Monday, August 10, 2009

Leadership & Storytelling Part 9 of Many...

Now that we've looked at behaviors we are ready to roll our sleeves up and get down to what I am really passionate about - story-based communication skills.

If stories are fundamental to how we communicate, learn and think than it stands to reason that we must have some inherent equipment for stories. Most would agree that humans work with patterns to make sense and give sense to the world. Stories contain chunks of information. Consider a hologram where one pixel of information is encoded with all of the a picture's information. Or how about the complex intricate coding of genetic information in strands of DNA found in all our cells. Stories are fragments and threads that tied together begin to form patterns of overlaying stories. Our meaning and identities are enmeshed in the highways and byways of memories remembered and reconstituted as narratives.

So...I started with the assumption that there must be communication capabilities we have. Working within the framework of stories I was thrilled to find a way to get a handle on what these capabilities or skills might.

Over the next ten blog posts I will share what I observed. The last 15 years of my research, writing and consulting has been dedicated to developing simple, practical practices that people can use to enhance their performances in the workplace and other areas of their lives. The habits and skills of story-based forms of communication have been studied in light of how they effect interactions in all facets of our lives.

Based on award-winning research, Nine Story-Based Communication Skills are used to construct a simple, workable framework that encapsulates behaviors we are engaged in all of the time. When these behaviors are focused with a story lens it creates a profound breakthrough in how we share, process, and take in information.This work has been acknowledged by the Asia Pacific HRM Congress HR Leadership and published in various places. It is also a core part of my leadership development work with my clients. Without any further ado let me share the nine communication skills

Nine Story-Based Communication Competencies

The more I worked with stories, the more I realized there must be some essential competencies to being an effective communicator, learner, and thinker with stories.As I pored over piles of surveys and reviewed hours and hours of interviews,I began to notice clear repeating patterns. One of the things that struck me immediately was the central role stories play in communication. Yet despite the fact that they are so pervasive, we are not aware, purposeful, or strategic in how we use them. Although stories may be an obvious facet of communication, they’re not something we seek to understand or leverage more effectively.

The model includes three rings...

1. INTERACTION - Describes how we use stories to connect with others and communicate.

2. PROCESS - Describes how we work with experiences to transform them into meaningful and reusable stories.

3. THE CORE - Describes how we open ourselves to be aware and sensitive to stories.

The nine skills are...

1. Modeling - Being aware of ones actions and using them to create lasting impressions in the eyes of others. Employing a variety of analogical techniques to bring an idea or concept alive.

2. Telling
- Relaying a story with authenticity that paints a vivid, engaging picture for listeners.

3. Selecting - Picking a story that is appropriate to the situation at hand and that clearly communicates concepts, ideas, or feelings.

4. Indexing - Developing a flexible, vast, mental schema for retrieval of experiences, and knowledge.

5. Synthesizing - Finding patterns in new experiences and creating connections between them and old ones.

6. Reflecting
- Reviewing experiences with circumspection and extracting knowledge from them.

7. Eliciting - Asking questions and finding ways to pull stories from others.

8. Listening - Absorbing stories and invoking the imagination to enter them in a fundamental and deep way.

9. Observing - Practicing mindfulness to become aware of the stories implicit in others’ words and actions.

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