Conversations are not a competition

words & photo by Brian Thompson.

Conversations are not a competition.

The more desperate we are for someone to like us, the quicker we drive them away. The harder we try, the more spectacular we fail.

We prevent many of our relationships from growing into something that's much more meaningful, sincere, and heartfelt because we let our egos get in the way. We often end up alienating the other person, regardless if it’s family, a friend, a lover, a co-worker, or someone we’ve just met.

Our problem is that we mistakenly believe that life, and all of its relationships, are a competition.

We raise our voice to talk over others. We interrupt one another in desperate attempts to somehow showcase our knowledge. We dominate a conversation to prove ourselves worthy of other's attention. We excessively talk about ourselves, our talents and our skills. We take every opportunity to somehow prove our intelligence or our understanding of a particular topic. We try to bring every conversation back to being about us.

Many of us just don’t care for anyone but ourselves. We believe that whoever has the better story wins. But, what do we win? The only thing we win is the frustration from those whom we’re so desperate to impress. Our problem is that we just don’t know how to listen.

Listening is the greatest gift we can bring into any conversation, including the ones we have with ourselves.

If we don’t allow someone the opportunity to be thoroughly heard, we discredit the value of their words. We make them feel worthless. We prove to them through our actions (our lack of listening) that their thoughts, feelings and ideas don't matter to us. In so doing, we prove to them we don’t care. If we don’t gift someone with the ability to properly express themselves, then they leave the conversation feeling empty and unfulfilled. They feel taken advantage of, and they won’t want to return.

A fruitful conversation is not a back-and-forth game of one-upmanship. Nor is it a war of words. If we feel the need to always be right and to prove others wrong, then we only disrespect the people who we’re conversing with, and no lasting connection will ever be made. Our conversation then becomes a fruitless encounter, one that’s not worth repeating.

By only being focussed on furthering our own gain, we turn the potential for a mutually satisfying encounter into a game of ego and pride, which is no place to build an honest relationship from.

If we’re always too preoccupied with planning a perfect response to everything that’s being said, then we’re unable to properly listen. To truly connect with people, we must rid ourselves of the need to always try and prove ourselves better. We must stop competing and start truly listening, with empty minds and open hearts.

We must rid ourselves of our ego's need to always try and further our own agenda.

It’s exhausting to hear someone who only talks about themselves, or who tries to constantly prove that they’re likeable, that they’re smart, that they’re the funniest in the room, that they're a success, that they know cool people, or that they've had better experiences than you.

Desperation is no place to enter into a heartfelt relationship of mutual admiration from. If you truly want to be remembered, then be the one who shows interest, concern, understanding and care. Listen, without having any other goal. Have empathy and be compassionate.

We mustn’t be so attached to this idea of winning in all of our relationships. It’s a flawed concept. Life isn’t a debate. There are no winners amongst true friends.

Instead, have nothing to prove and nothing to gain. Allow yourself to be as you truly are and you'll give others the chance to get to know the real you. Your open heart will provide a serene place of calm understanding in a world otherwise overwhelmed by caustic storms of ego.