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!


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52 thoughts on “You: The Untold Story

  1. K. said:

    James, your way of being is just so lovely. I’ve been so enjoying your mailouts. I look forward to more!

    • James Bauer said:

      Wow. I should hire you as a consultant on giving great compliments. Your words spoke straight to my heart. The way you phrased that was lovely.

      • Cindy said:

        I was one of those who always wanted interupted and would tell my my story to what happen to me. I did not realize it untill I read your article now I am learning to just listen and let peple tell their story that is simerliar to mine. thanks for that piece of information you just taught me a valuble lessen. Thank you!!

        • Ika said:

          Exactly…. Talking , entertaining others, filling in the gaps … was what i was good at.
          Am now learning to create pauses, lean back .. Be in the moment with a guy … I am enjoying myself ( For the first time in a long time )
          Thank you James

  2. Hetty Frederik said:

    Hi James, I have learned a very important tip about individual connection in human relationships from your email just now. It is an eye opener for me why I find ‘ I’ stories far more attractive than those created on a basic platform. I am now busy with a story for a publishing coy or agent based in Australia and I have used the ‘I’ form as it happened to be a true tale that unfolded many years ago. I will certainly apply your finding in my communication with friends and other relations too. Thank you James Bauer.

    • James Bauer said:

      Oh, that’s cool that you are working on creating something to share with the world! Way to go, and thanks for being a reader here. πŸ™‚

      • Joandi said:

        HI James,
        I want to write but I feel I have so many topic & subjets or lil storey, & bad story’s.
        I just feel like I’m so scattered & don’t know what category for witch subject or I start one story then end up with 20 different stories in one subject

        • James Bauer said:

          Ah, yes. That makes it tricky. Try writing it on paper first. This will force you to slow down and organize your thoughts.

  3. Barbara said:

    Deep listening – I do that and I have experienced how that builds emotional trust. But I think the man I listen to with respect and love sees me more as a FRIEND than a girlfriend. What can I do? I listen, I make sure I look good, I flirt, but most of all I just love him. I think he loves me – like a brother. Ugh. Help?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hey Barbara. Here is an article I wrote on getting out of “friend zone.” Click here.

  4. Kathrina said:

    Good day James,
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom. It applies in so many ways to my profession not only on a personal level. Be blessed!

    • James Bauer said:

      I guess you want to read the material I mentioned that sparked my thoughts on this issue. I don’t remember for sure as it’s been a while since I wrote this article, but I think it might have been research cited second hand by the author of “The Willpower Instinct,” or, “Wired for Story.” Both great books in any case.

    • ziouche said:

      i like much this website.

  5. Cynthia said:

    Thank you ! This was quite interesting and a different perspective in deed. i will work on your suggestion.

  6. irene said:

    Thank you James for your wonderful words of advise.

  7. Nancy said:

    James, I always look forward to your words of wisdom. You write to your readers as if they are actually thinking human beings, rather than prospective customers. I love that your observations and advice are based on human psychology. Others in the field of online dating advice seem to be full of tips and tricks and come-ons. I am a 76 year old widow (looking Much Younger – don’t we all think that?) smitten with a 63 year old late-in-life father raising 3 teen-agers and running his own business. I enjoy his friendship and business relationship and recognize his current mission is to get these kids educated and find a way to pay for three college educations. I have money. He does not – and does not know of my financial position. I muse on this unlikely, uncommon possible pairing and wonder whether anything will ever come of it. No particular question. Just thought I’d add that story to many you receive – in case you have an observation or comment.

    • Cynthia said:

      Hi! After reading your short story, my observation and experience would be to do this:
      Nothing. Do not offer your help. Do not tell him of your financial situation. Let him find his own way, because he’s the man and needs you to respect him as a man and do what he thinks is right for his kids. Maybe discuss other options than College. Is College that important now a days, or is Experience in the work world much more desirable to employers??? Sometimes sending kids to college for short term is good, but I found that long term only is a waste of time and the way cost of living has risen so much in the last few years, its best to teach children how to find their own financial security.

