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If you've had a bit of experience with people from other cultures and other countries, you probably know that some fairly common words and phrases have entirely different meanings in different countries that nominally share the same language. For example, the phrase "knock up" means "knock on [somebody's] door" in British English, but "get pregnant" in US English. "Stuffed" means "full" in America, and something unprintably obscene in Australia.

Things get even worse when you're talking about loan-words. "Shatsu" means "shirt" in Japanese, but "pantsu" means "underpants."

OK. Are you good at reading people? You may be surprised to learn that geeks are writing in a different language! When I speak loudly it's more likely that I'm trying to continue a sentence over your interruption, or frustrated at my inability to communicate, than that I'm angry at you. When I ask a question a second time it means that I want to know the answer and missed it the first time, not that I'm ignoring or harassing you. When I express disagremeent with you it means that I have a different opinion, not that I'm attacking you. When I leave the room it means I'm overloaded, not that I don't love you.

It's probably a lot worse if you've learned to trust your readings over what people say. Because what I say is what I mean, and what I look like and sound like is probably completely different from what you've learned to expect.

For decades now, Colleen has been relying on her reading of me, rather than on what I say. Very often she's been wrong, but it's been almost impossible to convince her of that. Her reading says I'm angry when I'm just frustrated, or panicking when I'm just trying to clear up unclear directions before I miss my turn. It's been almost impossible to clear these things up, because she's trusted her reading more than my plain words.

Now, it's also true that sometimes Colleen's readings of me are dead on, and she sometimes recognizes things about my feelings weeks before I notice them myself. That only makes it worse when she's wrong.

It must be a lot like being in one of those rooms with distorted perspective, where your eyes and your muscles are telling you different things. What do you trust?

Public Service Announcement #5: I'm the only one who knows what's going on inside my head. If I tell you what's going on in my head, you should take my word for it. I won't knowingly lead you astray about what I'm thinking or what I think I'm feeling.

Public Service Announcement #6: Your reading of my body language and tone of voice is probably wrong.

Well, women are like that.

Date: 2008-10-22 03:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We do read men, or "fem-filter," as Dr. Laura would say. And sometimes we are right and sometimes we are spectacularly wrong. You and Colleen can probably clear up most everything with enough kisses.

Date: 2008-10-22 09:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
People are divided by a common language... It can even be divided by an asumption a common body language.

Andrew and I are finding we have an advantage of both being geeks, because we have no problems with constantly asking "What, exactly, did you mean by x?" We acknowledge that communication would be so much better if we were psychic... And we can generally can recognize the signals for "I'm inside my head, right now" for each of us, which means part of the input is being tuned out. But even at that, it was useful to me, the other day, when he explained he was a unitasker, while I am a multitasker. (And women are often extreme multitaskers.) It's not that he's not listening: he's not even in the room. He's running a single process that's taking the full CPU.

Date: 2008-10-27 04:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I know how frustrating it is when I _tell_ someone something, and they just don't believe me because:

People just don't say things like that. (I'd told him I didn't like him and would rather do homework than talk to him.)
You're just saying that so you can say you said it, and you really *don't* mean you aren't "interested". (**sigh**)
Well, would it have made a difference? (YES -- it would have saved 3 people, including myself about 2 years of HELL.)

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