Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: christine19 on December 01, 2013, 12:53:26 AM

Title: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: christine19 on December 01, 2013, 12:53:26 AM
With the holidays, I've been spending time with people more than usual and I've been noticing a trend: most people are happy to completely dominate a conversation. People will talk on and on about themselves or their opinions, and every polite "oh really?" or "that's interesting," or "mmhmm" just encourages them to keep on. They'll talk about themselves until you walk away. In particularly bad cases, when I interject with my own comment or anecdote, they'll politely wait for me to finish, give a perfunctory "yeah" and then continue with their train of thought as if I had never said anything.

Has anyone else noticed this?

I thought that a normal conversation is about give-and-take, talking about yourself but also asking questions, showing interest, offering the other person room to take the conversation in a different direction. I'm a quiet person, and generally talk about myself very little unless someone directly asks me. So lately I've been coming away from conversations feeling somewhat used and invisible.

Is this partially my fault? Is something in my demeanor inviting people to use me as a conversational doormat? Should I show less interest when people talk about themselves, or should I be more assertive in interjecting my own opinions? When in Rome, do as the narcissists do? Or is it that people just need a listening ear and I should consider that my gift to them?
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: cicero on December 01, 2013, 01:30:14 AM
With the holidays, I've been spending time with people more than usual and I've been noticing a trend: most people are happy to completely dominate a conversation. People will talk on and on about themselves or their opinions, and every polite "oh really?" or "that's interesting," or "mmhmm" just encourages them to keep on. They'll talk about themselves until you walk away. In particularly bad cases, when I interject with my own comment or anecdote, they'll politely wait for me to finish, give a perfunctory "yeah" and then continue with their train of thought as if I had never said anything.

Has anyone else noticed this?

I thought that a normal conversation is about give-and-take, talking about yourself but also asking questions, showing interest, offering the other person room to take the conversation in a different direction. I'm a quiet person, and generally talk about myself very little unless someone directly asks me. So lately I've been coming away from conversations feeling somewhat used and invisible.

Is this partially my fault? Is something in my demeanor inviting people to use me as a conversational doormat? Should I show less interest when people talk about themselves, or should I be more assertive in interjecting my own opinions? When in Rome, do as the narcissists do? Or is it that people just need a listening ear and I should consider that my gift to them?
i don't know who you're hanging out with ;) but no, i wouldn't say that "most people" are "happy" to completely dominate a conversation. Yes there are some people like that - conversational narcissists, or as i refer to them: Bores - but not everyone and not "most people".

at holidays/big gatherings, sometimes the hosts will do this in order to make sure that conversation runs smoothly - I know i've been guilty of doing this when i was younger; i was so afraid of the 'silences'- but then again i was happy to *relinquish* the conversation reins once things picked up.

If it bothers you then don't be shy about re-directing the conversation. After a few "oh reallys" and getting nowhere, just kind of butt in "oh, that Italian place on Main? isn't it amazing [look around the group for some nods of agreement]. Oh, betty, didn't you go there for your anniversary?"
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: Raintree on December 01, 2013, 04:47:00 AM
I'm with the OP; I am often at a loss to how to give my input into a conversation when there is no pause in the conversation. The only way to do it, it seems, is to interrupt, and I've been brought up to think that interrupting is rude. But others do it to me, so I don't get to finish the point of what I was trying to say.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: TOLady on December 01, 2013, 09:11:09 AM
I am at a loss as well.

At my local pub, there is a regular who continues to regale the other regulars on a step-by-step saga of his day each and every day, never asking how your day was.

It's so bad that if your the 4th regular to come in, the others have heard it all before 3 times and they'll do the eye-roll when he starts in again. Yet, as much as he talks, he never asks how your day was.

He's not the only who does it either.

