We all want to connect with people, right? We want to form good relationships in and out of the workplace. We want to be respected. We want people to know how smart and great we are!
Okay, Greg, you lost me on that last one.
Did I? Maybe it’s just me. Sometimes I notice that I have an unhealthy desire to make sure the people I’m dealing with know I’m smart, accomplished, successful…(Geez, just writing this out makes me feel like a jerk.) What adds insult to injury is that when I do this, it doesn’t help me it hurts me. It also hurts the person I’m trying to show up. So, why do I do it?
I rationalize that I mainly fall into this trap when the person I’m dealing with is putting out signals that he thinks he’s better than me. To which I brilliantly respond by thinking, “He thinks he’s better than me? Who does he think he is? I’ll show him!”
Yes, brilliant. That will get him to like me/buy from me/want to do business with me.
This kind of thing just happened the other day. I told myself a story that the guy I was talking with was acting like he was way better than me. So, I started talking, and talking, and talking to prove how much I knew, how smart I was, why he should listen to me, blah, blah, blah.
Then I realized what I was doing. I physically felt ill at my actions. So, I stopped. I apologized for dominating the conversation and started asking him questions. I learned a lot and actually started a friendship.
How many times do we tear down the relationships and influence we are trying to build with the need to make sure the other guy knows we’re pretty cool stuff?
We can fall into this trap with our bosses, the people we manage, our children, our spouses, our preachers…
What helps me with this is being secure in who I am, yet working at remaining humble. I remember that we are all equal in God’s eyes, that everyone knows something I don’t know, and that I will learn more and make more friends by asking questions and listening than by trying to show off.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
-C. S. Lewis
I also remember what my dad used to tell me, “Some people are thought to be fools. Others open their mouths and prove it.”