Two different social errors I might have made

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Vito
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20 Mar 2021, 7:14 pm

Joe90 wrote:
Vito wrote:
Joe90 wrote:
Vito wrote:
Joe90 wrote:
It is said all the time here on WP that NTs are notorious for not being clear and that they base a lot of their communication on emotions and non-verbal language, or that they expect you to read between the lines.


Yes, that is true. But the fact that NTs are notorious for being that does not mean you shouldn't be clear and straightforward.


Why not? :scratch:


Because being clear and straightforward generally tends to prevent misunderstandings, such as the one you've described above 8)


But then what's the point in NTs not speaking clear if it leads to misunderstandings? Why can't everyone speak clearly?


Well, since they can navigate relatively well through the communication based on emotions and can read between the lines without misunderstandings, I guess it makes their communication more efficient that way. But since we, unlike them, can't do so as well, then why bother? Why to try to learn something that we suck at when we can circumvent it by being clear and straightforward? :wink:

Besides, most people are not that efficient in nonverbal communication anyway. I mean just look how many books were written about this topic. If it would be easy for majority of the human population no one would bother writing these books, because no one would buy them.

I even have a personal evolutionary theory of why is that the case. :chin: Wanna hear it?


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Joe90
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20 Mar 2021, 9:23 pm

Quote:
I even have a personal evolutionary theory of why is that the case. :chin: Wanna hear it?


Yeah OK. :P


Thanks all for responding to my predicaments, I do feel better about it now. :) :heart:


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Vito
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21 Mar 2021, 5:53 pm

Here you go, Joe90. Any discussion of this will be welcomed. :wink:

Vito’s theory of ambiguity of non-verbal communication in the contemporary world.

Created last weekend during a walk with my dog.

If you think about it from the perspective of human evolution, nonverbal communication was the original way of communication between human ancestors before speech was developed. I mean, if you don’t have speech, then how else can you communicate? You can only utilize gestures, facial expressions and vocalizations, which is essentially what chimps do. Dogs, who don’t have hands to gesture with and have extremely limited vocal range utilize solely facial expressions and crude body language in their communication with humans. I have a dog and I can recognize from his face, ear and tail position, and stance whether he’s feeling excited, sad, playful, comfortable, frightened, concerned, curious, anxious, aggressive, or uncomfortable. So, it’s a reasonable tool for a crude communication.

Humans have used the non-verbal communication for hundreds of thousands of years before they were able to speak; their ancestors had some form of nonverbal communication for millions of years before that. Therefore, it is reasonable to state that humans (most of them that is) have the ability to utilize non-verbal communication hard-wired into their brains.

In comparison with non-verbal communication, language is fairly recent; if I remember it correctly, I’ve read that language appeared around 60 000 – 80 000 years ago, which, from evolutionary standpoint is not too long ago. Since evolution is very slow, it is no surprise that, although verbal communication is superior to non-verbal communication as you can communicate through it infinitely more complex things, it didn’t disappear, as its disappearance would require a very long time.

However, appearance of verbal communication introduced an ambiguity into the communication, because suddenly, humans got the ability to communicate two different (and sometimes opposite) sentiments simultaneously. By acquiring language, humans got the ability to say, “I like you” and at the same time communicate an utter disgust through the non-verbal communication. This is not advantageous, as the abovementioned ambiguity makes communication less effective if one of the modes does not match the other.

The evolutionary slowness in resolving this problem then resulted in an adaptation where the two modes of communication started to complement each other – complex messages requiring precise transfer of information was the domain of verbal communication while simpler things, such as emotional state of the speaker, praise, appreciation, disgust, or contempt, etc. got communicated via non-verbal communication. The advantage of non-verbal communication here is that its considerably faster than expressing these sentiments with words and can be done simultaneously with the verbal communication.

Furthermore, there is another factor in favor of non-verbal communication, which is of paramount importance to this topic. The thing is, up until ca. 12 000 years ago, all the humans lived in small groups of not more than few dozen members with very few, if any, interactions with other groups. The basic characteristic of such groups is that everyone knows everyone else there and there happen regular interactions within the vast majority of all the possible interpersonal dyads. Basically, everyone regularly communicates with every individual member of the group.

