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Group Practices: Story
Encouraging Spontaneous Story-sharing

Several of the most powerful examples of Story as a shifting factor in my Group Magic dissertation research illustrated the connection between the time when a group spontaneously began sharing personal stories and the group’s shift into collective resonance. Sometimes the group consisted of people thrown together for only a short while, as in with the three relative strangers stranded together on a sailboat in the fog on an intended trip to Nantucket.

Sometimes, as in the case of the Air Force unit stationed in the Philippines following a volcano eruption, the stories came out after months together. See Story. Regardless of the duration of the group, close bonds are formed from the sharing of stories. Sometimes, hearing the story of another person not only affects the group’s feeling and effectiveness, it also transforms a listener in ways that positively affect their relationships and capacity for relationship in the future.

Even when a group or organization is not primarily or explicitly organized around storytelling processes, it can beneficially create built-in practices that encourage spontaneous storytelling. Examples of such practices can be found in many of the companies cited in Fortune magazine’s annual “Best Companies to Work For” issue. Providing a company dining room and encouraging employees to use it by offering free or reduced-price meals can be a way to insure that employees share work-related information, but it also enhances the probability that employees begin to tell stories in the more relaxed setting of a shared meal. Company-sponsored social outings, athletic teams, volunteer activities, or off-site training sessions can also create unstructured conversational opportunities where stories are likely to emerge.

Study groups or service groups often serve a similar role in a religious organization such as a church or synagogue. In today’s over-scheduled world, family dinners and outings often go by the wayside, and an opportunity to tell stories and strengthen the family’s bonds is missed. Taking time for a leisurely meal or walk in Nature even once a week provides an opportunity for family members to reconnect.

SOURCE: Renee Levi, Group Magic interviews. See Renee's Profile

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