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How do you react when someone tells you a story they have already told you before?

Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers, Traditionalists. Communicating Effectively with multiple generations.

This week I (Gen Y) have been snow skiing in Australia with one Gen X, six Baby Boomers and two Traditionalists. Weeks like this are a mix of gratitude for life and the challenge of listening to repetitive stories. Some days are full of great snow, laughter and antics, while other days can be more challenging in terms of how to respond to a story when you have already heard it ten times (ok, maybe a slight exaggeration here).

Sometimes when we are in these situations, we might be tempted to interrupt the person and highlight to them that they have already told us that story. Have you noticed though, when you do that, the person is either offended or continues to tell you again anyway?

As a Gen Y, I admit I have reacted this way to my parents and older colleagues on many occasions. In each situation though, I feel rude and like I have embarrassed them. Then I remind myself that when I was a child, they would have had to listen to my stories over and over and over again.

Many of us experience this in life, so here are three ways you could try and respond better in the future.

1.) Listen to our elders’ retold stories as passionately as we told ours as a child. 

Listen to our elders retold stories as passionately as we told ours as children.

How do you react when someone tells you a story they have already told you before?

Many people aren’t lucky enough to still have their parents or other older loved ones in their life. For those of us who are, let’s practice gratitude. Rather than focusing on the traits that annoy us about older generations, let’s become a better version of ourselves and appreciate the gift of storytelling and the knowledge and wisdom that can come from it.  

For the times where this response is too challenging. Here are two others.

  • 2.) Acknowledge you have heard the story and ask a related question about what you remember from that story. For example, “I remember that and…… what happened after that?”
  • 3.) You could also try affirming the story, so that they feel good and are willing to gradually move on. For example, “Yes, I remember that and enjoyed that story.”

As humans we know that no one is perfect. If we can’t change a situation, looking at strategies to accept the behaviours of older generations can help relationships move forward. So next time you are faced with a repeat story try a combination of sucking it up and listening, acknowledging the story with a related question and affirming that you like the story.   

If you want to hear more perspectives either from a Gen Y or those who communicate with Gen Y, take a Seat in our Gen Y Lounge by subscribing to our FREE Newsletter.


About the author

Lisa Mangelsdorf

I confess that I work to live rather than live to work. But when I can combine my passions into my work, I work best. This blog brings together discussions about one of my passions which is connecting people. I endeavour to fight the norm by chasing flexible working options and change seekers, hence my involvement with this blog. I'm fortunate to be connected with a global team at GAIA Insights. Retaining Gen Y within the workforce is an issue for most businesses across the globe. For help contact us because we know EXACTLY what they want from the workplace and we can help your business retain that key talent.

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