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Old 01-08-2012, 06:58 AM
 
663 posts, read 990,315 times
Reputation: 940

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I am 40yo and looking back over my life, I seem to attract self-centered people as friends. I tend to be a very good listener and polite (even when I don't feel like it) because I know what it's like to not be heard. Growing up with a mother with some degree of narcissism has a lot to do with that.

For instance, I have a co-worker who basically verbally vomits at me every morning. I hate to sound so crass but it is what it is. She clearly looks disinterested when she isn't the center of attention, with me or anyone else. It's annoying. One would never guess she's actually 32yo. If you call her out on her behavior, she cries or otherwise loses her grip. I've never called her out but have felt like it. However, others have and the results are not pretty.

Another example is email. I know a couple people who will initiate email with me and in the past I have replied. Anymore I just don't feel like it. Reason being is they will type out a long email describing a situation or wondering what to do about a problem. After I reply, nothing.....I may not write a response as long as theirs but I do respond in a normal fashion. It makes me end up feeling like my co-worker's behavior tends to, like a sounding board or just the wall...as though the person (me) doesn't matter, just that they are talking.

I'm pretty introspective and have wondered my part in this. I try to make sure I never monopolize a conversation with others. About a month ago I went out to lunch with someone and I DID monopolize the conversation and felt terrible once I realized what I was doing. The conversation was about my dad's death this past fall and I basically lost sight of how much talking I was doing. I still
feel bad about that. Under normal circumstances I would have never gone on like that.

Anyhow, I know I'm not perfect either but this self-centeredness issue irks me more and more. It's not as though I want the conversation to be about me, not at all. But it's pretty easy to spot those who don't pay attention, are always thinking of the next thing they are going to say, or are clearly bored when the spotlight's not on them.

Any ideas on how to deal with this kind of thing, especially when it's a co-worker? I don't want to alienate her as we do work together. I try to not let my expectations with others get too high but it's a sticking point with me. I don't think my coworker is a narcissist, but who knows, I'm not a psychiatrist either. But extreme self-centeredness, even if it isn't related to narcissism somehow, does seem to reek a bit. Mental health issue or just the way things are with a lot of people?
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:40 AM
 
Location: Back in the gym...Yo Adrian!
9,411 posts, read 18,840,475 times
Reputation: 18541
You just have to learn how to accept the good with the bad. She is who she is, and you are likely not the only person who sees this quality in her. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, is narcissism or self-centeredness the worst possible trait a person can possess? She's not a murderer, a drug addict, a thief, a child molester, mean or nasty etc. Everyone has flaws and this just happens to be hers. Is she a good person otherwise? Is there anything good you can think of about this co-worker? Focus on that while working together and you can either let her babble on about herself, or subtlely change the subject when she starts going on about "me, me, me".
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:03 AM
 
663 posts, read 990,315 times
Reputation: 940
She's a decent person overall and no, I'm not the only one who sees this in her. Focusing on other aspects of her personality is a good idea and I do try my best. Lately it has just been bugging more because of something she talks about all the time and it doesn't put her in a good light. When a person tries to change the subject, you can just see her tune out and then do whatever she can to steer back to herself.

Anyhow, rambling there. She's just an example, really. I would like to deal with her effectively and all but also, I seem to know a lot of people like this and it's frustrating sometimes. It's the lack of give and take and the obvious disinterest in others, as well as topics not pertaining to their lives somehow.

There is a point where I need to not let these things bug me so much. On the other hand, it would be nice if I didn't see it happen so much (wishful thinking on my part).
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:14 AM
 
663 posts, read 990,315 times
Reputation: 940
Also, I'm introverted so after one of these in-person encounters with being talked at, I generally feel mentally wiped out. I have a fairly stressful job and feeling mentally drained at 6:30am makes for a long day. I sort of cut her off the other day and drama, on her part, ensued. She didn't cry but now is acting cold, etc. Personally I don't care but I dislike it at work as she often tries to involve our boss when someone upsets her.
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:35 AM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
19,466 posts, read 11,968,019 times
Reputation: 33957
I know how you feel, I think. I live alone and enjoy it. I find constant prattling stressful.

Coolhand is right in a way: people are what they are.

