Hyper-Active Listening


I consider myself to be a reasonably capable conversationalist. I am an attentive listener, and I try very hard to provide small positive indicators of my listening: “Yes” and “Okay” and other small phrases in reply to a speaker without interrupting the flow of their side of a dialogue. I try hard to vary the phrases I use, because I hate hearing the same “uh-huh” or “okay” repeated over and over and over again. (My wife does this on the phone, and I often want to yank the phone away from her when all I hear is her side of the conversation. Ten to twelve “uh-huh"s and “okay"s in a row gets to be more than a little annoying.)

A woman at work takes this practice to an all new level. I know she hears what I’m saying, despite the steady litany of "Okay, right, sure, uh-huh, yes, gotcha, right, exactly, yes, yes, uh-huh, okay.“ On the one hand, I’m glad she’s affirming what I have to say. On the other hand, I could probably do with a third less affirmation and still be reasonably content that she’s heard (and understood) what I have to say.

Apart from this slight nuisance, I have no indication that she’s anything other than a capable, intelligent professional. I’ve only had occasion to work with her on two small projects so far, and if my only complaint is that she’s perhaps too aggressively listening, well, I guess I shouldn’t be too upset. ;)

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