People who are only pretending to be interested use these 9 phrases in a conversation

There’s quite a gap between genuinely engaging in a conversation and merely pretending to be interested.

The difference lies in sincerity. Pretending to be interested means you’re just going through the motions, camouflaging your lack of interest with empty words.

Being genuinely interested involves active engagement, listening, and responding thoughtfully.

However, there are some phrases that people use when they’re just faking it. And those who are tuned in can spot these giveaways easily.

In this article, I’ll share 9 phrases that are typically used by those who are only pretending to be interested in a conversation. You might find them familiar, or maybe they’ll help you read between the lines next time you chat with someone.

1) “That’s interesting…”

In the world of social interactions, there are a few telltale phrases that indicate someone is just pretending to be interested in what you’re saying.

One phrase that often pops up is “That’s interesting…”. It’s vague, non-committal, and gives the impression of engagement without requiring any real thought or follow-up.

It’s like the social equivalent of a placeholder. It fills a gap in conversation but doesn’t contribute anything meaningful or show genuine involvement.

Of course, this phrase isn’t always insincere. Some people might use it when they truly find something intriguing but need time to process it. However, when it’s used repeatedly without any deeper engagement or follow-up questions, it’s often a sign of feigned interest.

2) “Wow, really?”

“Wow, really?” is a phrase that can sometimes pull at your heartstrings. It’s a phrase that on the surface seems to exude empathy and surprise. But in reality, it can be a mask for those pretending to be invested in the conversation.

I remember a time when I was sharing a deeply personal story with a friend. As I poured my heart out, all I received in return were repetitive “Wow, really?” responses. It made me feel like my feelings were being trivialized, and my story was just another piece of gossip.

The phrase “Wow, really?” has the potential to convey surprise and empathy. But when used repeatedly without any meaningful conversation or follow-up questions, it can make the other person feel unheard and unimportant.

3) “I see what you mean…”

“I see what you mean…” is a phrase that sounds empathetic and understanding. It can give the impression that the listener is truly engaged and resonating with your words.

However, it’s also a phrase that can be used to gloss over a lack of genuine interest. It’s a polite way of acknowledging what’s being said without having to invest too much emotionally or intellectually in the conversation.

It hits me in the heart every time I hear this phrase used insincerely. Because in its truest form, “I see what you mean…” should be an expression of empathy, a bridge that connects two people’s experiences or feelings.

But when it’s used as a tool to feign interest, it becomes just another hollow phrase. 

4) “Wow, I had no idea…”

Another phrase that’s often a giveaway of pretend interest is “Wow, I had no idea…”. It sounds like they’re engaged, right? But more often than not, it’s merely a tactic to appear interested without having to delve deeper into the conversation.

Let me share a personal example. I was once chatting with a colleague about my weekend hiking trip. Midway through my detailed account of the stunning views and challenging trails, he interjected with a “Wow, I had no idea you could do that…”.

For a moment, I was heartened by his seeming enthusiasm. But as the conversation continued, he kept using similar non-committal phrases without ever asking for more details or sharing related experiences of his own. It became clear that his “Wow, I had no idea…” was less about genuine interest and more about maintaining the illusion of engagement.

5) “Wow, that’s crazy…”

“Wow, that’s crazy” is a phrase often used when someone is pretending to be interested. It’s the kind of generic response that can fit into almost any conversation, regardless of the topic.

While it may seem like an expression of surprise or astonishment, it’s often just a way for the person to fill in the gaps of the conversation without genuinely engaging.

Genuine interest is often accompanied by specific comments or follow-up questions. When a listener repeatedly responds with a simple “Wow, that’s crazy” without contributing further to the conversation, it suggests a pretense of interest.

6) “I can imagine…”

people who are low key but emotionally intelligent usually display these behaviors People who are only pretending to be interested use these 9 phrases in a conversation

“I can imagine…” is a phrase often used when someone is trying to show empathy or understanding, even if they’re not genuinely engaged. It’s a way of connecting with the speaker on an emotional level without truly investing in the conversation.

For instance, if someone is sharing a challenging experience they’re going through, responding with “I can imagine…” can feel like a warm, empathetic response. It gives the illusion of understanding and shared feelings.

However, the truth is, unless we’ve experienced something similar ourselves, we can’t truly imagine what someone else is going through. The phrase can therefore sometimes serve as a mask for true engagement or interest.

7) “You don’t say…”

“You don’t say…” is another phrase that’s often used as a polite way to feign interest. It’s a bit of an old-fashioned saying, but it still pops up in conversations from time to time.

The phrase suggests surprise and intrigue, as if the speaker is learning something new and unexpected.

But, more often than not, it’s used when a person is struggling to find something more substantial to contribute to the conversation.

8) “Go on…”

“Go on…” is a phrase that can easily be misinterpreted. On the surface, it might seem like an invitation to continue talking, an indication of interest. But often, it’s a phrase used by people who are just pretending to be interested.

When someone uses “Go on…” without adding their own thoughts or questions to the conversation, it can be a sign that they are not truly engaged. It’s their way of passing the conversational ball back to you without having to contribute much themselves.

It’s like they’re saying, “Keep talking so I don’t have to.” Instead of actively participating in the conversation, they’re just passively allowing it to continue.

8) “Uh-huh…”

The phrase “Uh-huh” is another common indicator of pretend interest. It’s a non-committal response that can easily be slipped into conversations without adding any substantial value.

“Uh-huh” is the verbal equivalent of a nod. It signals acknowledgment, but not necessarily comprehension or engagement. It’s a way of saying, “I hear you,” without having to say, “I understand” or “I agree.”

This phrase allows the listener to keep the conversation going with minimal effort.

9) “Let’s catch up again soon…”

This phrase can be the ultimate litmus test. When someone is genuinely interested, they’ll be eager to continue the conversation or meet again. But if the interest is feigned, “Let’s catch up again soon…” often becomes their go-to exit strategy.

While it sounds like a promise for future engagement, without concrete plans or a genuine enthusiasm backing it, this phrase can be a polite way to end a conversation that they’re not truly invested in.

So if you hear “Let’s catch up again soon…”, take a moment to gauge the sincerity behind it. Is it followed by specific plans or just left hanging in the air? Your answer might reveal if the person was genuinely interested or just pretending all along.

Decoding the conversation

At the heart of every conversation, we find a complex interplay of intentions, emotions, and social cues. Our choice of phrases, especially when we’re pretending to be interested, can be a window into this complexity.

While it’s easy to fall back on these common phrases when we’re not genuinely engaged, it’s important to remember the value of authentic communication. Whether we’re the speaker or the listener, striving for sincerity can transform our conversations – and our relationships.

The phrases we’ve discussed here aren’t inherently bad or deceptive. They can serve as social lubricants, helping us navigate conversations when we’re tired, distracted, or simply not interested.

However, overreliance on them could hinder genuine connection and understanding. So let’s take this as a call to be more mindful of our words and intentions in conversation.

After all, every conversation is an opportunity for connection. And genuine interest is one of the most powerful connectors there is.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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