Story Power

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Story Power

The Professional Coaches Alliance was treated to an inspiring Valentine’s Day talk - Storytelling and Coaching-The Transformational Power of Stories. Karen Dietz, PhD, a former SDPCA board member and author of the book - Business Storytelling for Dummies-shared her great expertise in this area, engaging us in the storytelling process and providing lots of support information in a 16-page handout.

Karen first demonstrated the power of stories by sharing Ernest Hemingway’s six-word story - “For sale baby shoes never worn.”  We shared what made the story work - its short length, requiring the listener to fill in the blanks; its sequence; and its connection to the heart. She also asked what we experienced.  What did we see when we heard these words? 

Neuroscience tells us that stories trigger the senses and lead to faster neural processing of images, better memory and more ownership of the information.  A story can create a bridge from one person to another. 

Leading us through a 3-step process, The Story Lab, Karen helped us experience storytelling and build our skills.  We got into pairs with one person telling a 3-minute story about a time she/he went through a significant change.  The other person listened delightedly.  Next the listener spent two minutes asking reflective questions, followed by two minutes giving appreciation for the story. Then they switched roles.  

During the debrief of the experience, we shared what we felt, liked, and learned from it.  Listening delightedly opened the door to friendships.  People felt seen, heard, and valued when allowed to tell their stories.  Karen summarized the results: stories are inspirational, build trust, deepen relationships, and help people grow and learn when they can reframe the story. 

Karen ran through the seven core coaching stories that we can use with our clients: 

  • Your origin story 
  • Taking Action and Overcoming Obstacles 
  • Commitment stories 
  • Lessons learned 
  • Success stories 
  • Your vision story
  • Gratitude stories 

She showed how a series of stories can lead to a timeline of a client’s life or show how they survived change.  When using story coaches should be fully present while listening, ask reflective questions to get the point, appreciate their clients’ share, and tell stories themselves to model the process. 

Karen asked us to fill out a coaching stories plan for how to use the Story Lab process and when, and which of the core stories we were going to focus on first. She also reminded us to leverage our client stories.   

It was clear from our shares during the debrief that this presentation added new insights and ideas about how to use stories in coaching, validated those already using stories, and challenged us all to incorporate them more. Thank you, Karen. 

 Submitted by,

Virginia B Berger


The Baby Boomer Retirement Coach
[email protected]