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Forgot your headphones at home? Don’t worry, there’s usually plenty of conversations around to keep you entertained. We’re joking, of course. Listening to them is considered a rude thing to do, but sometimes you can’t help but overhear certain bits and pieces.

The Instagram account ‘Overheard LA’ is dedicated to exactly that. It shares snippets of conversations picked up by people in Los Angeles, and, as you can imagine, they cover everything you could think of. We have gathered some of the most entertaining examples for you to enjoy that offer a glimpse into what it’s like to live in LA. Get your popcorn ready and scroll down for the quotes.

Chances are, as a kid, you were told not to listen to other people’s conversations. It’s impolite and can make some people really mad, but then why do we still do it? There might be several reasons for that. Plain boredom, for instance. Sometimes we might pick up on a conversation just because there is nothing else to do. A study by O2 covered by The Independent revealed that while using public transportation, for example, nearly 85% of people are eavesdropping on others’ conversations.

Another reason is often curiosity. When you hear someone mention that underground artist you like or share something juicy about a co-worker (not knowing who they are is besides the point), the ears seem to stretch out automatically. No matter the reason, a lot of overheard stories are not kept to oneself. According to The Independent, 74% of people reveal the details they hear to others, and as much as 40% disclose them on social media.

Interestingly enough, hearing ‘half’ of the conversation is often more enthralling than listening to a dialogue. Researchers have found that a phone conversation can really captivate a person’s attention despite only hearing one side of the exchange.

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Other studies revealed that we might not be the only ones capable of and willing to eavesdrop. Some believe dolphins (rough-toothed dolphins or steno bredanensis, to be exact) do too to get information about targets while swimming in tight formations. Eastern gray squirrels eavesdrop on bird chatter to see if the environment is safe.

Eavesdroppers might not be doing the right thing but, in a way, they’re working on their listening skills. Despite the ability to hear, some people are not good at retaining the information. It is believed that we remember roughly a quarter to half of what we’re told. Focusing on actively listening to get the full message requires effort, but it can help get a better understanding or form closer connections.

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There is no need to go eavesdropping on your neighbors, though, if you want to develop better listening skills. In an article for Psychology Today, clinical psychologist Dianne Grande revealed some ways you can become an active listener. Firstly, it’s important to try and understand the situation from the storyteller’s point of view before rushing to judge or take a stance on the matter. It is closely related to the second tip—make sure to let them finish their story first, don’t interrupt.

Dr. Dianne Grande also emphasized the importance of showing the speaker that you are focused on them, and repeating certain things in case clarification is needed. It is also useful to ask questions if you have them and summarize the main points to show that they have been understood. Depending on the situation, it can be a good idea to share your personal experiences or opinions, but only after the other person has finished talking.

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Listening to others’ conversations when you probably shouldn’t doesn’t require as much effort as active listening. The snippets in these pictures are all something that was accidentally overheard, as the name of the source implies. It also gives away that the collection is provided by residents of LA, the second largest city in the US. Considering that it’s home to roughly 4 million people, it might be nearly impossible to avoid hearing others talk.

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master_minds9_1 avatar
DennyS (denzoren)
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11 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I noticed the trend seems to be "do something controversial and use the backlash as exposure".

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vonblade avatar
VonBlade
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11 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Longer if possible. Although you'll still be there so it will still be uncomfortable.

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In addition to sharing quotes from people’s lives, “Overheard LA” helps its followers to find some of them if need be. For example, imagine you go grocery shopping somewhere in Los Angeles and strike up a conversation with a stranger on the vegetable aisle. You might want to talk to the person again, which encourages you to try and find them. Cases like that have happened before and the Instagram account has helped people to reach their mysterious conversationalists. Such situations can be found in their story highlights, named ‘Missed connections’.

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Note: this post originally had 109 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.