I give counsel. Most of it is free. In the course of giving advice, I talk about myself. In fact, I give a lot of examples. Many people believe that they know me pretty well.
Nancy doesn’t talk as much as I do, not in just plain conversations with people out there. It’s not that she has nothing to say, it’s that she can be pretty shy in social settings.
I have noticed something recently. When we are with people, we are more likely to ask about others and then listen to their answers than talk about ourselves. We don’t, we believe, have very interesting lives. We are, we believe, rather boring. (Or that’s what we tell ourselves.)
It showed up big on my radar recently when someone, after talking for a long time about their lives, asked about our new job. After a couple of sentences of answer, we went back to their agenda.
(No, it’s not you. Don’t worry.)
I was reminded of the “Enough about me, let’s talk about you. What do you think about me?” saying.
And I was reminded of two things:
1. When you are talking with people you may not know, keep asking questions. Ask open-ended questions. Listen all the way to the end of the answer. Ask a followup question.
I know a couple of people who are absolutely wonderful at this. Even when I feel like I’ve talked too long about myself, they ask additional questions.
2. When you are me, be willing to resist moving into the counselor role, where you listen a lot, synthesize a lot, and then provide direction. Instead, work to tell brief stories about people I have known, about what I did as a kid.