Do you talk about certain things that always require explanation? Maybe attitudes you have or experiences you’ve collected that seem to make no sense to the vast majority of the human race?
I encounter this phenomenon every five years. So here’s a real-life Story Safari for you.
It starts innocently enough. Brimming with excitement about the upcoming weekend, I say something like:
“I’m so excited about this weekend!”
The person I’m talking to makes the next logical move and asks what I’ll be doing.
And that, dear Reader, is when things go sideways.
Now, I pride myself on being an Effective Communicator. I can explain even the most complex, abstract concepts—like trading futures on Wall Street—in language that anyone can understand.
But I can’t seem to find a clear, concise way to describe this particular event to people And I’ve been trying for literally decades. But even though my words seem perfectly clear, they never fail to confuse my listeners.
I’ll back up and give you a running start on the conversation:
Me: I’m so excited about this weekend!
Them: Oh? What are you doing?
Me: It’s my high school reunion!!
Five straightforward words, a simple declarative sentence. But people don’t expect the words “excited” and “high school reunion” to appear in such close proximity to one another. It fries some vestigial adolescent circuit in their brains. They ask me to repeat myself. And when my words don’t change, their faces dissolve in utter confusion.
Do some things about your life require explanation?
Sometimes great anecdotes just lie at your feet, waiting for you to notice them; a Story Safari doesn’t have to take you any farther than your own backyard. Look at the eccentricities and oddities of your own life. We all have things that require explanation from time to time. So explain. Give people another perspective, allow them to see the world through your eyes.
For some people, the phrase “high school reunion” conjures up sweaty memories of awkward small talk with people you hated 10, 15, 20 years ago and don’t feel any more kindly towards now. For me, it means hanging out with some of the most fascinating women I’ve ever met, picking up a decades-long conversation that we resume every five years as if we’d stopped talking just five minutes ago.
What do you dread? Imagine that someone else might love it. What feelings and attitudes does that suggest? Or the reverse—what do you love that someone else might dread. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s a great way to build empathy—and connect you to your audience.
Shape your stories to make them memorable—discover how in my hands-on revision workshop. Click here and I’ll let you know when we launch.