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Connect Connect Stories
To be effective at working with stories in learning environments, there are nine ground rules to follow: 1. Be Able to Expand or ollap!e a Stor"
Stories can vary in length. Stories can be as short as a sentence or two. In fact I have been in situations in which a single word becomes associated with a story already known by the group or that has emerged from my time with them. For example, consider the sentence, The emperor has no clothes.! If a group of learners were wrestling with a theme of mass denial, the reference to the classic "ans #hristian $ndersen story of an emperor who is wearing no clothes, and the reluctance of people to point this out, could bring %uick clarity to learners.
2 $s a facilitator, it is your &ob to decide what the right amount of detail for a story is. If you are using a story as an energi'er or to give the group a chance to catch its breath, lavishing a story with rich detail may be a wonderful way of massaging people(s tired brains and emotions. )n the other hand, if you are stringing together a complex set of interconnections between ideas in a discussion and key learnings, your story will be more succinct. The composition of the group also factors into your decision of how much detail to include. This necessitates that you can reconstitute a story with either less or more detail, depending on your analysis of the group and its needs. *ven if you are not the one telling a story, it is your &ob as a facilitator to guide participants to share their stories with the appropriate amount of detail. This is done by acting as a good model, anticipating the tendencies of individuals, and, if necessary, giving them some constraints before they launch into their telling. 2. Incorporate material relevant to the group into stories +ood storytellers know how to customi'e a story to a group. Think back to when you were a kid and your teacher personali'ed a story by using your name or one of your favorite things as a detail in the story. ,idn(t you feel engaged and excited to become an integral part of the story- .as your imagination stimulated- The same is true for adult learners. .e love to see ourselves in the situations being painted by a compelling story. )ur techni%ues for incorporating relevant material into stories with adult learners can be as simple as weaving in a personal fact to richer ones such as referencing other people(s personal stories. $s you become more adept at this you will find yourself naturally weaving in all sorts of artifacts from the group(s process or history. In this way stories cease to be stale since they offer tellers a way to stay invigorated. The very act of weaving in new material with the story will create opportunities for the teller to uncover new nooks and crannies of meaning. 3. Be willing to be vulnerable with a group Stories are not for the faint of heart. Stories open the space between us and others. They are a scared tool for deeper reflection and insight. .e have to let go of our need to control the thoughts, reflections, and learning processes of others. In their truest sense, stories are not a behavioral tool for hitting the right button in others to produce a desired, predictable outcome. The experiential nature of story demands vulnerability. $re we willing to learn in front of others- #an we remove the artificial boundaries that we erect in learning environments to protect our authority- Stories broaden our awareness before they focus it. Imagine an hour glass. The top of the glass is wide. The sand drops down through a narrow crack before it falls into a wide basin below. Stories are similar in this respect. $s we explore the interconnections between our stories and their relationship to other people(s experiences the learning environment might feel scattered and chaotic. /eople might ask, .here is this going-! Inevitably you will ask yourself the same %uestion. 0ntil suddenly the story drops through the narrow hole of
3 analytical discourse and opens into a new vista of insight and meaning. The story has been a catalyst for learning and is a new buoy for anchoring future ones. 1one of this is possible if we do not make ourselves vulnerable with a group. Sharing a personal story is a wonderful way of softening a group and modeling the openness stories re%uire to work their magic. 4. Be authentic .hether we are conscious of doing it or not we are constantly evaluating the authenticity of others. .henever we detect even a hint of falseness or any other form of selfishness or negative intentions in someone we shut them out. $ny hope of building a bridge constructed with mutual active listening is completely destroyed and most of the time there is very little chance of rebuilding it once we lose the trust of others. 2ou might share an experience or two as a means of engendering credibility with a group. "owever, avoid telling stories for self3aggrandi'ement. It never achieves the kind of long lasting impacts of reflective, experiential learning that stories are perfectly suited for. 5. Make sure there is congruence between your stories and your behavior .e lessen the potential of our personal stories when our actions and stories do not correspond with each other. 1o one is asking you to be perfect. .hen leading a group we often need to accentuate ideals. If there is a blatant contradiction between stories we tell and how we act, we will ruin the climate of trust, openness, and reflection we have created by working with stories. 6. licit more stories than you tell
The shortest distance between two people is a story. )ne of the chief reasons to tell a story is to elicit them. Stories act as triggers. .e want to draw stories out of people. $s the number of personal experiences shared increases, so does the %uality and %uantity of experiential learning. *ven if someone does not share his or her story out loud, our story will set off a series of internal reflective events. /eople scan their index of personal experiences to find ones that match or resonate with the ones we tell them. It is not always a direct one3to3one correspondence. In other words, the stories we elicit in others will not always have an easy to see relationship to our own. .e are after connections. !. Be open" respect#ul" and non$%udgmental o# the stories people share Treat all stories with respect. .hen someone shares a story they have given us a part of themselves. "andle it accordingly. The fragile pieces of our identity rest in our narratives. 1ever feel entitled to know anyone(s story. /eople will share what they want,