I think the art of conversation has been lost. I was taught to ask questions and that a conversation was not one-sided. 
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: m2kbug on December 01, 2013, 09:54:35 AM
I wouldn't say "most people" are like that.  Here are some thoughts, which may are may not apply to you or anyone in general:
When you're say you're quiet and don't really talk about yourself, I don't know if you're *so* quiet people may tend go on and on in order to carry the conversation, particularly if there aren't others around to help buffer the conversation.  Since you feel like you notice it more this time of year, it could be you're just the perfect person for some venting, good and bad, while they unload their stress and share their story.

I think we can all be guilty of dominating a conversation once in awhile, it's just most of us realize what we're doing at some point.  I don't know what the situations are or how you might steer the conversation away from the me, me, me people.  If you're in a group, I think trying to get other people into the mix of conversation would be useful.  If it's a closer friend, a little bit of joshing or simply pointing out they're not letting you talk about your day would probably be fine.

I have noticed that some people have a tendency to dominate conversations.  I've noticed people who don't have a lot of people in their life they can talk to, may unload on strangers.  I have met people who just seem to overshare, their life is an open book.  I haven't really run into it to a degree that you describe. 
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: CaffeineKatie on December 01, 2013, 10:05:47 AM
I absolutely think there are people who are Conversational Narcissists (LOVE that term).  In fact, my DH is works at a university, and some professors are afflicted with this disorder!  Some are driven by  a combination of no social skills and the habit of lecturing in class--they are used to having a captive audience for 50 minutes at a stretch and are impossible to interrupt/sidetrack/beandip.  And I have also met a few who really do think their every thought and deed is enthralling, and refuse to relinquish the spotlight.  The university has a big welcome back meal every fall, and we've come to realize that the planner has a list of polite people (we are on it) who can be counted on to sit near the CNs and not make a fuss for the hour or so of meal and speeches.  We just laugh about it and go out for a drink with other "politees" after.  But honestly, from years of experience (and some of my in-laws are lawyers--another group of CNs), I would say there is only one way to deal with them--develop a "tiny bladder", wave your hand and say "Sorry-got to go" and head off in the direction of the restroom and don't come back.  They don't want a conversation, they want an audience.

As for the Doormats, I have to wonder if they are always the target of CNs.  I know a few people who turn me into a temporary CN because they contribute nothing to the conversation.  Questions are met with one word answers--how was your trip? fine, how is work? boring, how is your dog/garden/family? ok.  But if you are willing to contribute and get interrupted/talked over/cut off, they clearly don't want to have a conversation and my solution is to cut things short and leave.  I have a few former friends I will only see as part of larger group, because I did polish up my spine and decide unless it is a big event (emergency/disaster/problem) where someone just needs to vent, I'm not willing to be a CD.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: metallicafan on December 01, 2013, 10:07:49 AM
I'm with the OP; I am often at a loss to how to give my input into a conversation when there is no pause in the conversation. The only way to do it, it seems, is to interrupt, and I've been brought up to think that interrupting is rude. But others do it to me, so I don't get to finish the point of what I was trying to say.



Me too.  :-[
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: JenJay on December 01, 2013, 10:13:21 AM
We had a person like that in our family. We dealt with it by having a sacrificial lamb, so to speak. Whenever there was a new member of the family (boy/girlfriend, in-law, etc.) they'd be sat next to this relative while the rest of us gave each other knowing looks of "Haha, (s)he'll be stuck there all day!". Eventually they'd be rescued by someone calling them away for some made up reason. I know that sounds mean but it really wasn't. The relative never had a clue and it was like a right of passage for the new person, who'd very much enjoy being in on the joke when the next new person came along.  ;D

When there wasn't anyone new we'd kind of do a rotation. Someone would sit and chat until someone else came along, then the first person would quietly wander away and the 2nd person would be stuck until a 3rd came along. If you find yourself stuck with such a person and nobody to help you get out you can wait for a pause and excuse yourself to get a drink or whatever. You don't have to sit and continue trying, in vain, to keep a two-sided conversation going.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: christine19 on December 01, 2013, 10:17:28 AM
Thanks everyone for your kind responses, especially m2kbug.

