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Think back over today or yesterday. How many anecdotes happened to you?

What did your kids or pets do that was interesting? What did your boss say or do? What did that nutbar down the hall do? What was the barista talking about to her friend as she made your latte? Was the school bus late again? Was there a line up at the check out?

If you don’t pay attention anecdotes will slide by unnoticed and you’ll be stuck telling the same old stories over and over. Anecdotes are the spice of life.  Don’t let them escape your notice or you will lead a life that is duller than it need be. Hands up all those who would like to lead a dull life.

Maybe your kid said something really cute today. (Grandpa, why do you have hair on your chin and not on your head?”) Instant anecdote. You mimic his tone and you observe grandpa’s reaction and the reaction of everyone else in the room.

You build the anecdote, adding detail, exaggerating a bit here, subtracting anything irrelevant. You practice it silently. You share it with friends. It gets better all the time. Next thing you know you’ve got an anecdote to illustrate – for example – grandpa’s patience or the fresh view of the world that kids have or family interactions.

Your boss – well, depending on how you feel about him or her, you’re going to come home  quite often with tales of the latest interesting/terrible thing they did or said. Whatever it was will have had repercussions, positive or negative (or both). Put it together in the best story form you can before you get home – “She said this and Mary Lou got annoyed and she said….and Betty sided with her and…” Build it. Add details. Exaggerate just slightly. Throw in some hand gestures and roll your eyes. The boss just gave you an anecdote.

The  nutbar down the hall is a windfall of anecdotes. Of course, in your anecdote you won’t call him a nutbar, nor will you name him. He will become the man who has talked with aliens and who knows that JFK is actually alive. People would rather draw their own conclusions than be told yours.

You can take his odd beliefs and carry them to their logical conclusions. You can dramatize his meeting with the spaceship. You can even pretend you were there with him. At the end of your anecdote bring your listeners back with something that shows you are understanding and not just critical and supercilious. “But no-one gets his work done faster or more accurately than he does and he’s always willing to help the rest of us.”

Overheard conversations and interactions are another wonderful source of anecdotes. Can you get into  the head of someone who says “My wife’s in hospital, so I’m free for a few  days.” What was that about? Can you backtrack and try to understand the story behind it? It would only be personal insofar as you overheard it but it holds wonderful potential for a story.

Dig your life out of its rut. And remind me to tell you the story of my $400 nail.

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