DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm afraid I often encourage nimrods who are ranting (parroting) Hate Radio. I'm one of the few people in existence who actually listens when others talk. And when listening, one occasionally grunts "Uh huh" to show we're still there.
Unfortunately, "Uh huh" can convey both "I hear you" and "I agree." I certainly don't agree, but I wonder if there's some other noise one can make that simply registers, "I heard." Perhaps you can suggest some noise. One that's even shaded toward, "For the love of God, have you listened to yourself?" "You're spouting blither, you fool!" would be even better.
Occasionally, I get irked that I'm used as a sounding board, since what's transpiring is in no way a "conversation," but that's another topic. Who said, "A bore deprives you of solitude while denying you company"?
GENTLE READER: The word for which you are searching is "Really?" Miss Manners asks you to please note the question mark, which indicates a polite form of skepticism, but, if said gently, is interpreted merely as encouragement to continue ranting, rendering it polite if also self-sacrificing.
But that is only one service that this useful little word can perform. If rendered as "Well, RE-a-lly!" it can express mild indignation. A flat "Oh, really" is a sign that one's attention is wandering.
Yet the beauty of "really" is that it is almost never perceived as an insult. Possibly because, as you have observed, bores tend not to listen to others.
And the answer to your other question is Giovanni Vincenzo Gravina, the 17th- to 18th-century literary figure and jurist.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I no longer enjoy my job and am currently looking for employment elsewhere. However, because I hate my job, due in very large part to my coworkers, I may give my notice before I have a different job.
Considering I do the lion's share of the work in my department, and everyone makes light comments about how the other girl always gets out of working (ha, ha isn't that hilarious), I just know I may have to give my two weeks one day when I simply have had enough!
The problem is that from the time I resign until I finally walk out for the last time, everyone will want to know why and also what I will be doing.
If I have a job, it's no problem. But if not, I am afraid I'll say something very true that will also be rude. So, I was wondering if you could suggest some answer that is polite and that I can practice so that I don't say it in the tone I'm probably thinking it in.
GENTLE READER: Good; let's work on tone.
What you will have to say is, "I haven't quite decided" or "I can't talk about it yet." But Miss Manners can hear the tone in your head: a fine mixture of bitterness, anger and self-pity conveying, "All right, you horrid people, you've driven me away, and I don't even know where my next job is coming from."
As you have guessed, this will not shame them. It will only make them decide that you had "problems" -- meaning other than themselves.
The tone you need to develop is one of barely suppressed excitement and satisfaction. You might practice saying the necessary statements while thinking how you would say it if you had a White House appointment that you were not allowed to discuss before the president announced it.