Hey Fitties! I’m sittin’ here this Labor Day weekend… eatin’ cherries with the AntiRat.

Good times.

Here’s a story for you: I have a friend who studied comparative literature in college. Her focus was on German lit and she lived abroad in Germany. She spoke pretty good German at one point but, like all skills, it languished after a period of disuse.

My friend decided to put get her German mojo back and joined a local group where people get together to speak German. Most of them were moms with young children who were native German speakers.

The appointed day came to meet with this group and my friend soon found herself in conversation with an energetically chatty German woman.  My friend’s mind raced to keep pace with this woman’s conversation and, while she understood most of what was said, she could only manage an occasional “ja” on her end.

At one point the talkative German paused her monologue to exclaim, “You speak excellent German!”

*****

The point is hammered home so often that we overlook it: People don’t care about how awesome you are. You don’t need you to convince them that you’re smarter than they are or better educated or more accomplished. They care about them. They care about you recognizing their brilliance. The one thing we all share is a desire to have our talents and abilities validated by others. We’re all essentially little narcissists in need of an audience.

My friend’s German wasn’t necessarily excellent, but she was forced to be a listener in that conversation. And her German companion loved the opportunity to talk to a rapt audience. In the end, my friend’s silence was as impressive as polished language abilities.

You might be thinking: Wait a minute, isn’t that just encouraging people to be selfish egoists? Isn’t that sort of fake?

I don’t think so. I think that we’re all so hungry for validation that when we receive unconditional love and support, we can relax and, instead of trying to prove ourselves through blustery talk, we demonstrate our abilities through actions.

Whether it’s “fake”… lookit (as they say in New England): stepping out of your own head to genuinely encourage someone else to shine is good for you. It’s overcoming your own tendency to be self-focused and let someone else have the spotlight for awhile. So yes, it is incredibly “fake” in the sense that it goes against our natural instincts to perform and display our awesomeness for others to behold. But that’s sort of the point.

 I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~Maya Angelou