Minimal Responses

Minimal responses is defined by Pamela Fishman as monosyllabic utterances, such as “huh”, “yeah”, “mm,” that are used during conversations by both men and women. However, while women use minimal responses as support work–to allow for the conversation to continue–to let the speaker know that she is listening, men usually use such minimal responses to show lack of interest. The way to differentiate between the two is to listen to how they are used in conversations. Typically speaking, when someone is using minimal responses to show lack of interest, the placement, or timing of the minimal response is usually lagged or delayed by a bit. When someone uses minimal responses as “support” work, minimal responses are given through out the other speaker’s turn–they often overlap with the other speaker because the person uttering the minimal responses wants the other speaker to know that he/she is listening actively and very much intrigued by what the other speaker has to say.

I personally HATE minimal responses. They don’t add on to conversations–they don’t contribute to topics. Whether they are used as support work or as indications of lack of interest, i just absolutely abhor them. When one uses them as support work, they become misleading because when I hear minimal responses, i tend to think that the listener/person saying them agree with me, as opposed to that they are just listening to me. I remember reading about how different genders are taught to interpret such minimal responses. Apparently, even when men are interested in the topic, they will only use minimal responses in the “support” work style if they agree, whereas women just use them to show that they’re listening. I guess in that sense, i’m more like a guy…? But that’s not the point of this post.

The point of this post is for me to rant about how much i HATE minimal responses. I don’t care if they’re support work or not, whenever i hear it, it just pisses me off. If you agree with me–if you’re listening to me–if you’re interested in what i’m saying, respond with something more contributory to the topic instead of using monosyllabic utterances that hold no meaning on its own. This is why whenever i hear them, i automatically think that the person is just not interested in what i have to say, because if they WERE interested, they’d be able to elaborate more on whatever the heck i was talking about.

Now, you might be wondering, why the heck am i suddenly ranting on and on about this specific speech strategy used in conversations! The truth is, a specific someone has been using ONLY minimal responses when talking to me, and it’s been aggravating me like crazy. Whenever i hear the person use it, i want to bite their friggin’ arm off. I’ve confronted the person about it, but they don’t seem to care and CONTINUE to use it. I mean, dude, seriously. If i say it pisses me off like there’s no tomorrow, i honestly mean it. STOP USING IT. And no, it’s not funny when you blatantly use it as a joke or to aggravate me.

And yes, i know i use it too. I’m a hypocrite, but i’ve tried to cut down on my usage of them, and if you tell me you don’t like it when i use them, then i’ll try my best to NOT use it around you.


About tenshixd
Just a random blog by a random girl about random stuff. Rants, raves, miscellaneous tidbits :)

5 Responses to Minimal Responses

  1. SUKI says:

    I think they can be encouraging and can show that your listener is engaged and responding to what you’re saying, and it shows me when other people do it whether they’re engaged, enthused, or disinterested. I use them when people are in the middle of talking to encourage them, but if you use them when it’s your turn to talk, then yeah, I agree that they’re unsubstantial.

  2. Laura A says:

    um hmmm

  3. Reyna says:

    Useful information. Fortunate me I found your web site accidentally, and I’m stunned why this coincidence didn’t happened earlier!
    I bookmarked it.

  4. Fatumah says:

    I found this website coz someone had pissed me because of these minimal responses, i hate them too as you said. it hurts putting to much effort to a conversation and some one seems less interested.
    i really hate minimal responses.

    Pamela thanks for this article, i appreciate

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