Psychological health

How Exchanging Stories Builds Respect

Stories help us understand a variety of human experiences.
A picture is worth a thousand words – especially when that picture tells a story. An image that inspires sadness, awe, sadness, or joy is compelling because, as human beings, we see the story behind it.

Pictures, like stories, give us a glimpse into other ways of being, other ways of knowing. And through this connection, we create empathy and community with others who are like us, and most importantly, we also learn empathy and create community with those who may be different from us.

This is the premise 4 . comboan organization led by educators and artists, but led by students. As they state, “their core methodology, Sharing Stories, is designed to help students understand that their voices, stories, actions, and lives matter, and that they have the power to change, rebuild, and revolutionize systems.”

How mutual stories build respect

The story sharing process is simple:

Two people, probably from very different backgrounds, sit together and share a story about their identity. Then they tell each other’s story to a larger group. That each spouse must tell each other’s story inspires deep listening, which is a critical component of how stories change lives – it is not just our stories that matter but our understanding of others’ stories that helps us understand a variety of human experiences, deepens human connection, and bridges divisions and creating links.

Narrative4 works with families, communities, and schools to develop story-sharing programs, and I’m proud to be working with them to develop some materials for high school programs. Research by the Family Narrative Lab at Emory University emphasizes the importance of stories in creating a shared history and global vision, and provides a springboard for individual growth and resilience.

Read Why Some People Drive You Crazy? How behavioral patterns affect our perceptions

Can something as simple as sharing stories really work?

New research by Emily Cobain and colleagues provides empirical evidence for this. This group of political scientists wondered what kind of information might lead to more respect for people and positions on every aspect of controversial issues, such as gun control or immigration. Across 15 studies, and using multiple methodologies, they compared what was most effective in increasing respect for those who disagree with one’s situation.

Facts and figures increase respect, but stories do more than that.

When someone hears a personal story from someone with whom they disagree on a controversial issue, they respond with a high level of respect. Interestingly, a certain type of story was more effective: a story in which the narrator experienced some psychological or physical harm.

Stories of hurt, whether about hurting or hurting another person, are a special type of personal story; They express weakness and sometimes guilt or shame. These types of raw feelings may lead to more sympathy on the part of the listener, and therefore more sympathy.

How mutual stories build respect

Monisha Pasupathi and Cecilia Wainryb have found that these types of abuse experiences, experiences in which someone is harmed, pose particular challenges to our concept of who we are; When we get hurt, and perhaps especially when we hurt someone, it interferes with our understanding of ourselves and the world, and as we struggle to make sense of such events, our self-understanding becomes more subtle and complex. Telling stories of abuse ignites personal growth.

Read 10 useful tips to solve emotional problems

The same thing happens to listeners. In the family narrative labWe asked teens to tell us a story they know about when their mom or dad was young and they got hurt or hurt someone. About 85% of the teens we asked were able to tell such a story, indicating that parents share these weaknesses with their teenage children.

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