The Japanese (of course) have a word for it, for those noises, grunts, nods and filler-words and actions we use to show that we are listening to what somebody else is saying (stuff we do without actually knowing we’re doing it).
And the word is:
Watch how often your conversation partners use aizuchi words, noises or gestures today. And see how often you return the favour. Now try not doing it – not only is it hard, it’s quite disconcerting to do so. And of course disconcerting to be on the receiving end of no or low attention (if you’ve done your improv – e.g. with Johnnie or Rob, you’ll know all about “blocking” and other anti-collaborative behaviours…). More ‘phatic‘ stuff, I guess.
Being a human with other humans is much more than just having a human voice (like a call centre speakbot) or having everything scripted. Mark makes this point well in the ongoing CRM debate over on Adliterate with some sound suggestions.
While it’s all fine to debate whole disciplines or widespread practices, what say we look closer to home: at how each of us interacts with those we meet today? And approach these personal interactions with a respect for the other fella? And actually listen to each other properly.
Well, it’s a start, isn’t it?