“Sheila” was talking non-stop about a worker’s compensation situation involving her brother. He had been seriously injured on the job a year ago and had not worked since. Things were finally reaching a resolution, and Sheila was giving her client a blow-by-blow account of everything that had been taking place.
Soon my stylist “Beth” arrived, and we started having our own conversation when I sat down in her chair. But not for long.
Right after Sheila’s client left, she came into Beth’s area and started repeating the same story she’d just relayed to her client. I noticed that Beth gave minimal responses and after Sheila’s next appointment arrived, I found out why.
Beth told me that for the past year, Sheila has been obsessed with talking to everyone within earshot about this situation. It saddened me to discover that she’s so pre-occupied with this one challenge that she never attempts to actually engage others in a real conversation. It hasn't occur to her to stop talking about herself long enough to inquire what’s going on with her clients and coworkers.
We all face difficulties and challenges. That’s part of life.
We all need encouragement and support to get through the rough spots.
But even during those times, you can look for opportunities to connect with others in a meaningful way.
Because continually talking about you and your life pushes people away. No one will want to listen to you for long if you focus exclusively on yourself.
Instead, set aside your own pain or situation for a few minutes and ask questions about how they are doing. You’ll derive these benefits:
1. You show another human being you’re genuinely interested in their wellbeing. Learning about the ups and downs in their lives can help you put your own challenges in perspective.
2. When you shift your focus to someone else with the intention of really hearing what they have to say, you stop thinking about yourself and your own problems, at least temporarily. You’re more available mentally and emotionally to respond to the needs of another person.
3. You become more aware that the world does not revolve around you. You can start thinking of ways that you can be of service to others.
Do you have a “Sheila” in your life? Do you find yourself avoiding this person?
I know I do.
In my limited time on earth, I prefer to interact with individuals who are not self-absorbed, who do not talk incessantly about themselves and who want to learn what’s happening in the lives of those around them.
Encountering someone like Sheila reminds me how I do and do not want to be around others, because one of my goals is to contribute something of value with each interaction.
“Genuine wisdom is usually conspicuous through modesty and silence.” – Napoleon Hill