Motormouths need to listen
There had to be a name for it. I knew it was far too common of a phenomenon not to have been marked as an issue and addressed.
Conversational narcissism is typified by an extreme self-focusing in a conversation, to the exclusion of appropriate concerns for the other, according to Communication Monographs, a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal covering research on human communication.
What prompted me to write this column is my unabashed incredulity when confronting a person guilty of self-yakkity-yak ad nauseum.
I never fail to be stymied when finding myself relegated to the status of an info repository rather than a contributing entity within a conversation (i.e. exchange of ideas — emphasis on “exchange”).
When constantly “talked over” or tossed a quick, disinterested “uh-huh” after adding a verbal tidbit or two — only to be followed by more yada ... yada ... yada by the relentless rambler, I figure he or she just doesn’t get it.
Thus, my intense interest and cause for research on the subject. Basically, it bugs me and it’s just not polite.
What makes these yo-gabba-gabbers think their thoughts, opinions and life events entitle them to a talkathon rather than extending the courtesy of a two-way street?
For goodness sake, it’s quite likely the other person has something interesting to interject. Wouldya believe it?
Thankfully, the Internet poured forth reams of insight on the subject that points to the fact that this is, indeed, an occurrence many deal with. Perhaps shedding some light on the topic will stir up some self-realization among the convo-hoggers — or not. One can only hope.
It’s my bet that those afflicted with verbal diarrhea won’t even recognize their awful ailment. But then again, it may spark a bit of soul searching and hopefully persuade these too often open-mouthed offenders to shut up and listen once in awhile.
So what is it? What’s in the mix of creating such a trait?
In his book “Pursuit of Attention” sociology professor Charles Derber writes “During a conversation, each person makes initiatives. These initiatives can either be attention-giving or attention-getting. Conversational narcissists concentrate more on the latter because they are focused on gratifying their own needs …
“A good conversation is an interesting thing … It’s like a song where the rhythm is paramount, and each person in the group must contribute to keeping that rhythm going. One person who keeps on playing a sour note can throw the whole thing off.”
With that, I offer you some do’s and don’ts from “How to Deal With Someone Who Always Talks About Themselves” by eHow contributor Baptist Johnson:
DO understand the meaning of the term narcissist. Narcissistic does not necessarily mean selfish or arrogant. A narcissist simply views the world and others in relation to himself. Everything is measured by the standard “How does this affect me?” Because of this, narcissists spend a lot of time talking about themselves.
DO change the conversation to neutral topics. This can be difficult because a narcissist will always try to find a way to steer the conversation back to himself. Make it obvious that your interest lies in a generic topic, like the weather. A narcissist will likely discuss the weather, even if only to attempt to impress you.
DO introduce topics of interest in the form of open-ended questions. For instance, don’t ask did you see the game last night? Instead, ask something along the lines of “What do you think of basketball? I heard the game last night was amazing.” This method of questioning gives the narcissist the chance to talk about his views on basketball, while you get to insert your own comments as well.
DO avoid the narcissistic person if all else fails. Keep in mind that, more likely than not, you will not change the narcissist in your life. His perception of everything is personal because he can’t detach himself from his surroundings. He perceives a dissenting opinion as a personal attack. He may even view therapy or counseling as bullying and disapproval.
DON’T take offensive comments personally. More likely than not, the narcissist did not intent to insult you. Again, a narcissistic person is unable to put herself in others’ shoes. Her comments are meant to boost her own self-worth, not hurt feelings.
DON’T try to argue or reason with a narcissist. Explaining to a narcissist that she is a narcissist is a lost cause. To understand the basis of your argument, she must see herself from your point of view, which is an impossible task for a narcissist.
DON’T allow a narcissistic person to go on long rants about herself. She may interpret silence from you as genuine interest. In the mind of a narcissist, why wouldn’t you want to hear about her day at the mall?
Bonchak is a Staff Writer for The News-Herald.
Labels: Conversational Narcissism