4 when they are ready, and in a manner that does not violate their sense of themselves. "owever, you will be surprised at how willing and eager people are to exit the precarious myth of their separateness and embrace a sense of belonging granted by tying their experiences to those of others in a tapestry of shared consciousness. The most vivid pictures we own are the stories in our hearts. Stories support a lattice of human experience. *ach new story acts as a tendril tying us to the past, making the present significant, and giving shape to the future. Stories by their nature are a microcosm of who and how we are, so be sure you(re always respectful and non3 &udgmental. .e can never fully understand the mysteries of someone else(s &ourney. Stories have no need to compete with one another and stories exist to coexist with each other. $ct as an unbiased, self3aware, gracious curator and stories will usher in a cornucopia of delights and wisdom. &. 'onnect stories to one another Treat each story as a building block that can be pieced together with another one to generate greater understanding. Stories left in isolation are like cold statues in abandoned temples erected as grand testimonies of heroic accomplishments but devoid of depth and significance. I developed a group facilitation techni%ue called Story #ollaging4 5described in /art II of this book6 for helping groups see the connections between stories. 7eave no stone unturned. $s members of a group create a shared history, lots and lots of stories will naturally emerge. 2our &ob is to remember these stories and constantly look for how they relate to one another. 2ou are also tasked with inciting others in the group to do the same thing. Stories are reflection in motion. )ne story leads to another and before you know it you have a mosaic of experiences crisscrossing with one another. Stories are like the tiny pieces of glass in a stained glass window. *very time the sun shines through new colors and shades of meaning emerge. Story listeners function like the sun in our image of a stained glass window. This is one of the most exciting things I do as a facilitator. I never know what will surface. The stronger the connections between the stories and the greater the number of connections between them directly correlates with the %uality of learning. (. Build in more room #or story sharing when designing learning Time to retire heavily scripted courses. Facilitating experiential learning with stories is not for the faint of heart. It re%uires guts, courage, authenticity, and an ability to think on your feet. "ere(s the secret: once you become accustomed to being in less control and collaborating with a group the richer and more significant the learning will be. .e must be willing to surrender a certain amount of our positional power to be effective. #huck "odell, 589996 in his book, ISD From the Ground Up, makes this point in a subtle way by saying, The better the course goes, the less chance there is that anyone will
5 appreciate the effort that went into it! 5p. :;<6. If you make stories a core part of your experiential learning strategy during an event though, you will be wiped out. $s we discussed earlier in the chapter stories re%uire active listening and this make them exhausting as well as exhilarating. Stories are the most effective when used as a tool to facilitate participant collaboration. *ven very technical topics or regulatory forms of learning can benefit from building in time for knowledge sharing through stories. )f course topics that are softer in nature re%uire lots of time and space for stories. $s we have become more and more harried in our daily lives we have lost the art of conversation. +ood conversations are full of stories. .hen we design learning, less will always be more. I use other forms of instruction to give people variety and a break from the intense, reflective nature of dialogue through stories. +roup dialogue saturated with stories needs to be at the heart of experiential learning. *ven when we create event3driven experiences for people in learning, we are in essence giving them new stories to reflect on. In this way stories are effective because they help us enact our intentions and thoughts rather than announce them. =ore traditional forms of instructional design are focused on instructing and telling us what we need to know. Stories always lead by offering examples and an endless playground for our imaginations to unearth new treasures. $s a general guideline if you have not developed the course and there is very little room in the material for deviations or discussion, spend a few minutes at the beginning of the day of a multi3day session, after breaks, at the end of a learning module or any place where debriefs or %uestions have been built into the course, to share and elicit stories from the group. .hen facilitating other people(s course materials I have been known to give people a break from didactic lecturing by giving folks some %uiet time to digest the material on their own. This is followed by a %uick recapitulation and an opportunity for people to ask %uestions. This usually gives me a few minutes to %uery the group for experiences and stories relevant to the material &ust read. $dmittedly, some courses will not lend themselves to the use of stories. )r they may re%uire you as facilitator to pinpoint spots in the courses and fine tune the stories you tell. >emember if you tell a story and there is not enough time for people to respond with their stories, whatever story you tell will be best served by a self3less attitude. 2our story should not be about impressing others or driving a simple point home. 2our story needs to be rich enough that it is evoking people(s experiences. Ideally you want to be able to process this with folks but if there is not enough time &ust be sure your story is rich enough to cause people to reflect and synthesi'e their experiences in new ways.
