How do I prevent someone telling the same story again without being rude?
I once had a neighbour, a lovely elderly lady who was very communicative. The first time we talked she told me a story about her life as a young girl and how she met her husband. It was a wartime story, very interesting, and I listened with undivided attention. The problem was, she repeated the same story each time we talked. Stir the conversation into a different direction proved to be impossible. I also tried expanding her subject, asking questions related of the era of her story, but she had no interest in those, only the specific events relating to her. We somehow always returned to her subject. The lady wanted to tell that story, and not any other.
Some of my coworkers display similar behaviour - they recite stories, usually featuring them in some funny or stressful situation again and again.
Are they aware they had told this story already? In some cases they must be, for example when their audience recounts the elements of the story with them (' I rememer that one! Then you told the guitarist - ') but still, it won't stop the flow of the memories.
Reminding them outright that you already heard the story might stop it for that specific instance, but good chances are that the story will resurface in another week or two.
Is there a way to prevent this behaviour? Should it be prevented at all, or it's simply the way some people chose to communicate and those stories are integral part of them and an interruption would make them sad or frustrated? Would it better to tell them in case they're not aware, as in some cases coworkers tend to comment behind their backs in the cafeteria ('That bore Polonius was at it again, telling us that dusty anecdote about his meeting with Fortinbras, no one cares that they'd met in 1602.')