How To Change The Subject

How To Change The Subject           By Gene Griessman, Ph.D.

Terri Gross,  host of NPR’s “Fresh Air” offers this advice if you’re being interviewed for a job or if you’re on radio or TV and it’s going badly, change the subject by saying, “Let me share an experience.”

This lets you shift the conversation so that it focuses on what you’d rather talk about. If it’s a job interview, you can use a brief story focus on your strengths.

This verbal tactic is sometimes referred to as a bridging technique. This particular one works even with skillful interviewers because they can’t know in advance that the illustration you’re about to tell will shift the focus of the conversation.

Abraham Lincoln did this all the time—in the courtroom, on the platform, and in personal conversations.  Lincoln would say, “That reminds me of a story.”  He did it so often that it became a trademark tactic.

There’s probably no better way to change the subject than to tell a story, and tell it well.

(For the full interview, see The New York Times, 11/18/18)

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“Not only does Griessman give us Lincoln quotes, but he also weaves each one into a little jewel of an essay on that particular subject. In addition, this small volume contains “Biographical Notes” on the main figures cited and also a Bibliography of the sources quoted.” —Wayne C. Temple, world-renowned Lincoln scholar, critic, and author, Illinois State Archives

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You might also enjoy “Lincoln Speaks To Leaders by Gene Griessman and Pat Williams.


Gene Griessman is a thought-leader who's celebrated around the world for his books, training videos, and memorable presentations. As an actor and playwright, he has performed at Ford’s Theater, the Georgia Dome before 25,000, the Lincoln Memorial, and aboard the famed carrier the USS Abraham Lincoln. He has conducted exclusive interviews on TV and in print with Presidents, actors, sports stars, and business leaders. He has won numerous awards including the Benjamin Franklin Award. he has performed his Lincoln one-man play at Ford's Theatre. His award-winning book “The Achievement Factors” is considered a classic. “Time Tactics Of Very Successful People,” published by McGraw-Hill, is in its 43rd printing. “The Words Lincoln Lived By,” published by Simon & Schuster is in its 23rd printing. He is author of “Lincoln Speaks To Leaders,” “Lessons from Legends,” “Lincoln’s Wisdom;” and the celebrated training film “Lincoln On Communication.” He is a member of the Television Academy. His newest book "Lincoln and Obama" has just been released by Audible.
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