Silence is something I tend towards, but very often empathy is my driving factor towards trying to speak to others.
So it’s rather painful for me when this backfires heartily and my empathy is instead interpreted as condescension.
I don’t know how to avoid this, and I’m too socially inept to know how to navigate it once it happens. If I know the person well I usually try to fix things by being blunt and simply explaining that there was a misunderstanding, this is my preferred method because I know exactly what’s happening and I don’t have to add any sort of subterfuge (which I suck at, possibly to the point of not being able to do it) and directly ensure that they know where I stand.
However, we live in an imperfect world and sometimes I’m nice to a relative stranger who doesn’t seem like they’d be open to blunt laying out of the situation.
That is the utter worst for me, because it means I’ve gone out on a limb to try to be nice in a way which is really scary for me, (near-strangers=scary) and then the anxiety gets to eat me alive because now I can’t fix this social interaction, and in the process I’ve unintentionally screwed up future interactions with them since they think I was insulting them and am therefore an ass, when in fact I was trying to go out of my way to be nice.
How do other people deal with this sort of thing?
Certainly most people don’t have the additional internal pressure of feeling like this mistake need 50x replays and the crushing guilt of thinking of 100+ ways to try to address the issue none of which are sufficient, with additional guilt for the fact that I hurt their feelings. Urge to avoid the person forever in hopes that I never have to deal with it, or be purposefully saccharinely nice to them in overt ways so they hopefully think I couldn’t possibly have meant it cruelly…or perhaps they’ll just think I’m always sweetly-snarky and my sweetness is more cruelty. Arg! Both of those might result in them actually thinking worse of me and perhaps encouraging others we mutually know to dislike me.
Such things aren’t necessary though, and I know this, extremes are not helpful, but they are what come to mind.
Thus is crushing weight of social anxiety. More hungry for my brain than any zombie.
I guess I’ll just have to find a way to let it go, or at least bury at the back of my mental closet, under a pile of fluffy blankets maybe, with distraction kittens to discourage me from thinking about it. I’ll also have to not act rashly, logically the best course of action is to let them slowly get to know me and hope they realize they made a mistake.
I’m fearful enough and impatient enough that it sounds like agony to take that approach, but it’s the right thing for me to do in this situation. That way if they continue to get pissed at me for nothing, I guess they aren’t my kind of people and I’ll have something to tell out mutual friends for why I’m no longer speaking to them.
I know I’ll feel uncomfortable and foolish no matter what course of action I take.
So I’m just going to press myself to try to do the one which is slow and logical.