Storytelling at Work
January 10, 2020
What Actually Happens at a Wisdom Circle? The Format?

Stories connect2.jpg

The format and flow of a Wisdom Circle is very simple. Prior to the gathering, via email, I let everyone know what the storytelling themes of the evening will be, so, if participants want, they can identify -- and even practice -- a story they want to tell.

On the night of the Wisdom Circle, I begin by welcoming everyone and asking each participant to introduce themselves and state what they hope to get from the evening -- "what's in it for them." I then set the context -- including a brief introduction to storytelling as a communication medium, the ground rules for the circle, and an explanation of my role, as facilitator.

To kick off the storytelling part of the evening, I tell a brief story (5 minutes or less) and invite everyone in the circle to "unpack" it -- either asking me questions about the story, asking for further elaboration, or reflecting on how the meaning/message of the story relates to their own life. In effect, each story told becomes a catalyst for insight, reflection, and positive change.


Then, the floor is open for the next person to tell their story and for the rest of us to "unpack" it. And so on, for the next two hours or so. Storytelling is voluntary. Some people prefer just to listen and reflect on other people's stories. Some people may end up telling more than one story. The process is very organic.

Some evenings, depending on the number of participants (never more than 12), I may choose to divide the group into smaller groups so more people get a chance to share their stories.

At the end of the evening, the group gets a chance to reflect on some of the key themes of the evening and how those themes relate to their current life challenges/opportunities.

A Wisdom Circle is not a class, seminar, class, therapy session, or lecture. It is a chance for people to share their meaningful, memorable stories with each other in a safe, engaging, and non-judgmental environment. Bottom line, it's a fun, uplifting, insight-invoking evening where real listening happens and everyone has an inspired opportunity to learn from their own and other people's life experiences.

You have wisdom to share
What a story is not
Wisdom Circle ground rules
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work
Illustration: gapingvoid

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at January 10, 2020 10:19 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.