In the past, I have been a part of self-centered conversations, especially in the offices. These would be among a group of people, where there is one person who is very much self-centered and would tactfully concentrate all the conversations towards themselves. Others do not perceive any sense of narcissism. But, it is clearly a case of one. It is this tactic that always works and people fall for such sweet manipulation. And this is done to divert attention from anyone else and always keep the conversation around them.
But, not many realize that the person is manipulating others and is a trap to keep them under their control.
I was part of such group, but, when I realized that everyone else is getting manipulated, I couldn't resist myself. I engaged in conversations that were no more around the person. But, that made me the bitter one to the main person and a series of conflicts raised.
I, later understood that these kind of persons should be left alone. But, I am sure I would encounter such persons in the future too and I have no idea how to deal with them. While keeping mum all the time would be a conflict within myself; that they would think that I got manipulated too. I do not want to give them that impression.
Question I realized that manipulations are a common thing both at workplace and in personal life. All I did was to redirect conversations away from them but that brought a lot of animosity between us. So, I do not want to be the bad buy and at the same time, I want the manipulator to know that I am not falling for that.
My question is: how do I redirect conversations to not focus on self-centered people, without upsetting those people? And if I can't redirect that way, how can I make clear that I'm aware of what self-centered conversation monoplizers are doing?
Adding a conversations scenario.
Purpose : Conversation Hijack
Context : Workplace lunch
The entire group is discussing about how well one of the team members, Tom, has done in the recent past, praising Tom for it and gathering more information about it. Out of the blue, one of the team members says something like 'I have faced a similar situation too; I have done XYZ and so and so. blah blah blah'. With a joke in such hijacked conversations, the entire group bursts into laughter and no one would ever think of coming back to Tom. Cracking jokes is one of the easiest ways to divert the conversation. And the frequency of the hijacking could be less or more depending on that person.
Praising one is just one of the contexts. It could be anything else like showing fake concern towards a team member and then diverting the topic to themselves and their own set of problems or success scenarios.