Thursday, November 29, 2007

Let’s Hear It For Grunting

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?

6 comments:

Crabby McSlacker said...

I am not a fast thinker so I too have learned to make a little "mmmm" sound to let people know I've heard them.

Actually, as a former therapist, I did a lot of mmmmm-ing--people really do seem to like to know that you're hearing them even if you don't want to jump in to comment.

Really interesting observation on the grunting! I'd never really thought about it.

bunnygirl said...

My boss is one of those who flits from topic to topic and gets annoyed if I can't produce an answer on the spot to each of her questions. It's so frustrating, because my mind just doesn't move that fast!

Yesterday she poked her head in my office where I was working on a project for her. I showed her a few things on a spreadsheet and she said, "You know a lot more about this than I thought from our conversation earlier today."

Well, DUH. I reminded her there's a world of difference between asking me for a budget balance amount when I'm standing in her office discussing another topic and asking me while I'm actually sitting in front of the document.

Sometimes I think people just want answers and they don't really care if they're the right ones because they haven't got time to wait around for truth or accuracy.

Leah J.Utas said...

I suppose it comes down to acknowledgement of one's existence, Crabby.

Bosses have their own interesting expectations of workers, Bunnygirl. I think you have a point about people just wanting an answer. Personally, I'm content to wait for a proper response.
But I do admit it is nice to know I've been heard. The caring grunt works both ways.

the Bag Lady said...

The Bag Lady is not quick on her feet, mentally, either, and is of the type who, hours later, will say, Sheesh, why didn't I think of saying THAT? She gets into trouble lots by saying the first thing that pops into her tiny brain...
In the Bag Lady's bag of tricks, the caring grunt is usually expressed as "ummm" or "ahhh..."

Leah J.Utas said...

It's often days later before I think of some proper, Bag Lady.

Reb said...

Maybe that is why we all like blogging - we have time to think before responding.