… Me, Me, Me!
One of my Face book friends commented after reading this recent post –
‘So many people are wrapped up in themselves, I often wonder what people know about me. I’m a good listener but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like people to show an interest in me. People are often all about – Me Me Me !’
I decided to give this some thought and look for the Positive Spin:
Why do so many people think it’s always about them?
I’m sure you can relate to this….
I’m at a social gathering. I don’t know many people but I start to engage the guy next to me in conversation. He tells me his name, what he does (see this post), and off he goes…. He talks about his amazing job, his amazing family, his amazing holiday and after 15 minutes or so he’s asked absolutely nothing about me. I try to edge away to find someone to have an actual conversation with.
That’s where more than one person talks and where people listen to one another.
So what’s the issue here?
- What’s the point of a conversation?
We have conversations because we want to get to know one another. To do that we must share information, ask questions, listen to one another. We must pass the ball around.
- Conversation is a skill.
It’s not an easy skill to learn. It’s a bit like a game of tennis: the two people take it in turns to ‘serve’. While the other person is ‘serving’ we must focus on them completely. Sit still, don’t fidget, and listen carefully to what they’re saying. Try to pick up some mutual subjects or threads that you can serve back to them later, when it’s your turn. But try not to interrupt.
- What if it’s never ‘my turn’?
Sometimes the conversation never gets off the ground: it’s a monologue. Not easy. What I try to do is listen for a pause, however small, and perhaps ask a question, or pick up one of the topics they mentioned and add a remark or two. Perhaps change your sitting position or even fidget a bit to alert them that you’re still there! I’ve even resorted to saying, ‘Your holiday toSouth Africa/Barbados/Bournemouth sounds fun. I went to Edinburgh for a trip last month. Let me tell you about the highlights.’ If they still don’t let you ‘have the ball’ you have to make an excuse and find someone else to talk to.
- It’s natural, even though it’s bad manners and rude.
It’s natural for some people to believe that they are the most important person in the room.
It’s just the way they are used to behaving. They assume that everyone wants to hear what they have to say. They have been allowed to get away with it. They seem oblivious of the problem because no-one has made it clear enough that it’s annoying.
They won’t change their behaviour because we’ve let them carry on ‘carrying on’ and they remain unaware of how selfish and boring they are.
We have to show them that we don’t like it. If they don’t listen to us at all, if they don’t have a conversation with us, we need to move on to someone who does. And there will be lots of people who are interested in listening as well as talking.
Next time you are introduced to someone new make sure that you:
- Listen with real interest
- Make eye contact, for a few seconds
- Ask a question
- Use their name, to help you remember it!
- Don’t interrupt
- When it’s your turn, don’t deliver a monologue!
- Remember how it feels when the other person isn’t interested in you and do as much as you can to show that you’re interested in them. (Even when they’re not Angelina Jolie or George Clooney…)
How do you deal with the ‘Me,me,me’ types?
What’s your Top Tip for my Facebook commenter?