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The Power of Storytelling: How Narrative Builds Connection

Do you ever wonder the best way to connect with other people?

I’ve got an idea to share with you: storytelling.

Recently, I attended a golf tournament where my desire to make connections came to the fore (no pun intended). The event proved an ideal setting for learning a lesson on the power of storytelling.

Building Connection

I arrived early to grab some breakfast. I walked up to a table with two strangers and asked to join them.

Isn’t this exactly what we encourage our kids to do when they’re in a new situation?

🔑 Say hello.

🤝Introduce yourself.

 So I did. And you know what?

They welcomed me. We had a lovely conversation about empty nesting, golf, and our experiences with the Canadian housing market. Storytelling.

The Power of Storytelling

During the tournament, I golfed with three new people. We had a great time! Those hours on the golf course chatting about our professional and personal lives nourished me.

I “filled my well” as Julia Cameron describes so aptly in The Artist’s Way. Filling my well is always about people. Hearing someone’s story is my favourite way to understand what makes people tick.

I know I’m not alone because storytelling is as old as time and remains, in my opinion, the most effective tool for communicating with others.

Communicating Through Stories

Talking with an old friend is comforting precisely because you know how you’ll be received. You know communication short-cuts due to your shared history. Friends know your stories.

Meeting someone new requires you to communicate in new ways. New people don’t know your stories. They don’t know “you.” As such, you need to evaluate which stories are important to your narrative before you decide which ones you want to share.

Your Narrative

I’ve said before that your thoughts are powerful.

What do you think of your stories, specifically, what do they reveal about you?

Be aware that the stories you choose to share about yourself can empower or disempower you.

A lot rides on how you perceive yourself. Are you the victim or hero(ine) of your narrative? Before you answer that, understand that both perspectives likely live within you, depending on how you’re feeling in any given moment.

Thoughts drive your emotions which, in turn, drive your actions. By the time you’re telling your story (“the action”), you have already integrated the thoughts and emotions behind them.

Put simply, you have chosen your narrative path.

Heroic Vulnerability

Feeling empowered does not mean reciting false narratives of constant heroism. No one is the hero in every story.

In truth, there’s a lot more power in vulnerability. Just ask Brene Brown. Admitting your vulnerability can open the door to shared connection in a way that claiming hero status does not.

Life as the hero can be lonely. Trust me, I hear it regularly as a leadership coach. Placed on a pedestal, you stand apart from others and that makes it harder to connect. As a leader, you want to identify the needs of your team so you can lead your flock with compassion. If your team doesn’t open up to you, it’s up to you as their leader to find a way to connect.

What’s the best way to connect? You got it – storytelling!

Making Connections

Next time you’re making connections – networking – think of a story you feel comfortable sharing that describes something about yourself, a quality or experience. Trust that when you speak from your heart, it doesn’t matter what you actually say. It’s about how others feel when they receive your story.

Header Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

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MM

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MO

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LE

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LM

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CP

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I engaged Laura for coaching as I took on an expanded role leading an asset management company in Canada. As a female, I knew I would be a role model and had high expectations of myself. I was feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

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