The two faces of “It’s all about me!”

Posted by Doc
Feb 22 2009

When you hear me say “It’s all about me!” (IAAM), do you think “How horribly selfish and self-centered!” or “How aware and evolved.”?

There are certainly more than just two faces to the concept, and yet these are the two extremes, in my mind.

Ego-Driven, Self-Centered “It’s all about me!” (IAAM-)

As I write about facilitation antipatterns, it’s clear that I’m focusing on the self-centered, ego-need-driven side of “It’s all about me!” Look at Professor Moriarty or the Orator or the Dominator. For each of them, they want – perhaps need – the focus and attention of the group.

IAAM- (the negative IAAM) clearly is driven by the needs and desires of the speaker/actor, rather than a focus on improving communications or teamwork or anything else. While the person exhibiting IAAM- may convince themselves that they’re doing it “for your good” or “for the good of the group”, I believe that their reality is quite different – that they’re doing it because they need it to feel better about themselves. They may start from a position of low self-esteem or insecurity, as surprising as that sounds.

There are many common behaviors, for those who don’t feel good about themselves. Two that come to mind here are “pay attention to me” and “make you feel bad so you’ll recognize my power”.  Both of these are instances of IAAM-.

I did it a lot, in the earlier days of my marriage. Having to be right, as opposed to having a dialogue with my wife. Explaining how she didn’t understand, instead of finding common ground. Taking the center stage, rather than participating and allowing others to participate. These are examples of IAAM-.

Taking Responsibility, Connection-Focused “It’s all about me.” (IAAM+)

In my writing (and talking and talking and… 😉 ) about communication, I tend to focus on a movement away from IAAM- and toward IAAM+ as an understanding of human behavior and interactions.

In IAAM+, it’s two-sided: understanding that my behavior expresses who I am, what I believe, how I feel; and understanding that your behavior expresses the same things about you. As I embrace and internalize that understanding, my behavior changes, because my focus changes. And sometimes, by changing my behavior towards what I would like it to be, I change my feelings and understanding.

Communication and Facilitation and Participation

It all comes together in many places and times. Including in meetings. When I find myself thinking “he always…” or “she’s doing that because…” and I assign motivations and assume what’s going on inside someone else’s head, I push myself back from IAAM- toward IAAM+.  At least, I try.

3 Responses

  1. […] always, since It’s All About Me, whatever you do or don’t do, I will interpret according to my context, my view of the world […]

  2. […] of change, therefore, is to reduce the amount and degree of resistance. Of course, if you know my IAAM philosophy, then you know that I believe that you can’t cause change or change resistance. […]

  3. […] The two faces of “It’s all about me!” (2) […]

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