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People who only listen if you're responding to a question they've asked

(7 Posts)
Duolino Tue 23-Feb-21 18:22:18

I know 3 people in my family who do this and I'm finding it incredibly rude.

DH, MIL and my own father.

Basically, you can be explaining something to them and then they ask a question asking you to explain the VERY thing they're explaining because they weren't listening in the first place.

MIL is the worst.
She doesn't listen at all but will shoot questions at you, listen to the first sentence and move on to something else. I think she has ADHD (and rudeness).

I find it maddening. I thought it was just my father who did it, then I met MIL and my God. DH has started doing it now he's getting older and I'm probably going to divorce him (for this and several other reasons!)

Does anyone else know people like this?

OP’s posts: |
Duolino Tue 23-Feb-21 18:23:00

Meant to say "the very thing YOU'RE explaining."

OP’s posts: |
StephenBelafonte Tue 23-Feb-21 18:48:14

So they ask you something, then when you start explaining it they talk over you, is that what you mean?

Duolino Tue 23-Feb-21 22:11:21

No I can be talking about something for example, my new job. And then they'll suddenly say "oh, how is your job going by the way?" Clearly not listening to anything I've just been saying. This happens regularly with MIL in particular. She only listens to what is being said if she's specifically asked a question about it. She won't listen to any topic that's been initiated by the other person.

My DH and father do this also but to a lesser scale.

DH actually did it this evening. I had to go out and was explaining what to do with the casserole and as I was explaining, he says "so what am I doing with this casserole?" As if I wasn't already talking.

OP’s posts: |
lottiegarbanzo Tue 23-Feb-21 22:34:18

Very annoying.

I know someone who does this but possibly worse - they always have a strong pre-conceived idea / assumption in their head and only listen to your answer for as long as required to fill the tiny sliver of ignorance they've allowed themselves to acknowledge. Then, while you're still speaking, they turn to someone else and ask them an unrelated question. The result is that they have no idea how very much they don't know, even about topics they regularly 'discuss' with people.

I've realised two things; that their habitual mode of discourse is 'chairing a meeting' (on the subject of 'their internal monologue') and, that they do not entertain doubt. They only need tiny bits of information from other people, to keep their internal world complete. So, no need to listen actively, look for nuance, use insight, probe surprising comments for further explanation. They have their worldview and their explanations already fully formed.

But, do you make sure you've captured people's attention before you start telling them something? Some people do just chunter on, as if to themselves and it can be hard to know (or care) whether they're actually trying to tell you anything.

lottiegarbanzo Tue 23-Feb-21 22:39:35

In your DH case, it does sound as though you hadn't captured his attention. He had some internal narrative going on. You started talking without alerting him to the fact you were about to tell him something important, so allow him time to shift his focus. So he missed the first part of what you said.

Or he was aware you were talking but also continuing with whatever was going on in his head. So he got 'going out, blahdey blah' and the only thing he thought he needed to know was about the casserole, soe he asked that question.

I think sometimes you have to be really over-emphatic, to capture people's attention.

Porcupineintherough Tue 23-Feb-21 22:57:06

My husband could probably say this of me sometimes. My side of it is that sometimes I'm reading, or listening to the radio or thinking and he interrupts me starts telling me something and we are a paragraph or two in before I've mentally switched gear and tuned in.

Are you very verbose would you say? Do you expect people to always have their ears at your command? Because I hate the assumption I should always spring to attention just because someone has decided they need to tell me something now.

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