August 2017 Making Your Gray Matter

Be an And-er, Not an Up-per

Have you ever shared something with someone during a conversation only to have him or her tell a story of their own that bests yours? If you’re like me, you feel like your story was seen as insignificant or meaningless. That’s happened to me more than once and I often feel like I wasn’t listened to nor was my story valued. I felt “one upped.”

Don’t be the person who “one ups” someone’s story, be the person who adds to it. By this, I don’t mean you make a simple semantic change by saying “and” and then launching into your one-upping story. Instead, add to what they’ve said and show them you heard their story. Show them you listened and cared.

For example, if a colleague tells the story of a time s/he worked all night finalizing a proposal to an important potential client, you might be tempted to immediately share your own story of a “corporate death march” you survived. Try saying one of these instead:

  • “And that must have given you quite a sense of accomplishment!”
  • “And It must have taken you days to recover from that!”
  • “And that was probably noticed by people around you.”
  • “And the prospect probably appreciated receiving that information on time.”

This gives the story teller an opportunity to expand on their story and connect with you more. You can use any of these statements without saying “and” to start it, but you may want to use that initially while you’re building that skill. Adding to someone’s story like this helps to build trust and hone your listening skills. You can always share your story later and not steal this person’s “spotlight.”

If you’d like to find out more about “Yes And” check out this link (