Will You Just Let Me Finish?
I was sitting at my desk when Danny approached me smiling, wide-eyed and said, “you've got to hear what happened to me yesterday.” He went on to elaborate and unfold every single detail about his exciting 2-day deer hunt with his father. He told me about the nice 8 point buck he killed and exactly how the event happened. I have never seen him so excited and proud. Right then, right there, I had to make a crucial decision. I could tell him a similar story that happened to me years ago or maybe even tell him about the 12 point buck I once killed. I could probably share an incredible story that would squelch his excitement into an oblivion. Or, what about this approach? What if I celebrated with him and asked for additional details? What if I ask him to back up and fill in every single step. What if I gave him a high five and smiled alongside him? What if I requested to see pictures or even asked for a deer steak? How do you think that might have made him feel?
What possesses us to always steal the storyteller's thunder? Why do we feel compelled to always share our story at the peak of their event? What does this accomplish? Often we are just trying to relate but other times we feel obligated to one up them. Why?
Do we realize that if we celebrate with others in their victories rather than compete with them that we would hear more, learn more and be much more pleasant to be around.
I want to encourage you the next time your spouse, friend or colleague shares any story or exciting event you try this approach. Listen attentively, be patient and stop trying to fill in the gaps. Let them complete their story before you comment. Be excited to hear the events unfold as they are telling it. Engage with them eye to eye, smile and stop waiting your turn to talk. They thought highly enough of you to share their story with you! Don't take advantage of that.
I know, from personal experience, that I have some friends I dread telling anything to because they always have a better story or one similar that just happened to them. The ones that really get me is when I’m sharing a story, and they don’t even let me finish before launching off into their unbelievable story that negates everything I just shared. These awesome friends will find other confidants to share with if you're not careful.
In the book How to Win Friends & Influence People the author, Carnegie, shares with us that if you want to be a real friend and have influence over others, you must learn to be a good listener.
How are your listening skills? Do you interrupt others any chance you can? It takes practice, but I can assure you from experience if you will practice letting others have the limelight you will become a very trusted friend.
Next time you're in a similar situation, try these 5 tips:
1. When you feel compelled to tell your story, don't. This action takes practice and intentionality. Listen and stop waiting for a turn to speak.
2. Think about why you are stealing their joy if you interrupted them with yours. Is your story worth ruining their excitement? No.
3. Let them be the hero. Let them have "their moment". Let them have the spotlight.
4. Smile, genuinely engage in their story, ask for additional details or pictures. Congratulate them and build them up; that's what true friends do.
5. Make an effort to remember their story. If the story is not private, publicly bring it up at a later time and brag about them.
With time and practice, you will accomplish this. If you haven't read How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie, I would recommend taking the time to do so. I will also challenge you to surround yourself with others who will hold you accountable for accomplishing this goal and other goals like it. If you are looking for a men's mastermind group or a place to grow and achieve your goals, please check out my Iron Sharpens Iron Mastermind Groups or my men's online forum, The Community.
Live On Purpose,