      Ask yourself, what do you want in your life? What is important to you? Instead of focusing on only him and his problems, how about your life? Your Interests? I think you know where I am going with this. Anyway, good luck and all the best!

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Nancy. I love the fact that you are pursuing life to the fullest and looking for ways to create win-win scenarios in your love life. Thanks for your kind complements and keen insights regarding my writing style. It’s nice to hear someone notices. Your story is very interesting. You left out any indication of whether he might also be somewhat smitten with you (in addition to his mission-focused goal regarding his teens). It seems to me that you should start there. If he doesn’t know, you need to let it show in some way. If he does know, it might be interesting to get him talking about what he wants and needs for himself (not just his boys).

      • Nancy said:

        Thank you, James for your reply. He definitely knows of my interest. He showed interest. in me, asking personal questions, before I understood that he was flirting and did a double take. I had been widowed only 2 years and here was this lovely man telling me his life story. I interface with him weekly as I act as liaison between his landscapers and the homeowners in my HOA . Together we have done significant redesign and updating. After our first plant-buying trip together I was smitten and sent a flirty email saying so. In person next day he thanked me for the compliment but said he wouldn’t share that with XXX, “a recent involvement.” SO I concluded nothing further was likely. 6 Months later I found him on a popular dating site, shot off an email asking whether that meant XXX was no longer special, to which he replied, still special but left the area for her home state. He has a hearing in 10 days on an ugly divorce, ex demanding many $s. We talk every few days, both in person and on the phone/texting etc., starting with business, and ending with what’s happening in his personal life. I tease that his charm has disarmed me, so I have to have notes to stay on track. So it is not a case of me pining away in silence. I think I’m in the ‘girlfriend” category.

  8. Betty said:

    Hi James,
    I must say am learning a lot from your insights and stories. It’s a good job you’re doing and ‘thank you a lot”. I have some work to do practicing to be a deep listener and to let him see my life through my eyes…. God bless you greatly

  9. Alessa said:

    James thank you for all the greatest thing that you put out here 4 us,thanks ifbit wasn’t 4 you I probably would have been divorced by now,you saved my marriage MAN thank youuu

    • James Bauer said:

      Wow! I’m very glad to hear that. Thanks for the encouragement, Alessa.

  10. mandi said:

    I read ur e-mail and it’s really true. Even in nature some animals don’t like crowds. I have male friends that calls me @ 3 in the morning and just wanna talk. Because I do listen. But my question is that it seems I’m unable 2 really let them in. I just hide. Some wants 2 get serious and I keep shying away. Because I just can’t bear him 2 know I’m sad,or lonely,or that I need advice. I would love 2 know why I keep doing that. I have so many male friends and I have wondered if I’m afraid of connecting with some1 and having 2 give up great friendships. Men/woman don’t like a man and woman 2 b friends,except if he’s gay. Maybe I’m just being a typical woman and complicating things 4 no reason! Hahahahaha but great advice follwed all so far. Thank u. Mandi. Xx

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Mandi. Change is scary. It feels less scary when you “try it on temporarily,” so to speak. This means you experiment with change for a very short period of time and see how it feels. If you like it, you explore a little more. If you don’t, you can just go back to the way you were. Try letting one person know about one “real you” emotion or experience. See what it’s like and go from there.

  11. Bea Patterson said:

    I have never commented on your posts before, not because they weren’t helpful or relevant, but they have never touched me the way that this post has. Thank you for such a wonderful, insightful and truly meaningful post. I look forward to hearing more about what you have to say.

  12. C.T. said:

    James, you are amazing! Thank you! I am so lucky that I have found your website and it has a great impact on my life. I am wondering, though, do you have any program that can help getting ex back? I purchased the Respect Principle, but not sure how should I open the communication up with him again and apply my new knowledge to build our relationship stronger. We’ve been broken up for 2 weeks now. Thank you again! I really appreciate it!

