You Suck At Telling Stories And Yet You Still Keep Talking

Just play the hits, okay?

Photo: Neil Moralee

You know how when your friend is telling you a story about something that happened to him recently, the whole time in your head you’re like, “Good Lord, this is so boring and impossible to make sense of, what a fucking nightmare, now I’ve got to nod and pretend to be following along, here’s where I throw in a ‘right, right,’ and a ‘go on,’ sweet Christ he is still talking, will this story ever end, I wish he would just tell me the one about the time he got so drunk he fell down three separate flights of stairs again, oh thank God, it feels like he is coming to a conclusion, now we can talk about sports”? Well, you are not alone, and there’s a good reason for it:

“People are fairly awful storytellers who leave out a lot of important information,” says Harvard University’s Dr. Daniel T. Gilbert, who conducted a series of studies into why everyone around you is so fucking boring and impossible to listen to. “Our friends probably would enjoy hearing us tell them about a painting they’ve never seen or a book they’ve never read if we could describe those things well. But most of us can’t [because we suck so bad at relating anything save the most basic events yet that doesn’t keep us from being all blah blah blah until the person we’re talking to wishes for death’s sweet embrace.]” People are better at telling stories that their listeners are familiar with, the study shows, but only because we are so accustomed to the details that the terrible inarticulacy of the person relating the tale does not prevent us from tolerating them.

There is also something in the study about how you are just as likely to be boring your friend to tears and thoughts of final, lasting escape when you tell your own terrible stories, but I’m sure they are not talking about you specifically, everything you say is fascinating. Please, go on.

Why Most People Are Awful Storytellers | Psych Central News