Feb 17, 2012

Sprinkle Don’t Douse

Some one is quite warm and you mist them with a little cool water.  Very nice.  A bit refreshing.  Then you open up a fire hose on them.  Ouch.

We Aspies have a tendency to open up the verbal fire hose on folks when it comes to areas in which we have the most interest.  Perhaps we want to be exact in our description so we talk for 40 min to give what the neurotypical thought would be a five min answer or we are enjoying the feeling of disgorging our knowledge.

Regardless it just bores or irritates everyone else that has to listen.  It annoys the Neurtoypicals, because they didn’t want that much detail, and it annoys the other Aspies, because it’s not them talking.

I could recommend that you employ the 3-5 rule.  Three min. of talking alternated with at least 5 min. of listening.  Or the 3-Now Listen – Ask – Now Listen – Relate rule. 

That means

  • I speak for no more than three min
  • Listen to understand the key idea of what the other person is saying
  • Ask a question about what they are saying
  • Listen to understand again
  • Then, if I want to say something, it has to relate directly to what the other person was talking about
  • After that I can say something about another topic, but it should be something connected in some way and then I start the whole cycle over again.

This has helped me develop reciprocity in my conversations.  Conversations are successful when participants feel I value them enough to actually work to understand what they are saying.

If I just get to verbally unload everything in my brain on them, they feel like they are simply being used like a word barrel where I toss ideas. 

What is most helpful to me is when I evaluate my thinking and behavior in light of what the Bible says:

James 1:9  “…be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…”

The Greek word translated as “hear” has the sense not only of hearing, but considering and seeking to understand.  That implies that if I’m committing to be biblical in my listening to others, then when another speaks to me I ask enough questions and listen enough to come to an understanding that matches what they intended.

“slow to speak” points to a hesitancy to begin talking, but instead give a full amount of time to the other.  I should be slow to comment on what they are saying, but instead ask appropriate questions so that I have a sense of what is they are thinking.

I know, “But what about me!  I want others to hear what I have to say!”  As I listen and value other people, they will come to feel valued and want to hear what I have to say. 

Also, I have experienced that when I hold most of my comments and try to limit myself to when I have something really good to say, I still end up talking a lot, but have just excluded lots of things that bore other people.  Other times, I might purposely sit a listen a lot in a group, just to force myself to be quiet for a while.  I learn a lot, and usually end up talking anyway at some point.

Ultimately, I actually enjoy the conversation more as well.  Much better than when I do the knowledge dump truck.

It’s important for Aspies to remember that there is no tragedy if I don’t say everything I think about something.  In fact I do folks a service if I hold everything but the most important parts back.

Still, then most important thing to do, is to order my speech after concepts found in the Bible, and asses my behavior against that.  If I strive to love and value other people like God does, then I will want to know what is on their mind and what is important to them.  I will want to listen to them.

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