You: The Untold Story

sharing who you areA few months ago I was reading in my home office. As usual, it was psychology-oriented reading material. But the particular topic had to do with the unusual challenges faced by charitable organizations.

Perhaps this comes as no surprise to you, but the author was pointing out something I found very interesting (and strange). Save-the-Children type organizations are forced to focus on the stories of just a few people if they want to be successful at raising money from donors.

It could be an organization that raises money for orphans of the Central African civil wars. It could be an organization that raises money for malnourished children. Regardless of the cause, only individual stories seem to evoke the emotion needed for a person to pull out his or her checkbook.

And it turns out, the more children you show in a presentation, the less donors are willing to give. That sounds backwards, doesn’t it?

The worst situation occurs when the charitable organization offers statistics about the number of children who need homes. Or statistics about the number of families who don’t have enough food to live. For some reason the statistics seem to cause us to disconnect emotionally.

I experienced this first hand last week.

I attended a fund raiser for what the presenter said was classified by the U.N. as the “third poorest nation on earth.” She told us how it is landlocked and how the other countries demand tariffs and other fees as products enter or leave the landlocked nation with very few natural resources of its own.

None of that really affected me. But when she told me the story of two kids they helped by building an orphanage home, I was ready to write a check. I suddenly had an emotional desire to make sure the organization could continue helping those kids. I wanted to cry because the stories touched me so deeply.

Seeing lots of children doesn’t work. Why? Because it disconnects us from the way compassion and caring works in the human mind.

Humans are built for relationships, but not relationships with crowds. Our instincts are programmed to respond to the human story.

If you are exposed to the story of one child, by the name of Gianna, and you learn about her particular hopes and struggles, something interesting starts to happen. You begin to connect with that child…a child you have never actually met. You start to care about her. She matters to you. How Gianna’s story ends is suddenly real and personal on an emotional level, not just a cognitive level.

Here’s the message I want you to get from this email. Your story matters. When you’re trying to connect with your love interest, it’s your story that gets him emotionally hooked.

I don’t care how attractive you are or how good you are at witty banter; if you are just a face without a story, the connection will never be real or genuine.

You may wonder how to integrate this advice with the important art of deep listening. Deep listening is all about learning his story.

Deep listening allows you to experience his story in a way that makes him feel like someone gets him on a deeper level. The more you learn about his hopes and dreams, fears and frustrations, the more you matter to him. Isn’t that weird?

It’s one of the many reasons we care deeply about people who have been there through it all with us. They know our story because they were a witness to it as it unfolded.

Getting back to the question at hand, never interrupt an opportunity to hear his story. I’m sure you’ve been on the receiving end of a conversation with one of those annoying people that responds to every single thing you say with their own related story.

They never even acknowledge what you said, thinking they are being a great conversationalist by sharing how, “Oh my God…that so totally just happened to me last week! Blah blah blah.”

sharing who you areDon’t be one of those people. Instead, start conversations by sharing what it’s like to be you. Let him into your world. Instead of telling him about yourself, let him see your life through your eyes.

Think of it like the advice fiction authors often receive from editors: “Don’t tell them about your character…show them.” When you connect in this way, he will feel a natural pull to learn more about you and keep in touch with you.

That’s all for today. I could go on about this particular topic for hours, but I know you’ve got places to go and stories to tell, so I’ll let you get to it!

James


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56 thoughts on “You: The Untold Story

  1. Mirta said:

    Hi, James, thanks so much for this article! I think I am good at conversation and listening, as people usually open up to me easily. However, I have found myself in the ‘wannabe’ great conversationalist example as well, and I want to improve on it by
    – sharing my story in a better way, as well as on
    – listening to his story without interrupting but getting involved with it, to really connect through.

    I already know I want to master the art of deep listening and sometimes I interrupt his story, due to excitement and discovering similarities, etc. – this is something I want to improve on.

    Can you give us a couple of examples on this:
    – “Deep listening is all about learning his story. It’s a method that allows you to experience his story in a way that makes him feel like someone gets him on a deeper level. The more you learn about his hopes and dreams, fears and frustrations, the more you matter to him. ” – He opens up with this pretty frequently and it usually takes very little before it happens. But what I want to improve on is to contribute to the conversation so it could go as deep as it gets – as much as he would like to share with someone who really gets him. Currently, I have a feeling my excited wording helps the conversation, but at other times, I kind of pull the conversation to my experiences – which he listens attentively and switches conversation to what I am sharing – while I actually wanted to just make a connection between our similar stories, and wanted him to go on with his story.

    – Don’t be one of those people. Instead, start conversations by sharing what it’s like to be you. Let him into your world. Instead of telling him about yourself, let him see your life through your eyes.” – How? In which words, for example?

    Thanks much!

    • James Bauer said:

      Great question, Mirta. Okay, here’s an example of the idea of “show, don’t tell.”

      Here’s the tell version. “It was a company picnic, and of course they thought softball would be a good idea. I was up to bat, and the pitcher just about hit me with the ball the first time. I was kind of annoyed, but I think that might’ve been a good thing, because my anger came out in the next swing. Everyone was amazed how far I hit that ball.”

