Friday, December 26, 2014

Defensive People (aka Competitive Conversationalists)

This little book caught my eye the other day during my Christmas shopping at Barnes & Noble. Actually, the title drew me in like a car wreck. No one wants to look, but the curiosity ultimately proves stronger than any feelings of horror so we take a gander anyway. 

Well, this author comes up with a lot of terms for people I can't really disagree with. My favorite is the humblebragger. "I'm so humbled that my book sold over a million copies," kind of thing. No you aren't, and the rest of us know it. 

Anyway, I bring this up because I want to share a little hint with my autistic friends. Sometimes the people you speak with want to do nothing but argue. But it is hard to tell that's what they're doing and after the conversation is over, you feel kind of irritated or depressed but you really don't know why.

The trick is, these people do not sound like they are arguing. Their voices aren't raised. They speak slowly and methodically, but...they are arguing. Constantly. And while I do not want to punch these particular people in the throat (or anyone else for that matter), I want to you to know, I do find these types of chats to be highly annoying (and totally unnecessary). 

Here's how to identify when you are speaking with a competitive conversationalist (who always want to make the winning point, even if and when there is nothing to be won).

Here's a sample discussion:

You: It's a lovely day, outside isn't it?

Competitive Conversationalist (CC): Well, no. Little too hot for me. I love the cold. Last year at this time it was only 55 degrees. Loved it. Global warming, messing up the earth. 

You: Oh, yeah, hmmm. Could be. I don't really know. But at least the sun is shining. It's been raining for the last three days.

CC: Actually, it's been raining for the last two and half days. Started around 6 o'clock. I know because I just sat down to dinner then. 

You: That's true, I guess. Yeah, but anyway, this weather will give me a chance to cut the grass. 

CC: What kinda mower you got? Mine's a (whatever). Cuts through anything. You oughta think about getting one. It's the best. Nothing better. 

You: Okay. Well, thanks. Okay, my phone is ringing. I've got to take this call right now. I'll see you later!

CC: Not if I see you first! 

I realized recently I have a lot of these conversations. They are so draining, but what is important to know is that the roots of these types of dialogues are typically defensiveness and rejection. Be at peace with as many people as possible, but when you are caught up in one of these dead end conversations, try to pray silently and ask God to help you not respond with your own defensiveness (which is what I did for the longest time).

Love well today. Especially while conversing. Autism doesn't keep you from being kind to your neighbor.


  1. I laughed out loud at that title (a good Kelly laugh- head back, mouth open wide). I like to say to these type of people - in my most amusing valley girl voice: "I feel like punching you in the throat. Watch me."

  2. Nothing like being honest! But in my best first grade teacher voice, I'd probably have to say, "Now, now, Paula. We don't really want to punch anyone in the throat, do we?" And you would say, "No, Ms. Noll. We don't." Then I would give you a lollipop and send you back to your desk and all would be right with the world. Everyone knows lollipops are the cure for everything. Along with rainbows. Mustn't forget rainbows.