07 Aug “Enough About You, What Do You Think of Me?”
You deserve to live a great life!
The other day, Judy and I were having some breakfast in Brigantine, sitting under an awning at our favorite spot to eat and hang out. Our conversation fell into the usual pattern, catching up on work, family, our future, etc… Earlier that morning, I had a coaching call with a longtime client. We were talking about how to have difficult conversations with people in the workplace. I felt good about our conversation and began talking to Judy about the breakthrough I thought my client had. He had recounted an incident where he was talking to his team about changing some bad habits. He recounted how he explained the importance of dealing with problems rather than avoiding them, planning in advance, thinking about desired outcomes and dealing with resistance.
His explanation and ideas were right on target, but unfortunately, he stood little chance of actually changing the team’s behavior. Explanations often fail to improve much of anything except one’s own ego. Participants first have to recognize their habitual patterns or habits that may be limiting their ability to get what they want. They need to know their desired outcome, how to handle resistance or “push back,” and how to manage their own emotional reactions. I suggested a different approach to my client, fully expecting his resistance and “push back” to surface. When it did, I was able to use his resistance to demonstrate how to effectively navigate through this type of difficult discussion. We then did some role playing for the next time he met with the group. I finished up by pointing out the value of confronting the team about their own limitations in areas where they may be stuck, and offering suggestions about how to work their way through them. I felt quite good about my focus during our conversation, managing his reactions and creating an opportunity for him to practice how to make a more powerful impact on the group.
As I talked about the call, Judy’s eyes began to glaze over. I stopped flooding her with my monologue and asked her, “You have no interest in what I am saying, am I right?”
She said, “Yes” and we shifted to another conversation. Internally, I felt a bit annoyed and hurt. “How could she not be interested?” I thought to myself. “How rude and inconsiderate!” On the surface I appeared fine, but internally I was distressed about her lack of interest and caring.
I took several calming breaths and sought refuge in my blueberry pancakes, eggs and bacon. Shortly, I recovered my sense of balance and reflected on what I had just experienced. I had gotten caught up in the trap of self-centeredness and the “Enough about you, what do you think of me?” attitude. In this mindset, I had no interest in what Judy had to say either. I just wanted to boast about me and my phone call. I expected her to be excited and enthusiastic, if not dazzled by my skill as a therapist and success coach. But she was not!
The rest of the meal went well and we both left with a sense of satisfaction. Interestingly, I no longer felt the need to talk about myself. I was free, at least momentarily, from the “What about me?” trap.
Here are some suggestions to keep you free from the “What about me?” trap during conversations with others:
1. Don’t assume what you are thinking or talking about is of interest to anyone except you!
2. Ask the other person if you can share a recent experience you had, and explain why you want to share it!
3. Look for telltale signs of boredom, disinterest and not listening such as yawning, looking away, closing of eyelids, drooping jaw or use of a cellphone!
4. Check it out to see if other person is not really listening!
“I’m noticing your eyelids are closing as I talk, I realize you may find what I am talking about a bit tiring or boring. Am in right?”
5. Find something to talk about of mutual interest!
6. Remind yourself that the other person would probably be more interested if you asked him/her about what they think about what you are saying. Say something like “How does that sound to you? Or, what do you think about how I handled that? Then shut up, and really listen to their response!
7. Pause and consider that you are not the Center of the Universe and it is ok if others find what you are saying boring or irrelevant to their lives. This will save a lot of time and distressing internal reactions later!
If you would like to order Moss Jackson’s book “Navigating for Success,” contact him at email@example.com.