Have ever met that guy who is trying too hard to make you like him?
I had a roommate like that once. He used to go on breathless and endless about his really “interesting stories” but after the third iteration I realized he only had one story. He could change the packaging but in the end the meat of the story was the same.
He was desperate to find and project his worth through his “stories”. The problem was that his tactics were all wrong. He focused on himself which made him one of the most uninteresting people I have ever met. Even to the point that I didn’t want to greet him when he came in the house for fear that I’d get trapped in another story or perceived success of the day.
Other than his flagrant ignorance of social cues, I can’t say that I blame him. We live in a time that idolizes self. For the majority of people social media has become a platform for finding self-worth, often peppered, if not fully seasoned, with embellishment, instead of as a modern meeting place. People are constantly promoting themselves propagating the idea, similar to my roommate, that the more interesting we make ourselves the more people will value us.
Fortunately this is short sided silly thinking. We often forget that those around us, and reading our posts, are just as selfish as we are. I don’t say that to put anyone down but if we are all honest with ourselves I think we can realize instances of selfishness. While this isn’t a post simply about the dangers of social media (for a post about that see Our Digital Word) to my mind it always bears keeping in mind how selfish we can be on social media, even unintentionally.
And while social media has a direct tie in, what I really want to address is plain and simple: become interested in other people, be selfless in your pursuits.
I think Dale Carnegie said it best in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” when he said
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
Mr. Carnegie was a master of his craft and while he did not have the burden of ease of communication that we have we would be wise to follow his advice. Seriously, if you have never read this book I would highly recommend it as your next read, you will benefit from it!
Lest we forget, it is necessary to remind you, dear reader, that life is not simply about being liked, having the most friends, or being the most interesting person in the room. But, those are avenues into making relationships and having meaningful conversation which is something we should all be driving at. Afterall it is much more difficult to influence others without having a conversation with them.
What being selfless communicates to others is that they matter, that they are truly being listened to and not just sold your time so you can impress someone else or feel better about yourself. Being selfless in this way costs very little, generally only time and a bit of pride, but for the receiver it can mean the difference of self-worth.
Now you might be thinking back to my original example and thinking, “You don’t practice what you preach,” and to a point you’d be correct! However, there is a difference between listening and enjoying conversation and enabling people to be self-centered. A balance must be struck, the likes of which may be an article down the line.
But, I have found that the deeper the relationship the more “air time” is split. It gets boring to hear yourself talk, after all you lived every story you tell! And when both parties know and accept that is when the most meaningful conversations are had. I would put forward that maximal enjoyment and impact in conversation is only gained through a mutual interest in the other person.
Become interested in others. You will bring values to others. You will increase your sphere of influence. And you might actually learn something in the process.