Someone Stole on My Story! | Manners & Etiquette


sad-man-all-the-buzz

The sad story teller…”You stole my story.”

Miss Meredith Sweetpea hates to say it, but once again someone just stomped on her story. Has this ever happened to you?

I came into a group setting all excited about having a private meeting with a highly notable political figure, and wanted to share this news with my friends. I was excited about meeting this person, and excited about telling others about it.

No sooner had the name been spoken than someone else spoke up loudly to offer a disparaging remark about the political person, setting off guffaws throughout the group. That same person continued to tell a terrible story they had heard about that person.

Was it wrong to feel like my news had been stomped upon?  That the person who stole the story wanted to make it their own? That it was more important for the stealer to be the center of attention, rather than giving kudos to my success?

This is actually a common phenomenon I call “Stealing the Story.” And you’ve probably experienced this yourself.

I attribute it to the lack of listening skills in the world today. Instead of actually listening to the story teller and encouraging them to tell more, enjoying their joy and success in telling it, and even living vicariously through their story, people hear what I call “trigger words.”

Trigger Words

Trigger words are that one (or two) word(s) in your story that triggers a memory in themselves. At the point where the listener hears the trigger word, their thoughts immediately go to their own memory, incidence, or knowledge, and they quit listening to the story teller.

You’ve probably experienced this yourself. For example, perhaps you came in to work and said, “Gosh, I just saw an accident on the way to work.”  What’s the first thing you hear back from the other person? Most likely it’s, “Well, I… saw an accident last week and it was…”

The other person continues to tell their story and never gets back to yours, while you stand there frustrated. (The trigger words were “saw accident.”)

They just STOLE YOUR STORY and made it their own.

You feel bad, and then you do not practice active listening on their story because you want to get back to your own, and want to get noticed for your own story. Then the whole thing goes south as you both give up.

happy-man-all-the-buzz

The happy story teller, “Yay! You listened!”

Practice Better Listening Skills

To exercise better listening skills, let the story teller have his or her moment of excitement and glory, and revel or empathize in it with them. Ask the story teller to “Tell me more.” You’ll be surprised at the delight you bring just by listening. Ask engaging questions, picture yourself in their story as they tell it, and be sure to let them have that story as their own. It’s not the time to share your own stories, even though you are dying to share one. Keep your story for another time. Consider it a gift that they came to you to tell their story. Accept it like a gift.

Suppress Your Trigger Words and Just Listen

The next time a friend or loved one comes to you with a story, notice yourself catching on trigger words, and suppress them to practice active and responsive listening.

It will make a world of difference! Try this new skill and see how people respond to you. You’ll build better friendships and relationships because of it.

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