One of the things that I’ve experienced with respect to non-verbal communication, is that it is much easier to use it efficiently with someone you know, than with someone you don’t. The reason for that is that if you interact with someone often, you can observe his non-verbal cues and match them with his verbal communication. Over time, you learn what each cue of that particular person means and become consequently much more efficient in decoding them. On the other hand, with strangers you don’t have this kind of information, which increases the chances of non-verbal communication being misunderstood. For example, I’m not good at reading non-verbal communication of strangers, but I’m pretty good at it with respect to my wife. This issue is especially the case with cues that differ across cultures. Personal space management is a prime example of that.

It is for that reason, by the way, that police investigators use the concept of “establishing the baseline behavior” when questioning suspects. The idea is to establish the standard body language of the individual by asking irrelevant and easy questions and then compare it with that individual’s reaction on the questions deemed “problematic” by the investigator. This technique is well described in What Every BODY Is Saying by Joe Navarro.

Now, in the last 12 000 years, the situation changed rather abruptly. Suddenly, humans started to live not in tightly-knitted groups of few individuals, but rather in burgeoning communities with thousands or even millions of individuals where nobody knows anybody else. Moreover, in order to somehow organize these communities, new tools, such as legal systems, were developed that completely disregard the non-verbal aspect of communication, focusing on words and tangible facts instead. The official upholding the Code of Hammurabi, U.S. Constitution or the EU Regulations on Sales of Cabbage in the Common Market is required to focus only on the facts, deeds and how do they reflect on said documents. In fact, reflecting on the appropriateness of non-verbal communication of the parties involved in a legal procedure involving these documents by this official would be seen as deeply unprofessional by most contemporary cultures.

So here it is, on one hand we have non-verbal communication that developed for millions of years mostly as the sole means of individuals communicating with each other in the context of small blood-related clans. On the other we have the current civilization of mass “anonymity” where non-verbal communication is partially rendered useless.

Therefore, it is not surprising that even regular folk will be prone to experience misunderstandings when relying on non-verbal communication too much and it makes perfect sense to rely more on verbal communication in order to be clearer and more straightforward, ESPECIALLY with strangers.

P.S.: As a side note, this line of thought invites the idea that autism (resp. it’s social manifestations) is perhaps a bit unjustly understood only as a deficiency with respect to normal, whereas it could be a manifestation of some sort of evolutionary process that is generated by the ambiguity in communication that I’ve described above. Please note that I’m not trying to say that autistic people are more evolved or anything, it’s just a line of thought to be considered.


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2011: Your Aspie score: 139 of 200. Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 67 of 200. You are very likely an Aspie.
2021: Your broader autism cluster (Aspie) score: 106 of 200. Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 121 of 200. You have both broader autism cluster and neurotypical traits.
I'm getting better at this stuff!


Mona Pereth
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23 Mar 2021, 5:13 pm

Vito wrote:
Joe90 wrote:
Vito wrote:
Joe90 wrote:
Vito wrote:
Joe90 wrote:
It is said all the time here on WP that NTs are notorious for not being clear and that they base a lot of their communication on emotions and non-verbal language, or that they expect you to read between the lines.


Yes, that is true. But the fact that NTs are notorious for being that does not mean you shouldn't be clear and straightforward.


Why not? :scratch:


Because being clear and straightforward generally tends to prevent misunderstandings, such as the one you've described above 8)


But then what's the point in NTs not speaking clear if it leads to misunderstandings? Why can't everyone speak clearly?


Well, since they can navigate relatively well through the communication based on emotions and can read between the lines without misunderstandings, I guess it makes their communication more efficient that way. But since we, unlike them, can't do so as well, then why bother? Why to try to learn something that we suck at when we can circumvent it by being clear and straightforward? :wink:

I totally agree with this. Clear, precise verbal communication is crucial to what I refer to as autistic-friendly communication skills -- at least for verbal autistic people. (Communication with nonverbal autistic people would require a very different set of skills.)


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