While it’s great that you’re taking some time to go on vacation — because really, not nearly enough people do — your friends and co-workers likely don’t want to hear about your travels once you return. While it could be easy to chock that up to jealousy, there’s actually scientific data to prove that there’s more to it than that.
Turns out that people who haven’t traveled to the destination you’ve just returned from find it more difficult to relate to your experience and therefore would prefer to spend less time talking about it.
An unshared experience can make people feel both “alien and enviable,” Harvard psychologists Gus Cooney, Daniel T. Gilbert and Timothy D. Wilson write in their paper “The Unforeseen Costs of Extraordinary Experience,” which was published in the research journal Psychological Science.
They wrote, “At worst, people may be envious and resentful of those who have had an extraordinary experience, and at best, they may find themselves with little to talk about.”
According to the study, it’s also more difficult for people to relate to “novelty” stories versus “familiar” stories because of the way information is delivered in the retelling of someone’s adventure.
It’s All In The Details
“Human speech is riddled with informational gaps, and familiar stories allow listeners to use their own knowledge to fill in those gaps,” the study states.
Based on this evidence, if you’re hoping to talk about your vacation with someone and get an interested reaction, it’s best to do so with someone who’s been to the area you’ve been to before, or someone who’s had a similar experience.
But, the study does also point out that people are interested in gaining new information as well.
“One of the most important reasons that people listen to each other’s stories is to gain new information — to learn about cities they have never visited, books they have never read, and foods they have never tasted,” the study’s authors wrote.
Part of the problem might be in the retelling. In Psychology Today, Cooney, one of the study’s authors, wrote, “people do seem quite curious about extraordinary experiences. The problem is that when we try to bring our extraordinary experiences to life by recounting them to other people, we don’t do a very good job.”
So, not all hope is lost! It seems to be more a matter of knowing which details to share (ones that could inspire someone else to travel to the place you just visited, perhaps) and which to spare (ones that are completely unique to your trip) when keeping others interested in your travel stories.
Have Someone To Share It With
Ultimately, if you’re hoping to have someone to share your amazing travel stories with, it could be a good idea to travel with someone. Whether it’s a significant other, a family member or a friend, you’ll definitely have someone you can talk to about the fun times you had long after the trip is over.
Keep all of this in mind when making your travel plans this summer season. And even if your co-workers aren’t interested in hearing about where you went while you were out of the office, don’t let it keep you from taking advantage of some much-needed vacation time!