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Don’t be a Ross. Here’s how to keep your friends hooked when you speak

Hearing experiences one has not seen may leave the listener bored, confused and underwhelmed. A study shows that listeners show more pleasure with familiar stories.

sex and relationships Updated: Feb 16, 2017 17:49 IST
New York
Stories,FRIENDS,Public speaking
The study showed that listeners showed more pleasure with familiar stories. (Pinterest)

Do you feel like Ross Geller talking about dinosaurs every time you start narrating your personal experiences among friends? Does it look like your friends are getting bored while listening to your stories? If so, try saying things that are more familiar to them, suggests a research.


The study showed that although both speakers and listeners expected new stories – such as ranging from exotic vacations to celebrity sightings – to be more interesting, listeners showed more pleasure with familiar stories.

Hearing experiences one has not seen or known may leave the listener bored, confused and underwhelmed. The reason may be because the experiences shared are so complex that they are nearly impossible for an ordinary person to communicate well, the researchers said.

“Our friends are actually a whole lot happier when we tell them what they already know because at least they understand what we’re talking about,” said Daniel T. Gilbert, psychological scientist at Harvard University.


“We worry too much about thrilling our listeners and not enough about confusing them,” Gilbert added.

For the study, published in Psychological Science, the team conducted a series of experiments.

In one of their experiments, the researchers assigned participants to groups of three, with one person acting as the speaker and the other two acting as listeners.

Speakers watched a video – either a TED talk or an interview with the owner of a specialty soda shop – and then tried to describe it to the listeners. While some listeners had seen the video the speaker was describing, others had not.

The results showed that the listeners responded much more positively when they had seen the video. When listeners had already seen the video that the speaker was describing, they were able to “fill in the gaps” in the speaker’s story, which made the story more enjoyable to hear, the researchers noted.


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First Published: Feb 16, 2017 17:48 IST