I keep misunderstanding things

I keep grossly misunderstanding verbal instructions. People keep telling me I need to let them know if I don’t understand what I’m being asked, but that’s the thing, I don’t know that I didn’t understand it correct?

I feel my auditory processing problems are getting worse too. I keep mishearing and asking people to repeat themselves.

And at the same time, my self-esteem and fear of failure is taking a toll.
I feel so stupid for not doing what I’m asked correctly. And I hate that I’m burdening others with my stupidity.

How can I get better at understanding what people want instead of assuming what I heard was right?


I have that but from negative and cognitive symptoms. My concentration is low. My psychiatrist told me that sz lowers working memory and concentration.

I struggle with the same thing. Can relate to the anxiety making it worse and feeling dumb.

I write notes down and sometimes ask the person for a moment to do that. Then I try to summarize what they said and ask them if that is correct.


I defo have a similar problem. I often hear things very differently then everyone else in the room.

I do what @anon1517417 does. I take notes and then summarize.

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I sometimes try to summarize like “so if I understand you correctly, you want me to do [thing]?”


Sometimes I don’t get what my boss or colleague says to me, and then I will just say “can you run that past me one more time, I didn’t quite get it”, or something like that, and then they usually slow down their speech when they explain it again.

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I understand. I keep messing up things at work. But I fixed all my screw ups today. I caughtsome stuff my boss didn’t, thank goodness.

Just always summarize after being told something so you have it straight. Don’t assume you understand. Always double-check before starting.

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Yes, asking for a summary or asking someone to repeat something or summarizing it in your head and then repeat what you think they said to double check what you thought was said.

If people are offering to repeat instructions until you understand, then than take advantage of it and let them.

I understand the frustration you’re feeling, my memory took a huge hit during a stressful move and for a few months at work my boss would tell me a couple tasks to do and I would walk away to go do them but I would forget as soon as I turned my back and walked several feet away. I didn’t know how to deal with it except ask them to repeat it two or even three times. Luckily, at home, I have trouble remembering things but for some strange reason, at work the problem went away after a few months and I don’t usually need to hear something more than once.

Oh man, do I relate to this hard.

My entire job depends on me accurately understanding instructions and descriptions of problems my clients have. Then being able to transfer that info correctly to the right people.

I didn’t read comments so I don’t know if it’s already been suggested but repeating what you heard back has helped me out so so much.

For example

Client: My device won’t turn on after I tried to install a new component.

Me: Okay, I just want to make sure I understand. So your device has a blue screen so you attempted to install a new component to fix it. Is that right?

Client: No, the device was working fine until I installed new hardware. There’s no blue screen, it just doesn’t power on.

Me: I see, sorry about the misunderstanding. (Then I repeat the problem back correctly).

Client: Yep, that’s it.

I realize my example is heavily work related which may not be the same environment you’re experiencing this in. But it can still work in other situations.

Sometimes, I find it’s easier to just explain to the person I’m talking to that I’m having trouble processing today and I need them to talk a little slower. I usually only reserve that for people I’m close to though. Friends and family.

Other times, I just go with the vibe of the conversation and practice mirroring behavior, so the person feels as though I am understanding them. This is less helpful and only works in specific situations. Like when a story is being told. Doesn’t work when instructions are being given or when a specific response is expected. This can also go wrong if you judge the tone of the conversation incorrectly. That’s happened to me and it’s very awkward.

If it makes sense to, I will ask the person to show me what they’re talking about. Usually I can put it all together if I’m given a different way to understand it.

I feel so embarrassed when it happens. Especially when I’ve said “what” like 2 or 3 times already. It makes me feel like my brain is deteriorating more and more by the day.

I’m sorry you have this. I wish I had better advice on this. It sucks.

Oh! I thought of another thing that helps me. Sometimes when I am summarizing and I know I am coming up on something I didn’t hear correctly I will start the sentence and intentionally trail off. People usually fill in the rest with correct info.


Friend: Hey, I need you to pick up a gallon of milk on your way over to my place.

Me: Sure, you said you needed a gallon of…

Friend: Milk.

Me: Oh yeah, I will grab that!

I tend to struggle with long,oral instructions. I much prefer things written down so I can refer and re-refer to them. Also for me things have to be as unambiguous as possible.

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