Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
Yes… telling the right kind of story makes all the difference. In the “The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling”, Stephen Denning, shares his experience from within the World Bank and how he identified 8 distinct categories of story, each with a different style and impact. We readily accept that stories help children to understand the world and relationships and learn about their emotions, but in our western culture we can forget just how powerful stories continue to be in our lives as adults. Denning shares how different storytelling styles generate different emotions and responses in others, so depending on the outcome you want, he advises which style will help achieve this. The book has been out a while, but I still recommend it for anyone in business, from Directors, Managers to Entrepreneurs, however it also seems to have relevance in family life too.
Bridging the gap between Self-image and Reality
One comment Denning makes that links to my own experience as a coach, working with individuals and couples, is that telling ‘our’ story helps when we have a gap between our self-image and reality. In sharing aspects of our journey, from our childhoods to where we are today, we discover how we learned to manage different relationships and respond, and more about who we are. I believe part of the power of talking therapies is that in the process we tell our story and reconnect with parts of ourselves that we lost along the way and increase our ability to choose how we respond within our relationships. In my work with couples, partners usually discover there is a big difference between the image they have of their partner and the reality of who they are, and becoming aware of this can enable a new level of communication and intimacy.
If you want to explore this further, think what you share about yourself with others, or what you repeatedly tell yourself. Notice the stories you are telling and what emotions and in turn behaviour they evoke. Do theses stories serve you, or do they need to catch up with a new reality?