A few months back, I set up a call with an old friend who I hadn’t spoken to in a while. After she asked her three perfunctory questions – health, husband, work, the rest of the conversation was her own stream of consciousness that lasted an hour. Nothing urgent, or out of the ordinary, just family, and stuff. All good and all about her. Is she a self-obsessed friend?
Does she have poor listening skills? Could be. Or, a low emotional IQ – EQ? Possibly.
Reasons for a self-obsessed friend can range from narcissistic tendencies to loneliness. Time to find out what’s really going on in their lives.
We tend to put these so-called self-obsessed friends in a box, label them under “Call again in 6 months,” and then go on with our lives.
What if you stopped and listened, dug deeper, and discovered what’s really going on. So often, we’re very quick to roll our eyes and dismiss these friends.
“Ask not what your friends can do for you, ask what you can do for your friends.”
Through the looking-glass
You chose this person as your friend, remember. So what attracted you to them in the first place?
My self-obsessed friend is a fun and smart and quite the bon vivant. Until, that is, I realized that much of her behavior was a mask, hiding a deeper pain and addiction.
During our phone call, her stream of consciousness was not really what it seemed. It wasn’t so much about “me, me, me” but in her own way she was letting me know that her life was back on an even keel. Her boat was in a safe harbor and, for now, sheltered from life’s stormy seas.
And that’s fine by me. I revised her label years ago when I dropped my own judgment to try to understood her motivations. It’s more meaningful for her to communicate her well-being than me demanding an equal time share on the wi-fi waves.
Take a moment to listen beyond the words, increase your own emotional IQ and find out what’s really being communicated.
Listen, Think, Respond:
Listen – I heard what my friend was communicating without judging what she was saying. Becoming an active listener about what’s going on, rather than worrying whether you didn’t say anything during the hour. Really hear what she was saying – target her concerns and issues.
Think – understand what she’s communicating. Did she appear happier than usual, sadder. Was she struggling with her family or job. Think about how you can shift the conversation to your mutual interests. She may be chatting away because you haven’t interrupted her flow. So, pipe in to shift the conversation. If she goes back to the same topic, remind her that you have a hard-time out and there’s some ideas you want to share. Set up these strategies before your phone call, as if it’s a job interview.
Respond – address her life, and repeat her concerns back to her quickly so she can make her point in 5 minutes as opposed to 20 minutes. If, through your listening and thinking you realize she believes her life is more important, don’t compete but set down some terms. If she continues regardless, make sure you have a hard-out time in future. Suggest, making shorter more frequent calls – as her behavior may be showing signs of loneliness rather than her self obsession.
If this connection becomes less and less fulfilling for you after attempting to keep the conversation mutually focused, be kind and slowly move her from the A or B-Lister friends to an Extra in your friend network.
Explore the different angles for better communication and then take action.
Remember… a great friend starts with you.
For more inspiration go to “How do you handle demanding friends? QUIZ” and “My Self-Centered Friend Quiz: Does This Friend Rule Your Life?“ and send us your feedback! We’d love to hear your stories too!!
Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)
© Glenda Shaw_Superfriendgroups.com / Gshawmedia.com 2014
Please note: I hide specific and identifiable details in my friend stories as these stories are examples of behavior and not meant to hurt anyone. These stories are based on my opinion and perspective, except when the people written about are in the public domain. Any advice in this blog is from my insights, research and opinion only, and must not be considered as legal or medical advice.