One of my favorite writers, Margaret Wheatley, wrote: “You can’t hate someone whose story you know.” I would add that when you learn a person’s story you can’t help but see part of yourself in them.

Our stories reveal parts of us that transcend resumes and elevator pitches. They bring to light our values, beliefs, core concerns, and most profound life lessons. The act of sharing personal stories is one in which more than information gets exchanged. In turn, to elicit, listen to, and affirm someone’s story is the quickest way to build a bond.

Most of us are not very good at asking people about their stories. We don’t know how to ask. We don’t know what to ask. We don’t want to pry. This is why I created a 38-card deck called What’s Your Story Cards.

Here are some of my favorite questions:

Tell me about someone who believed in you at a time when it really mattered.

What’s the best team experience inside or outside of work you’ve ever had? What made it so?

What is the place in the world where you felt most at home? What made it so?

Tell me about a time when someone or something changed a strong belief you held.

Tell me about a time when you found your voice to say something that needed to be said- something that in that moment felt risky, controversial, or uncomfortable.

Story cards can be used in many different ways, including over meals with team members, at off-site retreats, and with new colleagues. At the bottom of every story card is a “story listener” tip. These tips help you become a great elicitor of and witness to other people’s stories. One of my favorite tips is: Ask questions that go beyond fact-finding (e.g., How did this event shape who you are today?)

If you could add a question to the What’s Your Story Cards, what would it be?

Would you like your own set of What’s Your Story Cards? Reach out and let me know!

Photo Credit: wewiorka_wagner

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