Social Bluffing

I loved Karen’s entry on dealing with adversity and her mention of social bluffing. I never realized the act of just doing what everyone else does had a name. I learned the guilty way that social bluffing can lead to trouble.
My husband knows me so well that he’ll catch me bluffing and repeat the question someone else asked me. Another name for this could be “nodding head syndrome” since we often do that when someone is talking and we have no idea what they’re saying. But sometimes we do it for real.


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  1. It’s easy to do, even for a hearing person. I don’t want to make a person feel put out, or that it is too difficult to talk to me, or sometimes I am just plain embarrassed.
    I hear, but if someone doesn’t get my attention before they start conversing, I miss a lot of what they say – it takes my brain a while to switch subjects like that, esp. at work.
    I would think the key is trying to decide if you can accurately decipher the rest of the conversation, or will you get lost.
    I would be surprised if you, or I could, or would want to change the “bluffing” behavior.

    • Meryl on June 20, 2007 at 12:39 pm
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    Exactly, Bill. I don’t want to insult the speaker or ask to repeat something after asking once or twice already. I also judge based on the topic if it’s important to push it or not.

  2. Hahaha! I remember a deaf classmate that had a really bad case of social bluffing. She would nod and go along with everything but had no idea what was going on. One day, a boy came up to her and started chatting with her. She was nodding and smiling. I watched the two of them and lipread the converstation which was really one-sided. He was asking her about her day, if she liked working, was her boss nice? But I knew my classmate — she couldn’t lipread to save her life. After he left, I asked her what he had said. She said, “No idea!” I told her what if he asked her if she would sleep with him. She turned pink. I told her that it was her responsibility to know what the other person was saying, and to ask just for the sake of being sure. She breathed a sigh of relief that he had not asked her to sleep with him. Next time the boy came back to chat, she pulled out a paper and pen. I certainly don’t social bluff. That’s why my nick name is Say What?

  3. “Nodding head syndrome” is a good one too! I came up with the term “social bluffing” during a discussion with some friends one night. Even though the term was a new one to many, once I explained it, every single deaf and hard of hearing friend agreed that they bluffed at one time or another and shared some wild stories!

  4. I bluff a lot too. I just hate to make people repeat things over and over again, so I’d rather miss it than inconvenience someone! Isn’t that bad?

    • Tim on July 9, 2007 at 4:19 pm
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    I think Bill makes a good point, too. I think most people have done the social bluffing thing from time to time, even if they’re hearing.
    I remember my sister, who is hearing, admitting to doing the nodding head once in awhile. Sometimes, it’s just too embarrassing to admit you weren’t really listening.

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