July 12, 2012

How to Gather Stories

How to Gather Stories, a piece inspired by my recent work with philanthropic foundation program officers, has just been published at the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog.

Here's an excerpt:
Ask: “Tell me about a time…” By asking about a discrete moment in time, you encourage the sharing of experience and the details and emotion that accompany the recollection.

Ask for superlatives....

We tend to remember the superlative moments in our lives. Probe for those experiences. Ask for heightened emotional moments. Emotion is often referred to as the “glue” of memory. Ask people about moments when they have felt connected, surprised, or touched. Ask for “Aha!” moments of epiphany and for turning points.

You can also share a story of your own—and then be quiet. Sit back, and transfer all your attention to the person with whom you just shared your story. Most likely, you will hear one in return. If necessary, ask: “Does that story remind you of anything?”

You can read the entire short piece here.

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