Friday, 15 November 2013
Talking yourself up
My mistake was to focus on the crudest and most blatant ways of trying to impress - name dropping, place dropping, clever references and all that. But of course there are much subtler ways of "putting on the style", ways we usually take for granted.
By trying to impress, all I mean is that instead of simply being ourselves, we emphasise things, we flag things up, we steer people towards aspects of our personality we think they'll appreciate, in the hope they'll warm to us and like us more.
We don't have to name drop. All we need do is make a point of how sensitive, sympathetic and generous we are. Or how open-minded, tolerant and non-judgmental we are. Or how practical, efficient and well-organised we are. And of course we're hoping those listening will think "Oh, just my sort of person. I must get to know her better. I might have a great new friend here."
How many people choose to chatter pointlessly about the weather or their faulty vacuum cleaner, when they could be angling the conversation towards something that makes them look good, something that flatters them, something that paints them as a desirable human being? Not many, I would say.
Certainly not me, and I don't mind admitting it. I like people to like me, and I make a conscious attempt to bring that about. Apart from anything else, pointless small talk is an insult to the other person's intelligence. It says "Why waste any effort on this person? They'll listen to anything, however banal."
So I hope that makes my point of view a bit clearer. Obviously I made a real dog's dinner of it the first time round. As George Bernard Shaw once said. Or was it Gertrude Stein?
PS: Of course women "dress to impress" all the time. Is that so wrong?