JOI Session | Oct. 23, 2009

This week we started our discussion on how to use stories to articulate values and build relationships. Telling our stories lets us explain why we’re doing this work. Stories can be especially important when coming into a community as an outsider. We shouldn’t be ashamed of our privilege, but we should be able to answer honestly why we’re there. We’re not selfless people, so what’s in it for us? It can also be helpful to bring our own problems to the table at times. Just because we have privilege doesn’t mean we’re flawless.

Learning how to elicit stories from others is also important. It lets us focus future interactions based on the information we gained about the person. By starting with your own story you can set the stage for what kind of conversation you’ll be having and what you expect others to share. Constituents usually haven’t been through the story telling workshops we have, so developing their story can take a whole conversation (or longer) and many thoughtful questions.

Although stories are valuable, they’re more than just commodities. When sharing stories, and especially when listening to others, it’s not just about what we learn from the story and how we can use that information to move people. Sharing stories is a way to connect with another person and reflect on your own life, and we should respect that process in and of itself.

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