What do you do when someone tell you their life story ...

United States
April 20, 2008 4:00am CST
What do you do when someone starts to tell you their life story and you just don't have the time to listen? You have like ten to twenty different chores to do and someone you don't know sits next to you while you are trying to feed your kid some snacks. What do you do when they start talking to you and telling you their horrible life story? Is there a nice way to tell someone you don't have the time or that you simply don't care? I am not saying that I didn't care but why me is what was going through my head. What would you do?
10 people like this
41 responses
26 Apr 08
I always try to listen, I mean you never know..you just may be the very last person this person is trying to reach out to get them through...it happened to me a few years ago, an old man lived across the street. He knew he was dying, he told me all about it everytime he caught me outside..I tried to avoid him, I have kids and a hubby and lots to do. Well all he had was his dog, he was worried about what would happen to "Lucy" when he was gone..the day came and I had worked so hard to avoid him I did not realize that he was asking me to look after her, that was all..he had left a note.
1 person likes this
@crazylady (470)
• United States
25 Apr 08
I have this happen a lot lately- I must look like a great listener! LOL I politely smile and when I get a chance I interject that I need to go or whatever. This guy at a church function was telling me all about his surgery the other night. Luckily I wasn't still eating. I listened for a minute and then changed the topic.
1 person likes this
@rhettaa (214)
• United States
24 Apr 08
If you really don't have time to listen, you can say, "I really want to hear your story, but right now I can't give you the attention you deserve. How about if we get together later and you can tell me all about it?" And pick a time when you can listen, maybe over lunch, because if it was you, you would want someone to listen to you.
1 person likes this
@babymar (361)
• Philippines
23 Apr 08
if i'm in that position, i will still listen to his/her life story though i have to do many things...i can't leave a problematic person like that...i should atleast listen and give some advices....i can't bear to walk out and tell them i'm busy coz they need my help that's why they are telling me their stories or their problems....
1 person likes this
• India
23 Apr 08
In that case i would very politely tell my friend that i have a very urgent piece of work and that he should excuse me and that he should definately see me some other time.I would see to it that i would personally not hurt his feelings.
1 person likes this
@jesbellaine (4155)
• Philippines
9 May 08
As much as possible, I do listen to them because you will never know when you will be in the same situation on where I need to tell my horrible story to someone else. Also, in each life, there is a lesson that can be learned there and by just listening to someone's burden... I am sure that lessens their burdens that is why they are telling it to others.
@secretbear (19463)
• Philippines
1 May 08
that's a tough situation cartoon. i don't really like listening to horrible life stories especially if the one telling it is seeking sympathy. i might listen to a horrible life story so long as the one telling it finds his own story laughable. i think, if i'm faced with a situation like that, i think i might be forced to listen because i'm a person who don't like being rude to people, especially to elderlies. i would waste half an hour or a full hour before showing signs of being impatient and restless until the person can notice it. if the person finally notice it, that will be my time to tell that i have to go. its stupid to waste time like that when you've got a lot of important things to do, but i can't really be readily rude to a person. .
@MsTickle (25050)
• Australia
27 Apr 08
I hope this person isn't a friend of yours. If it is then you sould listen. A friend in need takes priority over chores in my book. If it's not a friend of yours then tell her you don't have time and you don't really care. Tell them you are too busy to listen. Be honest.
@Hatley (164229)
• Garden Grove, California
26 Apr 08
I would go," my dear I would love tohear all your lifestory but I am so busy I just do not have time to do you justice. why dont you come back this weekend when I am not quite so busy and then we can talk more easily? bye now" and usher them to the door firmly but sweetly. " thanks for coming by"
@julyteen (13257)
• Davao, Philippines
23 Apr 08
i am frank person. if ever one of my friend want to tell a story for and i don't have enough time to listen, i will tell him/her straight that i have something to do. we can talk about that if i have enough time already. maybe she/he may understand the situation.
• India
22 Apr 08
Some have shared their stories with me.. though I have no time sometimes I make it a point to listen as I get to learn a lot and I think sharing helps to unload the heaviness.
