Aug 112015
 

There are two kinds of ignoring: passive and active.

Passive Ignoring

IgnoringPassive ignoring is the kind you’re familiar with.  This is when we pretend someone is not actually present.  If they speak, we don’t acknowledge this at all.  It’s as if they said nothing.  We don’t look at them, pretending the seat they’re in is empty, or where they stand has something else, like a pillar, there.

And yet we tacitly acknowledge their presence, never asking someone else where they are because we know perfectly well they’re right in front of us.  We walk around them.  We don’t attempt to put something in the chair they sit in.  But we otherwise pretend they don’t exist.

Active Ignoring

Active ignoring is when you’re looking right at someone, talking to them, even asking questions, and appearing to pay normal attention to them, but in reality you’re ignoring everything they say.  You hear them saying things they aren’t saying, meaning things they don’t mean, and being someone they aren’t (i.e., you assume they’re saying something rude when they wouldn’t do such a thing).  You don’t listen to their answers to your own questions.  You’re ignoring them and may have no idea you’re doing it.

The Two Kinds of Ignoring

There are two kinds of ignoring: passive and active. Passive Ignoring Passive ignoring is the kind you’re familiar with.  This is when we pretend someone is not actually present.  If they speak, we don’t acknowledge this at all.  It’s as if they said nothing.  We don’t look at them, pretending the seat they’re in is […]

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The Two Kinds of Interruption

There are two kinds of conversational interruption: benign and malignant. Benign Interruption Benign interruption is the kind you’re familiar with.  It happens once in a while.  The person doing it often means to help you along or say something related to what you’re saying.  They mean no harm.  Since it’s technically rude, they will often […]

0 comments

Why I Blog About Psychology

My life of introspection has been a well-kept secret despite it dominating my life and outlook. I spent much of the 1990s pacing around after midnight, in turmoil, and in the dark (literally and figuratively), upset about something awful that family, “friends,” or strangers had just done to me. We all have ideas and expectations […]

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Jul 272015
 

There are two kinds of conversational interruption: benign and malignant.

Benign Interruption

Benign interruption is the kind you’re familiar with.  It happens once in a while.  The person doing it often means to help you along or say something related to what you’re saying.  They mean no harm.  Since it’s technically rude, they will often show some awareness of this, whether overtly apologizing, making an apologetic gesture, or just going quiet and not doing it again any time soon.

As a result, you’re able to continue and conclude your comments.  Any negative feelings (like rejection) are quickly overcome.  You get “satisfaction” after the affront.  The pain is quickly forgotten and you move on.  No lasting damage is done.  Within minutes, you’ve probably forgotten all about it.

Malignant Interruption

yellingMalignant interruption is very different.  It happens each time you start a sentence, being relentless.  The person doing it is blatantly interfering with your attempt to say something, jumping to conclusions about your intentions and trying to finish sentences for you while getting it wrong, partly because they aren’t listening at all, or they’re hearing what they want to hear.  In some cases, they are believing the worst and aggressively blasting you for intending to say something offensive, even though you weren’t going to.   They’ll never know.

Not only do they show no sign of awareness that what they’re doing is wrong, but they seem to think that what they’re doing is right, especially if they’re punishing you for an imagined slight.  Due to this, they will do it again, and again, and again, raining hammer blows of interruption down on you.

As a result, you not only don’t finish saying what you’d intended to, but they’ve heard you “say” one thing after another that you weren’t actually saying.  They are putting words in your mouth, ideas in your head, and character flaws in your heart.  The pain of being treated so rudely compounds with each repetition.  They are repeatedly stoking negative feelings in you.

You cannot move on because there’s no satisfaction, no resolution, and no end to the barrage.  You remember this long after the incident finally ends.  Lasting damage is done to your relationship and you’ll remember it for months if not years.

And it might not end with that incident, because the next time you talk to them, they might just do it again.  And again.

Finally

I’m aware of the distinction between these (they are my terms) because my family did malignant interruption to me repeatedly, causing me to develop a variety of speech problems that literally ruined my life for decades.  And yet they seemed to think they were doing nothing wrong, chastising me that “everyone gets interrupted” and to “stop being such a baby” about it.

My hope is to improve the dialogue about this by naming these two distinct types of interruption so that we can understand when we’re doing which one, why it’s bad, and stop it.  And those on the receiving end of this treatment have an effective name to call it by.  The first step to destroying something is often naming it.

The Two Kinds of Ignoring

There are two kinds of ignoring: passive and active. Passive Ignoring Passive ignoring is the kind you’re familiar with.  This is when we pretend someone is not actually present.  If they speak, we don’t acknowledge this at all.  It’s as if they said nothing.  We don’t look at them, pretending the seat they’re in is […]

0 comments

The Two Kinds of Interruption

There are two kinds of conversational interruption: benign and malignant. Benign Interruption Benign interruption is the kind you’re familiar with.  It happens once in a while.  The person doing it often means to help you along or say something related to what you’re saying.  They mean no harm.  Since it’s technically rude, they will often […]

0 comments

Why I Blog About Psychology

My life of introspection has been a well-kept secret despite it dominating my life and outlook. I spent much of the 1990s pacing around after midnight, in turmoil, and in the dark (literally and figuratively), upset about something awful that family, “friends,” or strangers had just done to me. We all have ideas and expectations […]

0 comments
Jul 232015
 

As someone who mumbled from the time I was in 3rd grade until I was almost 30 years old, I can tell you that my inability to speak clearly met with all sorts of rude responses that only made me more likely to mumble in the future, assuming I dared to try speaking again at all.  Here’s a list, in no particular order, of ten things you should never say or do to someone mumbling.

