questions

clarifying ambiguous questions

hollywoodontap replied to your post “Anonymous said to realsocialskills: I have problems with reacting…”

I have trouble answering questions if the asker has not given me specific details. I feel like I can’t give them what they want unless I’m told precisely what it is they’re looking for. I tend to ask questions in return before getting to an answer.

realsocialskills said:


It’s ok to need details. If asking clarifying questions is working for you, I’d keep doing that. The important thing is to communicate effectively.


Some thoughts on ways to make clarifying questions work:

There are a couple ways to ask in a general way that work for some people:

  • “I need more words”.
  • “I’m confused; can you rephrase?“
  • “That’s kind of abstract - can you be more specific?”


It can sometimes help to be more specific yourself, and offer options. Someone asking a question they think is easily understood might not know how to clarify.


Eg:

  • Jane: What do you think of the foo?
  • You: In what sense? Are you asking if I like it personally, or if I think it’s marketable? Or something else?

or:

  • Joel: What’s Applied Foo 101 like? Should I take it?
  • You: Are you asking about how hard it is, or how interesting it is, or something else?

Another possibility: Guess and then ask if you got it right:


eg:

  • Yosef: Did the thing happen?
  • You: The football game?

or: 

  • Erica: Where are the things?
  • You: The supplies?

Sometimes it is better to make your best guess, then answer the question you think they’re asking:


Eg: 

  • Susan: How about that foo?
  • You: Do you mean the sales statistics? If so, they’re way up this week.

or: 

  • Thomas: Did you do the thing?
  • You: Do you mean my entry in the bad poetry contest. If so, I submitted that today. I’m excited for my chances this year. It was a truly terrible poem. 


tl;dr It’s ok to need to ask clarifying questions when someone asks you something, even if you need more details than most people need. The important thing is to communicate clearly.

Getting questions heard

anonymous asked:
People tend not to answer me when I ask a question, even if it’s something I need to know. It’s particularly bad with regards to planning or getting background information on what is happening at a given time. What might I be doing that tells people answering me is optional? How can I emphasize that getting an answer is important? (I’m pretty sure I’m the problem, since no one else has trouble finding things out from the same people I am talking to.)
 

realsocialskills answered:

I actually have this problem too. To the extent that sometimes I get confused about whether I actually even *asked* the question, because people seem to have completely ignored it.

I think it might be that they don’t realize that you’re asking a question because they rely on certain cues to know that they’re being asked stuff. There are a few things I’ve figured out in this regard. For instance:

Eye contact:

  • Most sighted neurotypical people use eye contact as part of the way they initiate a question.
  • They look at the person they want to ask, that person looks back, then they ask
  • People who rely on eye contact to tell when someone is asking a question might have trouble understanding that you want to ask something if you’re not looking at them
  • It might help to look in their direction when you ask them something, even if you’re not actually doing the eye contact thing

Tone:

  • I don’t know how to describe this, but there’s an inflection most people use when asking questions
  • If you’re not inflecting questions that way, it might be hard for some people to detect the question
  • I don’t know how to describe this, but it might help to listen to how people who are successfully getting their questions better are inflecting them

Volume:

  • It might be that you’re speaking too quietly and people aren’t noticing that you’re talking
  • This can particularly happen if you’ve been socialized not to take up space
  • It might be worth trying intentionally talking louder

You might want or need to provide cues in a different ways:

  • Not everyone can provide the inflection/volume/eye contact cues.
  • They can be useful strategies if you can do them, but they’re not the only ways
  • If you can’t do it that way, there are other ways, for instance:
  • Saying explicitly, “Can I ask a question?”. (It can be especially useful if you say the person’s name, because then it’s easier for them to know you’re talking to them.)
  • In some contexts, raising your hand is an effective way to get someone’s attention. It’s likely to be perceived as childish though, and people will often laugh at you for it. But it does often work.

Ask questions through email, texting, IM, or phone calls:

  • Sending a message one of those ways automatically implies that you’re trying to get that person’s attention
  • So it replaces the eye contact and other body language things you might be having trouble with
  • If you’re asking email, it can help to put “question” or “time-sensitive question” in the subject
  • (Or something context specific like “Wednesday plans?”, “Need some background for the hamster project”)

Do any of y'all know other things that get in the way of people noticing questions, and potential workarounds?

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 know there is something there and you can’t tell what it is. Finally, it annoys the other person in the conversation.

Basically, the goal in this situation is to get the other person to tell you what they are saying, in a way you can understand, without annoying them.

My suggestions for this situation are:

  1. Instead of repeating “What?” try using different phrases. “Say again?” “I’m sorry?” etc. This is especially good because some people think “What?” is rude, for some reason.
  2. If you think you know what they said, but aren’t sure, it can be good to ask them “Did you just say ______?”
  3. After 2-3 times that you haven’t been able to hear the answer, suggest an alternative. “Can we talk about this outside?” or “Can you write it down?” (or sometimes “Can you spell it?”) or “Can we talk about this later?” followed by an explanation (“It’s too loud in here” “I’m deaf in that ear” etc, or simply “I can’t hear you”) work for me.

I hope this helps.

likearumchocolatesouffle:

soundingonlyatnightasyousleep:

realsocialskills:

youneedacat:

Social skills for autonomous people: Non-literal greetings

proudheron:

realsocialskills:

In the US, certain things are ritual greetings that follow a standard script. Deviating from it is considered a bit weird (but it’s also common, and possible to get away with. I deviate from it often).

“How are you?” is not usually intended as a real…

A lot of time the answer to what’s up, is what’s up. You don’t even answer, you just ask the question back.

Oh yeah, I forgot that sometimes you don’t even answer. I remember when that started to be the case - it really weirded me out.

But yes, sometimes the expected answer is just “What’s up" back. Does it bother people when you answer “not much, you?“ and they’re expecting “what’s up?” repeated?

!!!

Is “Watcha doin’?“ a variation of “What’s up?” Because when I’ve been asked “Watcha doin’?“ by people coming up to me I’ve responded with “Talking to you,” which was Not Right judging by their reactions. Now, I respond with “reading/listening to music/whatever I was doing,“ but is that wrong too? 

I think answering briefly with what you were just doing is fine, but the expected answer often involves a question in return. For example “Listening to music, how about you?” Many people feel more comfortable when they feel like you’re inviting them to speak. :)

Is there any polite way to indicate that you’re busy and would rather *not* have a conversation right now when someone asks what you’re doing?