Stories can be dangerous without complete context.

Stories are how people relate with each other.  We tell stories to indicate how we feel about situations and to explain ourselves.  Sales is all about attaching stories to what we do to get others to relate and understand the value of what we are offering.  Case studies are simply stories.  Biographies are stories.  A web site is the story of our company.

But stories can be dangerous.  Stories rely upon the context of both teller and listener.  The one telling it will omit facts or background assuming that the listener will naturally intuit them.  Listeners will fill in gaps based on their own personal context.  When teller and listener are coming from different backgrounds and experiences the gaps will be filled in very differently leading to potentially dramatically misunderstandings.

A good story teller will figure out the context their listener is going to use and retell the story based on the appropriate new details required.  Telling a Fairy Tale to a child hearing it for the first time will require a lot more detail than telling it to someone who has lived an entire life with Fairy Tales.  A classic example is “Why is the Witch bad?”  To someone growing up with Fairy Tales, it’s just assumed that witches are bad unless preceded with “the Good Witch” because it’s a standard – just how it is.  But children don’t understand this yet.

We are all like children in areas outside of our experiences.  We all need to understand the stories we tell and receive may require the right context to place correctly.

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