by Madeline Laughs
I like it when people talk to me as opposed to talking “at” me. This is probably why my eyes glaze over just a bit when someone starts telling me how great they are. When a person starts going on and on about how skilled or educated they are, they have ceased talking to me and are now talking just to hear themselves talk.
That’s sounds weird, doesn’t it? Who in their right mind would be conceited enough to tell you how great they are? You’d be surprised just how many people will do that. I have sat through elocution from the most unlikely culprits too.
Whenever I get caught in the middle of someone’s “greatness”, on the outside I’m smiling and usually trying to agree with them, but on the inside I’m incredulous and wondering how in the world they can carry this off. I would never have the unmitigated gall.
Why do some people feel the need to tell you how great they think they are?
I could go off on the usual psycho babble about self esteem issues, etc, but I won’t. I think we all know those definitions. What we need is a way to politely steer the conversation back to being a conversation when in the presence of “greatness” so this unaware and insensitive individual can have the opportunity to show us their greatness, rather than just telling us it’s there and that we should stand in complete and utter awestruck admiration.
I am also not terribly interested in their education, or lack of it.
When a person starts lauding their various degrees of school attendance I try to quietly remind them that we are two friends having coffee. This is not a job interview. Yes, I am pleased they went to school and passed, but do I really need to hear about it from them? No, I do not. If their diploma is proudly displayed in their home and I see it during a visit and happen to ask about it, then yes, please carry on about all of your matriculation pride then. I might even be inclined to sit through a throaty rendition of your alma mater’s fight song.
It’s not just me that feels this way either.
No one wants to hear unsolicited platitudes about you from you!
No one wants to hear how fit you think you are, how pretty you think you are, how great you think you are at your job, how perfect you think your life is, how smart you think you are or how much money you think you make.
No one wants to hear that from you.
Here’s the part where I use my husband as an example. Yes, I’m going to tell you how great I think he is.
Whenever I have been asked how I feel about my husband the one thought that is always foremost in my mind is that he has always made me want to be a better person. Oh, he’s not perfect, but then who is? But he is a good person and that’s saying a lot.
He is one of the most diplomatic people I have ever known and he is humble about his skillset, his abilities and his accomplishments. He has no diplomas hanging on the wall in our home, even though he does have his degrees. I believe they are packed away in a box some place. The only time he ever talks about his college days is to tell people he’s got tickets to see a football game there.
Whenever he attends an event or festival for work or leisure, he doesn’t rope himself off from the public pretending to be a guest of honor or otherwise. He doesn’t peacock his knowledge or lord his craft by telling everyone he’s the best and they should listen to him and no one else. Instead he puts himself out there and he offers what he knows to anyone that asks and he does it for free.
He is always the first to arrive and the last to leave.
You could argue that this is good for his livelihood and it most certainly is good for it, but there are plenty of others that benefit just as much from his generosity and they never even show up.
He has stacks of awards, plaques, trophies and ribbons that are directly related to his work and yet, they are also packed away in the garage in a drawer.
In fact, the only trophies currently on display in our home are his First Place pool tournament trophies and I think that has more to do with the fact that his mother owns the tavern where he won them than it has to do with the game itself.
He is gentle and kind and very caring, but he has an affinity for being able to see the truth of people and not let it bother him. Whenever I see someone trying to knock him down it really gets my dander riled, but I never have to worry about him or what other people might think because I already know that no one can touch him. It’s not that he doesn’t care what other people think, but when their thoughts are negative and damaging, he gives them absolutely no space in his head. They are not his problem to solve.
He doesn’t tell people how great he is.
He doesn’t have to.
He just is great.
So the next time you find yourself wanting to tell someone how great you think you are, think about how great it might be if you just showed them how great you are. It might free up some space in your head and give someone else the chance to tell everyone how great they think you are instead.