History and the importance of storytelling

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History and the importance of storytelling

What does history tell us about the importance of storytelling?

When did you last tell a story? I would bet that it was in the last hour or two. Perhaps you were speaking on the phone to a loved one. On a zoom call with a colleague. Or with your child managing the balancing act of home educating and working (I am with you there!)

What ever story you were telling why were you using a story?

If we look at how we communicate we use stories throughout our daily lives. We use stories to educate, inform, entertain, warn about dangers, guide, persuade, debate and empathise with others. Lisa Cron writes that “Story as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution — more so than opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to.” Stories span across culture, geography, race, religion and age.

So what can we learn from the past about storytelling that can help us now? Stories have a way of linking us back to the past. They allow us to connect with our past selves and to others. Think of a story that has had an impact on you from your past. One that you tell over and over again to people. Perhaps, it makes them laugh or look amazed or it is full of suspense or has a moral in it. You love the look of their faces when they experience the emotion with you. By telling stories you are not only connecting with the past you are also connecting with people in the present.

Stories allow connection points to form between us and another person. A connection point is similar to opening a door and inviting someone in for a cup of coffee or glass of wine. By telling a story about yourself you are saying to someone, “here is a little bit of me and please feel free to tell me something about yourself.” The other person is more likely then to share a story about them with you. Some people would say this is the Law of Reciprocity, I prefer to think of it as a human bond.

I encourage you next time you are speaking with someone especially if you are finding it hard to build a relationship with them or find you are faced with a wall, tell a story.

If  history is to teach us anything it is that stories have the power to change every relationship we have.

Sas Huntwood

Guest Bloggers Profile: Sas is the Chief Storyteller for The StoryTellers. Capturing people’s unique stories for future generations so they will never be forgotten.

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