• China
22 Apr 08
When someone at this moment I think it is not polite to speak frankly to them that you are busy and have no time to listen.If i am in this situation I will do what I should do and listen.At this moment your listening is be silent.For they just wanna speak it out to relieve their sadness.I can pay 20% of my patience to them and I still can do my chores at the same time.
• United States
22 Apr 08
I would listen, you never know what you might learn. Plus, if you're having a tough day it might show that your problems pale in comparison. Obviously people trust you enough and feel comfortable enough to let you into their world. They're inviting you by trying to link themselves to you either for advice or just because they need somebody to talk to. Consider it an honor that someone who doesn't know you, wants you to know them. You may never see them again but I'll bet you'll never forget them. There is a nice way to tell someone you don't have the time right then, but don't leave them hanging, offer to talk with them on the phone later or invite them to your church, if you go. You may be the only link they have to common kindness, don't judge them, you may have to tell your story to them and then both your eyes will water.
@suspenseful (40314)
• Canada
22 Apr 08
I would sit and listen. Actually they are lonely, and no one helped them resolve the situation, no one cared and so here you are a stranger who will not tell them "it is your own fault." The reason they told you was that their families or their relatives did not care, thought they were lying. They have to purge themselves of their horrible experiences. So why not tell them about someone who could help them, a priest, pastor, teacher, etc. You must be a good listener and that is why that person went to you.
@eura00 (16)
• China
22 Apr 08
Well,I am always a good listener, I like talking or just listening to someone about their life stories, even that I am busy. usually, if they begin to talk, I start my listenning at once, but it is really a bad habbit, for it always bring me a result that neither my work hasn't been finshed at the righ time nor I have got nothing useful from them. But the next time, I will do this thing without thinking. Terrible...
• United States
21 Apr 08
A person might be reaching out to you in desparation, that is something that we will never know. Just lending an ear may help them, it might even help them from doing something drastic or letting the one person that they trust know that something bad is happening or going to happen to them. What you might want to do is tell them that you really care about them and ask them very gently if this is some thing that can wait for another day and make it soon. Try really hard to assess the situation so that you do not make them feel that you are blowing them off. Let them know that you have obligations and that unless it is an emrgency you can't talk now but you will in the next day. Leave most of the talking about when you can talk to them and still be helpful to them. Listening is a big responsibility, It may save someone's life or you could give them a bit of insight that they will never have that could make a big difference or their life so much easier.
@chrislotz (8200)
• Canada
21 Apr 08
I get this every time I go out and give someone a quote on their house cleaning. I find this really strange that some people tell all the first time meeting them. I have some clients that I know more about them then I think their spouses do. Some of my female clients think that they can talk to me about all their hubby problems. I try to tell them I can't listen because I have work to do, cleaning their house, but sometimes they will follow me all over the house and talk to me while I am working. I guess they feel that since they are paying me for cleaning their house, that they can talk to me all they want while I am there. So I just listen but I never say anything about their problems. I never give advice or even my opinion because I don't think it is professional of me to do so. So I just listen and nod my head once in awhile. I don't know what the answer is for you, except maybe to just say excuse me but I don't have time to listen as I have a busy day and then get up and find somewhere else to sit where she can't see you.
@shizuoka (352)
• United States
21 Apr 08
I actually have a problem with this kind of thing. I am so worried about being rude that I will stand and nod my head and listen even though I need to be somewhere else. I have been working on it because now that I am married with children I have responsibilities that can't be put off. That saying, "Honesty is the best policy" is probably truer than most of us realize. If you say, "I'm really sorry but I have to pick up my daughter at school. I don't want her standing outside alone if I'm late." The person will probably be very understanding and apologetic.
@whyaskq (7531)
• Singapore
21 Apr 08
I would be interested to listen. I feel it is my honour to be a listener. Of all the people, why come to me? LOL. Even though I might have million and one chores, I guess multi-tasking makes it possible to create a win-win for both of us. She can air her grouses while I attend to my chores.
@faith210 (11233)
• Philippines
21 Apr 08
Hi cartoon4umaniacs! I guess I will end up listening to her life story. I guess, i don't have the heart to stop her from telling her story when she looks very sad. However, if I can't really listen because of some urgent things to do, I will try to talk to her and apologize and tell her we will set a time and day where we can really, really talk. Just my thoughts dear friend. Take care and have a nice day!