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Discussion Starter #1
I think this is something I have never understood well. If someone has a problem, then tell me. If I know, then I can do something about it. If I have caused offense then tell me because I have obviously overstepped a boundary I did not intend to overstep...(how can I apologies for this if I don't know?)
I just don't get these emotional cues. I find it frustrating when the other person begins to resent me or get upset at me because I miss these cues or signs that are (according to them) "so obvious"
And now they are in a frenzy, I'm emotionally upset and I'm so frustrated because all this negative emotional atmosphere could have been avoided if the problem was communicated calmly in the first place.
*sigh*

So my questions are:
Why do people do this? (give hints they are upset)
How can they be condemning of people when they don't recognize these hints? (even though the problem was never clearly stated)
And the main question, how should I go about/handle these sorts of situations to resolve the conflict?

I'd really appreciate the insight here, thanks :)
 

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sigh.... this is a hard one for me to answer because I'm on the other side of this, but I do want to be helpful

So my questions are:
Why do people do this? (give hints they are upset):
- It can seem like laying something out in specific words will come off as making a much bigger deal about something than someone means to. When someone can 'take the hint' an outright confrontation can be avoided and it feels much less socially awkward.

- It can seem more... I guess you could say economical, or streamlined, or elegant to use layers of verbal and non-verbal communication together, taking less time and effort to explain with words what could be communicated with a single facial expression, or tone of voice. Sometimes it feels like explaining every little expression is just too much work. I doubt people really want me to go around speaking my stream of emotional consciousness: "If I look like I'm bored or sad right now it's probably just because my eyes are drooping because I didn't get enough sleep, and when I grimaced just then it was because I don't really like the suggestion of having tacos for lunch but it's really not a big deal because everyone else wants tacos so whatever, and I'm just going to focus intently on my lap right now because Chris walked in the room and I said something really awkward to him yesterday and I totally don't know if he took it wrong or not so please don't think I'm bothered by something you're saying I just really don't want him to catch my eye, and okay maybe I do find your need to explain every detail a little boring but I know that's my problem and I don't want to be rude even though it would kinda be nice if you would just get to the point, but I'm not going to cut you off because that would be even more awkward than you rambling is right now...." To me it seems like a lot of things don't need to be, or shouldn't be, explicitly stated, but at the same time it can help smooth interaction if you can have an understanding with someone through nonverbal means.

- To some people it may not be considered 'hints', it may seem like a very explicit response - just because it's not in the form of words doesn't mean it's not actual communication. However, I do understand feeling upset about people expecting you to read their mind, I experience that too. The issue here is, as you said, you haven't learned the nonverbal cues or don't naturally pick up on them, and another issue is that those cues can vary from person to person, or culture to culture, making learning them a complicated matter, and even people who do generally pick up on them may sometimes find themselves misinterpreting someone. (but people misinterpret words as well....).

How can they be condemning of people when they don't recognize these hints? (even though the problem was never clearly stated)
- I think this especially happens when they are used to the majority people they happen to know being able to read these cues the same way they do, so they tend to take it for granted that everyone knows this and simply aren't aware that you actually don't. And if they do know you're not good at reading these cues, they may still have no idea exactly how much you do pick up on and how much you don't, which leaves them frustrated in trying to figure out how much explaining will sound condescending because it actually was obvious, and how much they actually do need to explain more clearly. I don't think it's good to be condemning of something someone can't help, but I just want to provide a glimpse of the other perspective.

- Part of the problem can also come from defensiveness when they feel like someone is using 'I don't understand emotional cues' as an 'excuse' for being insensitive when they aren't actually Trying to pay attention and understand others because they actually don't care. I'm not saying You are like this, but that there are some people who are, and dealing with them can get annoying.

And the main question, how should I go about/handle these sorts of situations to resolve the conflict?
hmm... well if possible, just letting someone know that you're not very attuned to emotional cues can help if they are willing to put in the extra effort to communicate in a way that works for you - unfortunately that does leave a lot of it on them being willing to accommodate.

You may want to try asking for clarification whenever you think they might be hinting at something, you just don't know what, or whenever you think it's a situation where they might have an emotional response that you're just not seeing.

All you can really do is be honest and show that you are trying to understand them and be aware of their emotional state, even if you're not a pro at reading between the lines.

When they get mad at you for not reading their emotions, just honestly explain that you didn't realize it and you didn't mean to cause them distress or whatever it may be. I know at least for me if I know someone didn't intend to ignore my feelings they just weren't aware, it will help me to not be upset with them. Unfortunately some people may not be understanding, but it's not actually your fault.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
@Aelthwyn

Thanks for the response. It was really insightful :)
I can see detailing every little non verbal cue would definitely be a lot of effort. I'm not expecting that sort of effort of expressing oneself.
I tend to gauge more the emotional atmosphere around me, my mood will conform to the mood of others. So I don't pick up on the exact non verbal cues being used and I will miss them if someone puts on a happy face.



I don't think I'm an insensitive person, more unaware of my surroundings (especially when concentrating)
Perhaps I need to focus more on paying attention and being more responsive?

Unfortunately by the time I know I've upset this person they aren't in the right frame of mind to be so understanding. They want me to think through what has happened, what was said, and what I may have done to upset them. Then identify it, apologize and make up for wronging them. Even when I ask questions I don't get any helpful response, just "that's a good question".
I get so caught up in feeling bad for upsetting them, I can't think of what it was or have any idea to make them feel better in the moment. I am trying to not let myself become so flustered when these situations come up.
 

