Have you been there? You meet a friend or associate for coffee and as the conversation develops, you feel set up to talk about the other person. Their questions are not about learning more about you, but about opening the opportunity for them to talk about them!
Imagine someone asking you about your new year’s resolutions, and, immediately upon your answer, they dive into their resolutions – often without being asked. Because that’s what they were really interested in –theirs, not yours.
Imagine someone asking about your last vacation. What do they really want to talk about? You guessed it.
Imagine you just came back from surgery, or just being sick. The baiter will ask the right question, but with the wrong intent. Because they had surgery once too, and you’re about to hear about it!
I get that we want to talk about ourselves. I get that we need and want to find points of connection. People who are doing that are more subtle in the baiting and often kind of half interested in the person’s answers and half into their own perspective.
Others, though, the true baiters are into full-scale set up mode. They post ambiguous statements on Facebook or Twitter – designed to drive people to ask the questions that lead them to turn the attention to them. Check your Facebook feed. Look for posts like…Feeling sad today or It’s been a tough weekend or What a jerk! Don’t they leave a question on the table? These statements are the bait and our question is the bite we take, the bite they’re looking for; then they have us on the hook. Find the bait on Facebook. You’ll then see a bunch of fish on the comment thread.
I write this because I know that as much as this self-centered form of conversation rubs me the wrong way, I sometimes do it. If I have a hook hidden within my question, I’m about to bait them. Being more aware, though, I’ll often ask the question before speaking it…Is this about them or me? And if the hook is there, I need to recognize it and pull it out of my question.
That might be the right question before the question – Is this about them or me?