13

Background

I am quite a forgetful person and will frequently tell the same story, or make the same statement, more than once.

This usually occurs when I will see or hear something and that will trigger me to say whatever it is that I am thinking.
An example of this might be:

Me: *Sees football stadium*
Me: [My favourite team's name] won their game last week.
Friend: I know; you've told me.

Or

Me: *Sees advert for a product*
Me: I bought one of those products.
Friend: I know; you've told me.

Almost everytime I am in that situation, I am reminded that I have already stated that fact.
(At the time of writing I am struggling with thinking of any good examples to use. What sparked the conception of this question was a pair of gloves I found that I thought I had lost and I told my girlfriend and she stated I had already told her that I had found them. She then proceeded to tell me I was obsessed etc - implying she wasn't angry at me restating).

Question

How would I go about keeping the conversation on the topic of whatever it is that I have just brought up?
Generally, I will mention said topic as it is something I want to talk about, but being told that I have brought it up already. It is more than likely that if I have brought up the said topic before and forgotten then evidently the conversation was not kept on that topic. This could either be because the listener had no interest in the topic (and still doesn't) or because the topic was changed by some other medium.
That one-liner ("You've already told me") tends to just shut me up and I feel some sort of awkwardness to say something again as I feel as though the listener is not that interested in either talking to me or talking to me about topics of my interest.

Aside

Perhaps I am just worrying about nothing, but this is a situation I encounter frequently.
Often I will tend to not saying anything at all to avoid this.

  • It's worth considering that your friend may just not be very interested in the subject. That's perfectly normal, and okay. If you're fighting to keep on a topic, and they're pulling away from it, perhaps search for some other common ground. – AJFaraday Nov 30 '17 at 14:03
18

Often I have a suspicion I might have already told the story, in which case this is exactly when you begin with "Oh, did I tell you? [...]"

Otherwise, I just say "whoops sorry, I forgot", or "oh my bad, wasn't sure if I'd told you".

That said, while not quite rude, in my opinion—and this very much depends on the tone—it can sometimes be distasteful for people to point this out, so I just say the above and quickly move on, and I make an effort not behave that way in the reverse situation. When I do feel like mentioning this, I try to say it in a friendly way, like "Oh yeah! I remember when you mentioned this. :)"

It's just a conversation killer on their part, and sometimes they don't realize it themselves. In my experience, this happens more often when people don't know you too well—once they get to know you better and realize your memory isn't as sharp as a razor blade, they just go along and stop pointing it out, unless you get to the point where your long storytelling is wasting their time or distracting them from what they're trying to do—in which case, take that as your signal to stop talking and keep improving on this.

All in all, best thing you can do on your might be to train yourself to at least remember if you might have told them the story, and begin by asking if you've already told them the story (and avoid continuing if they say you've already told them). That's easier than remembering if you've actually told them the story.

  • 3
    I also use the technique of saying "Oh yeah! Now I remember you saying that before." I feel like when somebody mentions the same thing to you multiple times, they are often passionate or interested in the subject. It feels more respectful. It also allows the person continue to talk about something that they enjoy if they really feel the need to relive the conversation again. – airfishey Nov 30 '17 at 22:27
  • If they just told you once or haven't brought it up in some time, then it might be rude. Not so much if you're trying to start the same conversation again for the tenth time over just a couple of weeks. Then its understandable for them to be too tired to have it again, isn't it? – user61524 May 23 '18 at 9:30
  • @user61524: Not so much if it's the tenth time, no. – Mehrdad May 23 '18 at 9:39
14

If you want to keep the conversation going about a certain topic. Include the other person in the conversation.

Me: Sees football stadium

Me: [My favourite team's name] won their game last week.

Friend: I know; you've told me.

Me: Oh, I forgot. Have you seen the game though?

Friend: No I haven't

Me: Ah too bad, it was a great game. Did you watch another game?

Or

Me: Sees advert for a product

Me: I bought one of those products.

Friend: I know; you've told me.

Me: Ah I forgot! I can really recommend the product though, do you have anything like it?

Friend: No, I don't.

Me: Ah I think it's great because of X, what do you look for in this type of product?

Engage in the conversation, just as if you haven't told him about the subject yet. If you had a deeper conversation already, you would probably remember.

  • "If you had a deeper conversation already, you would probably remember." This really depends on the extent of their memory issues. My mother doesn't suffer from Alzheimer, dementia, etc, yet her episodic memory is terrible and grows worse as she ages. She has relayed information to me that I was the one to inform her of, given me the same information multiple times over the course of a week despite varying depths of conversation on the subject, and even forgotten deaths that I have reported. – user61524 May 23 '18 at 9:36
8

I've had people point this out a couple times. I usually try to make it a joke, something like this:

Me: [My favorite team] won the championship last night!

Friend: Yeah, you told me earlier.

Me: Oh, sorry. I'm a little absent-minded sometimes. By the way, have I mentioned that [my favorite team] won the championship last night?

This usually elicits a minor chuckle, and we both can move forward with the conversation.

  • 1
    I like this one, I'm very forgetful and I do this from time to time – Gladiator Kittens Nov 30 '17 at 17:02
3

If you bring it up with the intention of discussing it further and it's too late to change the phrasing ("Have I already told you...?"), you could take up the thread by saying something like

You: Sees football stadium
You: [My favourite team's name] won their game last week.
Friend: I know, you've told me.
You: Thanks! I brought this up to ask you ... bla bla about the game ...?

or

You: Sees advert for a product
You: I bought one of those products.
Friend: I know, you've told me.
You: Thanks! I wanted to ask you ... bla bla about [product] ...?

This way, you can make it look as if you hadn't forgotten about telling them, just used a less optimal phrasing to introduce the topic. This makes you feel less awkward, as you saved face. In case they didn't mean to completely shut down the conversation at this point, it can still be resumed (I agree with Mehrdad that they often not realize it's a conversation killer). If they are really not interested, you will find out after asking your question - no harm done.

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