But you have the right to set limits. Not sure what type of job you have but if her excess verbiage is keeping you from doing your job, tell her, nicely of course. Put it on yourself if you must: Sorry, Suzie; I'd love to hear your monologue about your ingrown toenail but I really have to focus on this report right now. or some variation.
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:57 AM
 
Location: State of Being
35,883 posts, read 70,117,185 times
Reputation: 22567
Some people are what I think of as energy vampires. They seek out folks who are willing to listen. These folks can even be quite entertaining and they will do something periodically to keep the other person in their sphere - invite them somewhere, show up with a gift, etc.

But in the end, they are takers . . . and they are always attracted to the givers.

Just realize that people gravitate to others who can fulfill some need . . . for some people, that may mean sharing things (like a hobby) . . . and in those cases, it can be very fulfilling. For others, that may mean finding someone who will be more or less a mirror . . . confirm their beliefs, give them sympathy, validate whatever their thoughts are at the moment. As long as that type of relationship is doing something for YOU - it can work (make you feel important, make you feel appreciated for your advice or kindnesses). The minute it turns into a one-sided "need-fest" . . . it becomes work and has no value.

People who try to suck you into their drama, especially at work, should be avoided. Even listening to them (without actually stating that you agree) can get you into hot water with coworkers.
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Old 01-08-2012, 05:59 PM
 
698 posts, read 2,614,866 times
Reputation: 752
I have always attracted needy people and I've been hurt by them often. I have cut them out of my life, and feel a lot better.

Work situations are tough. I agree that it's to your advantage to avoid this co-worker. It's not like they will miss you. In all likelihood they will just find another sounding board.

Having said all that, I have come to realize that I have attracted these people to me because I am not comfortable being the center of attention or needy one, and would rather be the sounding board (with boundaries) than the other way around.

The last person I had this type of relationship with was an in-law that I had stayed in touch with following a divorce. She was not well emotionally and I sincerely felt bad for her. I let her take advantage of me, knowing she was unwell. Then I moved and invited her to come visit me several times in my new house but she never would. I realized it was because she couldn't be happy for me. Her own problems were all we had between us anymore.

It was hard cutting her out of my life but only because of my own sense of loyalty, not because it was a valuable and reciprocal friendship. Anyone who makes your relationship all about them and can't give anything in return is not worth investing.

Your co-worker is acting cold because you appear to be unavailable like you were before. My mom has never been a sage on advice but I might actually do something she would do and that's ignore her. Change the subject, get up out of your chair and leave the room, pick up the phone to make a call, etc.
Stay professional since you have to work with her but let it be known that you aren't her psychotherapist.

Actions still speak louder than words. And don't feel bad at all. This is self preservation.

It's great that you want better treatment for yourself. That is the beginning of positive changes!
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Old 01-08-2012, 07:39 PM
 
663 posts, read 990,315 times
Reputation: 940
Quote:
Originally Posted by carolinadreamin;
I have always attracted needy people and I've been hurt by them often. I have cut them out of my life, and feel a lot better.

Work situations are tough. I agree that it's to your advantage to avoid this co-worker. It's not like they will miss you. In all likelihood they will just find another sounding board.

Having said all that, I have come to realize that I have attracted these people to me because I am not comfortable being the center of attention or needy one, and would rather be the sounding board (with boundaries) than the other way around.

The last person I had this type of relationship with was an in-law that I had stayed in touch with following a divorce. She was not well emotionally and I sincerely felt bad for her. I let her take advantage of me, knowing she was unwell. Then I moved and invited her to come visit me several times in my new house but she never would. I realized it was because she couldn't be happy for me. Her own problems were all we had between us anymore.

It was hard cutting her out of my life but only because of my own sense of loyalty, not because it was a valuable and reciprocal friendship. Anyone who makes your relationship all about them and can't give anything in return is not worth investing.

Your co-worker is acting cold because you appear to be unavailable like you were before. My mom has never been a sage on advice but I might actually do something she would do and that's ignore her. Change the subject, get up out
of your chair and leave the room, pick up the phone to make a call, etc.
Stay professional since you have to work with her but let it be known that you aren't her psychotherapist.

Actions still speak louder than words. And don't feel bad at all. This is self preservation.

It's great that you want better treatment for yourself. That is the beginning of positive changes!
Yes, needy people is indeed what I attract. This co-worker is one of the neediest people I have ever come across. Her life is full of drama, completely self created. Her latest problem is she is "dating" a married man with two little kids, supposedly separated from their mother. I'm inclined to tell her what I really think but that generally never pans out well when it comes to work.

