Using stories in coaching

Image Credit: Dubrovnik, May 2017

I’ve recently returned from a few wonderful days in Dubrovnik which provides the backdrop for some first class 21st century storytelling, thanks to Game of Thrones.

On our last day in the city we were having lunch in a small, popular vegetarian restaurant, when we witnessed a heart-warming moment of support and collaboration.  In a narrow street in the heart of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, the cafe’s rudimentary tables are set cheek by jowl on the pavement with those belonging to the neighbouring restaurant.  Staff from all the cafes compete to attract customers by calling out and engaging tourists in conversation.

At the veggie cafe, potential customers outnumbered tables, they sat in doorways and on the stone steps, hoping they wouldn’t have to wait long, whilst the neighbouring restaurant was empty. Suddenly a larger than life character appeared from next door, offering the waiting customers the chance to sit at one of his tables but order from their chosen veggie restaurant. A smile and brief chat with our surprised waiter, and he was gone. A small gesture?  Maybe. But one which rippled out amongst the tourists as they struck up conversations with strangers at the next table, chatting appreciatively and positively about Dubrovnik.

These stories of collaboration are playing out all the time, and yet it’s all too easy to miss them.  Sometimes we find ourselves working with coaching clients who are stuck in a pattern of negative thinking about others and themselves and a short story can offer a bit of lightness, some humour and possibly a reminder that there is lots of good happening if we choose to see it. And in this case as a metaphor for identifying the small actions we can all take to help someone else, knowing the ripples will reach far and wide.

Next time you pop into your favourite coffee shop, take a moment to be present and tune in to what is happening around you.  What do you hear?  What do you see? There’s sure to be a story!

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