I think maybe I've just had an unfortunate streak. I live with a relative who is very loud and opinionated, and acts like every conversation is a competition he has to win. On Thanksgiving I was talking to a lonely old lady who clearly just needed someone to listen. Yesterday I was talking to a relative who is just plain socially oblivious, and when you get him started on his favorite topic he'll never stop. And so on.

I had started to wonder if there was something wrong with me that people showed no interest in me or my life, only in talking at me. But maybe it's just been a run of bad luck.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: CaffeineKatie on December 01, 2013, 10:20:59 AM
I told my DH about this letter and he cracked a rib laughing.  His input (from dealing with CNs at work) is to give up trying to redirect the conversation--if you DO manage to get a word in, they aren't listening to anything you are saying because they are just waiting for your lips to stop moving so they can start talking again at the same point.  Run awaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!  ;D

And we have done JenJay's suggestion with CN family members, too--we call it TagTeaming (like pro wrestling) LOL
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: CaffeineKatie on December 01, 2013, 10:32:05 AM
Aw Christine, you have had a run of this!  But it sounds like it's just bad luck and you definitely deserve a gold star for giving these people the gift of an audience over the holidays.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: Bijou on December 01, 2013, 12:39:01 PM
Thankfully, I haven't noticed this, myself.  If someone is a 'talker' they just keep doing what they do all year, and if they aren't, they keep up that more tolerable behavior. 
Maybe what you are noticing is that you hare in contact with many more folks at this time of year, haven't seen them for a long time and they are trying to catch you up on their stuff. 
I hate being a captive audience for anyone.  I think I would try to keep contact with the monopolizers down to a roar if it bothered me (which it would), because after all, I want to enjoy my holidays, too.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: Klein Bottle on December 01, 2013, 01:13:56 PM
  Not your fault.  Some people are compulsive talkers and it's one of life's major irritations!  And, I don't think there is any hope or cure.  It's majorly rude and I have decided I don't need anymore of that in my life.

  I (gradually, without fanfare or rancor) stopped talking to a friend over this.  She and I lived 1000 miles apart at the time, and when I'd call to catch up, it was a two hour monologue, and when she'd ask me something about my life, I could not even get a sentence out before she'd interrupt and be off again.  My adored godmother always also had these tendencies, but when she lost her husband, it got a lot worse, to the point I don't see her as often as I used to because I can't handle the verbal diarrhea.  A third person I know like this is my cousin's uncle, (whom I grew up knowing and also refer to as my uncle), but he's kind of a jerk in other aspects, so I don't see very much of him at all.  Which is kind of sad, because he is all alone now and could use companionship and invitations to holiday gatherings. 

As far as spending time with compulsive talkers around the holidays, if you have to be in the same place, maybe go into another room or find someone else to talk with if it becomes intolerable.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: Isisnin on December 01, 2013, 01:20:07 PM
I've got a few neighbors like that - makes we wonder if its in the water!

Sometimes I go with the flow.  Other times, when they interrupt, I'll let them have a bit of time to go on.  Then, as soon as they breathe (if they stop to breathe!), I'll say "anyways, as I was saying...".  The person almost always gets a surprised then thoughtful look.

It's actually kinda retrained a couple people.  Sometimes they go back to their old, dominating ways, but then they just need me to "remind" them by my saying: "as I was saying.." and they'll correct themselves again.

However, there is one neighbor that it never works on.  Fortunately, after a bit, I'll "interrupt" and say "I know your busy.  I'll let you go."  He loves that, saying: "Yes, yes!  I have to go!" and he runs off with barely a good-bye!
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: Julsie on December 01, 2013, 01:26:50 PM
If it's any consolation, these people probably come away from your encounter thinking that you are a brilliant conversationalist!
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: Emmy on December 01, 2013, 02:49:19 PM
I went to a party and met a woman who seemed friendly.  We got into a conversation and she proceeded to go on with her life story.  I added the polite "mmmmm", "uh-huh", and head nods.  If I added a comment, she immediately turned the conversation back to herself.  After 2 hours, the conversation finally started to take a different turn and then she said her good-byes and left the party.  I can relate to the OP feeling used because I felt very used after that incidence.  I was just a warm body for this woman to talk at, she had no interest in me as a person.  I was annoyed at her, but also angry with myself for not having more of a spine and letting it happen.  This was my most extreme example and find with most people there is more of a give and take in conversation.  I try to use less than positive experiences as a lesson to think about how I would handle the situation differently the next time.

