A friend of mine told me a great true story which I’ll repeat for you here. His name is Dan and I plan to run this by him before I post it, so any errors or exaggerations I take he’s happy with:
“One day, years ago, I bumped into an old friend of mine we’ll call Sarah. She suggested we go to the pub to catch up and we spent the evening talking, from about six until ten. Well, I say we were talking, it would be more accurate to say: I listened while she talked. And talked. And talked.
read moreThere was no gap for me to interject, no questions thrown my way that would allow me to start a conversational thread of my own. It was just a deluge of words from her about her life. The only pauses occurred because I indicated by sign language that I had to go to the bar and the toilet. Soon I had become very bored and resentful.
The interminable evening finally began to wind down and although to mention my feelings went totally against my usual reserved character, I felt I just couldn’t leave without pointing out what had happened that night. As we gathered our coats and prepared to leave I said to Sarah:
“Can I just stop you there. Do you realise that you’ve spent the entire evening just talking about yourself?”
Sarah looked taken aback at this and said instinctively “No I haven’t.”
“You have.” I said. “Name one thing you’ve asked me about myself.”
Sarah thought for a second, hand over her mouth, eyes darting around in her head, before looking appalled.
“Oh my God. You’re right. You must really hate me.”
“I don’t hate you.” I replied. “I think you should just be aware of what you’re doing. How do you think it made me feel?”
Needless to say, the evening ended awkwardly and we went our separate ways with our friendship forever altered by my honesty about her behaviour.
Fast forward six years. I bump into Sarah again, who pulls me excitedly to one side with some news.
“Do you remember that night? When you pointed out how self centred I was?”
“Yes…” I replied, wondering where this was going.
“Well that night changed my life. It made me realise how selfish I was, I came to hate the person I had become so much that I changed my name. I’m now called Flower and I’ve spent the last five years doing charity work in Africa.”
I shook my head sadly and said:
“You see, it’s all still just “Me, me, me””…