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Listen by pushing the arrow.


We all know the conversational hijacker.  This person hijacks your story in order to talk about themselves.  They leave your story by exclaiming, “The same thing happened to me, too;” then proceed to turn the attention from you to them.   Your pain just became an opportunity to talk about their pain.

It’s easy to shanghai another person’s story by using it to talk about our experience; especially when theirs sounds so similar to ours; but doing so forces the hurting person to take care of us now. Sharing our own experience too quickly doesn’t always build a bridge to them as we imagine it would.

When engaging another person, stay in their story.  Don’t hijack their story to talk about yours. 

"Push the arrow:"  the antidote for The Hijacker

This idea is from Adam McHugh; The Listening Life.  McHugh asks us to imagine a large arrow hovering in the space between us and the other person. The arrow will always swivel towards the person who is getting the attention.  McHugh say, "So, as the listener in this conversation, your goal is to keep the arrow pointing at the other person for as long as possible."  Make the conversation about them.  The arrow will always want to return to you, however, so pushing it towards the other person requires vigilance.1

Push the arrow.



1.  The Listening Life, Adam S. McHugh; p. 143

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