It is natural to want to share the things you are passionate about with other people. Genealogists may find that their friends and family members aren’t super excited about hearing about what it took for them to track down a difficult to find ancestor. Here are some tips to keep a non-genealogist interested in your stories.
Provide Breadcrumbs Instead of a Buffet
You might be completely ready to provide a “buffet” of information about your genealogical adventures. The non-genealogist you are talking to may not be prepared to take in that vast amount of information all at once. He or she can get “fed up” pretty quickly and find an excuse to leave the conversation.
Instead, provide a listener with “breadcrumbs”. Tell them just a little tiny bit about something you learned about a relative. Let the non-genealogist set the pace – and he or she may be more willing to hear more about what you do and why it is exciting.
Skip the Jargon
Almost every occupation or hobby has a set of words, phrases, and abbreviations that people who are “outsiders” would not understand. Teachers might discuss I.E.Ps and accommodations. Video game players talk about lag, EXP, and killing bosses. You know exactly what “hitting a brick wall” means in genealogy – but your family members might not.
Skip the jargon. People tend to lose interest in a conversation when they have difficulty understanding what someone is talking about.
Make it About Them
People tend to want to focus on stories that are about them (or that they can personally relate to). This is great for genealogists! Your relative doesn’t want to hear about how many searches you had to do before you found great-great aunt Mabel’s birth certificate. They do, however, want to know exactly how they are related to great-great aunt Mabel.
Once your relative is interested in great-great aunt Mabel, he or she will probably want to know more about her. Share a story or two. Let your relative know how exciting it was to learn great-great aunt Mabel’s maiden name. If your relative wants to know more, he or she can ask you questions.
Share a Photo
Put a bunch of old family photos onto your smartphone. That makes it easy to share those photos with relatives when you are at a family gathering. People like looking at family photos and usually want to know how they are related to that person. This gives you the opportunity to talk about not only the person in the photo but also the branch of that person’s family tree.
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