Storytelling at Work
April 14, 2020
The Importance of Family Storytelling During the Difficult Daze of the Coronavirus


"It has been said that next to hunger and thirst our most basic human need is for storytelling." -- Kahlil Gibran

While it's true that the Coronavirus has brought some dark clouds into the lives of millions people, each of those dark clouds also has a silver lining. And one of those silver linings is the undeniable fact that families now have more time to be together.

For some families, however, this extra time is good news/bad news. Theoretically speaking, having more time to be together sounds great. But practically speaking, it doesn't always turn out that way. Confined to a small space, with few breaks from each other, and the stresses that come from all the unknowns, it's not uncommon for family members to get impatient with each other, cranky, or simply space out on TV and video games.

Is there an antidote to this phenomenon? Yes, there is -- and it's thousands of years old: storytelling!

If you are a parent, one of your main responsibilities is to protect your children from harm. In many ways, of course, you are already doing this. (Hand sanitizers! Social distancing! Masks!) But physical health is only part of your job. The other part is to protect your children's metaphysical health -- their state of mind.

MIMI and Mitchie2.JPG

That's where storytelling comes in.
Family storytelling (AKA Wisdom Circles) has many benefits: it strengthens relationships, provides comfort, defuses anxiety, entertains, imparts values, builds trust, transmits wisdom, and gives everyone in your family a voice -- especially the children.

That's why I'm inviting you to create some special "storytelling time" with your family this week. But instead of merely reading stories from a book, I'm inviting you and your family to tell stories from your own lives. Memorable moments of truth. Obstacles overcomes. Life lessons. Revealing episodes. Cool experiences. You know, the good stuff.

Simply put, a Family Wisdom Circle is a chance for you and your loved ones to unplug from the world and simply BE together -- no news, no Netflix, no TV, no internet, no bills, no dishes, no worries, and no problems -- just some sacred time, in each other's company, to share from the heart.

Here's what Tanya Kubitza, a Whittlesea resident, had to say about a Family Wisdom Circle she hosted in her home.

Interested? If so, here are ten guidelines to make sure your family Wisdom Circle is as meaningful as possible:

1. Create a cozy space to meet, ideally in a circle.
2. Light some candles to create the meeting-around-the-fire feeling
3. Decide on who plays the role of "facilitator."
4. Let everyone know that storytelling is voluntary. No pressure!
5. Each storyteller gets five minutes to tell their story
6. When people aren't telling a story, their task is to listen
7. Turn off the TV, all cell phones, and devices
8. At the end of each story, have a conversation -- unpack it
9. Cookies! Popcorn! Tea! Juice! Marshmellows!
10. At the end of the circle, ask your children how it can be improved.

Storytelling for the Revolution


PHOTO #1: Pablo Merchan Montes, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at April 14, 2020 12:12 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?


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.