Precise language

When I had my formal assessment, the report said I used very precise language. I didn’t really understand what that meant. I’m still not totally sure  understand it. But I had a small realisation recently when I was trying to communicate with someone.

I emailed my distance-learning tutor with a question about something I was working on. When I got a reply, he seemed to be answering a completely different question to the one I asked! By default,  I assumed that was my problem and my fault. But when I talked to my friend, they suggested it might be the opposite.

Rather than a sign that I’m bad at communicating with people, it could be a sign that my communication is more precise. So much so, that other people don’t respond with the precision I expect. It seemed like my tutor had given the email a cursory glance and just replied to the question he assumed I was asking. Which would probably work with a neurotypical student – someone who used vague enough language that the message could be picked up from a cursory glance!

I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, here. I could assume that every student that ever emails him gets a disappointing response to the wrong questions. But that seems unlikely somehow – surely he would have noticed if that was the case. So the next logical conclusion is that something is different in the communication with me, compared to with other students.

Which is where the precise language part comes in. I guess I learnt to communicate while learning that other people didn’t seem to pick up on my own hidden meanings – because I was surrounded by NTs who had their own unspoken language and didn’t speak mine. So, I had to learn to make my words completely unambiguous, to prevent that from happening.

This might be part of the reason I’m so good at explaining things to other people. I’m an expert at making words express exactly what I want them to. But it also means I get frustrated when other people can’t do the same in return. I have had countless infuriating text-message conversations with friends, where I have had to resort to listing my points with  numbers, and demanding they respond to them each individually! I’m sure it’s equally irritating for them, but I don’t know how else to make the conversation work. Clearly it’s not possible for me to communicate in NT language (I have certainly tried). So I just have to hope that other people will try to ‘meet me part way’ and do a bit of the translating themselves.

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2 thoughts on “Precise language

  1. I’ve also tried to figure out how to “speak NT” because of this. How can I be vague the right way? It’s worked sometimes, but I still don’t know why. Or why other attempts at speaking NT Vague totally miss. It really is like learning a new language. Also, the use of precision language seems to have some meta meaning for them, so that the use of it can falsely signal an impression of judgement or “teacher-ness”. I think the use of vague language works to signal camaraderie or acknowledgement of a peer relationship.

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  2. I just had several online relationships, and even one family relationship, disintegrate recently over this very thing, along with my Aspie tendency to blow up and say rude things when people are consistently *not* getting it.

    Most of it revolved around the NT assumption that I supposedly want to “please people” when I’m merely listing out the differences between the way I process or do things, and the way a more standard person does, and wondering where to find some kind of socially acceptable middle ground. Example: “My students are bored by my monotone voice.” I’m making an objective observation. A common and imprecise neurotypical response: “Why do you care what people think? Why are you trying to please them?” They are ASSUMING that I want to do this, when I’m merely trying to figure out how the heck to balance my tendencies with social expectations on the job. Then NTs often go emotionally nuts over my rudeness when I tell them off for misrepresenting what I really said. Well, exactly. The NTs thought I was a people-pleaser, and boy were they wrong.

    I’m trying to be more careful about my responses to these things now, speaking less if necessary. Now NTs are like, “Why don’t you talk very much?” Ugh. It never seems to end.

    Like

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