“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” ~Plato
Talking is part of what we humans do; we have conversations with each other. We can listen to other people’s opinions, experiences, dreams, fears, celebrations, wishes, losses, and/or sorrows and they in turn can listen to ours.
Each person has to give and take a little for the benefit of the other person or the group as a whole, which makes the conversation a cooperation instead of a competition.
A cooperative conversation is a “we” experience. A competitive conversation is an “I” experience, where the goal is to win, proving yourself smarter, more experienced, more logical, etc., etc., than the other person.
In our competitive world, there are lots more “I” conversations than “we” ones.
Many of us are guilty of the competitive “I” conversations.
Almost everyone has been involved in a conversation at some time or another where they couldn’t wait for the other person to finish what he/she was saying so they could jump in. You know, a situation where they pretend to be listening intently, but they’re actually thinking about what they’re going to say once they have a chance.
“The quality of any interaction depends on the tendencies of those involved to seek and share attention. Competition develops when people seek to focus attention mainly on themselves; cooperation occurs when the participants are willing and able to give it.” -Dr. Charles Derber
In the book titled The Pursuit of Attention: Power and Ego in Everyday Life, sociologist Charles Derber talks about how people crave attention. He said that despite good intentions, and often without being aware of it, some of us fall into the trap of what he termed “conversational narcissism”
“Conversational narcissism is the key manifestation of the dominant attention-getting psychology in America. It occurs in informal conversations among friends, family and coworkers. The profusion of popular literature about listening and the etiquette of managing those who talk constantly about themselves suggests its pervasiveness in everyday life…” ~Charles Derber
Conversational narcissists seek to turn the attention of others to themselves, wanting to see if they can get the edge on the other person/people in the group by turning the attention to themselves as much as possible.
They talk without really listening, and seem to think that what they have to say is as interesting and captivating to everyone else as it is to them.
Conversations that are cooperative instead of competitive are the ones that everyone benefits from, so keep this in mind when talking to someone (or a group of people).
Give encouragement with real acknowledgments and genuine supportive affirmations, and move the conversation along by asking questions about something you’re actually curious about. Then once what they’re saying has run its course, you can offer your own two cents or share what you know.
“A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.” ~Truman Capote
So, tell me… are most of your conversations a “we” experience or an “I” experience?