Tell people you care what they are saying

Anonymous said:

Another speech-impediment related question: Usually my ability to understand speech is perfect, but it deteriorates rapidly if a person has an accent or talks lowly, so I spend a lot of time smiling and nodding politely.

I feel bad about this with everybody, but especially if a person has a speech impediment or disability accent.

But to understand I’d have to ask people to repeat themselves three or four times for every sentence. Do you have any advice?


realsocialskills says:

Basically what I think about this is:

  • It’s ok not to understand people. That is not your fault.
  • Listening is important. It’s (usually) not ok to ignore people.
  • It’s not usually ok to pretend you understand someone when you don’t (unless you need to protect yourself)

Being honest about what’s going on makes communication much easier:

  • People don’t like being ignored
  • If you smile and nod, people can usually tell that you’re not really listening
  • They can’t tell why, because they can’t read your mind
  • As far as they can tell, you’re ignoring them because you don’t care what they’re saying

It can help to be be explicit about what the problem is, and what you think might solve it.

Eg:

  • “I’m sorry — I care about what you’re saying, but I’m having trouble understanding. It’s hard for me to understand low pitched voices - would it be possible to speak at a higher pitch?”

Or:

  • “I’m having trouble understanding your voice, but I’d like to listen. Would it be better to write things down, or should I ask you to repeat, or something else?”

Also, if there’s a particular accent you’re encountering a lot, it’s likely worth spending some time working on your ability to understand it. If it’s a particular foreign accent, one way to do that is to watch videos or shows in which people speak in that accent, and turn the captions on.

And just, generally speaking, this gets easier with practice. Once you get more experience listening to people with the accent you’re having trouble with now, you’ll probably understand more readily and not have to ask for as much repetition.

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Listening skills for children with autism

If you want to listen to someone you must be completely still. Do not move. Do not scratch that mosquito bite on your hand that’s the size of a quarter and irritating the crap out of you. Do not breathe.

Your eyes must stare directly into theirs. Ears do not work until you make eye contact with someone and activate the Hearing Switch inside your brain. If you look away for just one second, you suddenly stop being able to hear anything.

Face the person who is speaking. If they turn in a different direction, jump in front of them again to make sure you are facing them. If they look down at their phone or the food they are eating, jump in front of them to make sure you can still face them enough to listen.

You do not just hear with your ears. In fact, every cell of your body contains a special microscopic listening radar that picks up sound waves and transmits them through the bloodstream into your brain. To truly listen to someone, you must have all these cells in perfect alignment so as not to interfere with the signal.

You listen not with your ears, but with your full body–your elbows, your leg hair, your nipples. Make sure your child knows this. Grab their uvula and force it into place if necessary. It doesn’t matter if they’re spending too much energy on full-body listening to actually pay attention to what you’re saying. This is the only way.

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