Methods

Storytelling

We give the world meaning through the stories we tell, thus the ability to craft a narrative that invites empathy and facilitates ‘seeing with fresh eyes’ can be a powerful tool for supporting transformation.

Description

The stories we tell are never neutral, and the way a case study is described significantly impacts the responses of the audience. For example, it can determine if people feel a personal sense of involvement and care, or if they are left as outside spectators. The metaphors we use, the information we include, and the information we leave out all contribute to conveying both overt and subtle worldviews. With this in mind, it is worth taking the time and attention to carefully craft a narrative that intentionally evokes specific (transformative) mindsets. In the cases presented in our experimental workshops, we focused on stories that evoke more-than-human empathy, on an expanded sense of time, and on the importance of sacred space in a community.

Depending on the context, storytelling can be used in different ways. In this example, we suggest that the participants actively listen to the story using all of their senses (smell, sound, taste, touch, visual images) and note down their intuitive associations and thoughts. Alternatively, various versions can be presented as new “transformative stories” and participants asked to reflect on the differences in their personal responses; or, participants can be asked to craft their own stories.

This method of storytelling can be used in conjunction with 8. Contrasting Tweet & Text, p. 27 and 9. Evoking the Senses, p. 28.

Instructions

  1. Clarify the purpose of the story;
  2. Ask participants to listen with their Open mind and heart, p. 9and note down or sketch impressions. (Optional) Combine with Evoking the Senses, p. 28;
  3. Read the story out loud and show supporting material, such as pictures or videos;
  4. (optional) Give some time for clarifying questions;
  5. Ask participants to share impressions, keywords, emotions, or associations that the story triggered (either in pairs or in a small group). This can also be done in “affinity clusters”, as described in 23. Silent Conversation, p. 50.


Place on U
Observe
Reflect
Time
5-20 mins
Materials Needed
  • Encourage participants to focus on impressions, feelings, and some key characteristics, rather than minute details and facts;
  • Make the story as short as possible without losing the interesting details;
Tags
Disruptive Thinking
Inclusion
Tip and Experiences
  • Encourage participants to focus on impressions, feelings, and some key characteristics, rather than minute details and facts;
  • Make the story as short as possible without losing the interesting details;
  • Practice the story with a critical friend and revise, revise, revise. Practice the final version a few times until you feel comfortable using an expressive voice;
  • A handout can be useful, but be aware that it can distract participants from fully listening to the story as it is told;
  • Talk slowly! (It can be more difficult than you expect ;-));
  • (Optional) Record the story in advance. This can take the pressure off the facilitator.
Relevant References & Resources

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