- Give Priority to Other People’s Needs, but Don’t Neglect Your Own
Since people gain energy when their needs are met, you need to figure out what they want and help them get it. But you also want to make sure that interacting with them will ultimately bring you energy, too. Otherwise you may have little incentive to continue.
This is easier said than done, especially in new situations. For some of us, our tendency is to unconsciously dominate the conversation and talk too much about ourselves and what we know, perhaps because we:
- Want to make a good first impression and have come to believe (consciously or unconsciously) that talking a lot is the best approach.
- Feel we have a great deal to contribute to the conversation and others will benefit from our knowledge and expertise.
- Gain energy from talking and it’s become a habit.
Regardless of the reason, the result is that we spend little time trying to identify or meet the other person’s needs. And since few people gain much energy from listening to us talk all the time, blathering on is a great way to turn people off. Sadly, we’re often the last ones to realize that we are dominating the conversation.
On the other hand, some of us end up talking too little about ourselves and what we know because we:
- Worry about saying something that will make us look bad.
- Prefer being private and reserved in what we disclose about ourselves.
- Don’t like “fighting for air time” with highly talkative people.
- Tend to lose interest and disengage from long conversations.
As a result, we end up spending little time doing things that meet our needs and bring us energy. Some of this is caused by the other person, but some of it is the result of our reluctance to speak up, change the conversation, or strive to get what we want. Either way, we may walk away from the interaction with both less energy and less motivation to take the initiative and approach others in the future. Ultimately, the best, most productive, and satisfactory relationships are ones where everyone is attentive to both their own and the other person’s needs.