Have you ever said to someone, “Oh yeah, I love that movie. It was awesome.”
And that was it? After that short explanation, you stopped.
Did you know that every time you respond like that you’re wasting a potential opportunity for a an emotional connection?
A response to a topic as basic as movie preference is a fantastic place in conversation to build value and express identity.
Learning to express yourself through storytelling is one of the most effective skills you can learn for building value because everyone loves a good story.
And the truth is, you can improve your storytelling abilities by paying attention to the way you currently tell stories and then tweaking them with a few simple tips.
Do your stories have a beginning, middle and end?
Sounds obvious, but how many stories have you heard where:
- The story felt like it came out of nowhere.
- There wasn’t enough information for you to get the point.
- There didn’t seem to be a real ending.
To avoid these three situations – make sure you create a beginning, middle, and end to all your stories.
It can be as simple as stating what you’re talking about and saying something almost identical at the end.
Here’s an example of an identity story, where I’ve pointed out the beginning middle and end.
Beginning: Metallica is my favorite band…
Middle: …because growing up my mom was really into heavy metal, the first album she bought me was Ride the Lighting. Now, when I listen to Metallica, it reminds me of growing up with my unique heavy metal mother…
End: …that’s why I feel a special connection to Metallica’s music.
Do you know what your story is really saying about you?
Every story says something about its author.
Just like The Game by Neil Strauss.
In social situations, we need to be conscious of that fact, because we’re trying to present the best possible version of ourselves to the people we meet.
In other words, if ultimately your story is boring – the big one that they piece together from your looks, reputation, words and actions – then you’re ultimately boring. At least, from their perspective.
If I tell a story about getting drunk and puking everywhere last week at a party – what does that say about me?
It might be funny, but does it convey a piece of my identity that I feel is valuable in this particular conversation with these particular people?
Maybe I have a better story. One that’s still funny but paints an entirely different picture of me.
Rather than blurting out the first story that comes to mind, I’ll think about what aspect of myself I want to convey and tell the appropriate story.
Think about how to demonstrate value.
To do this, I have to have to be conscious of what I’m saying when I speak – which brings me to my next question…
Do you think before you speak?
To get consistent results, you want to think before you speak. Choose what you say, based on the effect you want.
This is why we practice. Most people are terrible storytellers and have no idea that they need to demonstrate higher value.
You can be different.
For example, subjects like religion and politics may come up in conversation. The average person will jump in with their opinion.
A socially savvy person, on the other hand, will wait, because they know that these topics lead to an argument -the least attractive form of communication- and could throw roadblocks into the conversation.
Keep yourself aware of the direction conversation is headed.
Attempt to keep it interesting with storytelling and use questions and observations to navigate away from topics that could ruin the mood.
If you want to take the next step in storytelling we’ve build a whole course on it. From storytelling while you’re on a date, to making the date into a story. This course will transform the way you look at socializing: