For a lot of people, unfortunately, listening means learning how to shut the fuck up and pretend to listen.
In 1977 I took the Dale Carnegie Course® on human relations. The main objective is to teach people how to get along with others. The reason for getting along with others is that you can use that skill to get ahead in your life.
Even though it has been over 25 years since I took that course I still remember what they taught me. First is that people are only interested in themselves. According to them (they used a study from AT&T as the basis of this) the most commonly used word is “I”. Also the most pleasing sound to anyone is their own name. Another thing is that is never a good idea to tell someone they are wrong. Nor should you ever criticize, condemn or complain. No one else cares.
It is therefore unrealistic to expect people to change so perhaps you could see this as a chance to grow. Rather then rant about how people only talk about themselves you could encourage this, listen to them and do favors for them, and when you want something from them it will be much easier to get it. I am not talking about using people, that is morally wrong, but it is much easier to get what you want from someone else if that person likes you. And the best way to get someone to like you is to show sincere interest in them.
So in short, ease up, some things are not worth worrying about and you might just find that life in general will be easier and better for you.
Now I’m wondering if Dale Carnegie always talked about My method, My course, My philosophy!
I’m with PalJuicy–it isn’t everybody, it isn’t the usual ego thing, but there are certainly people who are totally self-referencial. I also play a little game with them: see if you can come up with a topic they can’t turn into their own. I still haven’t won that one.
These are the same people who don’t listen, so if you have something important for them, you have to send an email or something, so you can later prove to them you did tell them.
Try being pregnant… every person the planet just HAS to tell you their family horror stories. And every comment made about your pregnancy whether good or bad is met with " Oh you’re lucky. My( insert person here) had (insert death defying condition here)." On and on and on… fortunately I was almost to delivery with both of them before I showed;)
…Hell, Fuck, Shit, Damn!
They never steer me wrong
Once I was dating a guy who worked with such a woman. It was all about her - her boyfriends, her car loans, her (I shit you not) yeast infection. I had to put up with her while I was waiting for my honey to get off work.
And she didn’t know, for a number of months, that we were dating. I guess she thought I really was interested in her yeast infection. (She thought my b/f was, too.) Finally she found out and was shocked that she hadn’t known earlier - “Why didn’t you tell me?!”
In a moment of clarity I said “Beause you never stop talking about yourself long enough to hear what anyone else has to say!”
And without missing a beat she was off again - “Oh well you know I’ve been so busy lately what with all the …”
How true, how true …
I now base my relationships with co-workers on the principle that I’m pretty much paid to put up with them. The less I say the better. And yes, I’ve got great dirt.
You think you’ve got problems, let me tell you about my mother…
Of course, there is no way to do that without being guilty of the same thing. But actually, PalJuicy, I really do know what you mean. It’s different from the structure of give and take (my story about me followed by your analogous story about you, establishing common ground) that I think some posters are naively assuming.
Of course everyone likes to talk about themself. What goes wrong is when people are so self-obsessed that they don’t participate in the give and take. Three words from you about your life leads to a half hour monologue about theirs. Or in my mother’s case, about my sister’s.
As a student, I’ve had a few jobs (and one currently) where I work with plenty of “adults” (read: people 20+ years older than me). They greatly enjoy imparting bits of worldly wisdom upon me. Any question asked of me turns into a story about when they were in college, or how their kids are in college, or how their kids are about to be in college…and so forth.
Sometimes it seems like I’m getting paid to smile and nod.
I used to be really shy and an awkward conversationalist, never knowing what to say. Then I learned to talk about myself and don’t have awkward silence anymore, ever. Every lull in the conversation can quickly be solved by telling a boring story about my day. It’s better than nothing (for me at least).
At the risk of making this about me, I deal with similar people on a daily basis.
One man I know is renowned in our office for taking hold of a conversation – any conversation, any topic – and wrenching it around so he can yap about himself.
His name is Lindsey, but we call secretly refer to him Lindsme.
All I hear all day in my office is people bitching about their problems. Always problems. Illness, difficult kids, money problems, drugs, child abuse, dying, relationship difficulties, what they think of their doctor, eating disorders, their mental health worries, why their social security hasn’t lasted as long as it’s supposed to and they can’t afford their rent, etc etc etc. And they ALL want ME to do SOMETHING about it for THEM…
…but then, I’m a paediatric social worker. And I love it
Hell, I bartend for a living. You think people are desperate to talk about themselves at work…try 'em after a few beers when they’re alone in a strange town on business! YOU CAN’T SHUT 'EM UP!
I hear more than their mothers or their priests.
I’m just trying to get away long enough to, you know, DO MY JOB and maybe pour somebody else a drink, and these poor people are just yapping away like drunk chihuahuas.
I’ve had grown men crying at my bar after just three drinks. I don’t know whether it’s the booze or the relief that somebody, even a girl behind a bar, is actually listening.
It never ceases to amaze me just how widespread loneliness is.
Our admin assistant in my last job was the worst. She would go on and on and on and on about her divorce or her house or the job or some shit she read and thought she understood or her career advice or any of the various other topics that sprung into her mind. It was the absolute worst. I don’t mind talking to people about their shit but I don’t need some stupid bitch standing on her soapbox talking AT me while I’m trying to get work done.
I know you’re all DYING to hear about my take on all this. I could tell you a story or two, except I forgot what they were. I think they were kinda boring anyhow. Maybe I’ll just stand here and shut up.
Could someone say something, please?