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6 Good Reasons to Stop Being The Center of Attention

6 Good Reasons to Stop Being The Center of Attention

Americans are bombarded with manipulative signals from the media on a daily basis. It started generations ago with sexy billboard models, magazines and ad campaigns playing on our insecurities. With the recent rise of reality television, talent-less pop stars, cosplay and the instant gratification of social media, attention seeking behavior has become disturbingly common. Even if you were sheltered from such influences as a child, you probably grew up with a long list of insecurities. This is what the economy and society is built on. The source may be outside of your control, but you still get to decide how actively you want to participate. Attention seeking behavior is unhealthy and it might be destroying your relationships as we speak. Here are a few pointers on how to stop being the center of attention.

Admit Your Problem

The first step to any big behavioral change is to address the problem. Attention seeking behavior is often a source of gratification and positive reinforcement. This means it is unlikely you will modify these behaviors before they have resulted in a level of misfortune to equal or outnumber your positive experiences. Some people never get to this point. If you know yourself well enough to be reading this, you are on the right track. Here are a few questions you should ask before you decide to make a change:

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  • Do you feel threatened when other people are in the spotlight instead of you?
  • Do a lot of people seem to dislike you for unknown reasons?
  • Do you have trouble working with others without being in a position of authority?
  • Do you respond negatively to the success of others?
  • Do you interrupt or talk over people in conversations?
  • How often do you feel jealous? Be honest.
  • Do you require photos to be displayed of everything you do?
  • Would you describe yourself as an exhibitionist?
  • Have you ever been called things like dominant, alpha, or diva?

In answering these questions with unabashed honesty, you should be able to determine if your attention seeking behavior has reached problematic levels. Most people will answer yes to a few of these. If you answer yes to more than half, you might want to keep reading.

Take Inventory of Your Insecurities

Attention seeking behavior is quite often indicative of deep seated insecurities. Start by making a list of the things you are insecure about. Think about where these insecurities came from and why you feel this way. From there, list all the ways in which you are acting out to overcompensate for these supposed shortcomings. Ask yourself whether or not the attention you get from acting out is really doing anything to make you feel more secure or confident in yourself. Then try to think of other, more effective ways you might be able to work on these insecurities. It helps to keep a daily journal of reflections and general observations throughout this process.

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center of attention

    Observe Your Behavior

    Once you have done some writing and meditated from a distance, try to catch yourself acting out in real time. You will find your motivations are a bit easier to pinpoint from inside the moment. Don’t try to stop yourself at first, just pay attention to what is happening and where it is coming from. Note how the attention makes you feel and what drives you to seek it out. Then, pay attention to the consequences. Did you step on anyone’s toes on your way to the spotlight? Did people praise your performance? How did this praise make you feel? Did anyone seem to be put off by your actions? Why do you think that might be? You should write about these observations in detail to allow for thorough analysis. If you are having trouble getting started, try thinking back every evening to a time when you actively sought out rewards or attention that day. Then write about it in retrospect. If you do this every day for a while, it should get easier for you to catch yourself and think about things in the moment. Try to maintain this mindful presence as constantly as possible once you get the hang of it.

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    Stop Trying to Influence Others

    Many people who seek attention on a grand scale have issues related to control. They have a hard time controlling themselves, yet they are highly motivated to control others. Since others are more heavily influenced by example than intentions, attention seekers spend a lot of time getting frustrated when things do not go according to their plans or wishes. News flash: you cannot expect other people to do what you want them to. You cannot control anyone else, and the more you expect from others the more you will be disappointed. Turn your energy inward and make yourself into a better example of what you want to see in others. Even if nobody else follows suit, at least you will know you are doing your part to make things happen the way you want them to. When you focus on controlling the only thing you truly can – which is yourself – you will be surprised at how much more correctly things get done. In doing this, you are creating a sustainable source of the validation you have always sought from others, and I promise, you will find that it is the real way to increase confidence and eliminate insecurities.

    Understand That Progress Will Take Time

    Once you have addressed a problem like this and made a commitment to working on it, the most important part is following through. This means changing a lot of really bad habits. It is going to be difficult since you are not going to see the changes you are shooting for overnight. Epiphanies take time to sink in. Compulsive behavior often takes years to fully change. While there are many milestones of progress along the way, also know there will be a lot of failure. It is important to take accountability for your foul-ups without punishing yourself too hard or giving up the fight. This is extremely difficult but totally worth it.

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    Seek Therapy

    Only you can trace all the connections between your deepest motivations and the resulting behaviors; however, it helps to have guidance from someone who has studied psychology and is experienced at helping others through such things. There is no way to predict what epiphanies will lead to or result from our most important psychological progress. For you, addressing a compulsive need for attention might only be scratching the surface of much deeper issues. Such is the journey of lifelong learning and self-improvement. Fortunately you do not have to do this alone. Many types of counseling and therapy are available to people who are committed to changing their behavior. The more honest you are with yourself and the more you are able to take criticism constructively, the more effective therapy will be.

    I should conclude by saying that not all attention seeking behavior is negative. It can be very destructive to progress and relationships if it becomes a compulsive obsession, but nobody should seek to do all work from behind the scenes with no recognition. You deserve to see the benefits of your labors. Like with so many other things there is a balance to be sought here. Sometimes you have to experience both extremes before you can find middle ground. Just keep in mind that a confident and secure person isn’t focused on credit or recognition for what he does. He has motivations related to the welfare of others and will give his all with or without getting a medal for it. He is easier for others to relate to because he does not seek constant validation for his accomplishments. In choosing to be less demanding of attention and control, you are increasing your capacity for cooperation with others.

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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