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More than just a story

Stories are more than just a way to transfer information. Stories are a way for people to understand each other, to share facets of themselves with each other. In storytelling, a lot is communicated in the background channel, such as personality, character, disposition, and emotion.  You learn more about the person from listening to them than just what they say.  On the other side, they learn a lot about who you are from the way you listen.  One of my favorite stories is a short story I read about an adult son who talked to his aging father about music. The father said he had once had the chance to play in a jazz band professionally. The opportunity to follow a dream was offered to this father, who had always been a conservative, responsible parent to his son. His father said that he had gotten that chance to work two jobs (playing in a band by night). In the end he was offered the chance to go on the road, and he chose to stay home. For the son, this was a momentous discovery about the man he had known all his life. The storytelling had added a new facet to his appreciation for his father. He now knew what self-sacrifice his father had made to be the man that he was, and also that his father had talent and once had opportunities to become a professional musician, was an acknowledgement of his father as more than a father. The son now understood why the father had been so supportive of his son’s explorations into art.

So more than just a story, the act of storytelling (and story listening) builds rapport between the people involved.

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