General Question

spendy's avatar

What did you say?

Asked by spendy (1446points) April 4th, 2008

Why, oh why, why, why do people constantly say “Huh?” or “What?” when they have actually heard you quite clearly and never truly needed you to repeat yourself? Is this arrogance or simply a verbal fart or bad habit? Thoughts on this…and possibly thoughts on how to either stop yourself or someone else?

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33 Answers

El_Cadejo's avatar

It annoys the hell out of me too. I think its they hear what you say but they brain doesnt process it fast enough and then it finally clicks after that second that they said what. At least thats what it feels like to me when it happens on those strange occasions.

cheebdragon's avatar

my 2 year old does that, but I figured out that if say huh? Right after he says it, he will then repeat what I originaly told him to do. Its weird = )

RedmannX5's avatar

I think (at least from my experience) that if I don’t hear/understand what the person has said at the beginning of their sentence that I automatically say “what”, just as a habit. But most of the time I can piece together what they say by the end of the sentence. And in order for you to not have to repeat yourself, the person who said what should admit that they actually heard you

Randy's avatar

Definatly. I do it, but its because I didn’t follow quite fast enough.

spendy's avatar

LOL…I’m just sitting here reading all of your answers (knowing that I do this as well), but also thinking about how irritating it can be when someone else does it.

I have this new (and rather funny) habit of just looking my husband dead in the eyes without saying a word until he acknowledges that he heard and fully understood what I just said. Then he answers my question. :) Seems like a total brain fart to me.

But then again, sometimes I could swear he just enjoys making me repeat myself.

spendy's avatar

lol…I was about to explain it to you again.


what a bad habit

sndfreQ's avatar

hearing doesn’t necessarily equal listening; hearing is receiving sound stimuli, listening is paying careful attention to what is being heard.

shared3's avatar

I agree with redmannx5 and uberbatman about our minds figuring it out after a few seconds, but I also use it (sparingly) when I am absolutely floored by a question and I use it to buy myself a few seconds to make myself seem less stupid.

Zaxwar91's avatar

uberbatman strikes again folks. hes right. Sometimes the mond of the individual just doesnt click right away. That doesnt count the people who zone out alot of course, because they might seem like their listening, when their really not

El_Cadejo's avatar

lol im trying to figure out if i should take that as a complement or what?

Zaxwar91's avatar

take it as a compliment uberbatman, from what iv seen from your comments your usually right anyway. lol

sndfreQ's avatar

IMO everyone is just a little ADD in this day and age; plus, we have convinced ourselves that we are multi-taskers, when in fact, it is physiologically impossible to focus on more than one task.

Our brain threads tasks in order of our selective priority, we’re just tricked into thinking we can multitask by way of our culture.

Zaxwar91's avatar

good point. even though we may be thinking about many different subjects, we really only focus on one, and then we focus on the others

ninjaxmarc's avatar

sorry I do this when my mind is slow from not getting enough sleep the night before. I need to hear it the second time to comprehend.

scamp's avatar

This is a big problem between SO and I.
He is hard of hearing, and I usually have my mind on something else. So we both say HUH? all the time. The funny thing is when I ask him to repeat himself so I can give what he said my full attention, he yells it back to me. I tell him, “You don’t have to yell, I’m not across the river”. Then he says, “Well you can never hear me.” I have to remind him that he is the one with the hearing problem, and i am the one who has difficulty listening!

gooch's avatar

Huh… Oh I think because they where not listening to you but heard you and the subconscience mind passed on the info which delayed the question getting to where it needed to go. In the delay we say huh.

hearkat's avatar

As an Audiologist, I concur with the above responses. It seems to occur primarily when we are not engaged in conversation but doing something else, and someone begins speaking unexpectedly, so our brain hears the voice, wonders if “you talkin’ to me”? and then has to backtrack in a sense to figure out what was said.

We have many bad communication habits and when someone loses their hearing I have to tell the spouse NOT to talk from 2 rooms away, to get the person’s attention before they start speaking, and so on.

