Leading Questions

This is something that has been bothering me lately, it has made me angry with myself for missed opportunities. It has meant that when I have reached out at times, I have fallen at the first hurdle. I’m talking about falling for Leading Questions. 

They deserve to be capitalised. They are repulsive things, tricksy and bait-filled. 

For you to understand why they are so dangerous to me, you have to understand how I interact with people. Conversations are all mine-fields. I am concentrating so hard on deciphering your meaning, working on appropriate responses, double-checking my physical reactions are correct, and all the while looking like I’m not doing any of those things. 

The less I know you, the harder all those things are. Many medical professionals are people I have met only once, and who I meet in an environment that is already taxing me to my processing limits. 

When you are working so hard to understand what is being said, Leading Questions can feel like a cooling balm. They offer a solution without you having to think through the possibilities, they dangle a carrot in front of you, they offer you the answer that the person wants to hear, without you having to work for it. But it’s a trap. 

The amount of planning I went through when asking to be referred for a diagnosis, just to avoid falling into the trap of Leading Questions, was immense. What if they said, “But of course, you don’t want a label, do you?” Would I remember to scream “Yes! Yes I do! I need to know!”

I had planned my mantra, “If I accidentally agree to a leading question I will follow it up with, ‘But I still want a diagnosis'”. 

All that effort, but it worked and I managed, because I was prepared. 

There have been many times I was not prepared. After giving birth many midwives and health visitors said things like, “You’re not suffering from any of these symptoms, are you?” And because I was barely verbal at those times, I always agreed that I wasn’t. Even when I was. 

When I went to have my Joint Hypermobility diagnosed, the Rheumatologist said, “You have the painful joints and are definitely hypermobile, but you don’t have any of the digestive issues or palpitations of EDS, do you?” It had been so hard going to that appointment that I had no processing spare, and I was outnumbered in the room, so I agreed that I didn’t, even though I have both and they are my normal. 

Compare that with good communication practises; the Health Visitor who asked how I was, and when I responded with the standard, “Very well, how are you?” (Which means nothing and can be so dangerous) followed it up with, “Are you really fine? Is that right?” 

And then rescued me. 

I do it all the time. 

“You don’t mind if I just turn up, do you?” 

“No.” 

Yes I do. 

“It’s ok if I leave all this to you, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

No it’s not. 

Most of the consequences are guilt and anger at myself. Most of the consequences are small annoyances. But there is the potential there for so much damage and danger. 

Open questions are hard work, they send my brain spiralling off down every avenue, and I spread myself too thin by trying to fit down every avenue all at once, but leading questions are dangerous. If you think you know the answer then ask a closed question. 

“Does it hurt?” Has only two answers, that’s more than comfortable. That’s a good closed question. 

For me, “It doesn’t hurt, does it?” has only one answer, and it’s an answer you are asking for based on your assumptions about how I am presenting myself. I don’t present pain typically. I am an atypical pain-presenter. I will be quiet and blank and you will lead me to the slaughter. It won’t matter that you didn’t mean to. It won’t matter that your intentions were all good. Your poor communication will cause suffering. 

Leading Questions are lazy and poor communication practise. Let’s choose a better way. 

16 thoughts on “Leading Questions

  1. do not be angry with your self,UNDERSTAND FROM THIS.i have aspergers .it happens.lot older than you
    i do a blog http;//mark-kent.webs.com
    if you would like to reply please do
    i take part in a lot lot research .YOU COULD

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for writing this. Giving accurate answers to leading questions is hard for me too. I also sometimes have trouble with closed / yes-or-no questions, because I feel like I have to pick one of the presumed answers even if it doesn’t quite fit. I’ve been working on remembering that I can say things like “it’s complicated” or “sort of” as a third answer, but I still tend to get “stuck” trying to decide between yes and no.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s a really good point. When it doesn’t really fit the “yes or no” perfectly, it can be easier to choose one of them instead of explaining. I find that easier than dealing with leading questions, because I have to filter the answers so I’m more likely to get it right than when I’m led.

      There are no perfect answers, but there are definitely imperfect questions. Thanks for your comment 💐

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Leading questions only have a right answer for the person asking – never for the person being asked. Because the person asking want a simple answer – not the truth. They know that the answer is complicated and don’t want to hear it. Even when it means that they don’t do their job right by leading you on…

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I’ve alway called them loaded questions, where the person asking loads the answer into the question. I find it quite offensive and now try my best to answer without their pre loaded input, but still get caught out regularly

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Okay, here I go replying inappropriately. Leading Questions re heinous and awesome! For me it’s such an opportunity to refuse to agree to the thousand cuts. It’s exhausting. It’s identity. Everything already declares that neurotypical is the norm. Yet because I’m not institutionalized, thus I MUST be normal. And I just just won’t play those games. Pardon me, but hell no I won’t play those games. The neurotypicals DO NOT get to define me with their Leading Questions. Casual speech does not mean I have to agree to the norms, at all, ever. They are opportunities to refuse to participate and be defined by people who I am not. Rhi, thanks for the soap box.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Always happy to provide the soapbox 😄

      This is exactly how I would feel about them, if I always spotted them in time. They seem to always strike me when I’m tired or stressed and slip through my defences. Which is so irritating!

      Keep fighting the good fight!

      Like

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