Good conversationalists don’t compete; they cooperate

OK, it’s my column and because it’s my column I get to rant occasionally. Today I’m ranting about conversational narcissists. You know who I mean. The ones whose general tenor is, “Well enough about me. How do YOU like me so far?”

Disguising the circumstances, I’ll say that I encountered this at a recent event where I ran into two old friends whom I hadn’t seen in a long a time and one person whom I knew slightly and the others didn’t know at all. Person number three not only monopolized the conversation but did so with topics completely unrelated to the event. Celebrity names were dropped, information about excretory symptoms of illness was overshared. Our naked attempts to seize control of the discussion sailed over the offender’s head like Titan rockets.

I was thus happy to find this article about conversational narcissism from in a Lifehacker article on how to make a good first impression.

Here are a couple of subspecies of conversational narcissists:

 The Punctuation Deprived: One thought flows seamlessly into the next. There are no pauses and, by the time you realize the subject has changed, there’s no way to go back to comment on the previous one or to derail the runaway train of thought.

The Provocative Interjector/Hijacker: This guy often thinks he’s a real card. In a conversation about sleep disorders, he pops in with “Well that’s only true if Herman Cain wears red pajamas” and, next thing you know, you’re talking about the GOP debates.

That’s the great thing about blogging. It’s the written equivalent of conversational narcissism. That’s enough about me, but you can talk about me some more by using the comment box below.

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  1. Sharlan Douglas


    I encountered this new example just recently: The filibuster questioner. He really seems like a generous networker. He looks you in the eye and starts a relevant, apparently thoughtful question. Unfortunately the question never ends; it’s actually a speech about what HE knows. The question, when and if it arrives, is something like, “So am I right, or what?”

  2. Margaret Petersen


    Sharlan, I loved this article – thank you for sharing it! Being a good, and interested, conversationalist is so important not only in business, but of course in life in general. I printed it and shared it with my teenage son as an example of the kind of person, and good (attentive) conversationalist, one should strive to become. The topic made for – you got it – interesting dinner table conversation. Thank you again.

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  4. Reply

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