Friday, March 28, 2008

Pecking order

I noticed something a few days ago. It was when i was with someone who i perceive as being higher on the pecking order than i am. She is a busy and important woman, on the boards of many charitable organizations, a former executive in a major corporation. Blah blah blah.

What i noticed is that when i listen to her, i am really just waiting for an opportunity to tell her a story about me, or my daughter. I want to tell her my story so she will know that i am important too.

Not very pretty is it?

This is am old habit with me, one about which i am not pleased.

Why should i care if she thinks i am important? If i allow myself to relax for a moment, i realize that i don't really care very much. So why am i acting this way?

Now that i have caught myself doing this, it will be easier for me to shut up and listen instead of trying to tell stories that i think will enhance my status in the herd.

31 comments:

lu said...

I think this is just our animal instinct, not a flaw.

I'd want to hear your story, and then I'd want to tell a story - is'nt it more like saying, hey, I'm a human too?

Your stories are worth repeating, I'd want to hear it.

Dick said...

I'll have to think about that one for awhile but I expect that we all do it at least sometimes.

Marshamlow said...

I think we all do it sometimes. I am a social nightmare. Sometimes when I have guests I get really nervous and it comes out as hyper. It is so embarrassing later.

thailandchani said...

I think that all stops once you honestly internalize that you are important, too. Just as important as she is. Perhaps differently, in a different capacity, but it's not a matter of weighing and measuring. You are both human beings. That's all that matters.

Bob said...

I find myself doing the same thing.

I do it less now than I did, so maybe we're both getting better?

meno said...

lu, thank you. That is sweet. I do have stories worth telling. Just not when i'm being defensive.

dick, but i want to stop.

marsha, that's exactly it. I am embarassed by my impulse.

chani, you are right. I know i am important too. I just need to remember it at the right times.

bob, yes, we are getting better. Yay!

Gordo said...

Yep, definitely normal behaviour. I never talk to anybody really "important", so I bore my co-workers with stories about my kids. ;-)

flutter said...

we all strive for that moment of starlight that hits us just right and makes us the most beautiful, necessary thing in the room.

You were just looking for yours

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Sometimes I catch myself doing it, too, just when I think I've learned not to.

I think it comes from not being given any importance as a child or young adult, which leaves one with the great need to prove our worth. I hate it when I realize I am acting clamorous when I would rather be Glamorous.

fiwa said...

Hey, at least you caught yourself doing it and know yourself well enough to know the reason why so you can fix it. My problem is that I am so judgemental about people, but I haven't quite figured out how to quell that judging, innner voice yet.

Sober Briquette said...

I understand what you're saying, but I do something different, perhaps out of the same idea of "pecking order." Most often with others, I'm completely tongue-tied, just listening and observing. Maybe it's just because I'm the quiet type.

As other's said, I don't think this is really a flaw AND I'd love to sit and listen to your stories. C'mon over after Japan, okay?

ms chica said...

Something similar happens with my siblings. I guess we are still competing for my mother's affection. I've noticed that conversation are not conversations in so much as they are competitions to see who can talk the longest, and bring the most achievements to the gathering.

As I've gotten older, I've feel less inclined to participate. I spend more time listen. I guess that's why I'm so so damn tired after spending time with them.

Franki said...

i think we all do this, not necessarily to show that we're important, but to show that we have common ground. i love your stories meno. i like reading that we share thoughts.

furiousBall said...

we all want to belong, it's natural.


but here's a tip, if you are looking for a place to interject, you can create your own by some audible flatulence, nothing quiets a long talker like a nicely placed toot.

Mignon said...

I find the urge to toot my own horn comes more often when someone else is tooting theirs. Is that what she's doing?

meno said...

gordo, there is nobody really important. It's just remembering that that's hard for me.

flutter, wow. that's beautiful. You must be a writer. :)

hearts, you are correct, i believe that's the origin of it. I like youe rhyme. I may steal it sometime, with proper credit of course.

fiwa, i hate to add to my list of faults, but i think i am pretty judgemental too. Although i can change my mind too. That must be progress.

de, i do that when i get overwhelmed, just shut down and listen. I might come by if it's not so cold there anymore.

ms. chica, we used to do that, but maybe we've either given up or grown out of it. I think the former.

franki, that is some of it, the common ground establishment. And thank you.

furious, farting must be your favorite activity. You are a busy boy. I have never been able to fart on command though. A new skill to concentrate on.

mignon, yes, yes that is how i perceive it. Although it's subtle. Good call.

