Feb 11, 2010

What I Know....Doesn't Matter

I think this might be true for many or most Aspies. When I'm in a group or in a class as another person is talking on a topic I have the urge to say what I know on that topic. Sometimes I know quite a bit on what is being discussed or could explain it better than the leader who is speaking.

It's at times like this that I need to understand that what I know isn't important.

The leader or teacher has certain things that he or she wants to cover and though I have a great urge to divulge at least some of what I know.....no, I really want to verbally puke out all that I know....it breaks the rules for what is expected in a social learning environment.

If you are like me you might feel like it is some how wrong or that people are missing out by not hearing your perspective. You might be right. You might no more than a particular leader or might be able to do a better job of presenting what you know. But if you've entered into a group where everyone expects to hear from a certain person (and not you), this you are breaking a social rule if you volunteer your information.

Does that seem like goofy rule? It is a goofy rule if the whole world revolves around you, but it doesn't. Every person has equal value in the world, and others have a reasonable expectation that if they come to a group with the expectation that a certain person is the leader or teacher then they should be able to hear mostly from that person.

I was in a team meeting once where the official project leader had specific list of things to talk about and time lines for what to cover. The meeting was progressing nicely, until a coworker walked in late to the 1 hour meeting and proceeded to talk about what HE thought was most important for the next 30 min. Everyone felt embarrassed and began to develop disrespect for this coworker. All the work and preparation of the team leader were wasted, because this other person took over. It wasn't fair.

This person did this in other meetings a lot. He didn't realize he was breaking a social rule. His boss never told him. Later he got a demotion disguised as a job change. So he got mad and found another job. Many people were glad when he left.

It is a sign of respect and that you are a mature adult when you respect other people, by being quiet a lot. It's hard for us Aspies, but it is very important.



  1. Goodness me that all sounds so familiar.

    I often find it really difficult not to interrupt in meetings to throw in my own thoughts.
    I find it particularly difficult in phone conferences, perhaps because there are often short pauses between people speaking, where I might be able to slip in something that feels like it needs to be said.

    I think there is also an aspect of actually needing to get a point across about something that plays it;s part too. If I've identified ahead of the meeting something that I need to convey, I'll spend the whole meeting trying to get that said. This has something to do with having difficulty keeping up with conversations that contain more than two people too - it just all gets confused and at times messy.

    I am far more conscious that I have this trait these days, but is doesn't always mean that I can avoid it happening.


  2. "It doesn't mean I can avoid it happening."

    I know what you mean. The others don't notice the little bit. I used to notice every detail of any interpersonal flaws (from my perspective), and would find out later that others thought I was just fine.

  3. I would love to here your thought on how to explain this to a 12 yo.

    I love the title of your post. My brilliant, quirky, spirited Aspie boy has a hard time wrapping his brain around this one concept. Well, a few others but one at a time.

  4. How do you explain it to a 12 year old. That's a good idea. I just gave it a try at http://aspiesinc.blogspot.com/2010/03/my-words-are-like.html