When to Share Your Story, When to Listen

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I am working on giving up a bad habit.

I know why it developed; like most habits, it developed in response to a need.

But the consequences are too great and are getting in the way of my mission.

It started because I wanted the blog to be about “you”, the reader, the person using training and education for social change, and not me.

So I referred to what “you” should do to confront the problems that “you” face.

I shared advice because I didn’t want the message to be about me, but about you.

The problem is that I don’t know the exact problems that you are facing because, well, I am not you. My situation and contexts are different.

This is a challenge I often confront in training.

Nearly every time I lead a training I am not facing the challenge that the training is designed to help them overcome (even if I may have confronted something similar in the past).

So is my story even relevant at all? Yes, but with a caveat.

Comedian John Mulaney talks about this with comedy, that sometimes comics start making jokes about being a comic and people lose interest because it no longer relates to the audience.

I’ve seen this happen with Executive Directors who share about the challenges of organizational leadership with their team or organizers who share about the challenges of organizing with folks they are trying to organize.

This is when sharing your story is about you and not about them.

What then is the answer?

I am going to try is to continue to listen carefully to the stories of those I hope to support through my work. From those stories, I will try to identify the patterns that come up most frequently.

When I share my story it is because I believe it may resonate with a challenge faced by those I hope to support in my work for social change.

If I can’t relate or if I don’t have a story then best to just keep listening.

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Riahl Hey, folks! Thank you so much for joining us. My name is Riahl O’Malley. I use he/him pronouns. I’m with Learning to Transform, and

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