SRS One of the biggest reasons people think I'm self-absorbed.

Discussion in 'On Topic' started by deusexaethera, Nov 12, 2009.

  1. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    This is something I've been wondering about for quite some time now, because people who know me well don't think so, but people I've just met tend to think all I give a shit about is myself.

    So I was standing outside having a smoke, and thinking about a conversation I had with my dad yesterday about how he spent four hours getting polygraphed for work, and then he found out he's going to have to spend Thanksgiving through Christmas (excluding the actual holidays) on the other side of the country from his girlfriend, and then he got home and found out my brother had passed out and hurt his head while doing homework. I decided not to tell him that I found out yesterday the new VP at my company wants to close down my office as soon as possible. In other words, I just listened to his troubles, which is something I'm actually pretty good at, but somehow it doesn't come across that way for a lot of people. "Why is that?" I wondered.

    At that point, a fully-formed thought popped into my head out of nowhere: if I had been listening to someone else's problems, I probably would've told them my problems too -- but not because I wanted their sympathy, that's not it at all. I think, because I've had so few friends over the years, that when I meet someone new and I listen to their story, I'm so eager to show them that I understand "what it's like for them" (i.e. that I can relate to them) that I'll basically list off all the similar experiences I've had and how I felt about them, without realizing that what they really wanted was...well, I dunno. I don't know what they really wanted.

    To me it makes perfect sense to tell someone about things I've experienced that are similar to their experiences, because to me that says I really do "get it" and I'm not just nodding my head and saying "that's nice." But when I'm talking to someone I've known for a long time, they already know me and presumably they like spending time around me, so there isn't any need on my part to let them know how similar we are and how we should hang out together more often.

    So. Can anyone explain to me what "normal" people expect me to do when they're telling me about themselves, if trying to relate directly by telling them my own similar experiences makes me seem self-absorbed? If I knew what I'm "supposed" to be doing, I probably wouldn't feel like my only other option is to not say anything for fear of offending them, which just makes me look anti-social instead.
     
  2. Diesel66

    Diesel66 My standards for women is like rent-a-centers stan OT Supporter

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    that's fairly normal. But yeah it's a bit annoying if you really have problems and need to talk about it but somehow the conversation is now about your friend's issue.
     
  3. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Well, I don't try to make it about my issue. I usually say something like "yeah, I went through x which is kinda similar, and it made me feel like y, so I know what you mean." I probably do it too much, but I don't really know how much is enough. I seem to fall on the "too much" side pretty often. I don't really know what other way to react to something someone tells me about that I can relate to, except to say nothing, which suggests I don't care.
     
  4. Nite_Lilly

    Nite_Lilly Member

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    1-What they want is to vent to an interested party, to express how they feel about what happened to them. [Look interested. Make eye contact.:cool:]

    2-You can relate your experience after they had a chance to get through a few sentences, but keep it brief initially; redirect back to them. You may get another opportunity later to elaborate on your experience. [key: reciprocity]

    3-Don't hijack the conversation and make it all about you. [I have a friend who does that and it drives me crazy. I avoid her sometimes because of it.]

    4-Don't give advice, unless the other person asks for it. [I give you this advice because you asked for it.]

    5-Don't judge their solution to their problems. [You're not in their shoes]

    6-Do say how you solved your problem. [Let them decide if it'll work for them.]

    In a balanced conversation both parties will be able to vent, compare feelings and experiences and form a bond.

    Tune into the other person's reactions :eek3: to know how much of your input is too much.
     
  5. oakback

    oakback New Member

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    I do the exact same thing (exhibit A right here), and I even annoy myself with it. I often unintentionally interrupt people, and I've always wondered if I come off as a "one upper", because every time someone tells a story I very eagerly respond with my own. I usually can't spot it at the time, it's always in retrospect that I feel like a dumbass.

    Usually I can spot the disinterest in them when I'm rambling on, and I'll just cut short whatever I'm saying.

    Occasionally it becomes a balanced conversation, which is awesome. I've been getting better at it, just trying to watch what I say, and try to actually think before speaking, even to the point of letting a few seconds of silence pass before saying anything. It's tough though, when as they're relaying they're story, all I'm thinking is "OMG, ME TOO! this one time..."

    This comes through even on forums as I type out responses, but having time to read it and think before hitting the "post reply" button, I often decide it offers nothing to the conversation and decide against replying.
     
  6. Darketernal

    Darketernal Watch: Aria The Origination =)

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    Well maby you need an example of the complete opposite end to get a good idea on the matter. For instance my uncle is what you call 'super social' , he initiates talks, is always making jokes, is always talking about the 'latest thing that happend' ,helps other people out, and on top of that is extremely intelligent, no one would call him selfish or self absorbed. And since i am more anti-social, i also have thought about this subject, and my conclusion is that he isn't considered self absorbed because he intereacts with people.

