Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Guideline for Working with a Group's Stories - Part 1 of 9

Over the next series of posts I'd like to share with you nine general guidelines I have found useful when working with groups and their stories.

1. Be Able to Expand or Collapse a Story

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 Hans Christian Andersen story of an emperor who is wearing no clothes, and the reluctance of people to point this out, could bring quick clarity to learners.

As a facilitator, it is your job to decide what the right amount of detail for a story is. If you are using a story as an energizer 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. On 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.

Even if you are not the one telling a story, it is your job 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank You!
Adding your stories and thoughts to this conversation is enriching for everyone.