I have a story about you
Regular readers will know i am excited about transparency tools. For me, one of the most intriguing aspects of this relatively new interpersonal exploratory endeavor is that we get to design and test new tools. We tried my newest favorite this evening at Acorn.
It is called “I have a story about you” like with “if you really knew me” it is a fill-in-the-blank exercise. Like with Withholds and Unsaids it requires the permission of the person you have a story about.
But once you have permission (which is generally granted) you can spin your yarn about someone else in the group and talk about all the things you imagine to be true. I told one person that the unusual mannerisms they displayed appeared optional to me. I thought they could present themselves in a quite different and more accessible way. If they wanted to they could “pass” as being part of the mainstream culture and not so bizarre. I theorized a number of reasons why they might be doing this, but because of confidentiality i can’t reveal those reasons here. They confirmed my suspicion, and by doing so we moved a bit closer to each other and certainly saw each other more clearly.
I told another person that i felt like they had some type of previous drama or trauma that i did not know about and it was affecting them in a way i did not understand, that i would perhaps have more empathy toward them if i knew the story. At first they correctly commented that this is one of those general statements which is likely true about nearly everyone. And when i got more specific they denied my story completely and gave me a different insight into who they were, also helping us to see each other clearly.
Finally, i got to tell someone that i suspected that because they were conventionally attractive they probably got a lot of attention they did not want as well as some niceness that was pleasant and desirable, but that on balance they would choose to be outside the conventional beauty standards, which was part of why Acorn was attractive to them. I was part right, and their explanation of my incorrect assumptions helped me understand them, while validating some other things which i had long suspected and were now common understanding.
These and other experiences lead to the evolution of this tool. Now we instruct the person who the story is about to begin their replies to the story with “What you don’t know about me that supports some aspect of your story is _____.” Specifically, instead of starting with the natural tendency to deny or correct, instead start with what about the story is close to right, or perhaps in the neighborhood of correct. There is always time to correct later, and perhaps there is not even a need sometimes.
So i have to confess, part of my excitement about this tool is that i developed it, and i am excited about tweaking it more to make it more powerful. But beyond my own ego gratification around being clever, it is clear that this new transparency device adds to our toolbox in a way which serves us.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]