There are certain people who are great listeners. They really pay attention, and make you feel as if hearing what you have to say is the most interesting thing to happen to them all day.
There are other people who are ok listeners, but you can tell they’re not really paying that much attention.
There’s another group who pretty much just ignore you. Passive non-listeners, if you will.
Then there’s a final group I call the aggressive non-listeners.
What Listener Is That?
You can spot an aggressive non-listener pretty easily. They wait for you to take a breath, and then jump in with whatever they want to say. They often say something that has absolutely nothing to do with the current topic of conversation.
You can ask an aggressive non-listener a question, and their reply will not answer your question. If they bother to respond to the question at all, rather than just continuing on with whatever stream of consciousness they happen to be spewing forth. The really sneaky ones will start to respond to your question, but quickly run off on a tangent so tenuously linked to your question that you have trouble following them.
Why Put Up With It?
And that’s the trouble. Most people are too polite to directly confront the aggressive non-listener. They try to jump in again at a pause, only aggressive non-listeners are so in love with their own voice that they can do that circular breathing thing you need for playing the didgeridoo, just so they don’t have to break for a breath.
It’s incredibly infuriating, but all most people do is seethe and then whine about it behind the persons back.
Dealing With It
Say something about it. Be abrupt if you like. The aggressive non-listener has such a low regard for the opinions or thoughts of others, why should you extend them any courtesy? If they’re so rude as to completely ignore the people around them and simply spout whatever nonsense comes into their heads, why be polite?
Tell them you’ve noticed they interrupt and talk over the top of people, and you won’t stand for it. If they protest, be firm. Tell them to shut up, if you like. If they argue, walk out. Why waste your time on someone who obviously thinks listening to you is a waste of theirs?
What they really love is an audience, so if you remove that, then they’ll have no one to talk to but themselves.
And that’s really all they’re doing anyway, isn’t it?