As has been mentioned, listening and hearing are different things… we all have different auditory processing capabilities to begin with, and fatigue, stress, illness, etc. will present further challenges in our ability to focus our attention on what’s being said.

themherme's avatar

I have noticed that if you ignore them when they do this it will anger them more and they will repeat what you said. Generally if someone does this its due to “selective hearing” lol

scamp's avatar

@themherme If you were to use the term ‘selective hearing” with my SO, he would become furious with you. He can hear, but not well, and people are always saying he uses selective hearing. It’s like telling someone with really bad arthritis or MS they are too lazy to walk.

themherme's avatar

Yeah my dad is hard of hearing lol, there is definately a differance, and he is the same way, he gets very frustrated when he feels like people are ragging on his inability to hear. He thinks that everyone is talking about it and that he cant really hear whats going on I guess. But I love him anyways and I still have to give him a hard time lol because he’s my daddy and that is what I am here for :*)

hearkat's avatar

@ThemHerMe: Take Daddy to an Audiologist! The audiological evaluation is covered by most insurance plans. If he is getting frustrated and embarrassed by not hearing, he may be motivated to do something about it! Newer technologies have come a long way in terms of comfort and sound quality, and nearly every audiologist will offer at least a 30-day trial, so he could get most of the money refunded if he doesn’t like the hearing aids.

themherme's avatar

@hearkat: Thank you for the advice :*)

hearkat's avatar

@ThemHerMe: Anytime! :-D

scamp's avatar

@hearkat is there something new that can be done for those suffering from Meniere’s Disease? SO was told years ago that he has it and a hearing aid would do him no good. He said they told him it would only make the buzzing noises he hears louder. He was tested some years ago, and apparently he has some nerve damage in addition to (or instead of) the possible Miniere’s ( he dosen’t believe he has this). I would really love to see him get tested again, because we both would be so much happier if there was something that could help him.

hearkat's avatar

@Scamp: It can’t hurt to get a second opinion, especially if he doubts the original diagnosis. Some of my Meniére’s patients like to wear an aid on the bad ear, some don’t… it depends on the individual’s preferences beyond the extent of the hearing loss.

There are also wireless CROS systems that send sound from the bad side to the better ear, so the patient can be able to hear what is on the bad side without having to turn their head all the time.

Are you currently in NJ? Contact me with your location, and I might know someone I could recommend. My offices are in Burlington and Camden counties.

scamp's avatar

Thanks! Check your private comments.

jvgr's avatar

“Why, oh why, why, why do people constantly say “Huh?” or “What?” when they have actually heard you quite clearly…”

While I don’t disagree that there is some bad habit in many, are you sure they heard you quite clearly.?

I get quite focused in my whatever. It’s not uncommon that someone in the same room will start speaking to me, but by the time I’ve figured out I was being spoken to, I missed so much that I don’t really understand what was said.

Strauss's avatar

I’m hard of hearing. Not to the point of not being able to hear folks, just sometimes I can’t understand what they’re saying. Sometimes I think I don’t understand a particular word, but my mind can process the rest of the sentence and make out the word in context. I reflexively say “Huh?!” or “What’d you say?” (although it usually comes out “waja say?”) and then I catch the drift and can make some sense of an answer.

veronasgirl's avatar

I am guilty of this myself and honestly I don’t understand why I do it. It might be a learned behavior. My mother constantly does it to me, so I in turn do it to others? Or maybe it is just a verbal tick, simple as that? Maybe it is just a mechanism designed to give our brain a few more seconds to develop an intelligent response?

Strauss's avatar

From my own experience, it is a combination of impaired hearing+brain fart. I think that sometimes when someone speaks clearly, I hear what is said, but it takes my brain a moment longer to process. I know this because sometimes I say “huh” or “What”, and by the time the speaker repeats, I understand what was said the first time.

snowberry's avatar

@Yetanotheruser That’s me. My hearing is fine, but I have auditory processing issues. I can hear each word, but there’s a lag time between hearing it and “decoding” it. As ambient noise increases, it gets really dicey for me. I don’t normally say, “Huh?” but I do ask them to repeat, or pretend I heard and say nothing. I avoid large parties, because other than eat, I’m not much of a participant.

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