  13. Arunita said:

    Hi James,
    It’s true,very true what you said..we need to listen others stories with patience & empathy.we often say that he/she doesn’t share anything with us,but are we that much capable to make him/her feel comforting when he /she has something to say?yes,I totally agree with you J that we all need someone who can listen what we got to say & don’t judge us over that..
    Thanks for this email James..hope to listen more from you soon..

  14. Hello James: I can relate to what most is saying, and it feels so good when one can talk to someone who simply listen without judgment at a time in my life I desperately hoped someone would just listen to me but I was guilty of that fact a child I was given away by my mother so many times but ended up back home, raped by my brother given to marry at a young age to a man I barley knew, tried to hang myself, tried to poison myself and my children, and no one ever allowed me to let them know how I truly felt there was no one to listen I was also uneducated. and a lot of other unfortunate things happened. But one day I looked at myself in the mirror and asked why are you crying nothing was happening fast and I was becoming hopeless. I scolded myself to get off my butt and stop feeling sorry for myself, I had a WAW moment. I went back to school it was not easy sailing but I did it and my children was soo supportive although they knew I tried to eliminate all of us, I am now studying to be a coach NLP and other so I can share my experiences and assist anyone who may require my help in getting from zero to hero in their life. I may even attempt to write a book, I thank you so much for the article and hope you will continue your wonderful work.

  15. Ika said:

    James, This is the first time am commenting on your posts..
    Thanking You is long overdue. I have been paying close attention to your posts. Sliding what i have learnt into the way i treat a guy i really like …
    Thank you for making time to change our love lives!

    • James Bauer said:

      You are very welcome, and thank you for taking a moment to let me know I am making a difference.


  16. Hannah said:

    Your approach indicates,you are knowlegable,well spoken and compassionate.
    Your advice helped me to adjust my attitude and to get to know male gender little better.
    I am a senior widow I have lots to offer and search for high quality man with energy and integrity.My friends say I don’t know how to keep a man;there is some true in it.I had several relationships,which faded away after1-2 years.
    If you have any idea what goes wrong let me know.
    Thank you for your messages,they are and educational


  17. Naxy said:

    Hi James, Thank you so so much. You are a lifesaver, a Godsend. Tell you what, I was just about to give up on my relationship with the most wonderful man when I came across your advices. I didn’t know what I w as doing wrong but things were just not working out anymore to an extant that I wanted to break up with him before he did. But after reading your material I paused and said to myself let me try just one more time. And with just the change of attitude everything just changed overnight. We not yet there but getting there soon, thanks to you

  18. Naxy said:

    Hi again, on this topic about listening, in my case I feel it’s him who doesn’t listen to my stories. When I try to tell him a story he keeps interjecting course he just has lot to say about anything, and I end up not comfortable sharing things with him because I feel like he’s not listening anyway. Tell me how do I get him to learn to listen to me (and others) attentively that I feel comfortable opening up to him with anything?

    • James Bauer said:

      Ooh, that’s a tough one, because in my experience people like that are just neurologically “different,” in the sense that they seem to lack what scientists call “mirror neurons.”

      It’s like his ability to reflect on what life is like for you is impaired to the point that he cannot imagine how to go about making you feel “heard” and appreciated. Your story just triggers one of his own, and he’s off on that story without awareness of how tuned out he is. I’m sorry, but my advice is that you do not stay with a man of that sort because he will not make your heart happy in the long run. I don’t believe you can change his neurological state. He might be able to gradually learn how to really listen, but it would require intensive coaching, and even then it may not work.

  19. 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!!!

  20. 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.

  21. 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..

  22. bonnie said:

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

  23. VIDA said:

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

  24. 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.


  25. nompumelelo said:

    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

  26. 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.

  27. 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

    • ziouche said:

      how are you doing today my nice friend…

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