Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Social Bluffing--Revisited

Back in February of last year, I posted a question on a listserv about "social bluffing" a term that I came up with to describe the practice of pretending to understand conversation. I had googled the term and found nothing on it in reference to deaf and hard of hearing people so I came up with a definition.

"Social bluffing," as I said in my article, " is pretending to hear or understand something that is being said, and behaving in a way that shows you understand, even when you have little or no clue as to what is being said."

As a result of the discussion that I initiated, someone mentioned that they were going to write an article about it. I was already in the midst of my own article on social bluffing which was printed in the Hands & Voices Communicator (Summer, 2006):

Calling Our Bluff: Using Communication Strategies in Social Situations.

Kathy Allen's Communication Strategies Sidebar

I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery because the article "Bluffing...The (Not So) Social Truth" by Jay Wyant appeared in the January/February issue of Voices, a publication by the Alexander Graham Bell organization. They also included a sidebar of "Tips and Strategies."

But hey, a little credit would have been appreciated.


Bambam0922 said...

Guess you should have put a "patent" on the word huh?? Where is your credit? :)

BEG said...

I don't want to sound overly critical or picky or even that grouchily negative about this, but honestly, those strategies listed I was already well aware of and used by the time I was eight. Plus which, they imply that it's all up to the deaf person to adapt, adapt, adapt.

Thing is, social bluffing still remains a large part of social interaction. Hearies just do NOT, by and large, want to deal with repeating things. No matter how nicely (or not) you ask. There is just this little crazed thing that snaps on when someone fails to understand something they say. So as far as I am concerned it is a necessary strategy.

(One addition I would make to the tips: if the person involved is not a boss, teacher, or other person you simply must work with, and they are basically hostile (whether actively or passively) to working with you on making the entire convo clear, feel free to cut them out of your social circle once you have made this determination.)

I'm not even going to get into extended family gatherings.

Karen said...

Yup, I agree with you that it shouldn't be the deaf/hard of hearing person who has to adapt, adapt and adapt. As I said in my article, communication is a two-way street.

I have dropped several social relationships where the other person doesn't want to do their share of adapting to make a conversation happen.

Jacq said...

I do this all the time. I really have trouble hearing in situations with background noise. I have a tendency to ask again once and then give up and mostly nod my head if I can get away with it. Not ideal but true.

One guy at work mumbles terribly. He talks in a very quiet and indistinct way. He gets downright angry when people ask him to repeat himself (which everyone, not just me does). I ended up getting up every time he spoke so that I could stand right in front of him at his desk so I could catch what he was saying. (Necessary because we had to communicate to work).

BEG said...

I know what it is... it's not that I have bluffed socially because I haven't tried the tips given for avoiding bluffing. I use bluffing after those tips have failed...

By the way, I just read the comment about your dog in the sidebar, cracked me up. I've a lab, same deal. Whoa.

Daniel Greene said...

Might I suggest using the term, "feigning comprehension"? I don't see any need to coin a new term that is ambiguous when there is already a term that is clear. I Googled it just now and found 256 pages that use the term "feigning comprehension." When you say, "social bluffing," you might be talking about any number of deceptive social behaviours that have nothing to do with language. "Feigning comprehension" implies pretending to understand something communicated, usually through language.