When in conversation with other human beings, most of us are inclined to offer an uh-huh, hmmm or head nod every now and again, to let the other person know we’re hearing them and receiving their information. These gestures are a way of maintaining a connection in the interaction and assuring the other person that we’re with them in their story. One friend, whom I’ve known for many years, simply doesn’t participate in this customary behavior. These normal symbols of acknowledgment don’t happen and never have. When I share thoughts or experiences with this friend, I don’t receive any clear signal that he’s receiving them, much less absorbing my experience in any meaningful way. I assume that he’s hearing me, given that he’s in the room and not deaf, and also because he will often allude to what I’ve shared in a later conversation. But in the actual interaction, there’s nothing to …
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