Departures: Stories Revisited

“The purpose of language used in communication is to put a picture in the heart and/or mind of another person.”  Laurie Clarcq

My friend and colleague offered these words recently at the International Foreign Language Teachers’ Conference in Denver, CO.  The resounding theme of this conference was the power of connecting with students (the only effective way to teach and to help students acquire language) through storytelling.  This short observation goes to the heart of the human departures that involve meaning-making.  When we speak, but particularly when we speak in story form, attempting to communicate with others, we are successful at true meaning-making when we put a picture in the heart and mind of another person.

Consider this.  When our words do not leave a picture in the heart and mind of another, we likely have not really communicated.

When we really connect with another human being we leave a picture in their mind and heart.  This is most easily and powerfully done with story telling.

Do you have an important thing to communicate with a love in your life?  Do you have an important messages to deliver to people who matter to you?  Consider what story you may tell them to convey this message, to paint the picture that you will leave on their minds and hearts.   Any principle, judgement, concern, need or direction that you need to communicate to another can be conveyed in a story.

Finding the story, crafting the story, and delivering the story is the work.  The nice thing about a story (though it often doesn’t feel nice at the time) is that it slows us down.  Anyone can hurl invectives at another.  Anyone can mount an argument.  Anyone can offer an opinion.  Anyone can become logical about a matter.  In reality, anyone can tell a story, but finding the right components of a story that convey your special message take a little time. How much time?  Stories take just a little bit longer to formulate than any of these other forms of human communication.  They take a little longer because they are a sacred surrender to the wisdom inside of us–even and especially a wisdom that we might not even know we have UNTIL we try telling the story.

What is the thing on your heart that you want others to know?  Find a story inside yourself to tell that bears this holy word.

Bob Patrick

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