That guy who always 'actively listens' by constantly interrupting you

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He’s similar to the ones who shut up like they’re listening, yet always continue with- or repeat- their own last statements, completely disregarding whatever you’ve brought to the conversation.

I have a neighbour like that. Sometimes I feel I should say something totally outlandish (like “I’ve just bought a baby dinosaur!”) just to see if she’d even acknowledge it.


My favourite is having a suggestion in a group meeting completely ignored but brought up by a more senior team member as their own idea moments later. Pointing this out is unnecessarily aggressive and denotes a bad attitude.


I’ve done that and about half of the people I try it on don’t hear it.
So if you do and they catch it, just say (with a smile): “I just wanted to see if you were listening.”


“I can’t believe anyone would be so rude!” *humph

So, this is a thing! A suite of autism scale related behaviors, “echolalia”, “palilalia”…

I have a couple of acquaintances who do this, and yes, it’s annoying, but… they have no idea they do it!

Or you could try claiming that you d described a machine for sawing linoleum and hope to jeebus they don’t want to borrow it.

I’m an active listener, in that I’ll wait till there’s a pause before my affirmation noises.

Although I have a bad habit I picked up from my dad (can’t be genetic, not related), where I look like a freaking hawk when I’m listening by furrowing my brow so hard you could plant a corn field in it. While also thinning my lips.

People think I’m angry or frustrated, but that’s just my listening and concentration face, and I don’t know I’m doing it most of the time. I swear! I just picked it up from watching my dad do it for like 2 decades.

These days most of my work is on the phone though, so my ghastly and frightening listening face isn’t so much of a problem.


I’ve known two people with those tics, neither of them were autistic. The tics are generally only present when they have been nervous or uncertain.

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This. Happens especially to women. ALL. THE. TIME.


I worked with a guy who was always finishing other peoples’ sentences. It was always the first thought in his head and either weirdly off topic or unfiltered regarding who he was talking to.

Our boss told everyone that one of the supervisors won’t be in that day because of a doctor’s appointment. In a room of mostly women, he immediately blurted out, “Is she having her female stuff removed?”

The request for an admin password when he tries to get online (I’m assuming he means opening a web browser) suggests that he’s picked up some malware that’s redirecting his start page to a phishing site. Sort of like those popups you still see once in a while with fake WinXP widgets, warning you that YOUR COMPUTER MAY BE INFECTED!! but worse.

Get on it, Ronathan.


Irrelevant, but that guy on the right is a dead ringer for Alison Bechdel’s brother. Assuming her brother looks just like her.

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The Active Listening interruptions are annoying, but not as bad as the interruptors who are just visibly waiting for you to take a breath so they can jump in with their own opinions. The only thing they’re listening for at all is that pause.


My go-to with the father I grew up with was to say “the sky is falling”. Once – ONCE – he stopped himself mid-sentence and asked if I had really just said that. None of the other 100 times, just the once.


You got it! Step one: Pull that crybaby’s admin rights.

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Now that you mention it, I have to agree.

I have one of these at work. I’ll be explaining something to her, and she makes all kinds of active listening noises and movements which are INSANELY DISTRACTING. I have trouble focusing when I’m speaking in the first place (ooh look, something shiny!), and this makes it incredibly difficult to interact with her. The most frustrating one, is that she’ll be listening as I explain something, and then shake her head “no” but say “ok”. So I assume that she understands what I’m explaining to her since she said ok, but my brain gets caught on her shaking her head in a “no” fashion instead of nodding, and I have to reset about 50% of the time and gather my thoughts.

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Some of this is regional. My closest friend when I lived in NYC was a hillbilly. No, seriously, from the Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina, and that’s how she and her husband referred to themselves. There we were in NYC, and big-city me was quite comfortable with the active listening conversational model in evidence there. Them, not so much. Every time I would nod my head and go “mm-hmm”, they would stop talking, thinking I wanted to say something. It took us a while to figure out how to converse with each other.

I think if one frames the situation as being different conversational styles, it’s possible to come to a compromise without the other person feeling that they have been insulted.

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I totally get that. It’s one of the reasons I’d always be looking at my shoes when talking with someone when I was a kid.

I have pretty severe ADD (that’s so responsive to medication I’d call it miraculous if I weren’t an atheist.) and I couldn’t string two sentences together and make them relate in any obvious way. So by the time I got diagnosed, I figured out that if I have something important to say, I can stare at my shoes, with uniform and familiar features I’ve seen about 10 million times, and not get distracted from what I had to say.