Storytelling, when a name is put to it, is the act of getting across to other people who we are, why we matter, what our thoughts and feelings are and what we value.

This process happens from the time that we begin to learn to talk (and sometimes before) and continues throughout our lives, creating narratives, and strings of narratives, everywhere we turn.

Many people claim that they don’t have a narrative, or that they don’t view their lives and the things that happen to them, in the context of a storytelling triangle, or arc. Instead, many people claim that things “just kind of happen” to them.

This lack of agency over the narratives in our own lives leads to frustration, stress, feelings of futility, despair, and at the furthest end of the spectrum, depression and nihilism. This lack of agency over the narratives in our own lives, can lead to some of us starting and perpetuating dysfunctional communication patterns and engaging in destructive conflict. Because, after all, if there is no narrative, no purpose, and if life events truly are “one damn thing after another” then what is the point?

But here’s something to consider:

  • Every story reveals the storyteller’s desire to create meaning.
  • Every story reveals the storyteller’s desire to create mattering.
  • Every story reveals the hearer’s desire to create relationship.
  • Every story reveals the hearer’s desire to connect to the teller of the story.

When told, the five most common workplace stories, reveal all of the desires for both the hearer (the consumer) of the story and the teller (the creator) of the story. When these desires conflict—and they tend to around values, behaviors, and choices revealed through stories—then the process of change begins in either the hearer or the teller.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
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