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Interpersonal Relationship Tip #1: Choose to Be Unselfish in Conversation

If I had a dollar for every person I’ve met who has yet to grasp this concept, I’d be rich. Why do self-absorbed people never understand this simple lesson? I’m going to spell it out for you in simple English so you won’t miss it this time:

Stop always talking about yourself!

Okay, now for some elaboration. You’re not off the hook yet. This includes all of you who may not talk about yourself, but you’re only interested in the conversation because someone else is talking about you. If they discuss themselves for very long at all, your mind wanders and you wish the conversation was over.

Here’s a tip: Grow up!

Some people actually believe that they are very popular because the people they speak to are less selfish. Sorry, but you’re somehow taking their kindness and unselfishness and assuming that they don’t have a dozen other topics as interesting or more than you that they fail to mention. Well, if they have so much of importance to say, why do they always talk about me? Hmmm…. Well, the obvious reason is that you hung the moon.

Right.

Interpersonal Relationship Tip #1: Engage the other person on whatever level they are capable. Start by discussing the other person. If and when they appear comfortable discussing other things for any length of time, feel free to follow their lead. At times, it will be necessary to prod someone out into unfamiliar waters because without some help they’re going to stay put forever.

How do you know which type of person you are? It’s simple, really. Does the conversation revolve around you or the other person? There you go. If you don’t regularly express interest in other people’s lives, you are the weaker one in the relationship (don’t freak out, guys – this includes any level of knowing another person).

This post comes from years of being the person who always asks dozens of personal questions about other people in an attempt to get people to talk. It’s great to know people, so don’t think that I’m complaining for all the information I’ve received. Far from it. But there comes a point when you realize that after all the effort you’ve put into knowing someone, they’ve never reciprocated interest. They still know you only on the levels which you engage them.

At some point, we call these people leeches. They feed off the attention of others who are willing to get to know them. But they’re uncomfortable allowing someone else to receive positive attention, so they either stick with selfish topics or they lash out in resentment. Some people already know that they fall into this category, but feel powerless to change. Others don’t care to change. Still others are unaware, or refuse to become aware, and they choose instead to make others feel stupid when the conversation ceases to revolve around them.

There are two types of bodies of water: flowing and stagnant. People very closing resemble these two types. Stagnant water becomes a swamp: rotting, infested with insects and mold. Flowing water remains fresh and healthier to drink. People who absorb all the attention and conversation are a swamp. They start to stink after a while.

Think about it. Even if you’re too proud to overtly acknowledge the point, maybe there’s someone in your life you’d rather not lose to your own selfishness. It’s worth considering.

By Daniel

Daniel has been blogging since 2005. He lives near the Florida gulf coast with his wife and three children. Strategist, writer, and master of caveats. He helps motivated business owners and teams solve problems. He sometimes smiles. Just not for photos.

Comments (2)
  1. Sis May 12, 2007 at 6:22 AM

    Sad but true. Almost everyone I know is that way. Sometimes it feels safer if you don’t want to talk about yourself, but at some point it gets old.

  2. Jade December 11, 2008 at 11:22 AM

    I definitely feel like I fall under this category. I’m trying to change, because I’m getting ready to propose to my girlfriend. I love her and I want to be able to give back what she has given me. I want to be able to lift her and make her feel special.

    I guess I just don’t know what kinds of things to ask about her. I feel like I know her already, but then again, that’s the mark of someone who doesn’t care to know you on a deeper level. Where do I start, and what can I do to show her that I’m not just in this for me.

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