Do you have this problem? You find that certain people just talk about themselves all the time. You’re happy to listen and attend to them a lot, even much more than half the time when you’re together, but there are occasions when you’d like them to pay attention to you. What should you do?
I’m often asked about this in the talks I give about my book and the ‘system for people’ it describes. Clients, colleagues, family and friends ask about it too. The prompt is usually when I say that one of the biggest things I learned was that to get what we want, we need to help other people get what they want first.
There are lots of way to interrupt the pattern. Two to highlight are:
Just ask for your turn. You can say something like: ‘It’s been very interesting hearing about your abc. Now I’d like to tell you about xyz, because I’d like your help / opinion etc.’ Use ‘because’ to give a reason – a powerful word.
Here’s a more subtle method…
Reward the other person for the behaviour you want them to adopt, even if you haven’t seen them do it yet. Choose your moment and say something like ‘I really like it when you listen so carefully to what I have to say and give me your opinion about it’, even when they’ve never done that. You’d think they’d just ignore it or be confused, wouldn’t you, but it’s amazing how they start doing the behaviour you want. They’re hardly going to say ‘Oh no. I haven’t actually done the thing you’re praising me for.’
It’s a great approach for getting all sorts of things to happen. Show the other person what’s it going to be like when they do the thing you want them to do. Then they’ll do more of it.
Having said all that, it’s worth pausing to ask ourselves when and where we go on about our own stuff. If we notice the behaviour in others, chances are good we do it too.