“Enough About Me!”

Musings from Richard Leider
What Richard’s essay reminds us of is why leadership practices like The Art of Convening can make a difference in every setting…

[Next week: An Incomplete Manifesto of Purpose]


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“Enough about me! What do you think about me?”

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If you have the tendency to make every conversation about you, you might be a “conversational narcissist” and not even be aware. Fortunately, I’m becoming increasingly aware of my own “c.n.” tendencies. I’m not always the listener that I pretend to be with others. But, I’m working on it! How about you?

The term “conversational narcissist” was coined by sociologist Charles Derber and describes the trait of consistently turning a conversation back to yourself. A balanced conversation involves both sides but conversational narcissists tend to keep the focus on themselves. The tendency is so habitual, that they don’t even notice (or care) when the listener tunes them out or rolls their eyes.

Most likely you’ve had this experience at times. It’s also likely that you’ve done this as well, but weren’t aware you were doing it. In Derber’s book, The Pursuit of Attention, he reports on researchers observing how conversationalists competed for attention. He describes conversational narcissism as “the key manifestation of the attention-getting psychology in America.” And, he claims that “it occurs in informal conversations among friends, family, and co-workers!”

Do you know any conversational narcissists?

You most likely have at least a few people in your life who seem to talk about themselves ad nauseum, showing little curiosity about what you have to offer. Ever. They have an exaggerated sense of self-importance coupled with constant craving for attention and affirmation. Does anyone particular come to mind?

Conversational narcissists enjoy hearing themselves talk. It doesn’t matter if you talk about your greatest feat or greatest fear, it always comes back to them. Somehow, they always circle back to their story. They don’t intend to be rude. But, they blindly seem to get caught up in their own dramas.

Erich Fromm writes in The Art of Being – “Narcissism is an orientation in which all one’s interest and passion are directed to one’s own person: one’s body, mind, feelings, interests. For the narcissistic person, only he and what concerns him are fully real; what is outside, what concerns others, is real only in a superficial sense of perception… He is the world.”

Maybe they just lack EQ (Emotional Intelligence). Or, maybe they simply don’t care or have much curiosity about you even though they might politely pretend to be listening to you. After all, they wouldn’t want to be seen as totally self-absorbed.

Who me?

Here are three signs that you might have some conversational narcissist tendencies:

  1. You always seem to have a “better” story! Whatever they have done, you have done better. Too nice to tell you the truth, they might just avoid you altogether.

  2. You try to relate their story to something in your life! You wait for your opening to jump in and steal their thunder, bringing the conversation back to where it rightly belongs – on you!

  3. You don’t think people have much of interest to share. But, the truth is that you really just never let them! If you’re often leaving conversations thinking that others are boring, there’s a distinct probability that you just didn’t give them the space to get more than ten words in edgewise.

Are you interested or interesting?

Here’s a simple example of conversational narcissism:
Tom: “I didn’t get any sleep last night!”
Richard: “Really? I slept great! Have you considered getting a Select Comfort mattress? It’s really great… (“blah, blah, blah…”)

A conversational narcissist can quickly throw cold water on a conversation simply by not asking questions. Questions like: “Tom, were you worrying about something?” “Tell me more.” “What else is keeping you awake at night?” It’s fine to share things about yourself. But, the “golden rule” is simply to not jump in too early with your story.

You might genuinely feel that you’re interested. But, often the reality is that you were more interested in being interesting. And, most likely, you were really only catching keywords as you were thinking up your next line. In the meantime, you use filler words like: “Really?” “Oh, yeah!” “Uh-huh!” “Hmmm” “That’s interesting” or, “I get it!”

My story, Your story.

According to Derber, a healthy conversation is one where there’s a natural back-and-forth flow of ideas. It’s like a game of table tennis (ping pong), where the rhythm is steady with some pauses between points. Each player must contribute to keeping the ball in play.

In a healthy conversation, it would be a rhythm of “my story, your story.” If you keep pounding the ball for winners, it can throw the whole game off. A healthy conversation is cooperative, not competitive.

When I was in graduate school in counseling psychology, I memorized Carl Rogers #1 rule: “It’s the relationship itself that heals.” A counselor and a client must be in psychological contact. We must “be someone with” rather than “do something to” our client. Roger’s rule remains as relevant to me today as when it helped to shape the humanistic movement in psychology that he inspired back then.

Personally, I need to constantly remind myself that it isn’t my job to entertain people. I’m not their counselor. A great conversation isn’t the same as a speech or a lecture. It’s my job to both share and listen. And, I don’t want to miss the listening part!

Strategies for success.

So, what can you do to change the conversation? Here are three practices that I’m personally working on:

  1. You can’t change them! So, give up trying, now! Silence is golden. Conversational narcissists don’t like silence. So, become more comfortable with “waiting.” Fran Leibowitz says, “The opposite of talking is not listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.” How true for me. Here’s how I try “to wait.” I center myself by taking three deep breaths and then stay focused on my breathing (while maintaining eye contact).

