Saturday, May 10, 2008

Flubbing the Story: 10 Communication Mistakes We All Make (Part 3)

5) Exaggerate when telling your story.

"...and there were millions of people watching the parade!"
(There were 850 according to newspaper accounts.)

"...I never even looked at her!"
(Never looked?!)

"...before he started the diet he weighed 300 pounds!"
(OK it was really 240.)

A story worth telling is worth telling accurately. Tell it with enthusiasm, zeal and intensity. Tell it accurately. It's vital that all of your communication is true without being critical or unnecessarily unkind. Exaggeration is an invitation for people to not listen or care.

6) Ignore feedback during your story telling.

"...and then she comes in the door and she has this skirt on that is so ridiculously short. I mean who is she kidding. She's not a teenager anymore." (friend nods politely while fighting back a yawn, eyes begin to glaze over) " people have no sense of decency anymore? I just wonder what makes some people tick. Don't people pay attention to what they are wearing and see how it makes everybody feel?"
(friend shrugs and nods with feigned frustration)

The woman telling the story about the short skirted office friend could have spared her listener the despair of this antiquated story had she only seen the feigned frustration, the shrug, the yawn, but it was not something the storyteller was looking for. It should have been. It's critical to always pay attention to how people are receiving the stories you tell.

You must pay close attention to your listener's body language while you are telling your story. Is their body language telling you they are interested, or impatient for the end? Are their lips moving, ready to jump in on your story, or are they listening with awe. Not learning to understand the body language of other people is one of the mistakes we make in communication.

7) Respond to other people's stories with a story of your own.

"...and I went to Cancun and you should have seen the beaches. They were beautiful. The Princess Hotel was absolutely breathtak..."
"You stayed at the Princess. It's really not bad you know. On our third trip to Cancun we stayed at The Princess, in the Oceanview Suite. They reserved it for us because John helped with the design of the building in '98. I didn't really like The Princess that much. It was a wannabee hotel. But since then we've stayed at the new Sheraton. It just has everything and they take care of you like you are royalty there. I think if we go back and don't go to Tahiti on our next trip, we're going to stay there again."

"Cancun sure is nice."
(The energy has been discharged from her being and the desire to communicate further with her friend went with her energy.)

This is one of the really sad things we do in communicating with others. Instead of teasing out the rest of the story from our friend, we immediately jump in with a story of our own. Research shows that people feel better when you pursue their story to it's completion, then disclose (share) something of your own.

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