I was paging through the August issue of The Oprah Magazine (yes guys, there’s good stuff for us in there too), and came across an article by Martha Beck called “The Praise Drug.” The article began with a story about Sarah…
“Sarah was an addict…a few hours after she’d glowingly received an award, she was curled up in bed, anxious, needy, already jonesing for a fix. Sarah was abusing something more powerful, insidious and accessible than any street drug: the adoration and esteem of others that some psychologists call narcissistic supply. Simply put, she was addicted to praise. Her entire life revolved around eliciting positive attention from others.”
People like Sarah are never good conversationalists, because they turn every conversation into an opportunity to talk about themselves. And, talking only about yourself – no matter how interesting you think you are – doesn’t make you a sparkling conversationalist, it brands you as a bore.
Several years ago, I saw a cartoon in the newspaper. Two women were in a conversation at a party. Woman number one says, “But enough about me, let’s talk about you. What do you think of my dress?”
I’m sure you know people like this. Recently Cathy and I were with another couple. The woman was a talker. By the end of our time together, we knew everything about her, her children, her grandchildren and her friends and their children and grandchildren. She knew very little about us – for two reasons. First, she never asked. Second, she was so busy speaking about herself that she never gave us any time to speak about ourselves.
From the little (or depending on how you think about it, the lot) I know this woman, I’m sure she thinks she is a dynamite conversationalist – always keeping things going, never a dull moment, willing to share the details of her life. Unfortunately she is wrong. A good conversationalist demonstrates more interest in others than himself or herself.
I saw a quote on line the other day. I’m sorry I can’t remember it exactly, but it went something like…
A self centered person enters a room and says, “Here I am.” A gracious person enters a room and says, “Ah, there you are.”
Good conversationalists are gracious, not self centered. They enter each conversation letting the other person know that he or she is important and that they want to learn about him or her.
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are dynamic communicators. Dynamic communicators are excellent conversationalists. The essence of good conversation is a willingness to listen to, and learn from, others. People who are addicted to praise, those whose “narcissistic supply” is in short supply, are seldom good conversationalists. In seeking the approval of others, they speak only of themselves and their lives. They seldom take the time to engage other people in conversation and listen to what they have to say. If you want to become a good conversation, get interested in other people. Learn about them and their lives. They’ll reciprocate and give you the chance to talk about you and your life.
That’s my take on the addiction to praise and how it hampers effective conversation. What’s yours? Please take a few minutes to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us. As always, thanks for reading.
Dynamic communication skills are one of the keys to personal and professional success that I discuss in several of my books: Straight Talk for Success, Your Success GPS and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success.
blog comments powered by Disqus
I saw an interesting quote from Arianna Huffington the other day…
"The fastest way to break the cycle of perfectionism and become fearless is to give up the idea of doing it perfectly - indeed to embrace uncertainty and imperfection."
This is some great common sense advice. Perfectionism will result in procrastination. And procrastination will feed your fear.
When you want to do something, do it. The other day I retweeted some great common sense advice by my friend Stephanie Frank…
“If it takes less than five minutes, don’t write it down. Just do it now.”
Action, action, action is the key to self confidence and career and life success. Perfectionism is one of the barriers to action. When I am coaching people on writing, I give them this advice…
“Write fast. Get your thoughts down on the computer screen (or paper if you’re old fashioned) quickly. Don’t worry about spelling and grammar. Just get your thoughts out of your head. There will be plenty of time to go back and edit.”
That’s how I write this blog – quickly. Most of my posts are in the 500 – 600 range. It takes me about 15 minutes to write them and another 15 to edit them. I couldn’t do five posts a week if I spent much more time writing.
I didn’t let perfectionism stop me when I began writing this blog. When I began blogging more than 1,000 posts ago, I didn’t have a clue about how to write a good blog. I knew I had some things to say that many people might find helpful and interesting, so I had a friend show me how to set up and post to a blog, and I began writing.
I didn’t burden myself with perfectionist questions like, “What’s the right format?” “How long should my posts be?” “How do I add links?” slow me down. I just started writing. The rest came later as I read other blogs and saw what I liked and what I didn’t.
I took action – and here I am over 1,000 posts later.
The same is true with my books. I write them quickly, edit them for content, and then have someone else proofread them. Quite frankly, if I stopped to think how much work goes into writing a book, I might never have written one – let alone 10.
