Social Question

the_overthinker's avatar

How do you tell when someone does not want to listen to you?

Asked by the_overthinker (1223 points ) March 19th, 2012

What are subtle signs that people may give off when they do not want to listen to your story?

What do you do when someone is going to tell you a story and you do not want to listen? Do you change the subject? Or, perhaps pretend to listen? Not ask them questions? Or, tell them you’re busy?

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11 Answers

ZEPHYRA's avatar

They just switch off and in the best case they utter a “mmmmm” or “uh huh” sporadically. There isn’t much eye contact. They may interrupt you and rush in to say their experience or even claim they have to leave due to some important duty.

I on the other hand, find that I am too polite, I may not be in the least bit interested but I sit and suffer through it, partly listening and actually thinking about my own problems.

Bellatrix's avatar

They act distracted. Smile but it isn’t genuine. Are fidgety. Check their watch. Eye contact (or the lack of it) as @ZEPHYRA is a good indication.

noraasnave's avatar

When I don’t want to listen to something which someone wants to talk about depends on the person:

1. Someone I know: Then most likely I will actively listen, because I understand it is investment in them, it helps them, and at a subconscious level they appreciate it.

2. Someone I don’t know: I tell them I have work to do, and I had better get back to it, or bring up whatever I have on my agenda to accomplish wherever I am.

How do I know when they aren’t listening, or aren’t interested? Body language, first and foremost, where are their eyes? You could throw in: “I brought an axe to kill you with” They will respond: “mmmmhm”.

I range this inconsiderate behavior on a scale: a slight foopah all the way to gross misconduct depending on how boring my topic is and how long I have been talking!

If you have been talking a while, then you might need to pause silently and allow them to naturally summarize…look the other party in the eye and wait…they will either catch up or confess they weren’t listening. Either way, you can continue, if you aren’t to offended.

Bellatrix's avatar

I forgot to answer the second half. If I realise I am distracted I try to make a conscious effort to look at the person and focus.

If I am in a rush, I will usually say ‘sorry, I have to go but will catch you later’ and if I really don’t want to talk to the person, I back away, look at my watch and make it clear I am short on time. Then make my excuses and leave.

stardust's avatar

I usually pick up on their body language or their level of concentration. When I’m bored, I become distracted and find it hard to listen so I drift.

rojo's avatar

When a guy starts answering in singly syllable sentences. Yes. No. Um. then it is time to hang up. The conversation is through.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, body language especially, unless you’re on the phone in which case it becomes obvious when the other person does not take the incentive to actively participate, often interrupts, gives little if any feedback. In person eye contact and body position are key. Turning away from the person talking, little or fleeting eye contact.

Really, it’s sad that so few people are able to be fully present when others are speaking. Giving our full attention to others is so important, but a rarity in our self centered culture.

rojo's avatar

I’m sorry. What did you say?

wundayatta's avatar

When they don’t seem to be responding. Of course, if you are the type who lectures or goes on and on without being sensitive to whether your listener is with you, you won’t know that. You have to engage them, not lecture them; not talk without paying attention to them. So many people seem to talk and get lost in what they are saying and have no idea what is going on with their listeners. It’s really quite simple. Pay attention to the people you are talking to.

When I don’t want to listen, I will politely wait for a break and then try to move the conversation back to a track I am interested in. Sometimes, if there is no break, I have to interject with an “excuse me. Excuse me.” Then when I have my correspondent’s attention, I suggest we refocus on a topic of more mutual interest.

Roby's avatar

II respect them and listen intently give my undivided attention and endure it. I just can’t hurt anyone feelings.

Only138's avatar

@rojo HAW HAW!! Good one. :)

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