    The strange thing with me is that im so not interested in other people, i would 'never' ask a question to someone else like 'what did you do today', or 'where did you buy those shoes', i would be screaming inside 'why would i care?, and i think this 'caring' aspect is what makes the difference between a self absorbed person, or a social person. Seemingly asking questions out of nowhere in order to initiate a conversation makes you a social person, but you also have to understand that 'everyone always sends out body signals' , wether its 'ugly or hot, shabby or rich,etc' these all influence people's opinions about us.

    Its also gives a noticable difference in how people treat you, if people notice they can get extra benefit out of you (wether it be laughter,funny jokes, interesting stories etc) they will come back to talk to you vs a silent mouse that never talks, they will leave a person like that alone. Human social interaction isn't that complex on all levels, it basically just comes down to were people can get a benefit from. Based on wether its benefitial(and this comes in all kinds of forms) they will be willing to talk or not.
     
  7. 7960

    7960 New Member

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    there's a fine line between interacting by talking about similar things in your life, and making it a competition so the person feels like you think your problems are worse.
     
  8. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    And that fine line is what I don't understand. I know why it's there, but I don't know where it is. How do I do it right, then?
     
  9. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    I understand what you're saying, but how much later is long enough, especially given the way conversations meander the way they do, and also given the way the people I know tend to walk off and do something else after they're done telling me about whatever? And how do I tell them what I did without making it sound like I'm implying their solution wasn't good enough?
     
  10. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    I know, right?
     
  11. 7960

    7960 New Member

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    them: ".......and then there was the time I shot my hand with a roofing nailer (blah blah blah)...."

    you have two choices.

    #1 (bad for conversation): "....yeah, i remember when the table saw threw a piece of ragged wood through my hand and (blah blah blah)..."

    #2 (good for conversation): "...wow, something similar happened to me! how did you deal with (blah blah blah)..."




    #1 makes it seem like you're in a competition for "worst injury."

    #2 lets them know you understand their situation by asking a question about it because you're including something specific, but still asking them about them.

    btw, that exact situation actually happened to me. a guy had a bandage on his hand, and I asked about it. he said he shot it with a roofing nailer and I said "yeah, I was using a table saw and it shot a piece of wood through my hand. I had to see a surgeon and they were afraid of nerve damage and (blah blah blah)..." and the guy said "oh, you asked me a question but you really wanted to talk about you" and made an :ugh: face and walked away.

    that was the day I realized I needed to start picking option #2 more often and make conversation more about learning about the other person and less about oneupsmanship.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2009
  12. Nite_Lilly

    Nite_Lilly Member

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    Well...there's no substitute for practicing the skill of "reading" the other person. If the person is visibly upset, then you don't want to cut in with your example until they had a chance to calm down. If, on the other hand, they are just making conversation, then a good time to interject is when they pause at the end of a sentence or thought sequence, creating a gap for you to jump in. Practicing with people with whom you feel safe and comfortable should help.

    IMO anyone who walks away after taking up your time to listen to him/her vent, not giving you the same time to listen to your response or input, is selfish and only interested in what he/she has to say, not in what you have to say. If that person is always that way and that relationship is important to you, you might try restarting the discussion later with " You know that thing you were talking about yesterday? I had a similar thing happen to me..." If at that point the person engages you in a more balanced conversation, then it's all good. If on the other hand, he/she doesn't make eye contact, doesn't ask leading questions and gives one word, terminal answers, then I would say that person is just using you as a sounding board and doesn't really care what's on your mind. If you have several people who treat you that way, then I would look at how you select the people you hang out with and why.
     
  13. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    I assume you meant "picking option #2", but I get your point.
     
  14. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    All good points; I'm going to have to think about this for a while.

    I am pretty good about shutting up and listening when someone is visibly upset, though. I picked that up from counseling when I was a teenager. It's when I'm making casual conversation that I seem to keep fucking up.
     
  15. 7960

    7960 New Member

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    Yes, sorry about that
     
  16. CorpseStreet

    CorpseStreet New Member

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    Don't be so quick to tell your personal experience. When you do tell it don't go into much detail about it just enough to let the person know you had a similar experience (ex: "Oh, I know what you mean. I've been there too *insert sympathetic look*). If they ask for more details then go into what happened. Avoid listing experiences that are similar. If you're going to try to relate try to reference only one example from your life.
     
  17. Rellik

    Rellik New Member

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    if it makes you feel any better, people that are try-hards, and listen good and try to make people like them and dont try to talk about themselves, are considered weak losers, which is about 3x worse than being self absorbed.
     
  18. 7960

    7960 New Member

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    Bulllshit.
     
  19. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    That's what I thought when I read it, but I didn't want to say anything.
     

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