Whether I'm leading a group workshop or working 1:1 with individuals, we use a combination of tools I've collected or conjured, repurposed and refined over the years. They come from all over the place; from writing to performance to psychology to behavioral economics to business strategy... and other disciplines I've had the fortune to play with during the adventure of my life. (More on this in a future post.) My desire is to make the act of connecting, in the form of sharing a story, more accessible and pleasurable for everyone.
The concept that stories are in service of connection is new to many. We are a culture of do-ers, our value measured by what we complete, what we produce; less like human beings and more like human doings. So it's no surprise that we think of a story as things that we did, or what happened. We falsely believe we have to come up with the craziest or most impressive experiences, funniest or saddest scenarios, most unique or original ideas in order for our story to have merit. But stories are so much more than the events that transpire and we must learn to use all the parts of us to communicate. Because every time we are with another person, sharing our thoughts, feelings, ideas, hopes, plans, requirements... we're sharing a story. So much of a story’s impact happens beyond words, in the space that is created between people. The better storysharers we are the more effective our communication and the more enjoyable our interactions with others.
Think about the concept this way: since stories help us connect more deeply with ourselves and others, we can add structure to our thinking by using these four basic info gathering questions to reveal the key elements of our story.
Start with the question that’s most accessible to you (where you have the most info and least resistance) and fill in the details as they emerge.
The next step is to take the information you gather, make it portable, layer in additional info and start shaping it. A previous post talked about how helpful sticky notes can be when first working on a story. In an upcoming post I’ll share a framework you can use to help you organize the thoughts you gathered with this connect-to-self/others model and continue to shape your story.
How will you share your story? Whether it's recapping your day with a partner, catching up with a friend, delivering a presentation at a conference, convincing a future employer that you are the right hire, or preparing for the next STORY event, commit to a purposeful story in service of connection.
Why is connection is critical? Read Lost Connections by Johann Hari.