      And here’s the show version. “It was a company picnic, and of course they thought softball would be fun. I felt a little shaky as I stepped up to the bat, you know, that nervous feeling when a lot of people are watching you and you feel a bit limp and shaky at the same time? I watched the first ball come so close to my head that I think it changed my focus. I remember looking at the guy’s face, trying to read whether he was angry at me or something. I felt like he wasn’t taking me seriously and might’ve done it on purpose to show off or something. Next thing I know, I hear “Crack!” and I’m watching the softball fly over everyone’s heads. I just stared at the ball for a second before I realized what happened. My adrenaline poured itself into the ball that was now halfway across the field.”

      In the second version, there’s more sensory elements that give him the feel of what it would be like to have experienced your world for himself. It draws the listener in because they imagine it instead of just listening to it and analyzing the words you say on a conceptual level.

      • Melynda said:

        Thank you for that example, as I also was querying the difference of tell & show.
        I look forward to your insights and helpful ‘clues’ into the wonderful world of relationships we humans continue to experience. As someone stated earlier, you seem to actually care about your captive audience, not just making money.
        I’m single for now, and am having a bit of ‘fun’ using your lessons where needed.
        Thanks, James!!!

  2. Susan said:

    Hello James,
    Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. your words give courage to move on and see hope were it was blank. I loves all your mails and always look forward to them. Please help me out here, What do i do with the guy that always avoid talking about himself. Whenever I ask anything about him to get to know him better he shuts up. Am I in the right relationship? Thank you a lot. Keep the good work.

  3. lizzette said:

    I love ur advices and I learned a lot by u james…I am thankful that I got a chance to have this opportunity of knowing more about life in other stories I listened and learned to..

  4. bonnie said:

    I am 78 years old. Regret not having had this info earlier in my life…Thank you B

  5. VIDA said:

    I really enjoys reading your emails,thanks so much for this article ,James.

  6. Alima said:

    Waow I really loved this one.thanks James .I hope this is going to help me better connect with this guy who just got divorced and needs to trust and connect .Thanks again

    • James Bauer said:

      Thanks for your encouraging words, Alima.

      James

  7. nompumelelo said:

    James
    Your advices are motivating and they give an opportunity for change. It is a pity that listening is not a great point with most of us. We always want to share more of our stories than listen to other people.
    thank you

  8. Irresistible before said:

    hi James, I’m enjoying reading your blogs and u really have a big heart to less fortunate and to all ppl that have a lovelife problem,you are so amazing person….anyway,her’s my problem my bf is now havibg love interest to others, I thought we fixed our problem and that girl messaging me, saying and pretending that they’re just friends, and then she sent their conversations from fb,but their cinversation is flirting each other I realize this girl just stalking me.The girl not pretty but my bf seemingly like her. i realize my bf used to playing around..many of his girls messaging me and discouraging me to him…I’m not bragging but my looks huge far from these girls,I wonder why my bf used to flirt.I thought he has a high standard…can you help me what simple words to say to him and let him chase and focus to me….I adjusted and keep calm after we fixed our problems. I want him to stay with me. But he now not reading my messages anymore…()he knows my passwiord in fb by the way cuz he is a jealous guy. We have deeply connections before and planning for marriage,but now it all change.

    • James Bauer said:

      Maybe you should start by asking him what he wants. Does he actually want to focus on a relationship with just one woman? Or is he planning a life around having multiple romantic relationships going on all the time? Sometimes a simple question helps a person to look at their own actions and consider whether those actions are consistent with their long-term plans and ultimate values. Unless he desires a committed monogamous relationship, you would do yourself a disservice by continuing to pursue such a man.

      Regardless of his verbal response to you, set a timeframe in your mind to observe whether or not his actions communicate the same thing that he says to you with his words. Then make a decision to move on or invest.

  9. cecilia davis said:

    Thank you so much James for educating me. I am so pleased and hope all that i have listen will give a good result.I hope i am going to relate well with my men and this will help me manage my money as well

  10. Rayan said:

    You know James this story very connected to me actually I book advised consultation with your team and she advised me to let him know that I changed by actions not words but I didn’t get what I have to do by action in case I’m in situation like
    There is no contact but I love the idea because I tried several methods no contact and so many but it didn’t work but how can I let him know I changed by actions if there is no contact

    • James Bauer said:

      Yes, that is certainly a tricky situation. My first thought is that there’s no way change can occur in a relationship when there’s no contact between two people. But as I think about it now, I can remember numerous situations where that wasn’t true. Situations where the passage of time changed relationships because people grow or because time apart changes perspectives.

      I know that’s a difficult situation to be in, and I wish you had an opportunity to build the relationship you really want with him.

      For now, the healthiest thing you can do is invest in other people. That doesn’t mean giving up on the relationship you want. It means you’re choosing to invest in your own emotional well-being by not giving one person the power to control your happiness. So I would encourage you not to put all your eggs in one basket, no matter what your heart tells you.

      When an opportunity for “propinquity” emerges with the man you have your sights set on, you’ll be in a healthier place because of broadening your life to include new relationships. You’re more likely to attract him and build a connection with him because of having invested in other relationships.

      • Rayan said:

        I totally agree investing some time in fixing thins can be disappointment at this stage and even some times when it tried the goal techniques in your book relationship rewrite he didn’t respond maybe because I did it in wrong way but I’m almost gave me sometimes I just feel he made his descion based on the way I communicate with him and ended the relationship with message that we can fit each other even thought when I suggested to have a second chance he said he can’t believe he can meet my expectation what I certainly want to ask does the guy can change his mind after building some negative image because maybe the suitable thing is to move on right ?

  11. Laura said:

    James, I love your blogs. They are always worth opening and reading. Thanks for your time and sharing.
    Laura

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