Stories beget stories

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —July 27, 2023
Filed in Business storytelling

I walk with Darren on Sunday mornings. He’s in Sydney, and I’m in Melbourne. We pop in our headphones and have a 90-minute walk and talk.

Darren’s a natural storyteller who also asks questions that elicit stories. It’s partly his attitude; he’s interested, he cares, he wants to know. The questions encourage sharing an experience rather than spouting a theory (yes, we have our theories too). Walking along Moonee Ponds Creek, I hear him say, ‘So what happened?’ ‘When did you see it?’ ‘How did you meet them?’ And stories flow.

And because we’re both telling stories, I remember many more. I’ve learned to jot down story fragments on my phone to flesh them out in my story bank (often, the original note is enough) when I get home.

You’ll remember your own stories whenever stories are told. I can’t help but remember stories at dinner parties, coffee catch-ups, watching stand-up, good documentaries, funerals, road trips. Pretty much anywhere where your brain is shaken free from the mundane and people are telling stories. 

But here’s the thing. Be careful not to think, ‘That’s such a good story. I’ll remember it tomorrow.’ Because there’s a good chance you won’t.

So write it down. Write just enough to recount the story. Dot points are fine.

Why care about swapping stories? Apart from finding stories to tell, hearing someone else’s stories, especially firsthand, creates a deep bond.

Terrence Gargiulo is a friend and story expert in California. He once told me, ‘The shortest distance between two people is a story.’ He has a way with words. 

I’ve since learned while chatting with another story friend, Mike Adams, that closeness also comes when both people share their experiences back and forth. Someone starts, and while they’re speaking, the other remembers similar things that have happened to them. You can see it on their face as the story pops into their mind.

We get closer to each other when we share experiences that reveal what we have in common. “That person is similar to me. We like similar things.” These revelations are the foundation for friendship. 

So if you want to deepen a friendship, meet regularly and swap stories. 

Photo by Beth Macdonald on Unsplash

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

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