Just tell the story


Storytelling (film)


Jen looked at me frustratedly.  I sighed deeply, exasperated.  We’d been talking for 10 minutes getting nowhere.  She cried out, “This is

going all over the place.  Just tell me what happened!”   Another sigh released from me.  I went to the beginning of the story.

Two months ago, I drove over a ditch left uncovered by a construction crew.  It was nighttime.  When the car struck the ditch it surprised the shit out of me as felt the front slam thunderously.   The rims on the front wheels are bent.  I’m taking up a claim with the city.

There have been conversations with service advisers, body shop managers, our insurance company and the city.  I thought we were just looking at new rims.  The repair shop suggested I have a body shop look at it.  Apparently, our particular car is prone to significant damage, including the roof buckling, when there’s a major impact to the front suspension.  I’ve been talking to Jen about this, on and off, over the last 7 weeks.

I use a lot of words.  I don’t like repeating them.  I expect when something is said once it’s remembered for future reference.  This is a dumb expectation.  But it’s one I carry.

Jen has a few things going on.  Managing multiple clients for our business, juggling twins, and listening daily to a husband who talks a lot.

We were both pissed because I insisted on giving bits and pieces of the story … expecting Jen to remember all our other conversations.    Jen just wanted the whole story.

I went to the beginning.

“I was driving along and struck this ditch.  I called the city.  They gave me a reference number.  I called the repair shop, they told me to bring it the body shop.  I called the body shop.  They told me to call the insurance company.  I called the insurance company, they started a claim.  If the city pays on our complaint, we won’t be at fault, it won’t affect our insurance.”

“Oh.  Why didn’t you just tell me that,” Jen said.

Ten minutes of frustration solved with 1 minute of a complete story.

Help people help you.  Give the story … the actions and facts – verbs and nouns …. not all the background and bullshit.  They’ll know where you’re coming from.  And can meet you there.  That beats two people being lost.

Just tell the story.

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