I'm going to start using some of the tactics you mentioned in your post, picking up the phone, etc. Changing the subject, unfortunately, never works with her but the other tactics are definitely worth trying .
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:10 PM
 
16,102 posts, read 21,690,870 times
Reputation: 26516
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurePugx3 View Post
I am 40yo and looking back over my life, I seem to attract self-centered people as friends. I tend to be a very good listener and polite (even when I don't feel like it) because I know what it's like to not be heard. Growing up with a mother with some degree of narcissism has a lot to do with that.

For instance, I have a co-worker who basically verbally vomits at me every morning. I hate to sound so crass but it is what it is. She clearly looks disinterested when she isn't the center of attention, with me or anyone else. It's annoying. One would never guess she's actually 32yo. If you call her out on her behavior, she cries or otherwise loses her grip. I've never called her out but have felt like it. However, others have and the results are not pretty.

Another example is email. I know a couple people who will initiate email with me and in the past I have replied. Anymore I just don't feel like it. Reason being is they will type out a long email describing a situation or wondering what to do about a problem. After I reply, nothing.....I may not write a response as long as theirs but I do respond in a normal fashion. It makes me end up feeling like my co-worker's behavior tends to, like a sounding board or just the wall...as though the person (me) doesn't matter, just that they are talking.

I'm pretty introspective and have wondered my part in this. I try to make sure I never monopolize a conversation with others. About a month ago I went out to lunch with someone and I DID monopolize the conversation and felt terrible once I realized what I was doing. The conversation was about my dad's death this past fall and I basically lost sight of how much talking I was doing. I still
feel bad about that. Under normal circumstances I would have never gone on like that.

Anyhow, I know I'm not perfect either but this self-centeredness issue irks me more and more. It's not as though I want the conversation to be about me, not at all. But it's pretty easy to spot those who don't pay attention, are always thinking of the next thing they are going to say, or are clearly bored when the spotlight's not on them.

Any ideas on how to deal with this kind of thing, especially when it's a co-worker? I don't want to alienate her as we do work together. I try to not let my expectations with others get too high but it's a sticking point with me. I don't think my coworker is a narcissist, but who knows, I'm not a psychiatrist either. But extreme self-centeredness, even if it isn't related to narcissism somehow, does seem to reek a bit. Mental health issue or just the way things are with a lot of people?
I hear you. Sometimes you have to let go of ever being able to change this type situation.
What I have learned as an older person, life is short. We either accept folks in our lives willing, and w/ grace.....letting go of our own judgment, expectations, and just live and let live.
It isn't easy, but if this lady is worth it, continue to just be a sounding board, when you have time.

At work, when she starts to regurgitate( and I know exactly what you mean) you look at your watch............head nod........look down at your desk, shuffle a few papers.....and say "could we do this at our break"..hmmm

By the time you have your break, she will have already had some other dramatic events happen....and w/ luck she will have forgotten. Try this, or some version of this scenario, and let me know after work tomorrow what happened.

Do not feel guilty for feeling this way, wasting time is a slow death to me. And, honestly, I can BE that lady too on certain days.

My boss does exactly what I told you, minus the break comment. He actually used to make me feel insulted, but I eventually recognized my little applicable stories, were not really wanted. When it does fit now, and we chit chat for a minute I don't feel guilty.

I think it is that boundaries are a bit hard to recognize at times. For instance, you have let this lady think it is appropriate to prattle on, because you allowed it. So, she may not have any idea that you really wish she wouldn't. You'll have to re-identify your boundaries. Hoping all turns out for you, jannd

Last edited by JanND; 01-08-2012 at 09:13 PM.. Reason: spacing
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:27 PM
 
Location: Southern California
3,115 posts, read 7,674,614 times
Reputation: 3698
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coolhand68 View Post
She is who she is,
Exactly right!

It's also important to realize that it's only a few minutes of your day - and you can handle just about anything for that short a period of time. And if it's more than a couple of minutes? Then you need to find polite ways to cut it off sooner.

Bottom line, she's a VERY small part of your life, and while you do have to put up with her, it's shouldn't be that difficult to do so. Just give her a minute or two, and then move on!

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurePugx3 View Post
I'm going to start using some of the tactics you mentioned in your post, picking up the phone, etc. Changing the subject, unfortunately, never works with her but the other tactics are definitely worth trying .
Honestly you don't even have to change the subject, just get involved in something else, and walk away. It may feel rude at first, but if you watch other people, you will see that people normally do exactly that all the time.
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