As a result, we want to learn to be short and to the point. Here are some reasons why...
People don't process as much information as you.Autistic people get used to their heightened senses and develop a tolerance for a lot of information at once. In a sense, your mind is partially omnipresent to various topics and conversations at the same time, especially when pulling from your knowledge database. Just the same as we can get a whole picture in just a glance, we also get that whole picture with a lot of written and verbal communication at once. Other people do not do that.
But remember, your database in your brain formed over time after reading various things, and hearing various things, one at a time. Yes we can absorb more than most people, but even we like to have things in bite sized pieces if we can.
People have Information OverloadEvery day the average American consumes 34GB of content and checks their phone up to 150 times. Worker bees can get over 300 emails a week. From Fast Company
The fact is we are in a day and age of information, some useful, most useless. People on the autism spectrum can understand that overload leads to overwhelm, and overwhelm leads to meltdowns and shutdowns. We don't like being overwhelmed. Well, nobody does. Just because neurotypicals do not melt down in overwhelm doesn't mean they can handle overwhelm. They don't like it either. They just react differently than autistic people.
More Information = More ConfusingThe more information you provide, the easier people get confused, especially if you are using circular reasoning. If you are straight, and to the point, it saves people the frustration of trying to figure out what you are really trying to say.
Here's an example from Life At Leggett. This is a text from her mom.
Each one of mom’s texts require four or five clarifying texts; it’s nearly impossible to find her point amidst all the clutter. What was she trying to ask me? She wanted me to watch the kids, I think? Which kids? At what time? What’s with the random apostrophes? And all this confusion could be avoided if she would just get to the point the first time. Do you have anyone like this in your life?In this example, I found the point the mother was making easily without much thought on the subject. I didn't need her mom to clarify exactly what she was asking. The time for either kid is 6:00. She needs to be at two places at the same time at 6:00. She just wanted to know if her daughter can help out with her 6:00 dilemma. The details can be hashed out later. I would have responded, "Yeah, sure. Do you want me pick up Tommy's kids?"
But I'm autism. That's how I think. Most people prefer to just be told what you want on their perspective. They don't want to hear your perspective, "I have a problem." They want to hear their perspective, "Will you do this specific thing for me on this specific date and time?"
They want to think about what you are saying.Other people need things broken down into easy chunks, and then given time to think about these things. We do the same thing. Ever read and find yourself having no idea what you just read because you were busy thinking about the last thing you paid attention to? People are doing that to you when you talk too much. Because they do that, often uncontrollably, they miss half of what you had to say.
People May Hate Your Topic.In the workforce, people generally hate talking about work, and everywhere in life, people don't like to talk about subjects they aren't in to. It is common for autism, on the other hand, to not realize that, especially when it comes to their special interests.
For example... If you love Pokemon, you only want to delve deep into Pokemon discussions with people who do Pokemon, and only to the scope of what they do. If they collect cards, then get into deeper discussions, but if they are just catching them on their phone, they may not care about the cards.
For the same reason you don't want to hear about celebrities and gossip, most people don't want to hear some of your topics. You'll have to find people wanting to talk about that subject to talk to about that subject.
People don't have time for long stories.This is especially true in the workforce. People are trying to get their work done as quickly as possible because they hate work. They want to get it over with. Sometimes, deadlines keep them working quickly or challenge them to work quicker. They don't have time to listen to you most of the time. They need things short and to the point as if in an emergency setting.
Outside of the workforce, people are in a hurry. Life is just too demanding in this day and age. Someone who is single probably has more time for conversation than someone with 3 kids, but even then, everyone fills their schedule with something, and we all have a habit of spreading ourselves too thin.
People Have Short Attention Spans
We only truly focus for six hours per week. That’s because attention spans are shrinking. We’re down from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight seconds today. McCormack’s Brief Lab discovered that nearly three quarters of professionals tune out of presentations within the first minute, stop reading an email after 30 seconds, and stop listening to colleagues after 15 seconds —all because they didn’t get to the point quickly. From Fast CompanyStudies have shown this reduction in attention spans time and time again. This is why most blogs and articles are now using headings (so you can peruse easier) and try very hard to make the first paragraph a very interesting summary of the entire piece with the most important information first. Journalists have been doing the same thing for years in organizing their articles and wording their headlines.
At some point, people will tune you out. When they do, you might as well not be talking at all. Yes, it's rude they do that, but it's human nature at this point.
But we with autism really, truly just want to get our point across. You'll have a better chance at doing such a thing by sticking to the main point in a short paragraph rather than giving all the details and letting people come to their own conclusion.
It's Not FairPeople want to be in the spot light. When you hog the spot light with a long story, they think you are being selfish and you don't care about them. Not true, but that's what they think. They don't understand that you are only speaking for their benefit, that you have their needs in heart and mind when you are talking.
For the same reasons we need people to understand our need to be alone in a shut down or melt down, we need to respect that other people need to hear things quickly, short and to the point, in order to get what you're trying to convey.
There are times and places for monologues, but they should be reserved for those times and places. Trying to transform monologues into a short, sweet paragraph will help your communication be more effective: help other people get what you are trying to say, and make you more likable.
Check out 10 Tips to Combat Autistic Monologues
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