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A letter about clarity

This is a letter about clarity

I am always fascinated by psychology and trying to learn and understand more about my fellow humans. If I were to go back into education, I would certainly choose psychology as a subject matter.

I also have people close to me who have either diagnosed or undiagnosed neurological differences, so I am doing my best to educate myself in that area.

Last night a friend sent me this TikTok and it made me look at things in a whole new way. It made me realise how as a neurotypical person I really do struggle with direct communication. We often associate those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as those who struggle with communication, but when you look at it from the person's point of view in the video on TikTok. It highlights just how confusing a neurotypical person’s way of communicating can be.

I do exactly what is described here. Rather than clearly state my needs, I will dance around the subject trying to work out what everyone else thinks so that I can fit in around them. So as not to offend, put others out, or come across as annoying or needy. I do indeed have neurotypical spectrum disorder as the person in the TikTok describes! I will ask a question like ‘are you hungry?’ rather than say, ‘I am hungry, will you come to lunch with me?’ and then get offended if someone doesn’t guess the subtext.

This little video has made it very clear to me, that I need to be much more direct in my communication. That being clearer with what I would like and what my needs are, does make it easier for those around me, rather than them having to second guess all the time. It will save me a lot of mental anguish for feeling misunderstood, even unloved.

I have a lifetime of people-pleasing tendencies to undo here, so I say I am going to do this, but how this will play out in practice remains to be seen. It is a behaviour that is so ingrained that it may take more effort than I realise now with my new revelation. But as with any change, the first step is always bringing awareness to a behaviour. We can’t change something that we do not realise we are even doing.

In my case, I think as a female in our culture I was taught to be a ‘good girl’ and to fit in, which means that I cultivated this complicated communication dance to work out what is expected of me. From working in the corporate world my whole adult life, I notice that men are typically much better at stating their needs, announcing where they feel they have done well and felt comfortable with competition. If I highlight an achievement, I am aware that I might be ‘showing off’ and that it might look arrogant. This is of course a huge generalisation, but it is something that has also come to light for me this week in my day job. I am going to be more assertive in that role.

As I have said in previous letters about boundaries, often clearer is kinder. Making people guess is an additional task on our already overburdened cognitive load.

If everyone said exactly what they meant, and meant exactly what they said, wouldn’t life be easier? Less tiring? I spoke about this with friends on New Year’s Eve actually. It is so refreshing to be with people who you know are being honest with you. Who you know you can take at face value, because they are clear and direct in their communication, and you don’t have to second guess and wonder if there is something that they’re not saying that you need to ascertain in case you inadvertently upset them.

I am going to try to be more that person. Wish me luck!

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