  2. Don’t expect too much! Set a time limit and end the conversation at that precise time, no matter what! Practice saying “No.” No is a complete sentence. Master the decline by not offering support statements! Just smile and enjoy lunch!

  3. Become a conversational narcissist yourself! Really. Flip the conversation by asking this question: “Are you open to an assessment?” This usually stops people cold and opens the door for you to step in with your response, story, or point-of-view. It changes the game.


Richard Leider, founder of Inventure – The Purpose Company, is one of America’s preeminent executive-life coaches. He is ranked by Forbes as one of the “Top 5” most respected executive coaches, and by the Conference Board as a “legend in coaching.” Richard has written ten books, including three best sellers, which have sold over one million copies and have been translated into 20 languages. Repacking Your Bags and The Power of Purpose are considered classics in the personal development field. Richard’s PBS Special – The Power of Purpose – was viewed by millions of people across the U.S.

Richard Leider

Richard Leider


Purpose Shared: Jonathan Brown, Public Allies

Mastering growth, igniting engagement, cultivating skills through a human-centered approach (enhanced by The Art of Convening) based on kindness and accountability.


As Site Director of Public Allies Twin Cities, Jonathan’s responsibilities span from managing growth to fundraising to managing compliance standards for Federal, State, and CNCS reporting, to last, but most important, providing leadership and skills development opportunity for Program Managers that represent Public Allies to the community.

Public Allies Twin Cities is a program of Pillsbury United Communities, and a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. The core team of Jonathan, Andrea Carroll-Franck and Francisco Guzman, along with allies that are embedded into local organizations, work with nonprofits, schools, or government agencies that need support building capacity, and are known for their people and program excellence.

Craig Neal, originator of the Art of Convening Trainings, shares his interview of Jonathan’s journey of service. If you look at Jonathan’s LinkedIn profile, you’ll see these words or intention consistently throughout: provide leadership and skills development, increased engagement and participation, maximize opportunity and capacity.

In addition to work with Public Allies, Jonathan also expresses his passion as Co-Founder, Music Producer, Vocal/Studio Performance Coach at FHG Studios, and Praxis Group MN, which focuses on building capacity for organizations and systems. He’s a busy man!

Enjoy the interview!


Comings & Goings @ Center for Purposeful Leadership


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We are sad to say goodbye to Anna Patterson, our marketing and social media intern for the past year.

Anna has expanded our social media game, while keeping an eye on our marketing. Together, we have discovered the delights of using Craig’s beautiful sunrises/sunsets to connect in new ways via Instagram.  Along with this, Anna has influenced our Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram presences and beyond!

Anna just completed her degree in Strategic Communication and Political Science and is on her way to Chicago to work for Coyote Logistics. We wish her the best of luck!


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We are excited to welcome a new intern to the CPL team!  This summer, Olivia Bretzman will be joining our marketing team. Olivia just finished her freshman year at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island. While there, she participates in volunteer programs and club figure skating as well as intense academics as she works towards her BA in English and a Spanish minor.

She is excited to begin her time here at the Center for Purposeful Leadership. Olivia’s passion for leadership and genuine connection fuel intention into her abilities in writing, social media, technology, and marketing.


Welcome back to Sarah Flores, a summer marketing and web redesign intern.

After graduating from Henry B. Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa, with a B.B.A in Marketing Management with an interest in sustainability, as well as working in Denver for a year, we’re thrilled to have Sarah for the summer before she finds her next work in the Twin Cities.

During the summer Sarah will be actively looking in the job market for various positions in marketing - agency or departmental, business development programs as well as account executive positions.


We also welcome Charlie Francois to be point on our web redesign, working with integrating the various platforms we use.

We have a lot of ground to cover this summer! With these gifted people, we can continue to adjust to the rapidly evolving online world, and serve you in the best way possible!


Purpose Moment: at the Lake

Good morning from the lake.
You never know what is going to happen at the lake…


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You never know what is going to happen at the lake… when I get down here in the morning after a beautiful rain. … And this—this piece of art, this piece of beauty.

Purpose Moment at the lake #PurposeMoment #BdeMakaSka #beauty #pause #reflection #gratitude


Purpose Moment: at the Lake

Good morning from the lake.
A sense of place, a sense of being, … the daily drumbeat.


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I”m often asked, Why do I come every day? What is it that drives you to the lake every day?” I come to the lake at sIt’s a sense of place, a sense of being, a sense of belonging … i experience the daily drumbeat. it’s a practice. Thank you for practicing with me.

Purpose Moment at the lake #PurposeMoment #BdeMakaSka #beauty #pause #reflection #gratitude


Purpose Moment: at the Lake

Good morning from the lake.
Sharing the beauty…


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I’ve been taking photographs here every day, every morning for seven years. So here I am, with you, my friends, those that wish to see beauty, as I do.

