Everybody has a story. All of us create the pages of our story every single day through our choices, our interactions, our investments. We know our story because we’re writing it. The question is, do we respect the stories of others? Do we understand the power behind every story?
Barbara Ueland, in one of the greatest teaching books on writing ever written called “If You Want to Write” says that conversation is critical to writing because it is only when we are challenged by someone else with a different perspective that our lives begin to expand. It is in those moments that we test the mettle of our own thoughts, and determine if, perhaps, we need to think differently about something.
Surrounding yourself with people and colleagues that think the way you do might be comfortable, but it will rarely make you a better thinker, or leader, or even colleague. They serve as a reinforcement to what you already are, rather than a catalyst that might just sharpen your perspective.
A different opinion packs a powerful punch if you take advantage of the moment. When a conversation challenges you, be curious enough to dig deeper and discover the story behind the opinion. Ask some open-ended questions rather than becoming defensive. If someone says, “I think this move you’re suggesting would be a big mistake for the group,” then find out why the person believes that to be true.
Why do you think this would be a big mistake?
What is the story behind your concern?
What has happened to make you feel this way?
Find out the story. It’s within the framework of that story that you might find a way to overcome the objection, or you might just find an obstacle that needs to be considered so that your initiative will work.
Trying to understand a colleague or employee without knowing their stories is like reading one book and deciding you now understand all of literature.
Everybody has a story that lurks behind their fears and concerns. And, by the way, not only do people have a right to disagree with you . . . it’s the only way you will uncover the path to improvement.
If you want to read one of the best books ever written on the power of writing, read this:
If you want a phenomonal book on the power of story, read this: