You’ve Told That Story 100 Times. Please Stop.

Storytelling is supposed to be a bonding experience. But when we keep telling the same story without acknowledging the repetition, our listeners turn off. Here’s how to be a better storyteller.

 

By
Elizabeth
Bernstein

I was talking recently with my mom when our conversation reminded me of a funny story. “This is hilarious,” I said. “One time I was driving with my friend Rudy…”

My mom cut me off impatiently.

“I’ve heard this one before, honey,” she said. “You don’t need to tell it again.”
Storytelling is supposed to be a bonding experience. When we share our personal narratives, we disclose something about our values, our history, our outlook on life. The self-disclosure builds closeness and is a signal of faith in the relationship.

But the bonding benefits of storytelling only work if you’re good at it. Many of us, even those who tell stories for a living, are not. We repeat stories we’ve told before. We tell tales that don’t have a point. We fail to pay attention to our audience, choosing stories that are inappropriate or ignoring clues that our listener is bored, annoyed or confused. And we don’t know how to edit ourselves, throwing in every detail we find fascinating, no matter how irrelevant.

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