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29 Aug 2016, 3:44 pm

I've had similar experiences, and it's very frustrating. My theory is that vendors and service providers rarely have much genuine interest in understanding the customer's requirements if there's anything even slightly unusual or complicated about it. They don't listen very carefully at all, they just seem to pick out a few key words and then try to shoehorn the customer into buying the most profitable product is that roughly fits those words. The people they employ at the front line are frequently rather dim or poorly-trained and poorly-paid, which doesn't help. And at every step in the process, the vendors are very aware that time is money, and they don't want to waste it by taking the trouble to find out and provide exactly what you want. Most of them are mainly focussed on selling large numbers of a narrow range of profitable products as quickly as they can, with the minimum of fuss and bother. Anything else is an unwanted detour, though they hardly ever admit that, so their presented image will often be one of broad-range expertise and a strong commitment to providing the customer's every need.

So I imagine your communication to them was pretty clear but they didn't want to get bogged down with understanding and dealing with your actual request, though anybody with half a brain and a few minutes of free time could have easily fathomed what you wanted. Personally I always dread going into a shop and asking them for anything that's not mind-numbingly simple, because most of the time I get the same kind of treatment as you got. I much prefer to communicate with them in writing, where it's easier for them to work out what I'm saying, and easier for me to remain assertive when their reply shows me that they didn't carefully read what I said. With writing, I get a bit more time, to work out what they're up to and to formulate my response.