Tuesday, December 27, 2005

"Did I Just Say That?": Part 4, bragging

One of the difficult things for me to do is listen to someone brag. Very often, parents (me included) must remind their children that bragging isn't very becoming. At least with children, there's the excuse that they just don't know better. Sometimes it may actually be a bit endearing hearing a child say, "My dad is stronger than any man this side of the Mississippi River," or "My mom is the prettiest mom in the whole neighborhood." Such is not the case when it comes to grown-ups.
I think the most common way that adults brag is to slip a little unasked-for information into a conversation. Here is an exagerated example. Bob's neighbor, Ralph sees Bob outside washing his new car. "Hi Bob! Is that a new car you've got there? Looks great! I've been thinking of buying one similar. You know, the state of the art hybrid model? No doubt about it, I can afford it now that I'm being promoted to Regional Sales Manager of the company I work for. They had to give me that promotion considering that year after year I make new company records with the amazing sales I make. My company is actually run by Donald Trump's brother. Let me tell you, it was major competition getting into that company. Good thing I got my master's degree from Yale! Yeah, Yale. That's where I met my wife who was Miss Alabama the year we met. Yep, twenty-five years ago we met and she says I still look the same. Not everyone can look like this at 45. Everyone tells me I look like I'm about 30. That's how it is when you take good care of yourself the way I do. So Bob, how are things going with you?" I don't know about you, but if I were Bob, I wouldn't be able to help but wonder if Ralph was expecting me to pull out my resume and W-2. The Bob's of this world cringe when they run into the Ralphs who are going to go on and on and on about themselves.
I guess on some level, people want to be accepted by those that they come in contact with. And what a wonderful thing it is to be respected, perhaps even admired. But what happens when you toot your own horn is quite the opposite. People are irritated by you and may even try to avoid you.
I find myself often admiring people who build up others around themselves; these are the people I enjoy being with. I feel like I can actually be a blessing and be blessed in such a person's presence. One couple who touched my life in an extra special way were very much like parents to me. The husband was a very prominant pediatrician in my area. He was well respected, well loved and quite well-known as a wonderful doctor. Never once did I hear him brag. Very often did I hear him praise others, compliment those in his presence and seek to serve. I also remember him to be a wonderful listener. His wife was quite accomplished and talented in her own right and I have the same memory of her. She was so very gracious to others around her, a wonderful listener, and never void of encouraging words. Although I never gave it much thought until now, these two people had plenty of accomplishments and possessions to brag about; yet, I never once heard them brag about any of it.
Personally, I believe that we tend to brag when we don't feel good in our own skin. People will be impressed with us when they see our character, when our lives brag for themselves without the extra help of our mouths.


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