The "I"s

 

“I did this. I did that.  I went to school there.  I was awarded for it.  I was written about in that.  I like this.  I ate that.  I have those.  I hate them.   I love that.  I want this.  I need them.  I traveled there.  I read that.  I know this.  I bought it.  I wrote this.  I promise that.  I found them.   I visited them.  I give this….”

Whew! Ever realize how draining it is to listen to someone that has a terminal case of the “I”s.   I say terminal, because after a few minutes of this, it will kill a conversation.  It can even kill relationships. This type of focus is not condusive to dialog.  It is a monolog, a stream of information directed at you with nothing to do about you.

Now I know there are times we have to tell who we are and share information about ourselves.  That’s normal.  What I’m talking about are the people that have little awareness that there are other people in the world other than “their audience.”

I find this type of behaviour is usually linked to someone’s self-esteem struggles.  These struggles can develop into habits, including how they interact (or fail to interact) with others.

Do you use the “I”s frequently?  Are you sure?  Do you really listen to yourself?

If you use the “I”s frequently, you may want to step back and think about why you do this?  It may be for attention, to attempt to impress, or maybe for acknowledgment?   No matter the reason, if it something you do frequently I have some bad news.  You are working against yourself.  Oh, you will get attention but it will not be for the things you point out, it will be for how you point it out.

I suggest that the old advice is true… if you will take a greater interest in others, they will take a greater interest in you.  It may take some time, but why not take a leap of faith?  Better than running people off, isn’t it?

If you know someone that suffers from chronic “I”s, you may have little you can do to help them.  It is not our place to change others.  If you are already a trusted mentor, you are expected to point this out as your role of coach.  But most people that suffer from the “I”s will not trust anyone else to even suggest this is a counter-productive behaviour.  In fact, they will likely be offended and then emotionally justify this offense by deciding you are jealous or envious.

However, since this is likely driven my insecurity, if you want to try something you can try showing interest.  It may make them feel more secure after a few questions (or a few visits) and, if so, they may not “push” themselves on you as hard.  In other words, you may give them room to emotionally relax and to start to really be themselves.  I know this will not always work but it is one approach that can sometimes help.

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About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.