Storytelling is all the rage. Articles, columns, blogs, and presentations encourage people to share stories to improve sales, leadership, management, education, parenting — pretty much everything. There’s a lot of truth to that, but no one seems to discuss storylistening. Listening to and for stories is a different kind of listening. It is the kind of listening that the NCSML specializes in.

I’m fortunate to be able to listen to many people’s stories on my travels. It is true that everyone has a story, and sometimes people need to be encouraged with some questions as prompts to share. I think that listening to stories requires noticing the characters, “plot,” time frames, and actions involved in what is shared. When someone tells a story, they are sharing more than facts; they are sharing people, personalities, actions, events, conversations — all the makings of a story. Recognizing those details and then inquiring further as to how they fit together reveals to the teller that the listener is truly paying attention.

There is a lot of listening going on at the NCSML. Volunteers, visitors, team members, and community members are continually engaged in storytelling and storylistening. The give and take of stories inform and inspire our work, our purpose, and our mission. Please share yours with us.

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