Tuesday 18 October 2011

Hearing but not listening

Does anyone recognise the following?

She: (something like) I wonder how we're going to pay for Petronella's lacrosse lessons this term.
He: Hmmm.
She: You weren't listening!
He: Yes I was.
She: Then tell me what I just said.
He: Something about paying for Petronella's lacrosse lessons.
She: That wasn't proper listening. That was recall.

It is my belief that there's a small waiting room in the (usualy male - sorry guys) head. There, anything said to them will remain for about seven seconds, and in that time, they can recall (and repeat) it. But it has altogether bypassed the brain, and after those seven seconds, it is gone. For ever.


  1. Actually I have noticed this in both sexes!

  2. Oh, yes! I definitely recognise it. But don't let on to OH!

  3. I recognise this too but would agree with Jenny that it applies to both sexes, yet possibly predominately male.

    I have a femail friend, my best friend in fact, with whom conversations take hours as there is always that fifteen-twenty second pause before she responds to my (no doubt very boring) questions.

    Anna :o]

  4. Admittedly, I sometimes switch into "Hearing Only" mode myself, when a conversation becomes too much of a monologue and the topic is so NOT relevant to me. I avoid to do this with customers, of course, since there could be a hidden gem of information among all the babble. Taking notes helps. But there are some people in my circle of friends and family who have, sadly, the tendency to go and on about irrelevant subjects, and if I am too lazy to steer them towards something more interesting, I just let their words swoosh past me. I know it is neither particularly nice of me nor polite, but sometimes I can't be bothered with being either.

  5. Absolutely! A waiting room is a good way to describe this absent ability to listen and hear!

  6. Love that waiting room idea, Frances - but I think both my husband and I do this with each other sometimes!

  7. You're probably right, Jenny.

    OH probably wouldn't hear if I told him...?

    Anna, I think men have a particular skill in this department, but you're right. We can all do it.

    Librarian, I think what you're talking about is switching off altogether. I have at least one friend who talks obsessively about herself. She will go on for hours and hours, and I put on my listening face and let it flow over me while I plan my next book/tonight's meal or whatever.

    I'm glad you agree, Pat!

    Hi, Rosemary. Yes, the waiting room thing came to me this morning when my husband, who was reading the paper, was able to recall what I'd just said, but with no actual comprehension (or interest!).

  8. Colette, do you live with him/her?