Almost everything on this list is hurtful, makes me less likely to speak to you again (or if I do, makes it more likely I’ll again speak poorly), makes you look bad, and makes me disrespect you.  Is that what you really want?

1. Mock or imitate me

I’m already overly sensitive to my speech problems and this only humiliates me and makes me more sensitive, compounding the problem.

2. Snap “Would you stop mumbling?”

Telling me that my speech irritates you just makes me less likely to speak again and also makes you come across as a self-important jerk.

3. Snap “Speak up!”

Showing anger punishes me for trying to communicate with you, like most things on this list.

4. Scornfully say, “I can’t understand you!”

I’m well aware that I’m hard to understand. This scorn humiliates and demeans me.

5. Yell, “Where did you learn how to talk?”

Probably the same place you learned manners.

6. Don’t pretend you heard me and understood when you didn’t

If I say something and you act like you heard me, it will often be apparent when your response has nothing to do with what I just said. You might fool yourself, but you’re not fooling me.  I’ll resent that.

7. Don’t pretend I didn’t say anything or otherwise tune me out

This is even worse than #6.  You may be taking it for granted that I’m never going to say anything you’ll understand, but you should still be trying instead of just writing me off.

8. Tell me, “Nobody cares what you have to say anyway.”

Being fairly certain of this is one of the reasons I’m mumbling to begin with so you’re part of the problem by actually telling me that.

9. Don’t interrupt me

This only makes things worse and this sort of intimidation is why I’m mumbling in the first place. When you destroy my confidence that I’ll be heard, it makes things worse.

10. Snap, “Would you mumble that again?”

Your expectation that I’ll just mumble it instead of repeat it clearly is probably well founded, but that doesn’t mean you should make it clear you’ve lost all hope for me.  I likely have, too, and don’t need your added vote of no confidence.

Jun 152015
 

Speech is something most people take for granted.  And most of those people have little to no understanding of what life is like for those who can’t do it well for whatever reason.  I can’t speak to everything, as I only know about what I’ve experienced, but I aim to help those with similar problems overcome them as I did.

And part of that is educating the free speakers to be more compassionate, understanding, and helpful.  Too often in my own life, such people mocked me, even when I was a child and they were an adult (and even a teacher of mine no less), and with no sign they thought this was inappropriate or in any way hurtful.  Times have changed, but I know such people are still out there.

I speak freely myself now, in my 40s, and have been that way for over 15 years.  I’m hopeful that I can do my small part to change my corner of the world, and maybe yours. Please feel free to comment on my pages or blogs here, or contact me with questions about one aspect or another of that old life I suffered through, the new life I enjoy, and how I journeyed from one to another.

When I was in third grade, my family began verbally and psychologically abusing me each time I spoke, causing me to associate speech with pain, rejection, failure, and humiliation.  It’s no surprise I developed speech problems, including mumbling.  Unfortunately, most people don’t see mumbling as a speech problem (I hope to change this) and are often cruel to those who do it, thereby continuing to associate speech with pain.  It’s like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.

censoredI spoke less and less as I got older, becoming more withdrawn, depressed, isolated, hopeless, and anti-social.  I also picked up many behaviors to hide and compensate for my inability, some of them leading me to unknowingly perpetuate a cycle of speech and pain.

I used to tell myself that I could tell you how I’d been pushed out of the conversation, out of the room, out of the house, out past the moon and other planets, and was living out my life on the far side of Pluto, in the cold and dark, where I belonged.  I’d imagine you asking me how I came back.  And I’d have looked at you with the resigned eyes of a man buried in learned helplessness before telling you this was the end.  There was no coming back.

But I was wrong.  I do belong here, and so do you.  Now I can tell you how I came back (without speech therapy, as it turns out), and that’s what I intend both this blog to do. I hope that if you’re suffering from speech problems that some of my discoveries can help you, too.  And it you know someone who doesn’t speak well, maybe you can learn how to help them or learn what not to do.

Ten Things Not To Say or Do To Someone Mumbling

As someone who mumbled from the time I was in 3rd grade until I was almost 30 years old, I can tell you that my inability to speak clearly met with all sorts of rude responses that only made me more likely to mumble in the future, assuming I dared to try speaking again at […]

0 comments

The Two Kinds of Ignoring

There are two kinds of ignoring: passive and active. Passive Ignoring Passive ignoring is the kind you’re familiar with.  This is when we pretend someone is not actually present.  If they speak, we don’t acknowledge this at all.  It’s as if they said nothing.  We don’t look at them, pretending the seat they’re in is […]

0 comments

The Two Kinds of Interruption

There are two kinds of conversational interruption: benign and malignant. Benign Interruption Benign interruption is the kind you’re familiar with.  It happens once in a while.  The person doing it often means to help you along or say something related to what you’re saying.  They mean no harm.  Since it’s technically rude, they will often […]

0 comments

Why I Blog About Speech Problems

Speech is something most people take for granted.  And most of those people have little to no understanding of what life is like for those who can’t do it well for whatever reason.  I can’t speak to everything, as I only know about what I’ve experienced, but I aim to help those with similar problems […]

0 comments