Paul Meyer is one of the true legends in the personal growth business. I have his quote, “Whatever you can vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon, must inevitably come to pass,” hanging just inside the door to my office. I read it every time I go in or out of my office. I live my life by these words.
I saw another quote from Mr. Meyer in an email from Brian Tracy the other day…
“90% of all those who fail are not defeated. They simply quit.”
Of these 90%, I think that some many don’t even get started. The let perfectionism, or some other fear, get in their way. You’ve got to play if you want to win.
I was speaking with a friend and client the other day. The top job in his specialty for his division is coming open as the senior VP is retiring in December. He told me that the same day he learned of the retirement, he updated his resume and sent it and a note to the head of the division asking to be considered for the soon to be vacant job.
He didn’t wait. He didn’t say, “I’m not experienced enough.” He didn’t spend weeks revising his resume until it was “perfect.” He took action – and is a top candidate for the position.
One last quote from Henry Ford that popped up after I wrote the first draft of this post…
“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do.”
Think about it…
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are self confident. Self confident people take action. They don’t let their fears, or their perfectionism trap them into procrastinating. If you want to succeed you need to be self confident. If you want to become self confident you need to face your fears – and any other impediment to your success – and act. James Malinchak gives out rubber bracelets at his seminars that say “GSDF – Get Stuff Done Fast.” Speed is often more important that perfect quality – unless you’re planning a space mission. Build your self confidence by taking action.
That’s my take on self confidence, action and success. What’s yours? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts on action and procrastination with us. As always, thanks for reading.
Self confidence is one of the keys to career and life success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success, 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success and Your Success GPS. If you want to become self confident you need to do three things. First, become an optimist. Choose to believe that today will be better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better than today. Second, face your fears and act. Procrastination and inaction feed fear. Action cures it. Third, surround yourself with positive people.
blog comments powered by Disqus
I’m always amazed at the complexity of bike racing. It’s a sport that requires amazing levels of fitness, the latest technology and high levels of teamwork. Every July, the Tour de France gives me the opportunity to see the pros in action and learn something new.
If you’ve ever watched a bike race, you’ve seen teamwork and cooperation in action – even among competitors. I think there is a lesson about building relationships here.
In bike racing, the person who is in the lead has to work the hardest. He or she has to deal with all of the resistance caused by the wind. The people behind the leader have it a bit easier as they have less wind resistance. They stay just behind the leader and one another. This principle is called “drafting.”
If you watch a race, oftentimes you’ll see a lead group of several riders. These riders will take turns moving to the front. In this way, they help one another go faster. They will keep this up until they are ready for the final sprint to the finish line – in which case it becomes every man or woman for himself or herself.
Yesterday, one rider in the Tour de France, David Millar made a lone breakaway with 29 kilometers to go. For a while, it appeared as if he was going to win the stage. However, by working together, the peleton (the large group of riders) was able to catch him and deny him is stage win. David won the Prix Brandt de la Combativitie prize, a testament to his warrior mentality – but he didn’t win the stage, Thor Hushovd did.
The report I read on line said…
David Millar’s game effort but ultimate disappointment – he didn’t even finish in the top 10 in the stage – shows the value of cooperation and sharing the lead and the work. This is true in relationships too. In solid, lasting mutually beneficial relationships, all parties help one another.
I’m a bicyclist. I’ve just returned from a ride as I’m writing this. I’m not a fast rider. I’m not a slow rider. I’m a half fast rider. (Read the last three sentences aloud if you didn’t get the joke.) However, I have experienced the power of teamwork even on a recreational ride. It always helps to have someone in front, doing the hard work and shielding me from the wind. However, I realize that I need to go to the front on occasion and do the same for my riding partners.
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are interpersonally competent. Interpersonally competent people build and maintain solid relationships with the people in their lives. Just like in bicycle racing, cooperation, sharing the lead and the work are key to creating strong, mutually beneficial relationships. If you get a chance, tune into the Tour de France one day this month. You’ll see cooperation in action, even among competitors.
For quite a while now, I’ve been in the lead on this blog. I’d like some help. I’d appreciate it if you would go to the front of the pack and leave a thoughtful comment on – or ask a question about -- what I’ve been writing on career and life success. That’s the way good relationships work. I want to strengthen my relationship with all of you.
blog comments powered by Disqus