Thursday, December 3, 2009

Beware the Me Monster

If any of you love Brian Regan as much as I do, you will probably be familiar with this bit. It's one of my favorites:

I have actually been meaning to write this post for few days, and when I visited Prudent Baby on Tuesday I was reminded that I hadn't done it yet. That entry is exactly what I have been wanting to write about:

#214 Try not to wait eagerly for people to finish their stories just so you can tell your own versions that more directly involve you.

I am of the opinion that when you are telling a story--whether it's one you're upset about or one you're excited to share--one of the most annoying things someone else can do is wait until you're done, then try to top your story with their own. Phrases like "that's nothing" or "consider yourself lucky" often come up when people jump in to share their own four-wisdom-tooth tales.

Remember that communication post we had up a couple weeks ago? Remember the part about overtalking? Well this has a lot to do with that. If all I'm thinking about the whole time a person's talking is how much better my story is, or how I can't wait to share it, then I'm not giving that person the attention they deserve. In addition, if the first thing I say after they stop talking is "that's nothing," imagine how that person feels. I have had this done to me many times, and I'm sure you have too, so it isn't that hard to imagine how the person feels. What we need to do is make sure that we never do this to other people.

You don't have to say one of those phrases for it to count, either. If you don't start with "consider yourself lucky," but then go on to tell a story in which you make the other person's story sound less important, then it's just as bad. No one should do this to people, because it doesn't feel good. We need to have respect for people that we're talking to. This doesn't mean you can't share your own related story; just don't do it as though you're competing. Say something that shows you empathize; acknowledge their frustration or excitement or pain; let them know you feel for them. Something like "Oh yuck, I'm sorry. I know how you feel, I had something similar happen to me, and it sucked" (or, "Yay, that's awesome! I'm so excited for you!"). Then tell your story. They won't mind if you do it that way. Good communication means having respect for other people, responding to them the way we would want them to respond to us... and not being a Me Monster!


Lis said...

Brian Regan is hilarious- I couldn't watch the clip on my computer, but I remember seeing that clip before :) You bring up a really good point- sometimes people think the best conversations are when they are doing all the talking and you do all the listening! Sometimes it's just what people need.

Miki n Ed said...

Brian rocks en of story.
I agree with you so much and in fact when you said that it reminded me of a comment i made to dafni out of naivety that demonstrated exactly what one should not do. ):
I would like to add though just in my opinion that sometimes wen people say the same phrases over and over again as response to what you are telling them it sounds fake and as if one does not really listen which can cause the talker to keep talking to get a REAL conversation or to not talk anymore after a while. So I guess the point is to keep it real because as humans we need that connections the feeling of "I am not alone in this weird world"
So yes a shrink may say "i'm sorry" cause they are there for you to understand yourself and friends can do it too but to a point. There is a point where a talker living in his own reality at that moment needs the amazing depth of connection that humans share when they immerse in deep and heart to heart conversation.
I truly believe that our intention in the PRESENT can help us decide what is it that the talker is needing from me and what is that I can give. And always with love and compassion remembering that we all swim in the waves and storms trying to do good and be better.
Always speak your truth in a loving way-wow why is it so hard sometimes? A human thing.
Regarding respect- in general I do believe we all respect each other though we can use being less critical including on how poeple talk. But in essence respect comes from respecting yourself first and talking without fears and assumptions, now that is hard for many. especially those of us (yes yes it was my twin), who are overcoming some crappy/messy belief systems that are false. Though no one is immune(spelling?). I always go back to the book " The Four Agreements" and Chopra as well.
Much work to do
Love Eternal

Matt said...

On a positive note, it's really easy to have fun with me monsters -- especially if you have good friends around. More than once I've intentionally fed the monsters just to see the kinds of things they say. My favorite method is to follow up one of their stories with a decidedly unimpressive anecdote using the kind of tone reserved for lunar locomotion:

"...yeah that's cool, but nothing compared to the time I found string cheese on sale for twenty cents! That stuff's usually thirty-three! Can you believe it?"

If they're a habitual monster, they'll tell story after delightful story. Or if they're observant, and you tell your tale well (not accusingly) they can take the hint without too much bruised ego.

Matt said...

Haha... or "Triple bypass? Yeah, I guess they consider that surgery, but have you ever had an ingrown toenail removed?"

Okay, okay, I'm done. And thank you for the reminder to humble the monster.

Miki n Ed said...

haha that's funny...yes thank you miri we need to tame the monster (: