Are You Listening for the Stories?

People have stories to tell, if we will only listen. This is a second critical aspect of using stories for leadership. All too often we view other people’s stories as something to get through so we can say what we have to say. But the stories people tell give us vital information as leaders. We can pay attention for stories about the history of our congregation or institution which will give us key information about potential places for growth, and potential pitfalls, in the present and future. And the stories they tell us about themselves and their families also give us good information about their own functioning which will help make sense of how they act at church.

In addition, when we listen to the stories of others with attention, we develop our relationship with them in ways that can help them, and our leadership as well.

2 Responses to Are You Listening for the Stories?

  1. Simply working on being present with people when they are talking to us is a spiritual discipline,and a challenging one. We can practice this with family members as well as church members.

  2. Thanks, Margaret. Challenging, but helpful, thoughts. As someone who has little patience or appreciation for “small talk,” I often fail to appreciete the underlying process of what is really happening when people engage in that kind of chatter. Sometimes listening to the content of the stories is important—but I suspect that more often than not, what is important to pay attention to is that people are communicating meaning and making an emotional connection. Oftent the question is not, “What are they saying?” but rather, “What are they trying to communicate?”

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