Most people aren’t good storytellers.
But not for the reason you might be thinking.
Yes, some people stumble over their words or they include too many details, but for the most part, people aren’t good storytellers because they don’t have good stories to tell.
If you’re like me, you’re imagining a person (or several) that fit this description.
They have a handful of stories they tell over and over. They can’t remember who they’ve told them to so they often tell the same people multiple times.
Why don’t people have good stories to tell?
I have a theory…
People Are Too Quick To Avoid Struggle & New
Most people like comfort and the familiar. It seems to be human nature. And who can blame those that feel this way? It makes all the sense in the world.
Being comfortable feels good. Think of how wonderful it feels crawling into a cozy bed. Or think about the feeling you get when you drive into your driveway after a long trip. Comfort is good.
The same with the familiar. When things are familiar we don’t have to think. We don’t have to use energy. No worries. No stress.
But comfort and familiar don’t lead to good stories.
Think about one of your good stories. One that you have told that made people laugh or ask questions or really listen with intent. Odds are good that your good story came from a situation that was a challenge and that was brand new to you.
For example, I love deer hunting. About twenty years ago it was one of my first seasons hunting. A hunter in the party shot a deer. I was excited to go along for the trail. But by the time we got started it was dark. And the trail turned out to be a long one. We were in the middle of the woods with old school flashlights. We had walkie-talkies back then and were talking with another group from the party that was back at the house. We tracked for hours. By the end of it we were tired and laughing at how ridiculous the situation was.
For me, that was a brand new situation. I’d never been on a deer trailing like that. It was also a struggle. We walked more than a mile in steep terrain in the woods in the cold.
Had I stayed in my comfort zone I wouldn’t have had that experience. And I wouldn’t have that story to tell to new hunting acquaintances.
And I catch myself avoiding those situations sometimes. But as I’ve caught myself I’ve realized that you have to be willing to try new things. You have to be willing to struggle. That’s where good experiences come from. It’s also were the best stories come from.
Think of your favorite movies or songs or books or any kind of content and stories. The best are usually some sort of struggle. The characters encounter something new and challenging and you’re pulled into the situation.
Remember the movie, The Hangover?
The group heads to Vegas for a buddies weekend. That’s pretty new for most people. Then they lose their buddy after a crazy night. That’s the struggle. The struggle is the whole story.
A Possible Trap: Manufactured Drama
Now, there is one trap I see some people falling into when it comes to stories. We want good stories to tell, but we don’t want to try new things or struggle in new situations.
A way to feel like you’re creating good stories is to gossip about others or to create negative situations for those around you so that you have something to talk about.
Gossip is just talking about others negatively. Their lives. Their choices. For whatever reason, it makes people feel good to do this.
Others will maybe hurt someone in some way. An insult. A slight. Something that creates a little drama so there is a possible blowup and a big story to tell.
These are avoidance tactics. Those that use them are avoiding doing anything new and also avoiding potential struggle in their lives.
The best stories come from new situations. They also come from putting yourself through struggling situations. But because most of us are wired to avoid those two items we often don’t have any good stories to tell unless something new and challenging remarkably happens to us.
So if you’re looking to have better stories to tell, the simple key maybe to say “yes” to more opportunities to do new things and to look for challenging situations.
Do that and that story you’ve been telling over and over for years that now makes your family roll their eyes will be replaced with something even better.