After that incidence, I decided to excuse myself to go to the washroom or use an excuse to politely remove myself from the situation.  After that I can mingle elsewhere and it is likely the other person will be mingling too.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: Venus193 on December 01, 2013, 03:48:08 PM
I had this happen on the phone the other day with someone who actually started off with "I know you weren't into [TV program X] and are probably not interested but--" and went on for about 15 minutes during which time I was trying to figure a way out of that one.  When I finally said something about TV Program Y she said she had to get to the pharmacy before it closed.

Since I know her a long time I am just going to call her out on this next time.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on December 01, 2013, 04:41:09 PM
The worst one of these people for me is a woman at my father's nursing home, which is in another city. I don't get to see him very often.  Every time I'm there, she forces her way into my family group and takes over the conversation.  She has 10 children, who live nearby and visit her often -- I don't know why she can't talk to them instead of us.  With us, she does a detailed monologue about each of the 10 children.  I knew one of them (barely) in high school 40 years ago.

I doubt that this woman could tell you my name.

That's what bothers me the most about the conversational narcissists: they take up my time, but they don't care about me.  You could replace me with a blow-up dummy, and it wouldn't make a bit of difference.

I don't think you can change these people because they are truly narcissists.  All they want is to talk about themselves.  They have no interest in you.

I haven't noticed it becoming more common.  They've been around as long as I can remember, and it only takes one to bully a whole group of people into silence.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: CakeEater on December 01, 2013, 04:46:56 PM
I met a couple at my brother's wedding recently who were so flat-out fascinated by every tiny thing I said that I started asking them 20 questions, just so I didn't feel quite so scrutinised.

I don't think that would work on CNs, though. My Mum has some tendencies in that area, and she gave them a long lecture about her job. To their credit, they kept up the enthusiasm the whole time.

Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: gellchom on December 01, 2013, 04:52:24 PM
There are two parts to this, and others have admirably covered the "conversational narcissist" part, so I'll just address the other end --
I'm a quiet person, and generally talk about myself very little unless someone directly asks me. So lately I've been coming away from conversations feeling somewhat used and invisible.

Is this partially my fault? Is something in my demeanor inviting people to use me as a conversational doormat? Should I show less interest when people talk about themselves, or should I be more assertive in interjecting my own opinions? When in Rome, do as the narcissists do?

If this is happening a lot, maybe it is possible that the other people are thinking, "Good heavens, when is she going to say something?  All I'm getting from her is a lot of "uh-huh" and one-word answers to my questions.  How long do I have to carry the conversation?"  Often we hear people talking about how they are simply quiet people.  There's nothing wrong with that, and not every social situation calls for nonstop chatter, but in some social situations, it's important to make an effort to contribute to the conversation, not wait to be drawn out by others all the time.

That doesn't mean it's okay to for the other person to be a conversational narcissist.  It just means that if you have a nagging feeling that you aren't quite holding up your end by taking the initiative now and then, maybe you should try that and see if you get better results.

Can you help us understand why you both "generally talk about [your]self very little unless someone directly asks [you]" and yet are "feeling somewhat used and invisible" by not having the opportunity to do so?  I mean, sure, it would be more polite for them to ask about you, but just having to initiate it yourself doesn't seem like it would make you feel "used and invisible."  Is there some reason that it is important to you not to talk about yourself or your interests unless and until someone asks?  I'm not criticizing, I just don't quite get it.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: GratefulMaria on December 01, 2013, 05:40:25 PM
There are two parts to this, and others have admirably covered the "conversational narcissist" part, so I'll just address the other end --
I'm a quiet person, and generally talk about myself very little unless someone directly asks me. So lately I've been coming away from conversations feeling somewhat used and invisible.

