Social skills for autonomous people: Alternatives to repeating “What?” if you can’t hear someone



I’ve been in this situation a lot, and it becomes very awkward very quickly:

Person: “Kljiuojhuihph.”

Me: “What?”

Person: “I said, laskgoperhtoiuhuhgb.”

Me: “I… what?”

Person: “Adkjgpohett!!”

Me: “…What?

Person: “Oh, never mind.”

This is a waste of breath for everyone. It’s also quite frustrating if you genuinely care what the other person is saying, because you

I deal with this a lot…I have severe difficulties with comprehending speech in places with a lot of loud ambient noise, such as bars.

I’m not hard of hearing. I actually have extremely good hearing. But when there is too much additional auditory stimuli, even if I can physically  hear words I often don’t comprehend them. It’s not a matter of the other person talking too quietly or too fast, it’s more like my brain is overwhelmed. But I usually make the excuse that I ‘can’t hear’, because it feels like a lot to explain that I am hearing words but it might as well be in a language I don’t know.

It’s also a mentally exhausting experience, so even though I’m by nature an extrovert, being in a loud environment and trying to follow a single conversation in the midst of a lot of people talking can be very draining.

It’s even worse when I’m having a migraine, because then I can completely lose the ability to modulate sounds. Imagine being in a loud bar, with a lot of music and talking. But instead of some sounds being distant, everything you hear is at the same level. A noise across the room is the same volume as a noise right next to your ear. It’s really disorienting, and quickly becomes very physically stressful.