Have you ever had one of those moments of bitter revelation, where you’re talking or thinking about a person who really annoys you and you realise… you are that person?
Well, I had one of those moments the other day.
I was reading an article where the author complained of girls who seem to turn every conversation into something about them. You’ll be describing the activties of your weekend, when she pipes up that “the same thing happened to me…“. And then you’re hearing all about her weekend.
Really annoying, right? I mean, we all know people who do that… the sort of people we try to avoid talking to because you know it’s never just a “short chat”.
I am that girl.
I realised that I have a (bad) habit of turning every conversation back to myself.
It even seems natural. I don’t think my motives are particularly bad or selfish, but sometimes when people speak, my own experiences immediately spring to mind, dying to get out.
But you know what? It really is selfish.
What it means, even if I don’t acknowledge it, is that I think what I have to say is more important than what someone else is saying. I think it’s more important for them to listen to me than for me to listen to them.
A while ago, I used to be really into online forums. I used to frequent a few and post regularly. I was genuinely interested in the issues coming forth and interacting with the other people.
I remember a conversation I had with a good friend. She said she really liked them too, but she was realising that her opinion is not always the best one and sometimes it was better to just let others cover things.
That thought was quite revolutionary for me. But it had an effect. I started thinking more carefully about how I would respond to things, if at all. I began to see that there were actually a lot of people more wise than me out there. I began to post a lot less as I discovered how little I actually knew.
Similarly, I’m beginning to see now that people seem to cope just fine without my anecdote-filled conversations, and it’s actually much more interesting to ask other people questions about themselves.
In his letter, James says:
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…
So, I’m thinking that’s good advice, and from now on, I’m trying to do a bit less talking and a bit more listening.
And when I do talk, it should be stuff that’s going to draw attention to God, not me.