Is this partially my fault? Is something in my demeanor inviting people to use me as a conversational doormat? Should I show less interest when people talk about themselves, or should I be more assertive in interjecting my own opinions? When in Rome, do as the narcissists do?

If this is happening a lot, maybe it is possible that the other people are thinking, "Good heavens, when is she going to say something?  All I'm getting from her is a lot of "uh-huh" and one-word answers to my questions.  How long do I have to carry the conversation?"  Often we hear people talking about how they are simply quiet people.  There's nothing wrong with that, and not every social situation calls for nonstop chatter, but in some social situations, it's important to make an effort to contribute to the conversation, not wait to be drawn out by others all the time.

That doesn't mean it's okay to for the other person to be a conversational narcissist.  It just means that if you have a nagging feeling that you aren't quite holding up your end by taking the initiative now and then, maybe you should try that and see if you get better results.

Can you help us understand why you both "generally talk about [your]self very little unless someone directly asks [you]" and yet are "feeling somewhat used and invisible" by not having the opportunity to do so?  I mean, sure, it would be more polite for them to ask about you, but just having to initiate it yourself doesn't seem like it would make you feel "used and invisible."  Is there some reason that it is important to you not to talk about yourself or your interests unless and until someone asks?  I'm not criticizing, I just don't quite get it.


Joining the thread to give a BIG shout-out to my MIL!   She's the professional CN of the family, and we're a small group -- DH and I are both only children, she's widowed, our two sons both live away and don't really want to spend any time with her -- so there is no chance of handing her off to anyone.  We've just scaled back the gatherings drastically.  We even control their duration by scheduling within two hours of sunset because she doesn't drive after dark and has to leave.

My mother does this to some degree, too.  She's lived with us for a couple of months now and has been lonely and on the self-absorbed end of the normal spectrum for years.  I make a civil remark when she does interrupt me -- a quiet "I wasn't finished" -- but it may come to an actual "talk" soon, because she still interrupts me in almost every conversation.  My body language and conversational cues have gotten more preoccupied and less available, and she does respond to those by giving me space, so at least it's not going on all day long.

Re the quote above, OP did say something about interjecting with a comment or anecdote and getting brushed off, so to me the question seems to be one more of "what is going on that when I talk, people dismiss or steamroll?" rather than "am I not participating in a way that makes the conversation flow well?"  She's trying to initiate a give and take, but I think with CNs that just doesn't work.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: christine19 on December 01, 2013, 06:20:18 PM
Thanks for your reply, gellchom.

I'm a quiet person and an introvert, but I like to think that I'm not a total conversational wet blanket. Sometimes I have trouble coming up with things to say, but I try my best to keep up my end of the conversation by being interesting and funny when I can, you know?

By conversational narcissists, I mean people who don't seem to have a sense of whether a subject is interesting to others and and no sense of how long they should talk about it. They just go on and on, responding to your questions but never asking ones in return, and when you interject with a comment they just say "yeah" and then continue the monologue.

As for feeling used, I think it's that you've shown interest in them, and they accept it happily, but offer none in return. It's like you offer them a ping-pong paddle, expecting that they'll offer you one in return and you'll play together, but instead they just take the paddle and lob balls at you. Lol!
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: Eden on December 02, 2013, 08:48:30 AM
Some general thoughts on this subject:

- Conversation truly is an art form and doing it well takes practice. Bad habits are hard to break. I'm impressed by those in this thread who have good techniques for politely interrupting or making clear the other interrupted them.

- Not all those who dominate conversation are conversational narcissists. Meaning, they don't all think they're oh so interesting. I tend to get the verbal diarrhea, especially when I'm nervous or have had some adult beverages. I swear to you sometimes I even realize I'm talking non-stop and am unable to get myself to stop. I have an almost compulsive need to fill silence, especially when talking with people I don't know well. I'm not saying that makes it okay, just providing that angle to make clear the reason behind it may not be what you think.


Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: Venus193 on December 02, 2013, 09:01:12 AM
Narcissism isn't always expressed as holding oneself in higher esteem than deserved; it can just as easily be any other bid for attention including the Pity Party.  That's where to pull out the weapon of "And what are you doing about that?"
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: Julsie on December 02, 2013, 10:39:34 AM
I tend to get the verbal diarrhea, especially when I'm nervous or have had some adult beverages. I swear to you sometimes I even realize I'm talking non-stop and am unable to get myself to stop.

Same here!  Before I go to a social gathering I tell myself, "Don't talk too much!"  I consciously will myself not to talk.  "Just smile and nod!".

The difference is that I do read body language and I do ask drawing out questions.  You know why?  Because unlike narcissists, I'm genuinely interested in other people.  I just have a tendency to talk and talk and talk...
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: Eden on December 02, 2013, 11:03:04 AM
I tend to get the verbal diarrhea, especially when I'm nervous or have had some adult beverages. I swear to you sometimes I even realize I'm talking non-stop and am unable to get myself to stop.

Same here!  Before I go to a social gathering I tell myself, "Don't talk too much!"  I consciously will myself not to talk.  "Just smile and nod!".

The difference is that I do read body language and I do ask drawing out questions.  You know why?  Because unlike narcissists, I'm genuinely interested in other people.  I just have a tendency to talk and talk and talk...

Exactly
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: gellchom on December 02, 2013, 11:32:11 AM
I tend to get the verbal diarrhea, especially when I'm nervous or have had some adult beverages. I swear to you sometimes I even realize I'm talking non-stop and am unable to get myself to stop.

Same here!  Before I go to a social gathering I tell myself, "Don't talk too much!"  I consciously will myself not to talk.  "Just smile and nod!".

The difference is that I do read body language and I do ask drawing out questions.  You know why?  Because unlike narcissists, I'm genuinely interested in other people.  I just have a tendency to talk and talk and talk...

Exactly

Same here.  And I agree, there is a big difference between people who talk a lot but also want to hear about others and people who clearly switch off the instant the conversation isn't about them personally, not just onto a topic that doesn't interest them.  I do find that that tends to happen to some people as they age into their mid-eighties and up; it's too bad, but I remember that they weren't always like that, so even though it does get tiresome, I remember that it isn't personal, just evidently another thing we aren't quite as good at as we get old.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: GratefulMaria on December 02, 2013, 11:44:53 AM
I tend to get the verbal diarrhea, especially when I'm nervous or have had some adult beverages. I swear to you sometimes I even realize I'm talking non-stop and am unable to get myself to stop.

Same here!  Before I go to a social gathering I tell myself, "Don't talk too much!"  I consciously will myself not to talk.  "Just smile and nod!".

The difference is that I do read body language and I do ask drawing out questions.  You know why?  Because unlike narcissists, I'm genuinely interested in other people.  I just have a tendency to talk and talk and talk...

Exactly

Same here.  And I agree, there is a big difference between people who talk a lot but also want to hear about others and people who clearly switch off the instant the conversation isn't about them personally, not just onto a topic that doesn't interest them.  I do find that that tends to happen to some people as they age into their mid-eighties and up; it's too bad, but I remember that they weren't always like that, so even though it does get tiresome, I remember that it isn't personal, just evidently another thing we aren't quite as good at as we get old.

I like this a lot.  It's generous, and it acknowledges both history and human frailty; we all need a break for one reason or another.

Sometimes the changing factor is ourselves, though.  I'm fifty years old and only in the last handful of years am I learning to establish healthy boundaries and grow a shiny spine.  My mother and MIL are late-70's / early-80's but still essentially unchanged in their behaviors; what I'm able to tolerate and manage has changed, though.  I will say, the above post struck a real chord with regard to my mother:  She has, especially for my children, reached outside herself to express happiness and encouragement about life decisions and circumstances she disagrees with very strongly.  So, yeah, I can find a civilized way to navigate her interruptions.  Work in progress, both of us.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: christine19 on December 02, 2013, 12:52:05 PM

Same here!  Before I go to a social gathering I tell myself, "Don't talk too much!"  I consciously will myself not to talk.  "Just smile and nod!".

