Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Parenting Pointers: The Power of Storytelling

Nationally renowned speaker, author, and storytelling coach John Livesay offers a guide to becoming irresistible through personal stories-- from learning how to handle rejection and overcoming fear to getting your kids to open up and job interviews. 

I had a chance to interview him to learn more.

·       How do stories help us connect? 
Stories help us connect because storytelling is in our DNA. During the Stone Age, we used to sit around the glow of campfires and tell each other stories to pass on life lessons and family history. Stories tap into the emotional part of our brains and take us on a new journey. A great story paints a picture and the listener sees themselves in a story. That is why we go to the movies where we can be moved to tears, cheer on a hero or be scared. When we tell a story to a child of how their parents met or the story of the day they were born, we are helping them connect to their place in history. The story of origin gives children their roots and a sense of belonging.  

·       How can parents use storytelling to engage with their kids to discuss potentially difficult topics?
Parents are faced with many difficult topics to discuss with their children that range from death to how to handle a bully at school.  When a parent tells a story to a child of how they first had to face death when they were a child, it can help the child see they are not alone. Stories can be a great tool to show empathy. For example, "When I was your age my dog Buddy died and I was very sad too. While I still miss him every day, he lives in my heart. Let's figure out ways for us to keep our family dog memory alive. Should we start a photo album or write our feelings down in a journal about our favorite things we did with our dog?"   If you have to talk to your child about being bullied you can tell your story of how you handled it. When you tell a story of a bully as a character that is really scared and insecure and has to pick on others to make themselves feel good, you give your child a new perspective. "Not everyone is as loved as you are and sometimes that means people turn out to be bullies. You are not alone and you need to remember the story of Batman and Wonder Woman. Inside each of us is a superhero with superhero powers." A parent can also watch movies as a family that helps deal with a difficult topic and discuss what their children think about it. Here is a list of movies to tell stories on how to deal with bullying. 

·       How can students use storytelling to stand out in a good way when it comes to applications for college and other things? 
When students have to fill out an application to apply for college, they need to use the structure of what makes a good story. If their application is accepted, they will probably have to have an in-person meeting as well to tell their story and show poise. One of the best things a parent can do to help their children on college applications is to avoid cliches. The key to telling a good story on an application or in person is to make sure the story has the following 4 parts:

Exposition: Paint the picture. Tell us the who, what, where and when so we have a frame of reference of where we are in the story.  Here is an example: "Two years ago when I turned 16 years old I found myself on a cold winter day in the suburbs of Chicago ready to take my driver's license test. I was shivering and I didn't know if it was from the cold or my nerves." 

Problem: Tell your story so there is a conflict. The higher the stakes the more interesting the story will be. An example: "During my driver's license test, I approached an intersection that did not have any stop signs. I slowed down and drove through it. Then I found out from the instructor that due to the icy conditions of the road I had not slowed down enough and failed my test.  I need to pass that test because I needed to drive myself to my part-time job in order to get money to go to college."

Solution: Tell the solution to the story in a way that shows you had obstacles to overcome. For example, "After failing my test, I asked how soon I could retake the test." The instructor said I could take it again that day, but that nobody ever does that. "You only have two more chances to pass or you have to wait a year."  I went up to my Mom who had driven me there and told her what happen. I asked if she would wait another hour or so while I went through the line again to retake the test. I said, "I know what I did wrong and I know I can pass it now.' She said "I love your confidence and I will wait for you. I am so happy you believe in yourself!"

Resolution: What happens after the solution is key to the story. For example, when I took my driver's test for the second time that day I had a new instructor who was surprised to see on the paperwork this was my second time that day taking the test.  I knew my Mom believed in me and I knew that just because I had failed earlier that day did not mean I lost my confidence in my ability to be a good driver. You see my reason for driving was so strong that I found the inner strength to get my license to get the money to go to college. I am happy to say that lesson continues to serve me today and anytime I fail or fall down, I get right back up!

Livesay, aka “The Pitch Whisperer TM,” is a highly sought-after keynote storytelling speaker and a Forbes columnist. LA-based, Livesay was an award-winning sales career at Conde Nast. His engaging and energetic TEDx talk, “Be the Lifeguard of Your Own Life,” has over one million views. You can Learn more about Livesay on his website, and his YouTube channel. You can connect with him on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook.  

No comments:

Post a Comment