Someone found my blog by searching 'How to talk to non-aspies'. So many people find me by searching the opposite - how to talk to aspies. It struck me as much more useful to learn how to talk to non-aspies, as it's something so many of us struggle with.
Non-aspies hold positions of great power, in society and in our lives. They are the coping ones, the managing, the holding down the job, two kids, mortgage and small pottery business while we aspies struggle to manage the new tap on the bathroom sink, let alone going out to conquer the universe..
Talking to non-aspies can be complicated as they often want to know things but have a very poor way of expressing themselves. It is the non-aspie who needs to know what on earth you find difficult about the new tap and learning how to tell them, in ways they will understand, can seem like an uphill struggle.
When they ask why the bathroom is flooded, we tell them the new tap did it. Of course, the tap had an aspie attached to it at the time, so the non-aspie will try again: Why did we flood the bathroom?
At this point it's very tempting to wonder (perhaps out loud) if the non-aspie is stoopid. I mean, we already told them the tap is to blame. Obviously! But what the non-aspie is looking for is the reason why we, the attachee of the tap, managed to flood the bathroom again.
They want to know what we did, you see. They want to find out how it is possible for an intelligent person to not be able to use a tap simply because it is different from the old one. And also, while we're at it, they want to know why we left the tap on long enough for the bathroom to flood.
Instead of asking these things, they ask why we flooded the bathroom. This implies a level of blame we simply refuse to recognise. The tap is at fault, the water from the tap flooded the bathroom. Our presence in the vicinity has little to do with these facts, it could have happened to anyone (it's always us, though).
Don't ask me why non-aspies prefer to speak in code instead of just going for the real questions. I think perhaps they have some kind of social awareness issue, where they expect others to guess what they are thinking without having to say it. They maybe think we are all on some giant psychic pulse where we know the insides of their heads like the insides of the biscuit barrel.
So, when speaking to non-aspies I suggest you keep it simple. They like answers, even though they often claim we give the wrong ones. Try asking them what they want to know and see if that clears it up more quickly. Rather than guessing what they want, say something like, 'Did you want to know why the bathroom flooded?'
As we've discovered, they want to know why we flooded the bathroom, so turning the question around is likely to get their attention, even if they appear a little agitated at having it returned to sender.
Once you have their attention, do not abuse this privilege by asking them how they expect you to cope with a new tap when they know full well you don't read instructions. And don't moan on about how much better the old tap was when you know it leaked for two years. Try asking them to watch you use the blasted thing and see if you can figure out why it keeps flooding the bathroom.
You see, talking to non-aspies does involve focus and dedication on the part of the aspie. It's always worth repeating what they have said to see if you have it right, and then keeping calm when they lose theirs. This method does work in the end and means you will both be focused on the questions that matter, rather than spending half an hour of your precious time waiting for the non-aspie to figure out which question they really like.
In the end, talking to non-aspies requires patience and some foresight. Keep in mind their habit of dodging the real questions and try to make them hone their attention so you can help them understand what you are saying.
Remember, they always assume you know exactly what they mean, regardless of the many times you failed this test before. And they haven't yet figured out not everyone is psychic.