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BBawlight's avatar

Why do people seem to speak too fast when they talk to me?

Asked by BBawlight (2187 points ) April 15th, 2012

People don’t always talk to me. Actually, barely anybody talks to me. But when they do, it takes me a second to comprehend what they say. When the words come out, they are all jumbled up and sometimes I ask them to repeat what they say.
I am much better at reading a letter than I am at listening to a lecture. It helps the information sink in and I can understand it faster. When people speak, it almost goes past my ears before I catch it at all. I am a very advent reader. I read all the time, and it’s easy to picture the conversations. My social time is very limited because, quite frankly, I don’t like conversing with my peers. I am only thirteen years old, but it is hard to keep a conversation at school because nobody understands my thinking process. And, therefore, it becomes very boring very fast.

I am often told that I speak very slow. This is mostly because I choose my words carefully, but it’s also because I need to comprehend what I say before I say it. When I speak, it’s like the words are being spoken by another person outside my body. It takes me a while to understand what I’m going to say.

When I am asked a question like ‘are you goth?’, I just stand there in silence for a few moments then reply (’...’ indicates about a two second pause) ‘no… I just wear black all the time because I stain my clothes a lot… And don’t ask me if I’m E mo (spelling it like this prevents spelling errors) ... because I am NOT one of those wrist-cutters’.

I don’t understand why I speak so slow, it’s like if I speak any faster, my words will get jumbled up and become incoherent. A person once told me it sounds like I think very hard about my words as I’m saying them. I also don’t understand why it takes a while for me to comprehend what people are saying.
If you can answer my questions I will be most thankful.

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11 Answers

Coloma's avatar

It’s personality and temperament style. More extroverted types tend to think and talk fast and more introverted types often need more time to process and mull over what they wish to say. I am a highly extroverted and comedic personality with a super fast brain and I try to be aware of not overwhelming others because thinking and speaking and responding quickly comes very naturally to me. There is nothing good or bad or right or wrong about how ones brain and personality mesh, just need to pay attention and try to modify or ramp up accordingly.

Quieter people can feel overwhelmed by some extroverts intense energy and extroverts can feel frustrated at quieter peoples slower response or lack of play and feedback.
It sounds to me as if you;re self conscious of what you’re going to say and this may contribute to you stalling in your responses. Maybe work on not over thinking and just going with the flow. Do NOT label yourself with negative terminology like “slow” “incoherant” etc.

You are who you are, and everyone has strengths and weaknesses.
NEVER let others define you are are!
Your style is your style and there are plenty of others that share your same presentation.

marinelife's avatar

You might want to get an assessment from a psychologist. Tell them what you have told us and let them test you.

It would be the best way to get help with this if you see it as a problem.

FluffyChicken's avatar

I have a similar audio-processing problem, but because I am so social, I also jumble my words a lot, and often have to ask people to repeat themselves. I’m told I have a form of dyslexia.

Also, what @marinelife said. I highly reccomend seeking a diagnosis. Something hard-wired is going on, and if you can put a label on it it will be easier to find tools to help make communicating easier for you.

gorillapaws's avatar

I also think it’s worth having a professional psychologist look into. The brain has special centers for processing speech (both listening to others and synthesizing your own speech). People with brain injuries can sometimes have conditions where they can read/write English and not be able to understand when people communicate with them verbally (I’m pretty sure I’m right about that). I’m not saying you’re brain damaged or anything, just that there may be some techniques they can teach you that may help your situation. Best wishes.

Also, if your condition is formally diagnosed, you can go to the office of disabilities at your school and request your professors provide reasonable accommodations such as written versions of their lectures, or at least let you record them so you can play/replay them at your own pace after class.

wundayatta's avatar

There is a wide range of human behavior. You may be father from average than most, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the way you are. It’s just that you have to handle your conversations more carefully. You can tell people this is the way you are and ask them to please bear with you, because it helps the communication go better. If they are unwilling to do so, then you know that not a person you should have much to do with.

Just handle this as a practical matter. Resist the urge to label it good or bad. It is what it is, and then you deal with it.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I agree with @marinelife. This is a question to pose to a professional. From your description, this sounds like an auditory processing disorder or something similar. There are treatments and therapies that can help you.

Coloma's avatar

@SpatzieLover Never heard of that, interesting!

JLeslie's avatar

It might just be how your brain is wired, some people are better at understanding and learning when reading. I am the opposite, I am an auditory and visual learner by far. One trick is to really watch the face, mouth, of the person speaking to you. The more you look away, the more likely your brain will, process other things you are looking at. The brain cannot do two things at once.

If your family tends to speak slowly, you might simply be accustomed to that, and speaking quickly sounds a little jummbled up and incomplete to you.

I agree get assessed, and give my tip a try. People who are shy and more introverted tend to not look people in the face, and so they are more likely to miss parts of communication.

Judi's avatar

I’m sorry it makes things hard for you. I will say that I would rather have a friend who chooses their words carefully and deliberately than one who is constantly sticking their foot in their mouth. (I do that enough for both of us. )

thorninmud's avatar

Just curious—do you have the same difficulty when you’re watching TV or movies or when you’re listening in on another conversation, or is it only when people are speaking directly to you?

jerv's avatar

There are all kinds of learning disabilities and other anomalies that can affect one’s speech.

I am mildly autistic, so even putting the pictures in my head into words is sometimes hard as English is effectively not my native language even though it’s the only one I know that has words. I am slow to choose my words since it is hard to find the ones I need to convey the message I want to send. But being a New Englander, and a slightly hyper and chronically caffeinated one at that, I tend to talk quite fast once I decide on the words I want to use. There is also the fact that sometimes I get a little synesthesia action going and cannot easily identify sounds as words.

My wife has a form of Dyscalculia; she is the opposite of me in that she doesn’t have a mental blackboard and thus cannot visualize things well. Sometimes, she is at a loss for words simply because she is trying to process information, and she sometimes gets things a little jumbled.

Both of us take a little longer than normal to translate words coming in into something comprehensible to us, figure out how to respond, and then figure out what words to use to convey that response… and that’s okay. We both function just fine in society, hold down full-time jobs, hang with friends who (unlike the average high school kid) don’t care about such “oddities”, and generally have a decent life.

FYI, I wasn’t much of a conversationalist at your age either, for much the same reason; I didn’t really get sociable until I was in my early 20s.

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