navigating a world which feels like gravity is working in reverse

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Lesson: Bluntness Threshold


You can’t ascertain the exact meaning of any statement without taking the person into account.  Some people will be blunt in most situations while others won’t until facing some grave situation.  So one person’s bluntness verses another’s is not an apples to apples comparison.  For example the president of a company might tell his employees that the business was financially sound despite its problems.  He didn’t necessarily lie about the problems, just played them down because that was what his shareholders and customers expected him to do.  One day he calls all his employees into a meeting and tells them how bad things really are.  And you know him well enough to know that him being blunt about this means that the company is on the verge of bankruptcy.

This gets even messier when we add that everybody will interpret your bluntness in a different way depending on what level of it is tolerated in the subculture they belong to.  Being on the spectrum often makes us more blunt and less able to feel out others’ tolerance for it.  For example you’re in a room and you notice a woman with burns on her neck and you point that out.  She gets offended and hurt and others echo the sentiment that she was in the right.

Many of us (or at least me) like it when people are blunt to us so we don’t understand “social grace”.  For example for most of my life I have had really thick glasses.  When I was a kid other kids would ask about it, I’d explain my eye problem, and they would be fine with it.  As an adult almost nobody asks but most people treat me differently.  I know this because for eight years of my life I wore contacts that made me look pretty normal and the treatment difference was very noticeable.