Restoring Community - Part IIIb: Sharing Stories

LL made the following comment on the previous post: "I think it's interesting to consider that stories can either bind us or tear us apart. I hadn't really considered the latter."

I just sort of threw that statement at the end of my last post, but I think it does deserve additional attention. When I said they can tear us apart, I meant it on several different levels.

1) When we tell ourselves stories about individual people (aka make assumptions) it can often lead to issues where there are not and separation when it's undeserved.

2) When we tell others stories - true or not - that are hurtful to those in the story (aka gossip and slander), we tear our community apart.

3) When we tell ourselves as a group (or individual) stories that dwell on the negative, we can destroy ourselves. For example, telling ourselves we are failures, even based upon our history, can produce a vicious cycle. Or even one of my friends who wrote a business book says this of corporations: "(Storytelling) is often misused in organizations to reinforce and protect their weakness. Furtherore, an organization that has a habit of telling a high percentage of negative stories about itself is in danger of being destroyed from within." (Corporate Legends and Lore, Peg Neuhauser).

Storytelling wields great power, and should be used intentionally to build up community, not recklessly without thought.


Beth Reed said...

sorry, but i am going to comment about your randomness post. i had to get stitches when i was a kid from a biking accident too! also, i am scared to death of needles. i faint or get tunnel vision every time i get a shot. just thought i should tell you that we share these two random things in common.

Craver Vii said...

"Storytelling wields great power, and should be used intentionally to build up community, not recklessly without thought."

I thoroughly agree. And I'm surely guilty of going to the bad side of storytelling far, too many times.

spaghettipie said...

BR - Glad you stopped by. That's kind of random now isn't it? :) We'll sure miss you guys!

C - I'm a talker...so I definitely have to watch myself on this one too!

L.L. Barkat said...

Once, in a marriage book, I read that couples who tell their "stories" together are more likely to succeed. Even stories about failures. But with a dash of grace or humor.

This whole question of when and how to tell stories is one I'm still working on (even this week, wouldn't you know it! behind the scenes... it's a delicate and confusing business).

spaghettipie said...

LL - I could definitely see how that would be true...that's another way to get into the mindset that "the two have become one"

I hope I did not seem to say that we should not tell our negative stories. The quote was to emphasize that when we tell only the negative stories it can be destructive. I suppose you can even say if you tell only the positive stories it can also be destructive...it creates a false sense of pride, it reeks of inauthenticity (is that a word?), and it can even foster self-reliance.

Mark Goodyear said...

This post, and L.L.'s comment, reminds me of the things I've read about the Love Lab. (Most recently in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.)

According to the Love Lab, the most powerful predictor of marriage failure is contempt. Isn't contempt a kind of refusal to listen to another person's story? To see that story as beneath you somehow.

In marriage, I think all stories must be told. Period.

In a company, though, some stories are just too risky. Do I really want to confess my naked soccer hijinks to the people in the communications department? Is that something I should even share with a close knit group of blogging buddies?

Katie said...

I've been reading but not commenting. Storytelling is such a huge part of my developing any kind of relationship with someone. It lends itself to vulnerability, and I think that it is when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with each other that community naturally forms.

A Life Uncommon said...

It is said that the things that we are to think and speak of are the things in which we have seen God work that it is in telling or witnessing these things of our greater story; those experiences, trails and triumph along with the errors that lead you to repentance, that God is truly glorified.
It is to think on these things that keep us remembering who we are, what we have experienced and what lessons we have learned that we can pass on the knowledge. People perish for a lack of knowledge. Understanding is the beginning of knowledge we can gain it if we listen with a loving heart. It is then that we can grow into wisdom

"Bluebonnet in the snow" said...

I'm really enjoying this thought-provoking series on community. Good work!

spaghettipie said...

MG - I definitely think there is an appropriate time and place to tell our more intimate (shall we say?) stories. But even in our workplace, I think it is important to share both the positive and negative stories when we're connecting with people on a personal level. That doesn't mean you have to discuss your failures in your performance review, but in our relationships we should still strive toward authenticity.

ALU - Your comment makes me think about God and the Israelites...how many times did He ask them to remember what He had done in their lives?

BITS - Glad you stopped by, even if just to lurk.

Donetta said...

He told them to write it on the tablets of their hearts!