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10 Great Ways to Deal with Selfish People

10 Great Ways to Deal with Selfish People

Everyone is selfish to a certain extent. While normal levels of self-love, self-value and self-confidence are important for people to function well, there is a line between these characteristics and being a little too self-absorbed, arrogant or just plain narcissistic.

For example, some people are always trying to make others believe that their own world is the better one, while others will always cut you short and try to air their grievances when you wish to air yours. Yet others can talk for hours about themselves, making you feel like you are of lesser importance.

These selfish people love the idea of all for one—only when that one is them. They will dislike and devalue you if you don’t buy into their misplaced “superiority.”

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If you’ve met someone very selfish or perhaps have a friend or partner who’s selfish, here are some concrete ways you can deal with them.

1. Accept that they have no regard for others.

The first piece of advice for dealing with selfish people is to be real with yourself. Accept that the self-centered person might never consider your needs first. As much as this friend or lover means to you, know that they have no regard for others’ feelings or welfare. They can have moments of generosity and charm, but for the most part, they simply lack the skill or willingness to be thoughtful and considerate. This knowledge will give you a clear understanding of where you stand in the relationship.

2. Give yourself the attention you deserve.

Selfish people are emotional pirates. They crave for your attention, but don’t give you any. To avoid being wrung dry of emotions, give yourself the attention you’ve been giving the emotional pirate. For example, if there is any discomfort in your physical appearance, head to the barber or boutique and improve it. This is called meeting your own needs, and it’s a great way to boost your ego and pirate-proof your life. Ignoring your needs to pour attention and energy into a self-absorbed person isn’t virtuous. It only sets you up for being emotionally drained and hurt.

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3. Stay true to yourself—don’t stoop to their level.

Selfish people can push your buttons and make you feel like pulling out their hair—don’t do it. Don’t play into their game or engage in behavior that is beneath you. Just be true to yourself. It’s difficult to be kind to a self-centered person who is brutish or unkind to you, but becoming like them doesn’t help things. Alleviate any feeling of anger you may have towards them by focusing on the person you are and resolving to continue being that considerate and loving person that you know you are.

4. Remind them that the world does not revolve around them.

A self-absorbed person may be so caught up in herself that she forgets to consider your thoughts or feelings. She might just need a little reminder that the world does not revolve around her. Speak up and tell her as much without coming across as if you are attacking her. For example, instead of throwing a tantrum and screaming, “You never listen to me; you always make everything about you,” try saying,”I really need to talk to someone about something bothering me. Would you be willing to listen to me?”

5. Starve them of the attention they crave.

This is a powerful strategy to deal with extremely selfish people who refuse to regard others. The trick is to be civil but never offer the attention the self-absorbed person craves. It works by limiting your words to bland, noncommittal comments with them. For example, instead of saying, “You poor thing, he did that to you?” say, “Yeah, that’s life.” It will baffle and throw them off balance for a while. Remember, attention is your treasure. If you don’t give it to them, they will most likely scamper away.

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6. Bring up topics that interest you.

Whatever interests you—carpentry, cooking, politics, you name it—bring it up in conversations with a self-absorbed person instead of pouring all your attention onto the topics he brings up. For example, if he says, “You won’t believe what my girlfriend said to me!” reply with something like, “Hey, do you know how much Bill Cosby is worth?” The more random the topic you bring up and the more unrelated to the selfish person’s topic, the better. Keep focusing on your real interests no matter what, and watch him try to escape from you when he realizes you’re not interested in his self-centered stories.

7. Stop doing favors for them.

Selfish people always ask for favors, but they squirm out of helping you when you need their help. That’s just how they operate. While it is important to be tolerant and give a selfish friend or partner a chance to change, it is also important not to enable their selfishness—especially if it ends up hurting you. So, when a selfish person asks you for too many favors don’t give in and let her walk all over you. Assert yourself and make it clear that you don’t appreciate being made to feel as if you are not important or as if you are of a lower status. If you get into a position where you have to defend your stand, make it short and to the point since selfish people are not the best listeners and may not even listen to you anyway.

8. Limit the time you spend together.

Once you realize that someone is too selfish and self-absorbed, it is high time you stayed away from them. Limit your time together as much as possible. If you used to have coffee dates every evening, space the dates farther and farther apart, and stop calling and replying to all their messages. You may be met with a myriad of reactions from disinterest to tantrums and anger, but hold firm. Your time is better off spent alone than with overwhelmingly selfish people.

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9. Actively seek better friends.

Recall the pain, agony, hurt and exhaustion of giving intense emotional energy to selfish, inconsiderate people and decide no more. Refuse to allow yourself to get attached to such friends. Instead, seek new friends who pay as much attention to you as you do to them. You can make new friends by going out more and interacting with new people at social events, religious places of worship and volunteer centers. Once you have new, better friendsyou can entertain yourselves with tales of the selfish person who pillaged your energy and plundered your emotions for a while—or not.

10. End the relationship.

If the selfish person you are dealing with does not seem capable of changing, he may be more than just self-centered and selfish—he may be a narcissist. Narcissists are not only selfish and self-absorbed, but also lack feelings of sympathy and purposely use others. They are harder to deal with than the average selfish person. In this case, you can try asking them to get professional help, but if that doesn’t work cut all links with them and end the relationship outright. Life is too short to be bogged down by selfish people and tied down in toxic relationships that suck the energy and happiness out of you.

Featured photo credit: Ed Yourdon via flickr.com

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More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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