1: Who hasn’t been there?
The conference where everyone networks by presenting our “best selves” and sharing how smart we are.
The lunch or dinner where people exchange surface-level pleasantries.
What makes some events memorable and other just so-so?
How do we tap into “the heat” just below the surface?
2: This week, we’ve been looking at some lessons from Priya Parker’s terrific book The Art of Gathering. One of her best practices in both personal and professional settings is to host intimate dinner parties where the guests are encouraged to share stories around a theme.
Priya’s advice: Push for people’s stories over their opinions.
It works, she writes, “because we were explicit about it. We got stories because we asked for stories—we made a clear distinction in the prompt between people’s concrete experiences and their abstract ideas.”
Stories and experiences make us feel connected. “Many gatherings would be improved if people were simply asked for their stories,” she writes.
3: What makes for a great story?
“A moment a story works is usually a moment of vulnerability,” says George Dawes Green, founder of The Moth, a storytelling organization that has ongoing programs in twenty-five cities, often to standing-room-only crowds. “You can’t tell a story that’s any good about how successful you are.”
When we touch on vulnerability, however, “People feel this utter comfort. I went through that. I know exactly what that person is saying,” he observes.
George has spent years studying the power of storytelling. One of his key insights: “Story is about a decision that you made. It’s not about what happens to you. And if you hit that and you get your vulnerability and you understand the stakes, and a few other things, people will intuitively find great stories to tell, and as soon as they do, we know them. We know them as human beings. This is no longer my boss’s colleague. This is a real person who had heartbreak. Oh, I know that.”
Reflection: What story could I tell about a decision I made that speaks to who I authentically am? What did I learn? What transformation happened as a result?
Action: Tell it.