Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ways To Rub Neurotypicals The Wrong Way

The classic non-neurotypical seriously rubs the neurotypical---even the smart neurotypical the wrong way terribly frequently.  Today I'm going to talk about one way that the typical aspie, geek, or non-neurotypical can be perceived as less annoying by most everyone else.

There is a ubiquitous habit among the non-neurotypical, and that is attempting to offer corrections, or more normally, nit-picks, when a neurotypical is speaking.  This irritates the living hell out of them.  So, before doing so, I recommend that you ask yourself these questions:

Are you in an adversarial mode of interaction with the speaker?  Briefly said, is the speaker your enemy or do you want him to perceive you as such?  If not, I suggest you continue on to the rest of my questions before blurting out a correction.  Even if so, delivering pin-pricks is usually less effective than logical or rhetorical decapitation as it runs the serious risk of making you look like an ankle-biter.

Is the perceived inaccuracy actually a 'load bearing' part of his argument?   Is he even actually making an argument as such?  If not, just let it go.  You can mention it in passing afterwards in private to him if you feel the need.  Most of the time it isn't actually load bearing, and much of the time, it's not even an argument at all.  If it is actually load bearing, I suggest repeating back a short paraphrase of his argument as you understand it to him before you attack it, giving him a chance to confirm or deny it.  You'll find that neurotypicals as a rule aren't very precise, and sometimes the quick summary with a chance to catch his breath will let him make a face-saving self-correction,

Resisting the urge to snap at any minor inaccuracy that passes by will make the neurotypicals a lot more comfortable around you.  One of the reasons is this:  the average person, especially the average neurotypical, and in particular those of the Second Sigma or below has no surplus of what a computer scientist or engineer would call 'Stack Space'.  When you interrupt their train of thought, effectively you're commandeering quite a bit of that space---pushing it onto their mental stack, so to speak.   Salesmen frequently use this sort of technique to confuse the customer and deplete his reserves of willpower.  Unless you're getting a real payoff for doing so, don't do it.  Antagonizing people is rather like warfare:  it should be done only deliberately to accomplish coherent objectives, not incidentally.
Carnegie would tell you to NEVER make such corrections.  Recognizing the nature of my audience, I'm not going to go anywhere near that far.  If I can induce you to at least consider the above before interjecting, I'll consider myself to have served you well enough.

1 comment:

Matt T. Dalldorf said...

The best way to annoy a neurtypical: Think