I was trying not to annoy RT Teen yesterday. Trying and failing. We needed to talk and it involved RT listening and (evil mother that I am) answering questions. Yes, I wanted the ultimate exchange - a conversation that produced answers.
I started by gently introducing the topic. In other words, I tried to sneak up on RT in the hopes that we would have sorted it all out before he noticed I was asking him questions. Except that he noticed before I'd finished my first sentence and interrupted me.
'Let me finish-' I said, still not able to finish as he interrupted me again to say,
'I was letting you finish!'
'But I didn't get to say anything!' I replied, immediately sidetracked from the Golden 5 Minute Chat.
'Yes, you did!' he accused and then repeated what I had said.
By this time his voice was raised and he sounded exasperated. I managed to stop him but then spoiled it all by asking him to calm down.
'I am calm!' he bellowed.
'You don't sound calm!' I said, waving my arms about by now. 'You're shouting at me!'
'I am not shouting!' he shouted. 'I'm just talking this way!'
'Your tone of voice is shouty!' I cried, wishing I hadn't even started. 'And you sound really angry with me.'
'I'm not shouting!' he said, shoutily. 'This is just the voice I'm using, it doesn't mean I'm angry with you!' he finished, angrily.
At a loss, I said, 'But if you sound angry and you're talking to me then I'm bound to think you're angry with me!'
He looked at me like he was arguing quantum mechanics with a walnut and made that noise beloved of many teenagers, aspie or not, the cross between a snarl and yogic breathing.
'Just tell me what you wanted to know!' he growled, carefully keeping his voice low so that I wouldn't accuse him of shouting again.
Eventually, after much not-shouting, not-angry, not-in-any-way-loud conversation, I came away with my answers and some minor revelations.
In future, I won't be so quick to assume I've got on people's nerves when they behave angrily towards me. I'll just use RT Teen's example and pretend that when I am being ranted at, it has nothing to do with me.
Perhaps, for the next angry person I encounter, I can pat them on the arm and say,
'It's okay, I know you don't mean to sound as if I've annoyed you. It's just the voice that you're using.'
Then everything will be fine, right?
And I am now free to shout at anyone I like, then announce this is the voice I am using. Just because I am shouting, it doesn't mean I am angry with you! So stop taking it personally!! And no! I didn't interrupt you!
Yes, I'm sure this new approach will work wonders. It will also cut down on lots of unnecessary conversations. In fact, I can really see the attraction.
I must go now and practice my stage voice - and the wounded look I will need when people accuse me of shouting at them. And perhaps the teenage yogic snarl I will use if it all goes wrong.
Oh right, yes, I already have that one.