Monday, May 27, 2013

How To Make Your Two Cents Valuable- Kindness, #Autism, and Support

I've had it said to me that when offering my opinion I need to work on my delivery. I have worked on that area. I have worked really hard.  If I have something to say that is advice, criticism, or a correction of any kind I am proud to say that I try very hard to stop, and think before letting the words exit my mouth, or fingers as the case may be.  I ask myself if what I need to say is important, true (which for me it always is) helpful, kind, necessary, and maybe the biggest one... being asked for.  Is the person wanting my opinion? Are they in a situation where me offering my 2 cents is going to help their life be better?  Or is it that my life will be better, because I got to get my opinion out, and feel like I'm right.  Usually, I am truly trying to be helpful, though.  The problem is, no one likes to be corrected all the time.  Sometimes, it's helpful to have a mistake corrected, or get advice to guide us in a better direction when we didn't know that direction existed. I think that the way the advice is given is particularly important. Maybe, you know might have been in a situation that seems like it's similar to the one someone else is describing,  You know what worked for you, so you're ready to tell them.  Nothing wrong with that. The only issue is that we need to remember that not every situation is the same.  There may be factors that make other people's situations different than yours.  There may really be no clear right or wrong choice.

When we are talking about parenting, and autism there seldom is.

So, say you read something, or hear a friend say something that you know about. You have been in that situation before, or know someone who has.  You know what worked, and you want to share that.  That's great! Sharing is caring. It's great way to help others.

But wait!

 Let's pull back on the eager words about to jump out of your mind, and into another. Let's think for a minute about what they're going to hear. Let's practice this Theory of Mind thing that so many of you parents try to educate your kids about.

Going through the criteria I outlined above, is it kind, helpful, true, important, and ready to be received?  The last one is hard. We sometimes can't know if the other person is venting, wanting solutions, or wanting support, unless they verbalize what their intent is. That doesn't happen all too often.  So, we have to assume that we may be offering unwanted advice. We may assume that maybe, just maybe this person's situation is not the same as ours. We have to try to lay down judgment, and proceed with only the intent to help. This is hard for humans to do. We have opinions about what is right, and what is wrong. It's hard to not let that get in the way of interacting with others. Everyone is different. We all have different values. We can never truly know what it's like to be someone else, or to live their life.

Before saying my piece I often try to figure out the intent of the the other person, and try to formulate my response in reference to that.  It can look something like this:

When I was in ______  situation I did ________. It helped by _____. I hope your situation improves/you find a solution/feel better, ect...

I also try to throw in some kind of compliment, or words of empathy, or sympathy.  Like, telling them what they've done right so far, and offering supportive words, like "I know it's hard." or "I'm sorry that happened."
Instead of:

Do ______________. It works. ( this comes off as a authoritative command)

You should try_______. ( Also comes off like you know more than the person you're advising.)

You need to____________. (This one really sounds authoritative. It's usually followed up by a long story about how great of a parent this person feel they are for making that choice. Again, it implies right, wrong, and judgment.)

Get ______. It truly is what works.

Most of all, I try to not assume that I know better than the person speaking to me what they should do with their own life.  I might not agree with the way they are handling the situation, but telling them that in harsh words will not make them make a better decision.  It will just make them defensive, and feel worse. Offering support, and trying to understand where they are coming from can't hurt. It never has, as far as I know.


  1. Good stuff. Thank you for this!

    1. Thanks for reading. I loved yours yesterday, too. :)

  2. I need to put print this and put it on my wall as a reminder for both me and my son! I am baffled by all the stuff on Facebook especially when people put up a desperate status and everyone offers sympathy but no advice. And I'm sure I sound authoritarian if I speak or type advice without thinking it through first. My son with aspergers always sounds authoritarian too!

    1. I don't care much for sympathy when I need advice. I definitely like to hear solutions. I am more talking about the NT moms here that see a status, make a judgment about what should be done, and without thinking about how rude, and judgmental they are coming off, post what they're thinking, and if you don't agree, they pretty much tell you you're a bad parent. Totally different. Aspies really are trying to help when we come off as rude. These people are usually trying to get others to tell them they're decisions were right by doing the same thing.

  3. sadly I know this but I just get so frustrated that I have to sugar coat everything. When I'm working I make it happen which leaves me exhausted.

    1. I think sugarcoating is nice sometimes, but it's not always necessary. See the above comment for what I mean.


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