The difference is that I do read body language and I do ask drawing out questions.  You know why?  Because unlike narcissists, I'm genuinely interested in other people.  I just have a tendency to talk and talk and talk...

That's so interesting! For me, talking to people at social gatherings takes effort, unless I know them really well. When making small talk I'm often struggling to come up with things to say, it's like my mind just goes blank. So actually, I like talkative people like you, who are genuinely interested in others, and who give quiet people like me room to speak up now and then. :)
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: Klein Bottle on December 04, 2013, 11:58:42 AM
Oh my goodness, there's a name for my condition??   
Hello folks, my name is Jane and I am a Conversational Narcissist. 
It's a condition that I fight every day, but honestly, I could talk to a fencepost for hours and hardly notice.  I find myself biting my tongue every day, and many many times at parties, trying *not* to bring the conversation back around to me me me me me. 

I need to join Narcissists Anonymous. 
If you ever meet me at a party, please don't hesitate to shut me down.  Please!

The fact that you are aware of it tells me you probably don't do this nearly as much as you think you do! Or, at the very least, you are working on it.  ;)  True CNs are completely oblivious. 
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: mbbored on December 05, 2013, 10:28:31 AM
Oh my goodness, there's a name for my condition??   
Hello folks, my name is Jane and I am a Conversational Narcissist. 
It's a condition that I fight every day, but honestly, I could talk to a fencepost for hours and hardly notice.  I find myself biting my tongue every day, and many many times at parties, trying *not* to bring the conversation back around to me me me me me. 

I need to join Narcissists Anonymous. 
If you ever meet me at a party, please don't hesitate to shut me down.  Please!

The fact that you are aware of it tells me you probably don't do this nearly as much as you think you do! Or, at the very least, you are working on it.  ;)  True CNs are completely oblivious.

No, I really *do* do it that much.  There's a reason why I tend to avoid people and spend a great deal of my time alone.   I can't relax around other people. I have to keep a tight rein on myself All The Time and it's exhausting.
Not only do I talk a whole lot, I get louder and louder until I realize I'm shouting.  Very embarrassing.
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Me too! It makes parties stressful because either I'm talking too much or I'm so focused on not talking that I'm being a bad listener.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: NbyNW on December 05, 2013, 06:41:29 PM
Conversational doormat here! I've always been introverted but willing to converse. I married an introverted almost anti-social man so over the years we had few friends (I tended to have more than WE did). In the past few years we've retired and move across the country to a place where the only people we know are our daughter and her husband and a nearby sibling and her husband. I don't have many chances to hone my meager conversational skills.

I've noticed that often when I am speaking I am interrupted and spoken over. I will usually resume what I was saying after the other person has finished what they are saying but if interrupted again will just let it go.

It does seem to me this happens more now than it did years ago. I've just assumed I'm a less interesting conversationalist these days.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: Rusty on December 05, 2013, 11:58:43 PM

I have a relative who has never heard of a two sided conversation.  I have to periodically call her and always dread it.  If I can manage to get a word or two in she starts loudly sighing in the background to indicate that she is not interested in what I have to say, and then just interrupts and goes back to her constant drone.

I have tried everything from talking over her, to saying, "if I can just say this". Nothing works.   She wonders why no one wants to call her or invite her to anything, or if they do, everyone runs for cover if she comes over.     One relative plucked up the courage once to call her a "conversational terrorist", but it didn't seem to have any affect.

If anyone finds a cure, let me know.
Title: Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
Post by: Venus193 on December 06, 2013, 06:05:14 AM
I have someone like that, too.  It gets on my last nerve and my inability to defeat this issue so far is hurting my ego!