17 Ways To Make It Seem Like You’re Still Listening When You’ve Stopped Paying Attention

  1. Maintain eye contact for as long as is humanly possible.


  1. But don’t forget to blink!!! Just not too many times, or you’ll look like a love-struck cartoon character. Blink a normal amount. I don’t know. Every five seconds, maybe?


  1. Shit, did they just change the subject? Nod and smile. Whatever they’re saying, nod and smile.


  1. Make encouraging sounds like “Mmhmm” or “Uh-huh.” You’ll probably want to alternate among a few different ones so it doesn’t sound like you’re meditating.


  1. Repeat whatever they say. You got this!


  1. No, don’t literally repeat it! Why did you do that? “I also lost my job”?!?! You didn’t lose your job! I meant that you should say something like: “What I’m hearing is that you lost your job.” Jeez.


  1. You’re still nodding, right? Okay, good.


  1. Now you have to pretend that you lost your job — nice one. Just be vague about the whole thing. Tell them it was in consulting. No one knows what that means! Then, try to pivot the conversation back to them.


  1. For example: ask general, open-ended questions like, “How did that make you feel?” or “And then what happened?” Tip: You can ask these questions regardless of caring!


  1. Ah fuck, now they’re answering your questions. Let’s do this one again: nod. BIG nod. Head all the way up. Head all the way down. North to south, baby.


  1. Did you just crack your neck? Okay, scratch the big nod. Perhaps you can achieve the same effect with several smaller nods — the science isn’t clear on this.


  1. Back to general advice: people love to be affirmed, so agree with the person who’s talking by saying something like ”that’s so true!”


  1. Or, should you actually disagree with them? Like you couldn’t possibly disagree if you weren’t listening, right? Ok, either say “couldn’t agree more!” or “what you’ve said is antithetical to the entirety of my being. I must express my concern, as a former consultant, which is something I mentioned earlier in this same conversation we are having right now.”


  1. Lie. Look behind the person talking and exclaim, “Oh my god!! I was listening to every word you said but then right behind you a black car pulled up, Tom Hanks got out, put some envelopes in that mailbox right there, and then drove off. How odd! Would you mind summarizing what you just said?”

  1. If someone is talking, and you’ve stopped paying attention, you can just wait for one little detail to go off of. Like they could say a whole lot about a whole lot of things. They might go on and on about losing their job, their father, and their wife, all in one week. Doesn’t matter. If the only thing you hear is that they will also be losing the Pomeranian in the divorce, build off of that. “A Pomeranian! I love those little guys!”

  1. Wow, are they still talking? We’re on Tip #16 out of 17, so I’m not sure this is even on you anymore. Like this person is probably just talking for the sake of talking — hoping to distract themselves from the monotony of their disappointing life. Right? Right? Like, why do we even talk anyway? Is it to create connection? Is it to be understood? Or do we just want to be heard? Maybe we’re all on a perpetual search for an audience to let us know that we’re not entirely alone. Maybe that’s what it’s all about. A friendly ear. A partner in debate. Someone to help us complete the perpetual puzzle that is life. And in turn, maybe, just maybe, we can better understand ourselves. Oh my god, what did they just say?

  1. Damnit. Just “Mmhmm” and nod.