If you’ve ever witnessed someone begin their dialogue about their vacation and end it about how many emails they’ve got waiting for them at work as a result, then you know what this article will be about.
People have a fascination with publicizing the big numbers associated with their lives. We like to mention how many hours in traffic we’ve spent, and how many days we managed to live without eating any sugary foods.
The act of mentioning the seemingly impressive numbers associated with the way we live is an attempt to impress the listener. Depending on the subject at hand, the desired end result is either sympathy or respect.
The actual end result that’s achieved however, may not align with your expectation. Akin to the extreme example of bragging about how much more money you make than the rest, the pride involved in mentioning your big numbers can poison your interactions with others.
There’s a Reason Why You Want to Tell Them About Your Numbers
People do not react well to pride from others in any form. Even if the numbers you mention are meant to elicit sympathy rather than respect, your goal is to first impress your listener with them, and only then to elicit sympathy.
The principal act of trying to impress your listener with your big numbers often serves to leave a worse impression the more you do it.
Assuming that your listener will be impressed with the numbers you tell them about communicates a sense of self importance. Think about the reasons behind someone telling you how many emails they have waiting in their inbox – or how many hours their flight was delayed – and break the act down into smaller pieces.
First, the speaker depends on shock value to surprise those who listen. They get a feeling of importance in successfully surprising their listener with their big numbers, and would have the listener’s interest to utilize as a result. After they attain this interest from the other party, they serve to utilize it to benefit themselves.
By either garnering respect or sympathy, big numbers aim to shift the way somebody interacts with you in the near future. The listener’s behavior towards you is thereby shaped by your attempts to impress with numbers.
A Cheap Form of Influence: Why It Is a Bad Idea
People recognize patterns well. The act of impressing, then utilizing others’ interest surrounding the big numbers you tell them about may work to benefit you once, but people catch on quickly. Sooner rather than later, they will begin to recognize your tendency to try to influence their behavior toward you with your big numbers.
Rather than depending on more difficult and formidable methods to elicit sympathy and respect, they’ll view you as cheaply attempting to influence their interpretation of your life. It doesn’t matter whether you brag about how much money you make or cry about how many kids of yours have died in a tragic fire, the act of repeatedly doing so points to the fact that you gain something as a result.
People are sensitive to others who try to cheaply influence them. Much like a scam, should someone be repeatedly influenced by your attempts to impress them with big numbers, they will begin to be on the lookout for that behavior. If they catch you doing it right when they expect you to, their suspicion will be proven to be correct.
Once you prove their suspicion of you utilizing big numbers to gain a social advantage to be correct, all the work you’ve put in prior will be erased. They will suspect that you’ve been lazy in increasing how much sympathy or respect people have for you, and will begin to doubt your ability to impress with actions rather than with words.