Last night I couldn’t sleep so I came down here and here I am with the ducks, and the geese, and you.

Purpose Moment at the lake #PurposeMoment #BdeMakaSka #beauty #pause #reflection #gratitude


Purpose Shared: Kiron Dawkins, Convener, Rapper, Minister, Servant Leader

A man of faith and music, convening in a life of service dedicated to alleviating veteran homelessness and poverty.


Kiron R. Dawkins, Purposeful Leader, Rapper, Minister, Executive Director of Supportive Services for Veterans and Families of a Hudson Valley Multi-service Nonprofit Organization, Husband, and Dad of five daughters has led a remarkable life. Craig Neal, originator of the Art of Convening Trainings shares his interview of Kiron's fascinating journey. From the streets of New York as a 3-sport athlete, All-city All-county designations in football and a City championship, to the lessons of being shot in college, an early career as a rapper leading to the ministry, all the way to serving homeless veterans with exceptional results. He shares how the Art of Convening training helped to transform his team and redefine true collaboration.

Enjoy the interview, then read on below for more.

Ireland…

Ireland…

WestCOP SVF Regional Coordinator: Kiron Dawkins, kdawkins@westcop.org
Kiron stands at the forefront of the rapidly changing non-profit industry through services innovation. He’s spent the last four years evangelizing an industry-wide shift of community-based collaboration to service returning Veterans and has helped position WestCOP as a leader in the space of critical time interventions with Veterans in housing crisis.

Throughout his 12-year tenure with WestCOP, Kiron has built a reputation for developing business strategies, incubating new program models, and building out programs in key areas. He also developed and manages the largest Supportive Services for Veterans and their Families Program (SSVF) and has brought nearly four million dollars to the region over the last three years with another near two million in year four to serve Veterans under this initiative. Embracing the core values of integrity, innovation, and growth, Kiron consistently ranks among the top 5% of WestCOP employees.

WestCOP: Support Services for Veterans and Their Families

Home > Programs > Support Services for Veterans and Their Families

About SVF:

Far too many veterans are homeless in America. The SSVF Program helps veteran households (single veterans or veterans and their families) that are currently homeless or at risk of losing their housing. It provides temporary financial assistance and many other services that create stability.

It is estimated that between 130,000 and 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night; three times that many veterans are struggling with excessive rent burdens and thus at increased risk of homelessness.

One out of every three homeless men who is sleeping in a doorway, alley or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served this country.

By The Numbers…

40% OF HOMELESS ARE VETERANS

400,000 VETERANS WILL EXPERIENCE HOMELESSNESS THIS YEAR

97% OF THESE VETERANS ARE MALE

67% SERVED 3 OR MORE YEARS

A disproportionate amount – approximately 40% – of homeless men are veterans, even though veterans comprise only 34% of the general adult male population. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that 400,000 veterans will experience homelessness during the course of a year and 97% of those homeless veterans will be male. A large percentage – 67% – served three or more years in the armed forces protecting our country, and 47% are Vietnam Era Vets.



Purpose Moment: at the Lake

What do you do when everything just really works out, … when all things fall into place…


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Good morning from the lake. I was in New York City at Union Square for the 1st Earth Day celebration in 1070. We constructed a plastic dome powered by giant fans with air conditioners and named it the cleanest air in NY. Today's Purpose Moment video honors our relationship to the earth and all its beings.

Purpose Moment at the lake #PurposeMoment #BdeMakaSka# beauty #pause #reflection #gratitude


Purpose Shared: at the Lake

Purpose Moment at the Lake



Purpose Moment

 
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The heart of the matter of being a Convener is always “who am I in relationship?”


“No one thing exists without another. Cause and effect are one. Thus, one thing cannot cause another without their being one or joined in relationship.”

A Course of Love | Know YourSelf
https://acourseoflove.org/

 

Purpose Shared: A Conversation on a Journey into Sacred Discourse

Cultivating Connection Across Conflict/Division


In this week’s Purpose Shared post, Art of Convening Train the Trainer graduate Tom McSteen brings us the story of a journey of life as a corporate lawyer with a growing awareness of larger global forces at play. Experiencing and being moved by the power of indigenous wisdom led to a global exploration of his own healing from a lifelong disability, to creating healing conversations through founding Sacred Discourse, an intentional, heart-centered framework for having relational and connected conversations between individuals, within groups, and across society. 

Tom’s explorations and trainings have taken him Minnesota to California to across Europe, South America.

Ireland…

Ireland…

Craig Neal, originator of the Art of Convening Trainings, interviews Tom on how The Art of Convening has impacted his life and informed his work in the world.

More links to Tom’s work:
Sacred Discourse - Facebook - YouTube