It's not all about you
I know, you'd like to think it's a little bit about you at the very least. Sometimes, though, it's not. At all. Sometimes, it is not the time to share your experiences. Sometimes, it is about being there for the other person.
Shift versus support: Shift responses are a hallmark of conversational narcissism; the point of a shift response is to get the focus back to you. I know you know people who do this all.of.the.time. A conversation with people who tend towards shift responses feels very much like all roads lead back to that person. A support response encourages your conversation buddy to continue their story. I get it, you have a good story to share. I know you want to be able to share, too. Sometimes, though, it is not all about you.
Shift Response #1: I’m so busy right now. #2: Me too. I’m totally overwhelmed. Support Response #1: I’m so busy right now. #2: Why? What do you have to get done? Is this different than normal?
You can tell when you ask that ‘How was your day?’ and the response is not legit. I guess this is when our Mom’s Spidey Sense needs to be extra strong: we need to be able to sense when one of our people – little or big – need that support response. Same for our friends. You can tell when you need to delve deeper and get the real answer. You can tell when your person’s proverbial plate and cup run completely over. You can tell when that ‘I’m fine’ is really just an attempted brush off. That’s when you need to shift into support response mode.
I’m certainly not perfect. There are times when I just get grumpy about having to be the supportive one; wouldn’t it be nice to have someone ask about my day for once? But that’s a rare occurrence (the grumpiness … and the asking, actually). And most of the time it is okay. Mostly because I do care deeply how my people are doing. I have stories to share, too, but let’s get things smoothed out for my charges first. Then we’ll deal with my stories.