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Unfortunately by the time I know I've upset this person they aren't in the right frame of mind to be so understanding. They want me to think through what has happened, what was said, and what I may have done to upset them. Then identify it, apologize and make up for wronging them. Even when I ask questions I don't get any helpful response, just "that's a good question".
:sad: I'm really sorry to hear you're going through this with someone

Now this is something that drives me Nuts - when people act emotionally towards someone but refuse to clarify when asked about it. The refusal to explain is basically assuming that you have done something Intentionally to upset them, or that you at least Intentionally disregarded certain factors that affected them. While it often seems reasonable to expect people to have an idea of how someone is feeling or when they have wronged someone, it's also realistic that that isn't always going to be the case - because it IS possible to accidentally hurt someone. The fact that you did something that bothered them does not necessarily imply what your intentions in doing it were. This person seems to be making the wrong assumptions about your intentions, which shows a lack of insight on their part, not just yours. In my experience, people who do not allow for the possibility of accidents tend to be those who have an issue with imagining other people are out to get them - that is to say they are usually the person who needs to improve themselves, not the other way around. I can only imagine refusing to explain why I'm feeling how I am when someone asks me about it if it seems clear that the person is asking specifically to annoy me, not because they are actually bewildered - and I guess that may take some insight that perhaps not everyone has... Refusing to actually talk about it seems like a petty tactic to me, an attempt to hold authority over you - not cool.

I like being able to communicate with subtle cues, but when it's not working and it's an important issue, then of course I'm going to be more explicit and take the time for words. If they really want to resolve things with you, then they should be willing to actually discuss and share exactly what they didn't like, even if it seems surprising that they would need to explain. It's one thing to assume someone was aware of how they made you feel and then discover that they weren't - that's a simple mistake. It's another thing entirely when someone indicates they were not aware and then you refuse to elucidate so that they can become aware. In such situations if I am at a loss as to why they are upset, I would probably try to ask someone else who knows them better, if that's an option. Sometimes someone else has an insight that I was unable to make because I don't have enough information about that person to make the proper connections.
 

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So much seems to almost be down to chance and mercurial moods with humans at times. Finding that hunger, thirst, sleep or stress influence our ability to empathise and interpret emotion-based non verbal cues, at times identifying more with other stressed people than non stressed people yet outwardly people may interpret 2 way 'discussion' as cold, aloof, out of place or [projected] offensiveness.

So much also seems to be cultural and assumed common practise with people generalising the motivations of others routinely (as we can all do). For example how people correlate my learned stoicism with power, authority, abruptness, aloofness, low emotional awareness, emotional immaturity and poor empathy just because I can take longer to respond non verbal cues or seem so rigid.
 

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Why do people do this? (give hints they are upset)
It's a test to see how much you care. It's also manipulative. People also do this as a way to punish each other.


How can they be condemning of people when they don't recognize these hints? (even though the problem was never clearly stated)

Because they are children who need to grow up. You're not a mind reader. Maybe it would be obvious to most people. However, if you've thought it over and you still can't figure it out, it's hardly fair to still expect you to know what you did wrong. Some people just aren't good at figuring that kind of thing out.


And the main question, how should I go about/handle these sorts of situations to resolve the conflict?
If you know the person well and you've gotten into conflicts with them in the past, that should give you enough information to go on to figure out what their triggers are so you can determine what you did to upset them. Other than that, there's not much you can do other than try your best to communicate and resolve things. It takes two to tango.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
:sad: I'm really sorry to hear you're going through this with someone

Now this is something that drives me Nuts - when people act emotionally towards someone but refuse to clarify when asked about it. The refusal to explain is basically assuming that you have done something Intentionally to upset them, or that you at least Intentionally disregarded certain factors that affected them. While it often seems reasonable to expect people to have an idea of how someone is feeling or when they have wronged someone, it's also realistic that that isn't always going to be the case - because it IS possible to accidentally hurt someone. The fact that you did something that bothered them does not necessarily imply what your intentions in doing it were. This person seems to be making the wrong assumptions about your intentions, which shows a lack of insight on their part, not just yours. In my experience, people who do not allow for the possibility of accidents tend to be those who have an issue with imagining other people are out to get them - that is to say they are usually the person who needs to improve themselves, not the other way around. I can only imagine refusing to explain why I'm feeling how I am when someone asks me about it if it seems clear that the person is asking specifically to annoy me, not because they are actually bewildered - and I guess that may take some insight that perhaps not everyone has... Refusing to actually talk about it seems like a petty tactic to me, an attempt to hold authority over you - not cool.

I like being able to communicate with subtle cues, but when it's not working and it's an important issue, then of course I'm going to be more explicit and take the time for words. If they really want to resolve things with you, then they should be willing to actually discuss and share exactly what they didn't like, even if it seems surprising that they would need to explain. It's one thing to assume someone was aware of how they made you feel and then discover that they weren't - that's a simple mistake. It's another thing entirely when someone indicates they were not aware and then you refuse to elucidate so that they can become aware. In such situations if I am at a loss as to why they are upset, I would probably try to ask someone else who knows them better, if that's an option. Sometimes someone else has an insight that I was unable to make because I don't have enough information about that person to make the proper connections.

Unfortunately they have been through a couple of tough times in their life with important people disappointing them. His father caused the break up with their family when he was younger. His mother chose his step father over him in his late teens. His step father a very different personality type, the sort to be agressive and domineering in arguments and to make a point. This forced him to leave home.
So it makes sense what you said, he feels others are out to get him.
I think he sets high expectations for himself and isn't the person he wants to be, perhaps this is also why he struggles to accept others mistakes.


I think what i've found to work is when he has been talking (rather than silently waiting) to ask deeper thought provoking questions to try to get him to analyze what may be the deeper root to the upset.

It's good to know it isn't entirely my responsibility to know the notional cues, but both our responsibility to be communicating.
 
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