Why Saying ‘Never Mind’ Sucks

Why Saying ‘Never Mind’ Sucks

I lean forward in my chair at a table in the middle of a crowded restaurant. It was my friend’s birthday and she invited a couple of people out for dinner. One of the girls was telling a story.
“There were a group of guys sitting on the field by the main building on campus, and beside them were like two or three geese.” She pauses and stifles a laugh. “So, one of the guys threw something at the geese, and then all three geese went after him!”
Everyone burst out laughing. She continues to talk but her face turns away from me, and I miss half of what she said. A moment later, after she finishes, I tap her on the arm.
“What did you say at the end? I didn’t catch that.”
She waves her hand dismissively. “Oh, never mind, it’s not that important.”
I frown.
“Ok,” I said.

This was my typical response anytime someone said ‘never mind’ to me. On the inside, I always felt annoyed and that I was missing out – even if whatever I missed out on wasn’t that important.

Right vs. Wrong Response

My typical response is not the right response.

This is still something I’m trying to work on each time it happens. Anytime I hear ‘never mind’, I  want to ask the other person to repeat themselves until I know what was said. I hardly ever did that because I didn’t want to come across as an inconvenience, all because I didn’t hear the last few sentences of a story.

The right response is to be assertive and acknowledge that while whatever was said may not have been important, you still want to hear it anyway.

How ‘Never Mind’ Feels

When I hear ‘never mind’, it makes me feel three ways:

  1. That the person saying it is frustrated that I couldn’t hear them.
  2. I become acutely aware of my hearing loss and that even when I try my best to catch everything, some things still fall through the cracks.
  3. It makes me so curious! If someone doesn’t tell me what they said, I end up feeling like I missed out on something interesting. So please tell me, even if you just said something really boring like forgetting to wash your socks. I’ll appreciate it anyway.

It can come across as a dismissal, even though the speaker most likely did not intend that!

If You Say ‘Never Mind’

I am guilty of saying ‘never mind’ to other people too, and am trying to make sure that I don’t say it again, and to be mindful of how the other person feels.

Even if the information is not important, when someone with hearing loss asks you to repeat it, do it. An instant ago, when you were talking, whatever you said was worth saying out loud, so it is also worth repeating.

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