Several years ago I was sitting in a lounge with a small group of female friends, just out for a few drinks. Roughly an hour or so into the evening, a familiar scene played itself out. There were a couple of guys at a neighbouring table; one seemed fairly normal and was preoccupied watching a game on one of the TV screens mounted in the place, the other guy was one of those guys that pretty much any girl who got out more than once a month could pretty much instantly tell was one of those creepy guys.
Naturally, the creepy guy started talking to us. I can’t remember specifically what he said to us, but he had a habit of interrupting our conversation and trying to get the attention of at least one of us. It wasn’t that he’d been eavesdropping and wanted to add his own two cents; he was clearly too self-absorbed to be paying attention to what others were doing or saying. Nor did he have much to say apart from giving us the sense that he felt entitled to our attention. Although we were all polite, he was not someone who interested any of us starting with being easily a decade older.
I was in the midst of some particularly animated conversation with one person when this same guy apparently figured it was my turn to pay attention to him. Out of the blue, he tapped me on the shoulder and said: “I’m a nice guy you know.”
I turned around, as he was sitting behind me, and said to him, “I didn’t say you weren’t”.
“Well, you don’t have to ignore me you know.”
“I wasn’t,” I shrugged and gesturing in front of me and away from him I said, “I’m facing this way and talking to my friend who’s sitting in that direction.”
“But I’m a nice guy, and-”
“Get lost, creep” my friend Sam butted in (thanks Sam!). She had more guts or whatever it takes to say such things. I was raised to be far too polite and find it hard, even to the most obnoxious person, to tell them straight out to buzz off. Normally I hope that they get the hint, but some people need to be told. Really, on what planet is it appropriate to try to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger you’ve never before exchanged words with by interrupting them while they’re speaking to someone else while asserting what a nice person they are?
Anyway, the point of this little story is this: I have yet to meet anyone who tells me they’re a nice person, who actually IS a nice person. If someone is genuinely a nice person, they never have the need to tell anyone. Such a quality can be determined through a person’s behaviour: nice people behave nicely, and rude people behave rudely. However, rude people often think of themselves as nice people, but seem to be surprised when the world doesn’t respond to them accordingly. So instead of reflecting on this and perhaps changing their approach then instead just insist, but I’m nice. Or perhaps there are people out there who simply take what a person says about themselves at face value when they’d be better off presuming the opposite.
It’s the same with pretty much any character trait – honesty, intelligence, patience and so on. There’s never a need to tell anyone whether or not you possess these traits since if you do, they are readily apparent to anyone who’s even remotely observant.
Therefore, it is often the case that precisely those people who lack those characteristics in themselves who have to verbally assert that they do indeed have them. The ditz who insists she’s really smart if only you get to know her, the used car salesman who claims to be ‘an honest guy’, or that creepy guy in the bar who interrupts complete strangers to tell them how he’s actually really nice.
Whenever someone has the need to tell me that they possess some positive character trait the first thing that pops into my mind is, why do they feel the need to tell me that?
Similarly , whenever someone claims they’re the ones in possession of The Truth, or they are interested in presently reality, I look for, and quickly find, plenty of lies.