We all know one person who, no matter what the topic, always finds a way to make the conversation about themselves.
You’re speaking about your recent vacation? They’ve had a better one. You’re excited about a promotion? They’ve had three.
It’s frustrating, isn’t it?
Self-centered people have a unique talent for twisting any discussion to focus on their experiences, achievements, or interests.
But how do they do it? And more importantly, how can we recognize when it’s happening?
In this article, we’re going to delve into the eight most common tactics self-centered individuals use to hijack a conversation and turn the spotlight onto themselves.
This is not about pointing fingers or blaming anyone. It’s about understanding these patterns to improve our own communication skills and navigate conversations more effectively.
Let’s get started.
1) They often shift the focus back to themselves
Ever noticed this pattern? You’re sharing a story about your day, and suddenly the conversation turns towards them. It’s as if they have a sixth sense for when they’re not the main character in the tale.
For example, I remember telling a colleague about a difficult client I was dealing with. Within seconds, my colleague cut me off to talk about the ‘even more challenging’ client they had once tamed.
Before I could blink, my story had become a stage for their performance.
2) They love to one-up
One-upping is another classic tactic of self-centered individuals. No matter what you’ve done, they’ve done something bigger, better, or more impressive.
You ran a half-marathon? They’ve run a full one…twice.
Got a new job? Theirs is higher paying with more benefits.
You bought a new phone? Well, they did, too, and it’s more expensive than yours!
It’s exhausting and leaves you feeling like your own achievements are merely stepping stones for their ego.
3) They rarely ask questions
Another thing you’ll notice about self-centered people is that they never seem interested about what’s going on with you.
How do you know this? Well, they almost never ask questions about you, do they?
So, you might find yourself in a monologue rather than a dialogue. That’s exactly what I find myself in whenever I’m with a friend who, um, tends to be self-absorbed.
An hour would pass by, then two…and she’d still be telling me all about what’s happening on her end. By the end of our time together, I’d be up to date on her life, and she’d definitely not be up to date on mine.
And the thing is, she didn’t even seem bothered about it! I don’t think she intentionally neglected me, though, it was just the way she was.
Eventually, I began declining her dinner invitations. I didn’t want to spend time with someone who saw conversation as a one-way street that always, always led to them.
In fact, if a conversation seems to be veering your way, they’d likely do this next thing…
4) They interrupt a lot
We’ve all been in conversations where we can’t get a word in edgewise. This is another common tactic used by self-centered individuals – they love to interrupt.
According to Charlie Huntington at the Berkeley Wellbeing Institute, frequent interrupters do it as a way to establish dominance. He further says, “Interrupting happens when we want to put our goals before the other person’s goals, or before the apparently mutual goals of the conversation.”
Needless to say, this behavior can be not just off-putting, but downright rude. It makes the conversation feel one-sided and overwhelmingly about them.
It’s important to recognize these signs when we encounter them in our day-to-day interactions. Not only can it help us deal more effectively with self-centered individuals, but it can also help us avoid adopting these habits ourselves.
After all, good communication is all about balance and mutual respect.
5) They downplay your feelings
If you happened to open up to a self-centered person, don’t expect a lot of empathy.
Because there’d be a definite lack of it. What you’re more likely to get is a dismissive statement like, “Well, at least you still have…” or “Oh, that’s nothing, don’t worry about it too much.”
That’s why it’s a little hard to have a strong and genuine connection with a self-centered person.
When we share our emotions or challenges, what we’re really seeking is empathy – a sense of understanding and shared feeling. But with self-centered individuals, the lack of empathy can leave you feeling unheard and alone, making the conversation anything but a comforting interaction.
The funny thing is, while they’re not the best sources of support and validation…
6) They constantly seek validation
That’s right. One common trait of self-centered individuals is their constant need for validation. They often steer the conversation towards their achievements or experiences, craving positive reinforcement from others.
For instance, they might start sharing unsolicited details about their recent promotion or the expensive watch they just bought, waiting eagerly for your praise.
This continuous pursuit of approval can make the conversation feel more like an appraisal session than a casual chat.
7) They take everything personally
Making everything personal is a particularly telling trait of self-centered individuals in conversations. It’s like they have a unique filter that turns every topic, no matter how broad or universally relevant, into something about them.
For instance, a discussion on a global issue such as climate change might be twisted to revolve around how it impacts their life specifically, ignoring the larger implications.
This can be frustrating for others involved in the conversation, as it shifts the focus from a potentially engaging and diverse discussion to a narrow, self-focused narrative.
Like being dismissive or downplaying your feelings, this behavior can also reveal a lack of empathy or an inability to see things from others’ perspectives.
When someone consistently makes everything about themselves, it not only hampers the flow of a meaningful dialogue but also can make others feel unheard or undervalued.
Their inability to detach personal experiences from broader topics often leads to a conversation that lacks depth and diversity of thought.
It thus becomes challenging to explore different angles of a subject when one person continually redirects the focus back to their personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings. All while sidelining the collective experience or the bigger picture.
8) They always have the ‘final word’
Finally, they need to have the last word in any discussion.
Whether it’s a debate about who makes the best pizza or a serious discussion about climate change, they will wrap things up with their opinion, effectively closing the conversation.
It’s as if they never outgrew the phase when we’d have those childhood arguments and the one who speaks last feels like the winner.
It’s subtle, but this tactic allows them to maintain control of the discourse and, more often than not, focus it back onto their views and beliefs.
It may be tempting to judge or resent self-centered people, but understanding how they dominate conversations is crucial for healthy communication. It’s the better route to take.
Recognizing these behaviors, as annoying as they are, helps us navigate conversations more effectively.
Maybe it can even help you be more mindful of how you carry conversations yourself. It’s about finding balance: listening, sharing, and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard.
A good conversation is like a two-way street, with give and take from all sides. By being aware and proactive, we can foster more meaningful and inclusive interactions.
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