"Now he's starting that story again!"

Who doesn't think this  from time to time when working together? The usual reaction is to switch off. You know the story. It's understandable to behave like this from time to time. However, as soon as you understand the effect of this behaviour, you quickly stop it! 


The person telling the story has (in their perception) an important point and senses that this point is not getting through. Logical when the vis-à-vis is in swipe mode. What do you do if you can't make an important point? It is repeated in all shapes and colours.

Both parties act in a completely logical and understandable way:

- A has a concern and tells B

- B is not interested and switches off

- A senses that it is not getting through and repeats the request

It cannot be emphasised enough: The behaviour that superiors complain about in their employees is caused by them!

Supervisor B is annoyed by the same old stories from his employee A. But he holds the key to changing this: By relentlessly confronting him with his reality. This almost always works with these two steps:


Repeat what you have heard in your own words. "If I understand you correctly, ... "

This triggers two three helpful processes in employee A:

- He feels heard - understood - valued (his impulse to repeat history diminishes)

- He often adds important details that were previously unknown. These are often instructive and helpful

- If emotions are involved, the conversation slows down - all sides gain time to think 

Depending on the knowledge gained, the process can now continue in different directions:

- Put your own reality next to it. But only after the employee feels fully understood! "Look, I know you think xyz and I can understand that from your perspective. In my role, however, I pay more attention to the aspects abc and therefore come to the conclusion ABC.

- Move on to a normal discussion when new, interesting aspects emerge.

- Provide feedback (-->link) if the repetitions become / remain intrusive: 

"This is the fifth time you've told me this story this week. I have signalled to you that I hear you. This gives me the feeling that you don't recognise my needs enough." 

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Rogers CR (2004) Personality Development, Psychotherapy from a Therapist's Perspective, 15th ed. ed. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart