How to be a Try Hard Listener!

Those of you that regularly read the blog may have noticed a cryptic comment from Feargus Woods-Dunlop. Yes, he is my son, and he’s an actor and sometime stand up comic (I’ve been laughing at him since he was born but he seems to have turned out OK!).

His comment refers to a film showing we went to in Bath when the director of the film gave a post showing talk. At the conclusion of the film there was a mass exodus of audience leaving about 30 of us to listen to the lecture.


Being a professional speaker myself I really felt for the Director so put myself in best listening mode. I was so focussed on the speaker, that I failed to notice my son and husband edging away from me along the row until the end (although I did hear a few stifled snorts from my wicked wee boy) . At the end I asked him what was wrong. He laughed and called me Mrs Try Hard! And then he explained.

So I have asked him to tell you too, as it is a classic example of over listening and you’ll probably find it more helpful than my ‘tips for listening’ posts! You’ll certainly find it more amusing! Obviously he is exaggerating…..

From Feargus:

So I’ve been asked to elucidate on my comment on Mum’s listening blog. Well, what happened was…

Mother, Father and I decided to sample the delights of the local picture house (the independent, not the multiplex – we’re right-on dontchaknow) we went to see the chirpy ‘And When did you Last See Your Father?’ about a guy who’s Dad suffers from Alzheimers. My granddad suffered from the same, so the night promised to be a comedy-free zone. However, comedy did present itself in the form of the Q&A session the theatre had arranged with the film’s producer.

Most of the audience left after the film (very good by the way) had ended, and so this producer was left with maybe 30 or so people to talk to. He also had to contend with a spotlight shining directly in his face, I’m not sure why, but the organisers clearly felt that simply bringing the houselights up so that he could actually see the people he was having this ‘informal’ session with was a little too informal. Anyhoo, me, Mum & Sparks (Dad’s nickname, he’s not an electrician, don’t ask) are sat there.

In the dark.


For what, we are not sure. But wait we do. Finally the lights are sorted and we’re off and running with the questions.

No-one has any particularly interesting questions, but Mum seems to find all of the answers the producer gives to be the most insightful and thought-provoking sentences ever uttered by a mere mortal. She is furiously agreeing with the man’s every point, by way of a short little “mmmnnn!” noise akin to a puppy with a sock in its mouth barking. Me and Sparks are sat next to her wondering what she’s hearing in the problems of securing funding for a British film that we’re not. Seriously it was like sitting next to one of those battery powered toys that nod away gaily interminably. We were half waiting for her to do a backflip.

When we quizzed her as to why she was so interested, she said she was just trying to be supportive as the poor man was struggling. After 5-10 minutes of our cruel impressions I think she got the idea that maybe she’d gone a little too far.

She is wicked most of the time though, as proved by the fact that I love going to the cinema or theatre with her. Just so long as there is no Post-show discussion we’re gold.x

Well, you see what I have to put up with! There is some truth in this, just a little. I maybe was rather over enthusiastic……

Have you any examples of what I’m now calling ‘over-listening’? Please do share!

If you want to read more such musings (happily not about me) here’s a link to his blog!


Posted on February 12th, 2010 by

4 Responses to “How to be a Try Hard Listener!”

  1. I’m laughing now, Jane, your son sounds delightful and I can say that my sons will treat me the same way. I do nod and say yes in an audience. Our present pastor encourages interaction and we all respond during the services. I find myself replying to his quizzes, nodding, laughing, and occasionally crying. My sons would move away too!

  2. OMG. You’ve been watching me … or you’re my twin sister. Speakers have told me I’m a good audience member, but now that I think about it, other audience members haven’t. Oh, dear. : )

    • Jane says:

      Jeri, I’m sure you’re a fabulous audience member – just the kind I’d like in my audience! This is a gender thing too. Research has shown women tend to make many more listening noises than men. I’ve found this when training; it’s much harder to ‘read’ the chaps! Carry on being enthusiastic!

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