Saturday, October 18, 2008

Silent Feuds, because you can?

Today I would like to discuss something that has been bothering me for quite some time: unspoken feuds. These are feuds that are built on assumptions, rumors, or anything that you hear from a source other than the person involved.

These are often the worst kinds of fights. I feel as if the two people involved will avoid addressing the subject at hand, and therefore tension just builds up. It's horrible, and it only happens because the two individuals will wish to avoid hurting the other person's feelings, or will assume that "if I don't say anything, it's not real." Maybe one person is hoping the other will approach them about something and wait for everything to blow over. Either way, it's almost unbearable to deal with.

I feel like this is an important issue for those of us with Asperger's, because life is a constant learning process, and our lack of experience on dealing with sticky situations often results in a tense state of uncertainty where we don't know what to do, but are afraid of making things worse. We usually do mean well (unless the person in question is malignant to begin with), but our actions are often mistranslated, typically out of a lack of explanation or a biased interpretation based on some unintended consequences of our actions.

A lot of this happens because we don't know how to read the other person's actions and body language. I've learned that if someone seems really tense when they are around you, or responds to you with one-word answers, then they probably want nothing to do with you. I've learned to take these little actions and multiply them by a large number - this is probably how the other person is feeling. If any enthusiasum is shown, then they truly do appreciate you a whole lot, but if any negativity is expressed then the opposite is true, if only for the meanwhile. If this behavior continues then their actions are most likely reflective of their general opinion of you.

As for responding to these situations: it is difficult to face people like this, but it is generally best to avoid them, if you can, or to take actions in avoiding them. Why waste your time trying to impress a person who doesn't care? There are better things to focus your energy on.

If this person is important to you, like a family member, friend or roommate, then it is best to talk things out. Don't start with any accusations, but starting the conversation with things like, "you seem upset, am I doing anything that is upsetting you?" or "Is everything all right? You don't seem like yourself." are good ways to work through any issues the two of you may have. It's important to speak with a calm vocal tone in order to avoid communicating any of the frustration you see in the other person - you are doing this because you care about them, and you want things to be decent again. The conversation should be constructive and not demeaning in any way. If it takes a negative turn, such as the two of you are spitting out accusations about one another, then you should say something like, "I don't want it to be this way", or suggest that the two of you take some time to cool down. Show the other person that you care and that you want to work things out. If you can do this, then there is a good chance that the discussion won't turn into a deadly fight.

I'm just writing this because, in my experience in dealing with people (most of which has ocurred in the past year), it's one of the biggest things I've had to learn. Assertiveness is key, and it's important NOT to be too passive, which is something I really need to work on as well. If a problem is really bothering you, it is best to bring it up with the other person/people involved, because you may be itching for that one conclusion which will help clear your head. And as we all know, clarity is a beautiful thing. If you learn to assert yourself you will be much happier about your life. I know it's in vain, but if this post has helped SOMEONE then I will be happy. Let me know how you see it, or what your perspective on dealing with issues is!

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