How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

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Are you worried that your stories aren’t going over well in social settings? Do you see that hot girl you’re talking to check her phone every few seconds while you talk? Does the interesting guy you’d like to get to know better seem to detach mentally while you’re speaking? Do you have difficulty connecting with people you want to become friends with? Let this article help you learn an easy method for telling an interesting story. In four simple steps, you can connect emotionally with your listener, and draw them in to care about your story, but more importantly, to care about you.

Use this as a guideline, but please keep in mind that we all think our stories are far more interesting than others do. Unless people are always telling you how interesting and hilarious you are, try to stick roughly to the proposed sentence limits. The worst is to have someone walk away in the middle of your story with some vague excuse, because your story was endless and they wanted to escape the monotony. Far better to leave your listener wanting more.

1. Set the stage with no more than ONE SENTENCE of background.

People write about conflicts in the Middle East in one topic sentence in the New York Times, so you can certainly give only one sentence about why that woman at work went totally off the wall after her fiancee dumped her.

Example: “So, at work there’s this woman who was always talking about how awesome her fiancee was, and then he dumped her.”

2. Talk about how everyone in the story was feeling, and use examples that help your listeners visualize the incident.

People cannot connect to your topic unless there are emotions involved. Facts are not going to draw your listener in to your anecdote.  You must try to put yourself in the shoes of whoever you’re speaking about, whether it is Barack Obama or that woman at work. Use multiple emotion words here. No more than three sentences. You don’t want your listener’s attention to start wandering when you drone on.

Example: “She was devastated. She kept crying at her desk and calling her friends and crying to them too. She kept taking her engagement ring off and then putting it back on.”

3. Talk about how YOU felt about the incident and its relationship to anything you ever experienced.

Otherwise it’s like you’re just a reporter. Your listener wants to connect with you, and know what you think and feel. Three sentences.

Example: “I felt so heartbroken for her.  It reminded me a lot of when I got dumped senior year by my boyfriend of four years.  I wanted to curl up and never leave my dorm room.”

4. Conclude with the relevance of the story to whatever you were talking about.

Relate the story to both you and your listener, thereby connecting you and your listener even more. You want to express emotion here too, especially if you and your listener are sharing the same emotion. This is your last chance to connect here, so make it count. Two sentences, but hopefully you’ll end up saying more because your listener will jump in to share her own thoughts and feelings too. Then a conversation will be sparked, which is the real goal.

Example: “So really, it made me think of what you said the other day, that you’re lucky to be single right now and to be enjoying that phase of your life.  I feel the same way!”

If you keep these tips in mind, and practice a few times the next time you’re around other people, you’ll be telling an interesting story in no time. And then you’ll be beating off potential friends and dates with a stick, you social butterfly, you.

Featured photo credit: interesting story via huffingtonpost.com

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6 Lessons about Life That I Didn’t Learn in College

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There’s a lot of useful stuff you can learn in college if you’re the right kind of student, but it doesn’t teach you everything there is to know about life. There are all too many things that I didn’t learn in college, and you probably didn’t either. Here are 6 of the biggest shifts you’ll experience once you leave the college setting.

1. You don’t have a straight path.

Freshman year. Then Sophomore year. Then Junior year. Then Senior year. You do that on a semester-by-semester basis for four years, and then you’ve graduated from college. You probably didn’t learn in college how your path becomes a lot less clear after that. Even if you get a job right out of school (which isn’t easy nowadays) you’re still adjusting to that job, probably living in a new place and getting used to life without a GPA. It’s a whole new environment that you have to get acclimated to, and one that doesn’t come with any syllabi.

2. You can’t meet people as easily.

Once you and your friends are out of college, expect people to start moving away. What you didn’t learn in college is that once you’ve graduated, you and your friends are no longer congregated in the circumference of a school campus. Most of your fellow employees at your job probably aren’t going to be in the same age group as you, either. Life, at least at first, is probably going to become a bit lonelier. Over time you’ll build back up a group of people you can depend on and socialize with, but you probably didn’t learn the feeling of isolation that’s awaiting you in life after college.

3. You have to attend everything.

You can miss a class or two or ten at school, as long as you make it to your exams and turn in your term papers on time. You didn’t learn in college that that particular luxury evaporates once you’ve graduated. Your employer is not going to be okay with you missing a day of work, or even with you being late more than once or twice. You were rewarded for your perfect attendance record in high school, and benefited from it in post-secondary education. After that, it’s absolutely mandatory.

4. You can’t have any incomplete assignments.

Professors are sometimes willing to give you incompletes instead of Fs. You didn’t learn in college that you can’t expect that kind of lenience in the workplace. If an assignment at your job is due on Friday, you damn well have that project finished and polished by 5 p.m. on Friday. Earlier, if you know what’s best for you.

5. You won’t get new bosses every semester.

At least I hope not. Professors come and go. Even though people don’t stay at job positions as long as they used to, you’re going to typically have the same employer for more than a semester. That means you can’t risk getting on the wrong side of your bosses. Whereas spirited differences with professors are largely encouraged, conflict with your employer is almost always looked down upon. Make a good impression and stay in their good graces for as long as you stay at their place of work.

6. Success is defined by something other than a letter grade.

College, though complex, is in so many ways a simple thing. You get out into the real world for the first time. You make friends. You experience life to its fullest. All the while you find yourself getting a score from your professors at how you’re faring in school. You probably didn’t learn in college how to get a clear idea of how you’re doing. Even if you’re getting progress reports at work, you will probably never have as definitive an idea of what your boss thinks of you as you did in college.

Featured photo credit: Ralph Daily via flickr.com

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