People are rude. By which I mean they won’t drop everything and listen when I’m talking.
Family members are the worst offenders.
Let’s say my husband is tippity-tappeting on his computer when I approach to share a truly fascinating anecdote. As I launch into said anecdote, he drags his eyes from the screen (with unbecoming reluctance) and fastens them on my face. This kind of full-on, direct, eye-to-eye contact lasts about 10 seconds. Then his eyeballs commit the initial look-back at his computer screen. Not a long look; just a brief glance. But this is the beginning of the end. The no-attention-for-me stone has started rolling down the hill.
I talk faster and start gesturing.
He’s looking at me once more, but his eyes dart away again, even quicker this time. It’s now about a 5-to-1 ratio of seconds-looking-at-me vs glances-at-the-computer. The attention stone is rolling faster and it’s gathering no moss.
This is my cue to talk even faster and put more enthusiasm into it. I’m dropping exclamation points all over the narrative and practically baton-twirling lit sparklers in the fading hope that we will achieve full conversational engagement.
But his attention-to-glances ratio has dropped to 1-to-1. Even worse, he’s started making the Noncommittal Grunt of Supposed Attention.
Not really signifying agreement, not really a question, it’s a sound that is supposed to indicate he is with me all the way on this. Clearly, he is not. He’s looking at the computer now. He’s gone back to HIS big, important stuff and is no longer even pretending to listen to me. Once they give you the Noncommittal Grunt of Supposed Attention, you’ve lost them.
The flip side of this rudeness-coin is when somebody starts babbling at me when I’m obviously in the middle of something. Can’t these people see that I’m busy? What is WITH that kind of self-centered oblivion?
Bottom line, if you want people to think you have good manners, you need to follow these rules:
- If I’m reading/watching/listening to something, zip it.
- If I start talking to you, drop everything and listen up.
It’s a simple matter of being polite.