‘Tell Me About a Time ….’ You Created a Story-Sharing Culture in Your Organization

In a wonderfully well-articulated recent article on the blog Philantopic, my friend Thaler Pekar (pictured) makes a concise and persuasive argument for “creating a true culture of story sharing within our organizations, especially those that function as hubs of entrepreneurship and innovation, and especially at this uncertain moment” — as opposed to ” myopically focus[ing] on using stories for marketing and fundraising purposes,” an approach that is an unfortunate route to “commodifying” stories in Thaler’s view.

Thaler pithily describes the many uses for story-sharing in organizations (she is a strong advocate for story-sharing versus storytelling, as she explained in her Q&A on A Storied Career).

Best of all, she tells how to elicit stories in the organization:

Share your own stories and listen to the stories of others. Ask questions such as, “Tell me about a time when you have felt most engaged with your work?” Then, sit back and listen. After the story has been shared, ask others who are present, “Does that remind you of anything?” Stories beget stories, which beget even more stories. (Everyone possesses the natural ability to participate in story sharing.) Create the time and space for such exchanges to occur. Once you ignite the spark, many recollections will follow. Listen for the patterns among them and allow for connections to be made.

She also kicks off the article with the powerful prompt: “Tell me about the time you felt most connected to the mission of our organization.”

Anyone involved in the employment scene and behavioral interviewing will recall that prompts beginning with phrases like “Tell me about a time …”, Describe a situation …”, Recall a time …” are excallent ways to draw out examples and stories.