TTQ said...

She's not your boss (I'm assuming), so why can't you openly swap stories? Isn't that how friendships are made? Maybe your urge to talk is just a normal reaction to someone who may possibly monopolize conversations....

I have a friend who does all the talking, I don't think she even knows it. My reaction? I just listen, that's all she seems to need out of the relationship. She is loyal and sweet. There isn't a thing she wouldn't do for me. So it all works out and we usually end up laughing about her crisis of the day. She even thanks me for litening and understanding.

deb said...

I do the same thing. It was worse when I was younger. Now I practice listening but some days, I just need to tell my story too.

tt said...

I think we all do that from time to time. I find myself doing it whenever I'm at odds with myself or my self esteem is in a nose dive. Not sure why though.... Except everyone needs to be heard at one time or another. Perhaps like you said..a pecking order of sorts....or atention. Curious isn't it?

Lynn said...

I bet that she is probably thinking, to herself, that you are clearly very comfortable with who you are because you don't appear to need to talk about how great you or your daughter is. I'm betting that she wishes that she were more like you...and besides...maybe you think of what you want to say because whatever she is talking about isn't really very interesting. Just a thought.

crazymumma said...

But you know. Maybe she should look around and realize the importance around her.

I understand this feeling, wanting to prove myself when I do not really need to.

Your status, with your child. Is indelible.

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

I love that you even noticed this. It says a lot about your character. That you are honest about it (and humble enough to share it) makes you pretty special, too, you know~

Besides...we just never know what other people's lives are like at home, behind closed doors. Maybe she is trying to prove something with all of her involvements. Whoever said it made a good point; you're both human. There's no heirarchy in that regard :)

egan said...

Very admirable to confess to this. I think many attempt to do this, but the fact you're aware is a damn good sign. You were a very good listener when we met in February.

Irrelephant said...

I think what we like to forget most often as hooman beans is that we're only a few thousand years into this whole 'conscious social creature' phase we're in. Remember, it took millions of years for us to get here. This super-ego thing we've developed is a very new thing, and underneath we're all still very much herd animals.

Don't worry, it'll pass in a million years or so. *wink*

pat said...

We are all the same..i would want to hear your story about your daughter so I could tell you a story about my son...Its what makes us go in life. Listening is a developed skill, you have to make yourself do it.

Scott from Oregon said...

"waiting to talk" is a common thing among people in groups. Which means, listening suffers.

Being part of a herd is over rated. Name me a herd animal who isn't eaten by small groups of smarter animals.

Perhaps elephants...

thelairoftheplatypus said...

I do the same thing too - see, doing it right now! In any case, hopefully now you've realised you do it, you'll find it easier to control. I love your stories though... :)

sari said...

Maybe it's not so much feeling "as" important as just finding an equal ground to communicate with each other.

I don't personally think that a person with a "job" is any more important than you or me. My job is raising my three boys, and who knows what they will do if I do a good job at it??

I would listen to you read the phone book, by the way. You're interesting to me.

meno said...

ttq, no, not my boss, (since i am retired.) She does monopolize a bit.

deb, i try to be a good listener, but (obviously) i like to talk too. It's a bit of a balancing act.

tt, it is curious. But now that i recognize it, it will be easier to prevent.

lynn, maaaaayyyyybe. I just don't see her being so introspective.

crazymumma, it's good to know that you know what i mean. Imagine how i would have felt if everyone said "i have no idea what you mean."

half-past, there is no hierarchy. Good way to put it.

egan, oh hell, i've confessed to worse, right here on this blog.

irrelephant, so i am still an evolutionary baby? I think i'll accept it and go with that. :)

pat, it is developed. I'm still working on it.

scott, heh! maybe i should stay away from the watering hole too.

platypus, it's all about MEEEEE. Oh, were you talking? :)

sari, personally, i would call raising three boys the most important job. And thank you, you're making me blush.

capacious said...

We all like to talk about ourselves. I, for one, would love to listen to you. I have some acquaintances who never let the other person talk and it drives me crazy. I'm all, "But - " "I..." "Then - " And they just keep blithely talking talking talking, not paying any attention to my mouth hanging there all sad and lonely.

luckyzmom said...

I look at it as an attempt to reach through to the place where we are all the same.