lo!#n$ t%o&$%t' (T%e onl" rea!on to !%are a !tor" #! to el#)#t !tor#e! *ro+ o&r!el,e! and ot%er!. Spend +ore t#+e el#)#t#n$ !tor#e! t%an tell#n$ t%e+. A)t#,el" l#!ten to t%e !tor#e! and -at)% %o- t%e" )an #+pro,e )o++&n#)at#on! and b&#ld !at#!*"#n$. prod&)t#,e. re-ard#n$ relat#on!%#p!./
Abo&t t%e A&t%or Terren)e L. Gar$#&lo. 00HS is an eight3time author, international speaker, organi'ational development consultant and group process facilitator speciali'ing in the use of stories. "e holds a =aster of =anagement in "uman Services from the Florence "eller School, at ?randeis 0niversity, and is a recipient of Inc. =aga'ine@s =arketing =aster $ward, the 899; "> 7eadership $ward from the $sia /acific ">= #ongress, and a member of ?randeis 0niversity(s "all of Fame. "e has appeared on Fox TA, #1;, and on #11 radio among others. Terrence can be reached at terrenceBmakingstories.net, C:<3DC;3 ;9;E.
WORKSHO1 GETTING RESULTS WITH STOR23BASED O00UNI ATION SKILLS
DES RI1TION W#t% t%e pa)e o* -or4 #n toda"5! or$an#6at#on!. are "o& &!#n$ "o&r )o++&n#)at#on !4#ll! to $et t%e re!<! "o& -ant7 Story3based communication obliterates barriers and puts us in touch with ourselves and in connection with others. This foundational course looks at the key communication skills we all possess and can strengthen for thriving at work and in our personal relationships. ?ased on research with Fortune <99 companies, participants are introduced to nine key communication skills that will drive new results in their organi'ation regardless of where they sit.
2OU5RE A NATURAL
2o&5re )o++#tted to be)o+#n$ a better )o++&n#)ator. ,o you know that you have a perfect set of skills for communicating effectively already-
2o&5re tr"#n$ to b&#ld !tron$er -or4#n$ relat#on!%#p!. ,o you use your listening skills to connect more meaningful with others2o&5re *r&!trated be)a&!e people do not l#!ten to "o&. ,o you have a hard time getting your ideas heard or understood2o&5re t#red o* endle!! +#!&nder!tand#n$! and )on*l#)t!. ,o you clash with others when you are faced with ideas and positions different from your own2o&5re not re)o$n#6ed #n "o&r or$an#6at#on. ,o you fail to get the feedback and recognition you deserve-
Ho- 2o& W#ll Bene*#t • • • • • • • • • • ,iscover your natural communication skills and start putting them to work ?uild stronger and %uicker working relationships #onvey your thoughts, ideas, and feelings with clarity, confidence, and sincerity /rocess verbal information with greater speed and accuracy >educe confusion, frustrations, and misunderstandings when communicating with others 1egotiate differences with poise and openness .ork more collaboratively with others to achieve better results Increase your visibility and respect in the organi'ation by strengthening your listening skills >educe reactive and negative exchanges with others =aximi'e your awareness and sensitivity to others and your environment o,er o++&n#)at#on S4#ll! 2o& Alread" Ha,e
W%at 2o& W#ll 0ax#+#6e t%e • • • •
,evelop awareness of the nine communication skills we all possess =easure the degree to which you are currently using these skills /ractice techni%ues for strengthening these skills .ork with a large collection of self3development activities to keep your skills honed
Strate$#e! *or Ta4#n$ #n 9erbal In*or+at#on
8 • • • ?reak verbal communications into three channels of information 5content, emotion, intention6 Increase powers of observation *ngage people communicating with you to increase your understanding
Te)%n#:&e! *or Interpret#n$ t%e In*or+at#on 2o& Hear • • • • #reate a mental picture of what you hear >elate what you hear with your experiences Sort through the interpretations you generate from listening to others ,raw more reliable conclusions to guide your response to others and interactions o++&n#)ate -#t% • • • • • lar#t". on*#den)e. and S#n)er#t"
Selecting the right words Finding good experiences and examples to share with others "ear what you will say before you say it 0se compelling language and examples to paint a vivid picture of what you want to communicate Speak with your actions as well as your words
De,elop#n$ 2o&r A)t#on 1lan • • • =ake a commitment to try at least two new strategies in the work place .rite a learning plan to continue developing your communication skills Select a goals partner from the course to check3in with on a regular basis for peer support and feedback
S1E IAL FEATURES *xclusive $ward .inning Tool F HR Leader!%#p A-ard *ro+ t%e A!#a 1a)#*#) H&+an Re!o&r)e! on$re!! ?reakthrough #ommunication $ssessment 5onl" a!!e!!+ent o* #t! 4#nd t%at exa+#ne! !tor"3ba!ed )o++&n#)at#on !4#ll! 6G
10 SKILL 1. Tell#n$ DES RI1TION Rela"#n$ #n*or+at#on -#t% a&t%ent#)#t". 1a#nt a ,#,#d. en$a$#n$ p#)t&re *or l#!tener!. Some examplesG
I use anecdotes when I communicate. I vary the tone and volume of my voice when I communicate. I allow others to interject their own thoughts and experiences during a conversation. I invite my listeners to interact with me y adding details, anticipating the direction of the conversation, and contri uting comments.
