The subway train was packed with people. Her and I were standing near each other. It was so crowded you couldn’t even find a place to hold onto.
I’d approached her on the platform, asking her for directions. She was receptive. Her name was Ambra. She was a cutey from Milan with big eyes and long brown hair.
A minute later we both got on the train and ended up next to each other. She was laughing as I talked with her and teased her about different things.
There were train delays and the train kept stopping between stations. This was a blessing, although it could have been a curse if I’d run out of things to say.
I’d been busting on her a lot and the deepest we’d gone into rapport was name-from-do (What’s your name, where are you from, what do you do). And that’s not much for rapport. I knew I could get her number but I needed some rapport at this point or else she would flake.
Hmmm. Rapport. 9:30 AM and the train is at a standstill because there are delays. I can hardly move the train is so packed. Ten or fifteen people can hear our conversation. Right now, rapport would feel about as natural as a three dollar bill. What do I do?
I scan my brain for stories.
How to Have Great Stories
When something interesting, funny, weird, or storyworthy happens to me, I usually share it with a friend or lover. That’s typically when I realize it’s a great story. Whenever this happens, a light goes on in my head that says “Aha! This is a good story!”
Or maybe I’m talking to a close friend or lover and we begin to reminisce about childhood or the past and I tell her something personal or unique about myself or my past. Oftentimes it’s a story about childhood.
If I tell a good story, I immediately go and write it down. I keep a long list of stories that I can use for different situations.
I practice these stories. I tell them over and over again. They usually get better with each telling because I know how people will react.
I prefer that the stories be true. You don’t need to lie to come up with a good story. You don’t need to use someone else’s story. Everybody has interesting experiences. It’s just a matter of framing them correctly and picking out the experiences that people can relate to.
Let’s take a look at some stories I’m using right now.
When you were in pre-school, did they make you take naps? (This is the “hook” question)
When I was in pre-school they had naptime every day. They would make all of us kids take naps. And who ever was the best nap-taker, who ever slept best, moved the least, got to be the WAKE-UP FAIRY. That kid got this wand with a big star on the end and he went around to each kid waking them.
I LOVED being the wake-up fairy. I ALWAYS wanted to be the wake-up fairy. I think I’m really good at that! It’s important to be woken up properly. When I was a kid my mother always used to wake me up with a kiss on the cheek. She’d say (all sing-songy) “Time to wake up, Eric” and give me a nuzzle and kiss on the cheek, like this.
At this point I can nuzzle her and kiss her on the cheek a little bit, depending on the situation. This is a great story because it brings you back to childhood, but it also allows for some nice kissing and maybe even puts in her head what it would feel like to wake up with you in bed.
Here is another story based on a more recent experience.
Have you guys ever had a twilight zone moment? (This is the hook question)
I went into work the other day. When I arrived, the other guys in my department hadn’t gotten there yet. The office seemed a bit slow but I didn’t think much of it. I started doing my work, walking around the office, doing what I do. I get pretty focused on my work when I get into it. Then, half an hour later, I realized… I hadn’t seen one single person in the office the whole time I’d been there! There are normally 200 people in my office! It was like one of those twilight zone moments when you realize no one on the planet exists accept you. Then I realized that the office had a holiday that day and I’d forgotten. But it freaked me out. HOW COULD I NOT NOTICE FOR SO LONG? What’s wrong with me??
While we oftentimes recommend staying away from self-deprecating humor, this is a nice rapport story that shows you have a human side and can laugh at yourself.
Using the Story
So you have a story. Now what? If you just plow through with your story, it’s not as effective as using it to do other things. If it’s a fun, lighter story, you can bust on her during the story. Or you can go into role-playing. If it’s a deeper rapport story, you want to use it to get her to open up.
Oftentimes you won’t even finish the story. If you go off onto a different tangent of conversation, that’s even better. You don’t want to push the conversation back to your story necessarily. It can come across as low-value if you are dying to tell your story.
I told the Wake-Up Fairy story to the girl on the train and she loved it. I got an “Awww” when I told her about how my mom woke me up. At the end of my interaction with this cutey, she was asking me for my phone number.