Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Like to Talk About Me

A few weekends ago I was in Mexico with a group of students from school. We went to an orphanage called Casa Hugar in Baja California. Over lunch on Sunday afternoon one table, the table I was sitting at, sat quietly over-looking the mountains in the distance, while the people at the other table talked loudly.

Then Justin Bleeker at my table said, "Have you ever thought about how often people say 'I' in a conversation?" 

We contemplated. Yeah, people say 'I' and other first person pronouns very often. People are obsessed with talking about themselves. Justin proposed that it is our individualistic society that encourages us to talk about ourselves so much. We want to make sure that we are known but we don't care very much about knowing other people. 

Let me talk about my self a minute :P When I was in high school I confided in my mom about my lack of conversational skills. Her response was, "Just ask people questions. People love talking about themselves. Ask questions and make the other person do all the talking, and they will like you because not many people take the time to ask questions." So as a cure to my lack of social abilities, I learned to ask people questions. 

See, some people like to talk about themselves and they don't care much to know about other people. Others, like me, would rather not talk and they also don't care very much about knowing other people. (Don't worry, this isn't an either or fallacy; I am not making a claim about all people, but I am speaking particularly to the people who fall into these categories, and I am challenging people to question if they are in these categories.)

I have tried to change my mindset. As an aspiring journalist, I want to ask people questions to sort of research them. As a historian, I want to find out where they came from, why they do what they do, think what they think. As a writer, I want to know their story and their character. 

I have tried to change my motives from curing my conversational inabilities into an actual desire to know and learn about people. This change requires a realization that people are actually fascinating; every person is. And, it still remains true that people, generally speaking, love to talk about themselves. A while ago I wrote a blog about the two sided nature of communication called "Communication is Human" and it is times like this where we can learn to love listening. 

People are unique and worth learning about so look outside yourself a minute and learn about someone today.

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