Kindness kindles a kerfuffle…

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.

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3 thoughts on “Kindness kindles a kerfuffle…

  1. I think part of successful communication comes from being comfortable. You have to be comfortable with yourself, how you express your emotions and how you communicate non verbally. So figure that part out first, then you may find that others understand you better and are less likely to misunderstand your intent.

    • For the specific case (it was a text interaction) I think they were trying to “read between the lines” when in fact my words were purely at face value *shrugs*

      But I think what you said about social interaction being more successful when someone is comfortable is interesting even outside of this specific instance.
      For most people I think what you may well be true, I mean when I think of how most people act when they’re comfortable, I think of their body language becoming more languid, they have an easier time focusing on the conversation instead of body monitoring so they can listen more actively and enjoy the conversation. Often if one person is relaxed the person they’re talking to has an easier time mirroring that, and I think that’s one reason confidence ends up translating into charisma.

      This isn’t quite so simple for me though, especially if I’m talking to strangers. The reason is because I’m non-neurotypical in such a way that the times when I am the most comfortable are when I am stimming and otherwise involved in non-standard behaviour which would likely make strangers uncomfortable.
      Examples of stims: fiddling with things in my hands, rocking on the balls of my feet, or pacing in circles, or doing something like drawing/cooking/washing dishes.
      Basically those things are considered odd behaviours, and things you do when you’re not listening. For me though, the more still I am, the harder it is for me to focus. I suspect you could see why that’s a conflict of interests for comfort.

  2. Anxiety is such a bitch. :-/ I generally don’t have much of it in my life any more: I’ve realized that living in “bitch-mode” 24/7 actually cuts out a lot of unnecessary anxiety from my life. (I’m “sort of” joking….heheh. Sort of not!) I used to suffer so much anxiety though. Agoraphobia- wow. I was a wreck! I still get all tongue-tied when trying to explain things to total strangers, because I’ll say something, but screw it up accidentally, and then I start saying a bunch of rubbish to clear THAT up, but instead, just end up adding more fuel to the fire. It has to do with being self conscious, you know? But it can get pretty sad (and hilarious) sometimes. I’ve learned how to better express myself when talking and to slow down and think before I speak. So, it’s much better now but I can certainly relate to this post! x

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