expressive worship

The Lost Art of Conversation: the “me” syndrome

I have a dear friend (I’ll call her Susan) who lived in another city so we didn’t get to see each other often.

Susan, like many others, suffered from the “me syndrome.” Every time we got together, her wall of words pelted me like a machine gun as I listened to the endless details of her life.

Invariably, at the end of our chats, I would walk away unfulfilled and disappointed because it seemed there was no room for anyone else in Susan’s life but herself. I had once again been her silent sounding board.

One day I received an e-mail from her. This was her realization and commentary in which she refers to me as the “interviewer.”  Susan wrote:

“Some people have “the interview” down to an art form. My friend and I were more than acquaintances by now, and I thought our initial interview was over. She was like a cryptographer of the heart.

Each time our visit together was up, I’d feel the sting of embarrassment when I’d realized that our conversation revolved exclusively around ME. How could I be so stupid, so full of myself, so insensitive to another?

All the “bad me” thoughts flooded my mind until I could stand it no longer. No! No longer will I fall prey to such conversation. Then it occurred to me, is my interviewer friend feeling left out… feeling unloved… an unrequited conversationalist?

The next time we met I asked her why she never told me about her life when we got together. She hesitated, and then simply responded, “Well, you never ask me about it.” Admittedly, it took me by surprise. I felt awkward and for the first time….without words.

After regrouping, I was able to manage some questions of my own. Of course, I’d find myself steering the conversation back toward myself now and again but then I’d get back on course and resume “my interview.”

It was a hard lesson learned. This manager of the heart, sensitive, people-loving friend is dear to me. I would never want her to think she is misunderstood, or that her best quality lies only in the questions she asks about my life. Or that she is only loved for the “feel good” element she brings to our friendship.

I need her in my life to teach me patience, listening skills, and the insight of the Interviewer.”

Susan thought I was deliberately “interviewing” her. But in actuality, I was being genuinely interested by asking questions which helped satisfy my curiosity regarding the subjects she was talking about.

How about you – are you the Interviewer? Or do you suffer from the “me” syndrome?


(Watch for Part 3 of Leann’s article next week, “The Lost Art of Conversation: conversational narcissism”)

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  1. Great article Leann! I can see definite applications in the field of coaching, mentoring and pastoral care.
    Are there applications during a worship service? How can we ask the congregation how they are doing from a practical standpoint? We definitely need to love our congregations and to do that we need to know them and to do that we need to have conversations with them where we learn about them and not just us.

    Anyhow, I was just looking for even more direct application to what we do on the platform!

    God bless you and your husband and your great ministry!


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