The next time a colleague launches into an anecdote, resist the urge to start daydreaming. By listening patiently to a long-winded storyteller, you build rapport.
Maintain an animated facial expression and nod occasionally to signal your understanding. If you hear a phrase that you don’t understand, interrupt to ask for clarification.
If the speaker starts babbling or gets repetitive, move the story along with a friendly question such as, “What happened next?” Or proffer a guess at how the story will end. That’s a subtle way of hinting that you’d like to wrap up soon.
Don’t jump in with a story of your own as soon as the speaker finishes. Stealing the storyteller’s thunder is a surefire way to drive a wedge into the relationship.
It’s better to ask at least one follow-up question when the story is over—or make a summarizing statement that invites the speaker to elaborate. Examples include, “Looking back, could you have predicted that outcome?” or “You must have been shocked when you found out.”