What I Learned From Being An A**hole

Have you ever been frustrated with others, only to reflect on the situation and realise you were the one at fault?

Have you ever moaned or complained about something, only to realise you were being a hypocrite?

At a recent dinner party in Los Angeles, I committed the cardinal sin of conversation.

In this week’s video I want to tell that story.

Envisioning yourself being the centre of a room and holding court… This is how NOT to do it, followed by a few useful tips to get you back there.

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73 Replies to “What I Learned From Being An A**hole”

  • Well said Matt! This type of thinking (not everyone is interested in what moves you) requires a lot of self-awareness and humility, two things that are hard to activate simultaneously, especially in a social setting where you’re trying to make an impact XD. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Haha Matt, I loved this story because it happens to me a LOT. I don’t think you should be too hard on yourself, surely your natural enthusiasm for a new topic and desire to share that with others without dominating a conversation is a good thing? I work for Amnesty International, which either sends people running for the hills or engages them, because it touches on sensitive and political subjects. My solution? I once did a 3 hour fundraising stint in central London which was very humbling and only managed to collect 50p. If you ever speak to a professional chugger (and I mean a good one) you can learn so much. It made me question and realise how do you connect with people without alienating them, and how to avoid being invisible? By doing exactly as you suggest, by asking people first what they know about a topic, finding out what their passions and motivations are and connecting on this level about what you do and why you’re interested in something before deciding to either continue with the same subject or move onto a different one. It also helps to create a positive mood and leaves people feeling they had an interesting conversation with YOU rather than about what you do. Anyone else have a similar experience? Would love to know your tips :)

  • Hah, that is such a random subject for you to choose to read and learn about suddenly.

    When are you coming to London again?

  • Hey Matt, I am glad you got this one sorted hahaha…….I love having interesting convos and I always share what I know about the subject or else give my honest opinion about it. I notice that I tend to be more attracted to someone who seems to have a wide range of knowledge (which could be either through schooling/higher education or simply like me by just being curious and research) than by their apperance!

  • Oh Mathew,
    Great video about a recent party in LA! my respect for your work, success, and curiosity grows with each effort to impact and better our lives in the States.
    Yet, unfortunately it isn’t you who’s the a**hole here. You simply wanted a normal conversation to engage people in a discussion and found yourself “casting pearls before swine”:) Wouldn’t it be glorious to walk into a Hollywood party and find glamorous, interesting people who are curious about life and making a world a better place? Instead one party is like the other, filled with empty, vain and self-absorbed people who can only talk about themselves.
    How sad we all are. Is the pursuit of monetary gain replace the pursuit of happiness? Do we even know what makes us happy anymore?
    I dare hope that there are still few who are brave to be genuine:)

    1. That would be glorious Marina! Then again, if we never ask someone what their interests are or what they know, then we’ll never know. ;) Thanks for watching and lovely to read your thoughts. X

  • I’ve spent a career in newspapers and socialised a lot. Being interesting isn’t about knowing a subject or topic or ‘talking about’ anything. You’re right, we are not at events to give a lecture. Or conduct an interview of other guests. It is important to have good general knowledge, read the papers,read the frivolous bits – it’s not just about news items. My entire knowledge of drugs culture is from celebrity stories and the programme ‘ autopsy’! Haha.

    The best opening line when you really don’t know anyone at a party and feel like a spare part is simply to ask someone something like ” I’m Monica. So, how do you know Kate?” ( the host). It opens up a fascinating line of chat .

  • Bonjour Matthew,
    As a french, I am very proud that you are interested in the french revolution. You are just pleasantly surprising me day by day with your curiosity and ability to keep on improving yourself.

    Find below the french national Anthem. It was written dring the french revolution.

    Excellent dimanche.

  • Jeeves, lol. Jameson don’t get jealous!

    Good point about being patient with people. I’m always up for conversation but it does take others a while to open up sometimes.

    I don’t think you were an ass, just into that topic right then. Sometimes I let myself talk about it a little bit just to get it out a bit, but if they glaze over I immediately switch to asking them about themselves. It’s nice to see others light up about their stuff too.

  • You’re so right, and I think it also has to do with altering our expectations in life. I used to see films, maybe set in France where there’d be a dinner party. Everyone would be impossibly chic, there’d be parquet floor, lots of lamps and there would be a debate about French philosophy or existentialism. You become educated, you meet other educated people and of course it never happens. Even at formal dinners I’ve been to, people just really like talking about themselves. That’s good, I can talk about anything and be light hearted. It is odd how we focus on something so specific we are currently interested in and actually expect anyone else to also have the same interest in that!
    Another great video Matt, have a lovely weekend
    Kathryn :)

  • Hi Matt:
    I find that the opposite happens to me! Usually at function, (formal, informal, random place) I am able to get people to talk at length about themselves, their interests or career! However when they ask me anything outside of my career, I tend to get tongue tied and embarrassed, even when I have things to say, new interests that I am exploring or activities that I am engaging in. It’s getting better, but definitely a work in progress!! That is why the Impact program has been helpful.
    Thanks for sharing this situation. It is helpful to be able to modify one’s expectations and learn to be patient with others, because I have learned people open up at their own pace.
    Warmest regards,
    Shev x

  • You know, sometimes it is refreshing to talk about ideas rather than people (ie. tell me about yourself…no) . Everybody always wants to talk about themselves. It is kind of boring after a while. In the last 10 years I have had EXACTLY ONE conversation where someone GENUINELY wanted to hear about ME…and that was a dear old friend. I’m actually kind of tired of always listening to people talking about themselves…because it is very rarely reciprocated where they wish to listen to me talk about myself. They usually just want to dump their story/ soliloquy about themselves onto me to get positive feedback. Comes across as needy and it actually sucks the life out if me.

  • Love this video, your humility, your honesty, your transparency and your humor! Thanks for sharing your realizations and expanding awareness. It helps me. I love and adore you a lot! Also, I had so much fun at Get the Guy on April 12th, ’14. I FREQUENTLY give myself a major energy boost by jumping around (just like we did at GTG) to Timber. Love that song! So much fun!!! Thank you, Matt! Sending you lots of love,

    Jackie. XOXO

  • I like how you don’t say: you MUST talk about what you already know about, and you also don’t say: you must NOT talk about what you already know about: you must ONLY talk about what other people are into.
    Instead you say, there are several options: talk about what you are already into, but in such a way as to make it interesting to others, or let them talk about what they are already into.

    Even if someone else is already into the same things I’m into, we are capable of boring each other. The subject itself isn’t actually that important, it’s more the way in which you discuss it.

  • Great video:) Life is interesting & most of how we experience it depends on our mood(s)! It’s funny though b/c sometimes I’d rather meet someone new & find new things to talk about – or learn about – than go out with the same gf’s & talk about the same ‘ol stuff. I love them, but…BORING!

  • While I like the analogies of treating people like booms for good behavior in this video: have a learner’s mindset, be a good listener, etc. I feel it should be mentioned that there are some places still in the United States where people burn books. (Come to think of it I think they still burn people there too…)

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