I think about things. I sometimes even think before I speak and it’s gotten me into trouble. People wonder if I’ve been paying attention because I don’t respond right away.
What’s the rush? You’ve asked me a question. Do you really want to hear the first thing that comes to my mind?
I don’t think you do.
I got so disgusted with friends and acquaintance who treated me like I wasn’t all there because I didn’t have a fast answer for them. I no longer have those people in my life and I have no intention of acquiring replacements.
The quiet space between what they said and then asking me, “Are you there? Did you hear me? Are you listening?” was maybe two full seconds. It probably seems longer to the average person because:
a) we’re not used to quiet any longer.
b) most people don’t have any media training. We learned in our radio classes in journalism school just exactly how long five seconds of dead air is and it does seem to stretch out. Two seconds to the untrained likely seems like eternity.
c) most people are so full of themselves and their problems that they can’t imagine anyone not giving them their full, rapt attention.
Therefore I developed the caring grunt. This general response indicates that the speaker has been heard. This satisfies them for enough time for me to form a sentence of some sort as a legitimate response.
Maybe it’s common courtesy to indicate that I’m thinking. I can live with that. But isn’t it equally courteous to give someone a chance to think?