You have probably experienced this frustrating but common conversation trap: You are telling a story to a person or a group, and someone either interrupts or chimes in on the heel of your story with their own tale which is either similar or many times even better than yours. But how often do you do this very same thing to others? It goes something like this: Someone is telling you a story and something they say jogs a similar experience in your memory and as soon as they pause to take a breath you reply, “Really? A similar thing happened to me…” and you proceed to tell your experience. It’s only been in my time reflecting on past conversations that I realize that when I am guilty of this, my comparisons are not forming a common bond, but rather verbally raining on the other person’s parade.
When we are telling someone a story or revealing something about ourselves, what we want most is to be heard. And this means focused eye contact, reactive facial expressions, questions, and two listening ears. It does not mean another person’s voice chiming in to tell you a story of their own–which turns into a “comparisation” rather than a conversation.
Starting a comparison is tempting because: