sometimes i feel like i did something wrong but i am not sure and dont know what might have done. i usually say “i am sorry if i hurt you” because i dont know whether i did or not. but this seems really close to something people are saying…
I might be careful with the first one. A lot of times, I have experienced (many) people saying “Is that a problem/Is there a problem?” as a challenge, especially people in a position of power (i.e. bosses, teachers, parents). The intention in asking is to shame and not to truly understand what the other person is experiencing; the only appropriate response to such a question is “no.”
I might suggest something more like
“Is something wrong? What are you feeling/thinking right now?”
“Is something wrong? I can see from your expression (name specific things: if they’re frowning, point it out) that you might be upset.”
“Is something wrong? (Indicate why you might think so, if this is happening via text interaction. Is there a shift in tone? Are they dropping punctuation when they’re normally very precise?)”
And follow with something like
“I want to understand what you are feeling.”
“I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“I want you to be comfortable.”
realsocialskills said: That’s a really good point. I hadn’t thought of the way that “is there a problem” can be loaded, but you’re right, it definitely often is.
stuff is cool between us now but one of my friends used to constantly say things like “is there a problem” “is something wrong” “are you mad at me” or even “sorry I made you mad” when 90% of the time I was in an average mood
as an Autistic person, it made me feel terrible. I always have to worry so much about making my body/face look like something other people can relate to and have to deal with people projecting on me. I shouldn’t have to deal with that from someone who’s supposed to be a close friend and it made me feel very tense and unhappy. we were living together for a while and I felt like I could never lose control for a minute even in my own home, because she would start asking me questions like that. it also sucked because being asked those questions made me nervous and annoyed and if I couldn’t hide that, things got even worse. over time the questions were more and more stressful and so I pretty much always would end up upset. she was more and more likely to get mad at me for seeming upset, because now, I actually was upset.
I think this would probably cause a problem with anyone but especially for someone who’s used to having to worry a lot about how their “body language” is going to be read, and is used to having their emotions catastophized by other people, it can really suck and I’d rather someone not ask me how I’m doing than do it in a way that makes me feel like an animal in a zoo. just a tangential thing to keep in mind.
That’s a really, really good point.
I was thinking of the situation in which you actually have a reasonable basis for thinking someone might be mad at you.
But “is something wrong?/why are you mad” etc really can often mean someone is unreasonably reading your body language as an accusation. And, beyond that, it can mean something along the lines of “Your body language is weird, please be more normal so I don’t have to worry.”
I need to think about how to explain the difference.