Author Topic: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats  (Read 4481 times)

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Emmy

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2013, 03:49:19 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.

Venus193

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2013, 04:48:08 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.

CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2013, 05:41:09 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.
It takes two people to play tug of war. If you don't want to play, don't pick up the rope.

CakeEater

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2013, 05:46:56 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.


gellchom

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2013, 05:52:24 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.

GratefulMaria

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2013, 06:40:25 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.

christine19

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2013, 07:20:18 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!

Eden

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2013, 09:48:30 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.



Venus193

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2013, 10:01:12 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?"

Julsie

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2013, 11:39:34 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...

Eden

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #25 on: December 02, 2013, 12:03:04 PM »
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

gellchom

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #26 on: December 02, 2013, 12:32:11 PM »
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.

GratefulMaria

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2013, 12:44:53 PM »
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.

christine19

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #28 on: December 02, 2013, 01:52:05 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. :)

LadyJaneinMD

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Re: Conversational Narcissists and Conversational Doormats
« Reply #29 on: December 04, 2013, 12:48:19 PM »
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!