Monday, July 16, 2018

The most annoying type of bad listener

by Annabelle Charbit (writer), New York, September 09, 2010


What do you do when a friend perpetually asks you questions, but then refuses to listen while you answer?

"I didn't know you had diabetes," said my friend. "Tell me about it."
"In a word, its type 2."
"What's Type 2?" she asked, clearly curious to know more.
"Type 2 is when you are insulin resistant which means..." And I began the explanation.

Less than a minute into it, she turned around, pointed to her annoying little cat, and said, "look at how she just stretched, isn't she just the cutest?"
So I turned my attention to the distraction and commented politely on it.
Then I awkwardly returned to the explanation from which I was so obnoxiously cut off?

But a further minute into it, she distracted me again. "Oh what's that noise?" she said.
Again I did the polite thing and helped her seek out the mysterious noise coming from outside, which turned out to be some neighbors chatting in the street.
Now I was certain that my conversation bored the girl so I did not return to it.

Like most people, I don't wish to be boring, so will take the hint. But what do you do, when someone perpetually asks you questions, then consistently ignores and interrupts your answers? Not once, but every single time?!
“Look at my dog.” “What's that noise?” “I think I know that couple at the next table.” “That guy has a mosquito on his back, flick it for him” ...
I'm sorry, I don't care if the guy at the next table is about to be swallowed whole by an enormous Venus Fly Trap. If I break eye contact with you to rescue him from imminent death, then I am letting you know that you did not have my undivided attention. The way I was raised, that's as rude as slapping you in the face.

One thing for certain is that it’s a complete waste of time to entertain a conversation with such persons whilst driving a car !!
"Look at those cows.” “Check out that cool car.” “Did you see that tree?” “Oh my God, that cloud looks like Santa Claus."
If they even try to engage you in conversation, my advice is to feign car sickness, sleep or preferably death.

The funniest thing was that I recently found myself in a restaurant with one of my worst offenders and, whilst she was thoroughly entertaining herself by telling me all about her trip to New York, she shoed away the waitress, asking her to return only once she was done with her story. I wish this girl would show me even one tenth of the regard that she shows herself.

So what are we to do in such situations? My cowardly way to handle it has been to allow myself to be constantly sidetracked, never to finish a single sentence. Perhaps I’d be better off asking these self absorbed individuals to stop interrupting. Maybe I ought to ask whether I am boring them. Or even suggest to them that they are rude and uneducated.

People don’t like being told off, so what is the most effective way to let someone know that their behavior is rude and offensive, without eliciting the knee jerk response whereby they try to justify their actions? Perhaps there is no such way, and, as I have mentioned before (toxic friends post), your only choices may be to suck it up or walk away.

About the Writer

Annabelle Charbit is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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4 comments on The most annoying type of bad listener

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By Briselle on September 09, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Oh good. It's not just me then. I thought maybe I was so boring that I just couldn't hold people's attention for long enough for me to finish answering their questions. I've actually gotten to the point where I try to limit my answers to 'yes', 'no' or a shrug. Then later they round on me with 'why didn't you tell me???'

Frustrating, isn't it?

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By l0oree on September 09, 2010 at 11:55 pm

I does not frustrate me because I have a mom that can ask 100 questions in less than a minute expecting an answer the second she asks the question. I had to train myself to slow down my responses so an average person could understand what I am talking about. It would be annoying if the questions do not relate. The person could be like me and can listen and conversate at the same time also. People tend to think I don't listen while I am multi-tasking but I am. I can watch tv, listen to music and read all at the same time. I thought everyone could do that for a long time.

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By Annabelle Charbit on September 10, 2010 at 03:39 pm

Dear Briselle

I totally hear ya. In the end there is no choice but to give monosyllabic answers. And yes, then they ask why you havent shared key information with them. And its hard to tell them why without feeling stupid ourselves.

A xx

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By Annabelle Charbit on September 10, 2010 at 03:42 pm

Dear 10oree

So long as you are able to respond to the person and not interrupt them while you are multi tasking, then that is fine, they will not feel ignored. But if midway through your mutitasking, while your friend is sharing a heartfelt story, you start mumbling, "oh now where did i leave that darned spatula," then guess what? You are going to end up with some very offended friends.

A xx

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