Use Names in Conversation to Grow Friendships
Oftentimes when we having a conversation with a friend, and we are telling a story about something that happened, we will refer to other people in the story as “my friend,” “my other friend,” and so on, avoiding mentioning their names. The logic is that it is probably better leave out the names, as they would confuse the listener, who probably wouldn’t remember them anyway.
However, I’ve found that when I’m having a conversation with a good friend, and we’re sharing a very personal story that is important to one of us, it distances the listener when we avoid mentioning names, and instead continually repeat a phrase like “my friend” or “my girlfriend” throughout the story.
Whenever I tell my own personal stories, I always make sure to include the names of the characters involved. Of course, I’ll remember to include their relationships to me so that the listener can keep track of the story. By doing this, I bring the listener closer into my life, so that he or she becomes more familiar with the people who are important to me.
As you become closer with someone, you are able to stop mentioning people’s relationships to you entirely, and tell stories by mentioning people only by name. This implies that you know that the listener knows who these people are, and that the listener is close enough to you to know. It would add a certain degree of distance if you continually added that John was your best friend.
So now, whenever I am listening to a friend telling a story, I will ask him or her to tell me the names of the characters, if he or she did not do so. It makes the story more vivid to have names, and I feel it brings me closer into his or her life.
Every conversation is a wonderful opportunity to get to know someone better, and to become closer and stronger friends. I want to make sure I take every change to understand my friends better and to know their lives so that I can be there for them! And this is just one tiny thing that I can do to continue to grow my friendships.