1#)4#n$ -ord! t%at are appropr#ate to t%e )ontext o* a !#t&at#on to )learl" )o++&n#)ate exper#en)e!. )on)ept!. #dea!. or *eel#n$!. Some examplesG
I can always find a relevant experience to share. !he experiences I share add to the conversation. I can find experiences to share that communicate who I am. I can find experiences that resonate with my listeners.
E+plo"#n$ a ,ar#et" o* analo$#)al te)%n#:&e! to br#n$ an #dea or )on)ept al#,e. Be#n$ a-are o* one! a)t#on! and &!#n$ t%e+ to )reate la!t#n$ #+pre!!#on! #n t%e e"e! o* ot%er!. Some examplesG
I spontaneously use or create analogies to help people connect with me or with the information that I am sharing. I ma"e room for ac"#and#forth exchanges in communicating with others to jump start the generation of new meaning. I ac"nowledge others for the contri utions they ma"e. I validate others$ experiences.
=. =. L#!ten#n$
In,o4#n$ t%e #+a$#nat#on to enter a teller!5 po#nt o* ,#e- #n a deep -a". Some examplesG
I paraphrase the statements of others as a way of confirming what they are communicating to me. I paraphrase the statements of others as a way of validating what they are communicating to me. I as" %uestions to clarify that I am accurately hearing what others are saying. I as" follow#on %uestions to etter understanding information that is eing communicated. I refrain from ma"ing premature decisions a out the value, importance, or %uality of another person$s experience. I try to see situations and experiences from the eyes of others.
11 SKILL >. Ob!er,#n$ DES RI1TION 1ra)t#)#n$ +#nd*&lne!! to be)o+e a-are o* t%e #+pl#)#t +ean#n$ #n ot%er people5! -ord! and a)t#on!. Some examplesG
I care a out the success of the people around me. I have a strong sense of my own strengths. I have a strong sense of my own wea"nesses. I am sensitive to the energy, moods, and thoughts of others. I purposefully review the details of my interactions with others.
A!4#n$ e**e)t#,e :&e!t#on!. F#nd#n$ -a"! to dra- o&t +ean#n$*&l and rele,ant #n*or+at#on *ro+ ot%er!. Some examplesG
I encourage others to share their personal and professional experiences. I see" to create a climate of sharing. I am willing to e vulnera le with others. I tell my experiences to others in ways that encourage them to e open with me. I help others to recall their experiences y rephrasing %uestions. I help others to recall their experiences y mirroring their language.
Re,#e-#n$ exper#en)e! -#t% )#r)&+!pe)t#on and extra)t#n$ 4no-led$e *ro+ t%e+. Some examplesG
I review my experiences to learn from them. I relive the thoughts and emotions of my experiences. I consider my experiences without judging them. I consider my experiences without interpreting them. I am open to learning from my experiences in new and different ways. I consciously wor" to understand my experiences in as many ways as possi le, which results in a rich variety of insights. &y current actions are influenced y my insights.
12 SKILL A. S"nt%e!#6#n$ DES RI1TION F#nd#n$ *a+#l#ar pattern! o* #n*or+at#on #n ne- exper#en)e! and )reat#n$ )onne)t#on! bet-een t%e+ and old one!. Some examplesG
I see interrelationships etween all of my experiences. I ma"e sense of new situations y actively searching and extracting "nowledge from previous experiences. I use my experiences to develop new and lasting wisdom. I use other people$s experiences to develop new and enduring wisdom and insight. I connect my insights from one domain of activity to another. I search my mind for similar past experiences to help me ma"e sense of novel situations. I search my mind for previous experiences to help me to see new and different possi ilities in present situations.
De,elop#n$ a *lex#ble. ,a!t. +ental !)%e+a *or retr#e,al o* exper#en)e!. and 4no-led$e. Some examplesG
I find myself thin"ing a out what I learned from my experience. I can identify life experiences that have contri uted to the development of my values, eliefs, and attitudes. I am aware of my values, eliefs, and attitudes and how they shape my understanding of new information and experiences. I share past experiences with others to help them understand my worldview. I reflect and assess situations as they are occurring. I review with circumspection my interpretations of what I hear and see around me.
ONTA T 0E TODA2 TO LEARN 0ORE Terren)e C =1>3B=A3ADA@. terren)eE+a4#n$!tor#e!.net
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