Storytelling at Work
January 24, 2019
Wisdom Circle Ground Rules

Circle Hands 2.jpg

A Wisdom Circle is an opportunity for a small group of people (6-12) to come together in a relaxed setting to share their life stories with each other -- memorable moments of truth that have, contained within them, a specific kind of message or meaning.

Simply put, all of us have wisdom inside us -- insights, awakenings, or "lessons learned" that we have experienced along the way. A Wisdom Circle is an opportunity to share this good stuff with others and then "unpack" the stories a bit. The message or meaning we have for each other is delivered via the telling of our stories -- not by teaching or preaching or advising. The storytelling does most of the work.

In order for a Wisdom Circle to be effective, the people participating in it need to be willing to abide by a few key ground rules. These "banks of the river" keep the energy flowing and increase the odds that everyone will enjoy the process and receive maximum value.

Here are the ground rules:

1. Keep your stories to five minutes or less.

2. When telling your story, remember you are telling a story about a specific "moment in time" (with a beginning, middle, and end). You are not telling the "story of your life" to a captive audience.

3. When someone, in the circle is telling their story, listen deeply and non-judgmentally. Be fully present!

4. When it's time to respond to someone's story, after they've finished telling it, either ask a question or reflect on how the message of the story applies to your own life. If you have nothing to say, that's fine.

5. No therapizing, fixing, or advising allowed.

6. Allow the facilitator to facilitate. In other words, if the facilitator asks you to wrap up your story (because you are exceeding your 5-minute limit) or if the facilitator intercedes for any reason, allow that to happen.

7. Honor confidentiality.

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work
The creator of Wisdom Circles

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at January 24, 2019 08:22 AM

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Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

Order the book:

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Do you want to know more about the book before buying it? Click here for Mitch's response to frequently asked questions about Storytelling at Work – the perfect book for people who think they have no time to read.
The Workshop
Storytelling is an "unconscious competency" – an ability we all have that all too often remains inaccessible to us. Enter the Storytelling at Work workshop – a simple way to activate this powerful, innate skill.
Wisdom Circles
Want to establish a culture of storytelling in your organization or community? Looking for a simple way to help people to share their meaningful, memorable stories with each other? Here's how.
Podcasts & Videos
Click here to view and listen to a series of interviews with the author of this blog. Go beyond the written word. Listen. Feel. Elevate the conversation. Understand what the big deal is about personal storytelling.
Blogs 'R Us
If you like this blog, you might also like Mitch's other two blogs: The Heart of Innovation and The Heart of the Matter. Mitch is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
Idea Champions
When Mitch isn't writing, he's captaining the good ship Idea Champions, a leading edge innovation consulting and training company based in Woodstock, NY. What their clients say.