Stealing Someone’s Thunder

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Image ID : 44118396 Copyright : bowie15 123rf.com

 

Have you ever had a conversation with someone which almost feels more like a competition than an equal interchange?  Perhaps you’re excited about starting a new yoga class and you mention it to someone, only to have that person redirect the conversation by talking about her own experiences with yoga, to the point where you have been completely edged out of any chance to speak.

It turns out that many of us engage in what’s been termed by Charles Derber as conversational narcissism (check out his book, The Pursuit of Attention which is available on Amazon).  What’s the difference between a normal conversation and one in which you have been railroaded by a conversational narcissist?

Here are two examples, one from a normal exchange, and one from an experience with a conversational narcissist:

NORMAL CONVERSATION:

Sally:  I just got an offer to travel to Spain and I am so excited!
Chip: That’s so cool! I’ve always wanted to go there.  We have ancestors out there.  What part of Spain are you visiting?
Sally: Barcelona.
Chip: That’s amazing.  Hopefully you’ll have some time to explore.

 

CONVERSATION WITH A CONVERSATIONAL NARCISSIST:

Sally: I just got an offer to travel to Spain and I am so excited!
Chip: Cool.  I have ancestors out there.   In fact, there’s a town named after us.
Sally: Wow, that’s neat.
Chip: Yeah it is.  I really need to visit there.  My cousin says she can hook us up with the best accommodations out there.
Sally: Wow, awesome.  So do you know any good places to visit out there?
Chip: Well, when I go there, I expect the red carpet to be rolled out, you know what I mean?  We deserve that, you know?

In the second example, Chip took over the conversation, diverting the attention to himself.  He even ignored Sally’s question about whether he knew of any good places to visit in Spain.  In an instant, the conversation became all about Chip, and not Sally.

It is common for conversational narcissists to rather quickly jump in with their own personal stories rather than allow the other person to finish a thought.  The person’s story or complaint becomes swallowed up by the conversational narcissist’s story, which is the new focus of the conversation.  It’s also not unusual for a certain amount of bragging, boasting or name-dropping to occur with someone who has developed a strong tendency towards conversational narcissism.  Often, the conversational narcissist isn’t even aware that he has taken complete control over the dialog.

In this distracted age of social media and those irresistible handheld computers we call our phones, it seems that the art of conversation is deteriorating.   We’ve become impatient, entitled, and egocentric.  And many of us now exhibit behaviors which define conversational narcissism.  The art of truly listening needs to be relearned.

 

 

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What If It All Shuts Down?

Ever since we hit the era of Google and the information superhighway, we have become as spoiled as fattened swine on the plethora of technology which swarms around us constantly. It’s been an interesting study in contrasts for me, because I spent my childhood without any of the fancy technological bells and whistles which earmark the new millennium. I remember making and receiving phone calls on a beige rotary dial phone, and if I didn’t want to talk to someone, I just left the receiver off the cradle. Now THAT was call blocking! We didn’t even have the luxury of answering machines back in those days. And tooling around on personal computers wasn’t part of our daily routine either.

Now we have personal computers which are so handy that we carry them around in the form of laptops, tablets, and cell phones. We navigate via global satellite, search for factoids via Google or Bing, and pretty much have the world quite literally in the palms of our hands.

Yet what happens when a phone runs out of battery power, or if a power outage threatens to shut us down? The thought honestly makes me shudder, and is part of the reason why I will never take the advice of my sister and digitize all of the photos from my photo albums (I have 39 photo albums, mostly from my mother’s photo collection), then destroy the original photos to save space in my home. Yes, a fire could destroy those photos, but I am not too keen on the idea of storing images on a disk or hard drive and relying on a computer whenever I want to view those images.

Today’s society is so image-driven, yet who is bothering to save these captures in a precious archive? Though I have a habit of printing out images from important events (like birthdays and holidays), I’m sure I am in the minority. I have also noticed that there are some online searches I have conducted which are later deleted or moved, so the information is forever lost. Maybe I’m old school, but there’s something to be said about holding onto an item, whether it be a printed photo, a printout of a Google search, or financial documents.

Another Annual Orphan Thanksgiving

This year I am upholding my own Thanksgiving tradition with what I refer to as Orphan Thanksgiving. It is a cozy and enjoyable event for the people who share in this wonderful celebration. I invite friends who don’t have a place to go for the holiday, usually because their relatives live far away.

Though there is a considerable amount of food prep involved, I get a kick out of making each dish and roasting and carving the turkey. You might think that this desire to cook huge holiday meals and have people over is something that was handed down to me from my mother, but my mom never entertained guests in our home, and she never considered herself a cook. My mother’s idea of cooking was to heat up Stouffer’s entrees or throw a piece of meat on the broiler, and when the holidays arrived, she made restaurant reservations instead of spending time in the kitchen. Somehow I had a natural affinity for cooking and baking, and I also quickly discovered how much I enjoyed hosting events. I am certain that my desire to host parties evolved from my tendency to nurture others.

Thanksgiving-Dinner-New-York-CityWhat’s on the table this year? Turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole (a HUGE hit), mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. I’m letting my guests bring dessert to ease the cooking and baking load, since I make these feasts by myself. Since I fully believe in enjoying “normal” foods during the holidays, provided they are enjoyed in moderation, I have no problem featuring a few “forbidden” foods on the holiday table.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

The Days Of Trick Or Treating Are Over

42308248 – children in fancy costume dress going trick or treating

Halloween was always my favorite holiday, because I could dress up as anything I wanted to be. It was always such a blast to think of what I wanted to be for Halloween, and my mother always obliged, albeit begrudgingly at times when she wasn’t thrilled with my choice or had to put together a costume for me. That being said, there were only two years in which she took on the task of putting a costume together for me: in fifth grade, when I went as Cleopatra, and once in seventh grade when I went as Princess Leia.

Year after year, I used the same hard plastic trick or treat pumpkin which my mother bought me when I was five years old, and I always managed to get that Jack O’ Lantern filled to the brim with candy when I went trick or treating. Back then, parents were concerned about apples containing razorblades, so I was instructed to never accept apples, but I could accept all the candy I wanted, as long as the wrappers were intact. I had my favorites, like Snickers Minis and Dubble Bubble Gum, but I was such a polite kid that I was happy to get any candy when I approached front doors and made that request:

“Trick or Treat!”

The Halloween I celebrated in sixth grade was characterized by trick or treating with several friends in Bel Air, an upscale community in Los Angeles. When we knocked on the doors of the beautiful homes there, we didn’t get Dum Dums or candy corn. Instead, we received things like full sized Hershey bars and little boxes of Godiva chocolates. One house we went to handed out $5 bills, which was a sizeable amount to a ten-year old in 1976!

Things have changed dramatically over the years, with parents opting to take their children to the mall or to scheduled events in lieu of knocking on doors at dusk. I completely understand why, since the hazards of walking around after dark and accepting candy from strangers can be just like playing Russian roulette. In the eleven years that I have lived in the same community, I have only had four groups of children trick or treating. It’s a dying trend.