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The Dismissive Talker/Thinker: In One Ear & Out The Other

October 25th, 2009

The individual that talks dismissively to another individual is also suspect of harboring an arrogant personal attitude. We say ‘suspect’ because it is important to not deliver a verdict on someone’s  behavior too hastily (remember: first impressions are not always the most important and can lead to overly harsh and incorrect critical judgments. Generally speaking, first impressions don’t mean that much at all). In other words, we do not want to label a guilty charge to another person’s character without first seeing them behave in numerous settings (respect the fact that a person can have an off-day, an off-hour, or feel uncomfortable in a certain kind of setting).

            Nevertheless, a person who continually talks with a dismissive tone of voice (watch for complimentary non-verbal cues) is subtly or not so subtly letting you know that your thoughts may not be that important and may bear little value in the conversation. A behavioral example of a ‘not so subtle’ dismissive talker/thinker would be someone who gives you an over-exaggerated response to the ‘what’ of what you are saying (i.e. – a long and drawn out ‘riiiiight, now I see’). The long drawn out sound in the word ‘right’ of the response lets you know that your opinion means virtually nothing to them. Therefore, be mindful of people who use a long and drawn out tone of elevation in their voice – they probably are not that interested in what you have to say or do not think much of what you have to say.

            Secondly, and perhaps the more subtle behavioral example of the two, is the dismissive talker who casually and quickly nods their head saying “right, right, right” as you speak. These 2 apparently positive responses (nodding of the head and right, right, right) are actually an indication that what you are saying is not being taken to heart (probably one of the rare cases where 2 positives translate into a negative ; you won’t see that every day, particularly in the realm of mathematical study).

            Whether subtle or not, the dismissive talker/thinker will, in some way or another, let you know that your thoughts and beliefs are not that important in relation to what they are thinking or feeling. Whether or not this bears a meaning to the distinction between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ is not the issue. The important piece to take away here is that a person who acts dismissively toward other people also tends to be a person who has adopted a more arrogant approach to the interactions of their daily life.

            Are your messages not getting through or sticking to the dismissive talker/thinker? Give some consideration to changing your approach. If that does not work, reduce the amount of communication with the identified individual and see what happens in the days to come.

            Have you encountered the “In the one ear, out the other phenomenon”? If so, please discuss your thoughts and ideas.

Matthew Polkinghorne

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