Eliciting Stories by Telling Stories

A nice tip from Shawn at Anecdote about how to elicit stories when the “tell us a story about…” question doesn’t work:

“When I see my teenage daughter after school I would often ask how her day went, whether anything interesting happened at school, and the standard response is often monosyllabic: yep, nup. In fact the more questions I’d ask the shorter the answers. So I changed tack and rather than ask questions I simply recounted something that happened in my day. I would launch into something like, “I met a bearded lady today. This morning I drove down to Fitzroy to run an anecdote circle for …” and immediately my daughter would respond with an encounter from her day. A conversation starts and it’s delightful.”

Of course if you’re doing an anecdote circle to discover something about how a group thinks, you’ll have to be careful about not priming the group to tell the stories you want to hear. But I like this idea of using narrative to stimulate narrative.

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