We’ve all been there. You’re having a nice chat with someone, when suddenly they interrupt you, change the subject to themselves, or start giving you advice you didn’t ask for.
You feel frustrated, bored, and ignored. You wonder why they can’t just listen to you for once. You wish they would shut up.
But what if you’re the one who’s doing it? What if you’re the conversation hogger who’s driving everyone away?
You might not even realise it, but you could be suffering from a condition called conversational narcissism. And it’s more common than you think.
Conversational narcissism is not the same as being a full-blown narcissist. A narcissist is someone who thinks they’re better than everyone else, who has no empathy for others, and who needs constant admiration.
A conversational narcissist is someone who just can’t help making every conversation about them. They might do it because they’re anxious, insecure, arrogant, or selfish. Or they might do it because they don’t know any better.
But whatever the reason, conversational narcissism can ruin your relationships and your reputation. No one likes to talk to someone who only talks about themselves.
So how can you tell if you’re a conversational narcissist – or if you’re talking to one? Here are some shocking signs to look out for:
- You always control the topic of conversation. You only talk about things that interest you or that make you look good. You don’t care about what others have to say. You switch off or walk away when the conversation doesn’t involve you.
- You interrupt people all the time. You don’t let others finish their sentences. You butt in with your own stories or opinions. You think you’re being helpful or clever, but really you’re just being rude.
- You never stop talking. You go on and on about yourself and your achievements. You sound like a lecturer rather than a friend. You act like you know everything and you’re always right.
- You give unwanted advice. You think you know what’s best for others and you tell them what to do. You don’t listen to their problems or feelings. You dismiss or ignore their feedback or suggestions.
- You manipulate the conversation. You steer the conversation to suit your own agenda. You try to get something from others or promote yourself. You avoid any topics that might challenge you or expose your flaws.
If any of these signs sound familiar, don’t panic. There are ways to stop being a conversational narcissist and to deal with one effectively.
Here are some simple tricks to try:
- Listen actively. Pay attention to what the other person is saying and show that you care by nodding, making eye contact, and asking follow-up questions.
- Ask open-ended questions. Encourage the other person to share more by asking questions that start with who, what, where, when, why, and how. Avoid questions that can be answered with yes or no.
- Show empathy. Try to understand the other person’s feelings and perspective by using phrases like “I see”, “I hear you”, “That must be hard”, or “How did that make you feel?”
- Share the spotlight. Don’t monopolise the conversation by talking only about yourself. Give the other person a chance to speak and share their stories and opinions.
- Be humble. Don’t brag about yourself or put others down. Acknowledge your mistakes and limitations and appreciate others’ strengths and contributions.
By following these simple steps, you can improve your communication skills and build better relationships with others. Remember, a good conversation is not a competition – it’s a collaboration.
Don’t be a conversation hogger – be a conversation partner!