This post was written by Hannah Morris, Facilitator and Coach at The Latimer Group.
Stories create connection, pure and simple.
At The Latimer Group, we have a favorite quote about stories: “There isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.”
Fred Rogers – a man whose life’s work was to bring people together – used to carry this quote around in his wallet.
When we share our stories with others, we offer them an insight into who we are, what we’ve seen, and what we care about. When we listen to others’ stories, we take in more about their identity, background, values, perspective, and experience.
Storytelling facilitates understanding. It is one of the fundamental ways in which we build and maintain relationships – and not just the easy ones.
For each of us, there are people in our personal and professional lives with whom we don’t get along easily. There are relationships that cause challenge, frustration, and conflict. But if we take the time to hear and consider the other person’s story, we can understand them better. That understanding will help us better navigate tense moments, sensitive topics, and competing priorities.
Let’s consider what this looks like. If we have an internal colleague or an external partner with whom we have a harder time connecting, we can take a moment to get curious about their experience… What is their story? How long have they been in this role? At this company? Where were they before? What kind of managers have they had? What kind of formative work experiences may have shaped the way they interact and contribute? What do we know about their background and life outside of work? What kind of stress are they under? Have we listened enough to know the answers to these questions, or do we need to engage more?
Relationships can be complex, and their success is not entirely up to us, but approaching them with genuine curiosity and active empathy will enable us to do a better job of seeing the other person, and in turn being seen ourselves.
Taking this one step further, to continually expand our perspective and our ability to connect, there are many ways to take in more stories on a regular basis. We can learn more about people in general by reading books and watching shows that illustrate experiences that are different from our own. We can read differing news sources and consider the angles and opinions that are being shared and the stories behind them.
We all benefit from exploring the many perspectives that exist out there and proactively increasing our ability to find common ground and connect.
Story is the conduit.
We believe that great communication skills change the world. We transform people and organizations of all sizes with simple, repeatable techniques, through an integrated platform of corporate training, coaching, and asynchronous learning.
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