“It took me an hour to clean up the kitchen after dinner last night. If I have to load and unload that dishwasher one more time…to say nothing of sweeping! All I do is sweep. I can’t believe how much the dog is shedding. It might help if my husband would occasionally pick up after himself…”
If you tuned out shortly after the mention of the dishwasher and slightly before the reference to dog hair, then you’re in good company. A significant percentage of women recently confessed that when the subject turns to work, soap opera plot lines, domestic duties or generalized complaining, they stopped listening after a mere 15 seconds.
According to an article in the Daily Mail, in a survey conducted by Hidden Hearing, a U.K.-based healthcare organization that treats hearing loss, one-third of all women polled admitted that they frequently “faked” listening when the conversation threatened to, itself, become a chore.
It seems that when the subject is floor wax or your boss’s mood swings, those tried-and-true superficial signs of listening — nodding and smiling while privately thinking about our own lunch plans — represent the best response that many of us can muster.
It’s not so surprising then — maybe even poetic justice — that a similar percentage of women reported their conviction that their husbands were being less than attentive in conversation. In fact, says the same survey, men stop listening after only 10 seconds to talk that doesn’t directly engage them. Predictably, they are twice as likely as women to shut down entirely and practically instantaneously when the subject at hand is something that one songwriter once infamously enshrined in a song called, Feelings.
I guess the takeaway is that if you want people to pay attention to what you’re saying then don’t talk about anything that reminds them too much of what awaits them at home — the vacuuming, the unpaid bills, those mind-numbing Days of Our Lives’ plot lines — instead, if you’re looking for a rapt audience, you might try to engage others by talking about what interests them the most — themselves.
What topic of conversation do you zone out to?