not-about-youAre you ever frightened by the voices inside of your head? When it comes to telling stories, you can have a good reason to be!

When I asked business people why they don’t use this great technique to build rapport, here is some of the head trash they shared.

I Don’t Have Any Good Stories

Nonsense! Stories are happening all around you all of the time. You’re probably like most people and just aren’t paying attention. Let’s change that.

Stories don’t need to be magical or transcendent. They can be about simple things, such as what you learned while standing in line to get coffee this morning. Or a news story that sent you back to a childhood experience. Or a difficult conversation you had with someone who wasn’t pulling her weight at the office. The best stories are true, sincere, and relevant to your listeners. Which is a great transition to the next point.

I Don’t Want to Look Like I’m Bragging

Storytelling isn’t about making yourself look good. Or dumping on listeners about your struggles. Or telling a joke or anecdote to get a laugh.

In business, you tell stories that invite people to feel more comfortable with you. If you’re in sales, the idea is they’ll move forward with sharing their needs with you. If you’re managing people, it’s so they’ll see that you’re human, approachable and you want to work with them. This means your stories are more about them than about you — which prevents what you say from coming off as just trying to impress people.

I Don’t Want to Memorize a Story

The rest of us don’t want you to, either! You’ll bore the crap out of us.

When it comes to stories, love the one you’re with. Tailor what you say to reflect the people around you. If you’re speaking with an interior designer, emphasize the colors and textures of your tale. If you’re with an engineer, offer more analysis behind what’s happening. If you’re with a six-year-old, lots of funny faces and expressive voices will work. (Lots of us are six-year-olds at heart, so this works with us, too.)

The great thing about this is that it keeps you interested in what you’re talking about — which is the first ingredient in telling a good story. If you don’t care, we can’t either.