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.

i think i can see you

i think i can see you

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.

the story i have about you is that you try to appear to be odd

the story i have about you is that you try to appear to be odd

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.

My story about you is you get attention you dont want because of your beauty

My story about you is you get attention you don’t want because of your beauty

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]

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

8 responses to “I have a story about you”

  1. tickledspirit says :

    In the “More” work I did with George (exTO), the first response from someone who was listening to someone else was always “Thank you.” Not sure if it would be appropriate in this case, but that’s a piece that’s been powerful for me in the past.

    I remember when I was talking with you about this tool some time ago, the responses you were working on were: “What’s true about that…”, “What’s not true about that…”, and a third that I don’t remember. What’s the current manifestation of the answers? What’s working and what’s not? What are you wanting?

    Can you tell I’m eager to help?

    • paxus says :

      Dearest Kate:

      i am thrilled to have you help. While we did not use them last night, these are the stock answer formats originally proposed for this tool (in order of preference, assuming it is true of course):

      1) What is true about your story that i had not said before is ____

      2) Perhaps the reason you have this story is piece of my history that you are perhaps unaware of.

      3) I have an emotional response to this story because _____

      4) [Non-defensively as possible] This is why i think your story might not be true _____

      We definitely had people respond to the stories last night, in fact the responses were some of the most important parts of the experience for me. My stories got validated, or shot down, or partially embraced and then clarified. The responses were rich and revealing. AND we could try it with a withhold-like response of only “thank you” and leave the discussion to a different time, i think it would be harder to do than with a withhold, because these stories are in much greater part fabrications.

      Perhaps you should come to one of Acorns open transparency group evenings and see for yourself.

      Paxus at Twin Oaks
      19 Pricing of Seeds 2013

  2. Amoreau says :

    Very cool. I’d be happy to help you develop this 🙂

  3. Joan Mazza says :

    I sent your link to my psychodrama trainer and asked for his permission to share his two responses with you.
    Thought you might like to see what he had to say. See below.


    On Thursday, September 19, 2013 5:09 PM, Dale Richard Buchanan wrote:

    Absolutely, you may also suggest that in a one on one conversation or even in the group another person could ask a question of the individual that has to do with “perceptions.”

    For example Joe could say to Alice, “I have thought you might have been a “A’ student in high school. Is that true?” Then Alice can respond with her own story about her academic achievements in high school. As the group leader encourage Alice to say more then just “yes” or “no.” Just limit the group members to “positive” perceptions about other folks.

    hugs, Dale

    It certainly is a BIG deal to be published in the Nation! Sorry to hear about your fall. I am an “old” man now so welcome to the club. I had knee surgery for a torn meniscus in May and still only about 80% and holding in my recovery. I found I have arthritis in my knees and I hear a lot of cracking until I walk through the arthritis. I am thankful I can walk and stand and move about. I am also learning more about my physical body and that is a welcome conversation.

    As Bette Davis said, “Old age ain’t for sissies.” Right now I feel like i am in my young old age but with time and luck hope to make it to the “old” old age.

    From: Joan Mazza
    Sent: Thursday, September 19, 2013 3:15 PM
    Subject: Re: I thought this group technique would interest you.

    Thank you so much, Dale and Christina, for your replies.
    May I share yours, Dale, with the person at Acorn Community who is using the technique?
    He would be receptive (on the surface) and not offended by my saying, “Here’s another POV.”

    I’m doing okay. I had a bad injury (slipped on ice) in Feb. and I’m still recovering, but mostly have my life back. I walk like an old woman. Recovery is 8 months to a year or more for a tibial plateau fracture. I had wonderful friends helping me. You really find out who your friends are at a time like this.

    I’m writing a lot. Have nearly 200 published poems, with one coming out in the next issue of THE NATION. That’s a big deal!

    Enjoy your time off…..


    On Thursday, September 19, 2013 2:09 PM, Dale Richard Buchanan wrote:
    Hi Joan,

    It is so good to hear from you. Trust you are still being creative and expressing it in your many artistic endeavors and roles. It’s been a busy summer for me and I just heard we have less then 100 shopping days to Christmas. Yikes! The good news is that from Thanksgiving to early January I do very little work and lots and lots of play.

    Yes, I had hear of this technique and I am not a fan of it. I think we already make up too many stories about people and would prefer that people tell their own story. There is some research (on memory) to indicate that if other people hear a “made up” story about a person and then the person denies it – other people are likely to remember “as truth” the made up story. Various factors strengthen or weaker this phenomenon such as the “mysteriousness” or “vagueness” of the actual person, the confidence of the story teller and the status of the story teller.

    Always good to hear form. Lots of Hugs and Love, Dale

    Hi, Nina, Dale, Christina, and Pamela.

    This might interest you. Acorn is a sister community to Twin Oaks.


    Hope you are well!


    • paxus says :

      We do not require the “i have a story about you” interactions to be positive. in fact hopefully there is enough trust in the group so we will get some daring negative stories. Perhaps like ” You got A’s in high school and it blew up your ego and you were taking yourself too seriously for a while.”

  4. Alien says :

    You don’t have to be confidential with my stuff.

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