Telling stories is a great way to connect with your audience, and for life coaches, business stories illustrate the struggles and successes we all share.
It doesn’t matter if you are on stage, teaching a class, writing an email to your list, recording a podcast or writing a blog post. Business storytelling could and should should play a big part of your content creation and marketing strategies. But how do you come up with those stories in the first place? Here are seven tips to help you keep the business story ideas flowing so you can find just the right one for just about any situation.
Share A Recent Encounter
Often the best story are happening to you and all around you. Think about a client who is successful in her achievements? Can you tell her story as an example to newbies? What is the best coaching conversation you ever had? Or which complement from a client meant the most to you? And why was that story most meaningful?
Recall A Conversation
Conversations offer great story ideas. Without going into too many details or sharing too much information about the person you were talking to, what was the underlying message of the conversation in your storytelling. Example: One parent, who called me, was frustrated her their three-year-old daughter was always singing, dancing, and seemed “overly” playful. The daughter was a total contrast to their eldest daughter, aged ten, who mom described as most like the parents. Parents and older daughter liked to read, study the stars, read science-type magazines. The younger child shared few, if any, interests with the parents and older sister. I shared with the parents how there are different temperaments, and because the older sister was an intellectual, didn’t mean that the second child would be of the same temperament. No, the younger child was the talkative, creative, dancing ballerina.. They got it, and I didn’t hear from them until ten years later. Now older daughter is thirteen and younger daughter is six. Mom called to share how the knowledge of temperaments changed their lives. They started offering the younger child outlets for her dancing body and creative brain, as they offered the older child classes and experiences in which her strengths could flower.
Dig Deep and Share A Childhood Memory
Childhood memories are another great source of story ideas. The memories that stick with us from way back when are often the ones that taught us a valuable lesson or had a significant impact on who we are today. Think back to what you remember from your childhood and how you can tie those memories into what you’re doing today.
Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
Stories are going on all around us. Pay attention to the situations and conversations people have around you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many story ideas you’ll get just by paying attention your surroundings. Example: I went to the hospital when I felt sharp pains crackle cross my chest. Heart attack? Not sure! Go to bed or go to the emergency room? Go to the hospital. Over five hours, I was admitted, assigned a bed, tested, and the doctor finally arrived in the early morning to tell me the news.
“You have a pulmonary embolism.”
“And that is….?”
“You have a blood clot in your lungs.”
Carry A Little Notebook
We’ve established that there are conversations around us from which we draw a story theme. as you observe those stories, which are memorable that would be a good fit with the content or product. Stick a little notebook and pen in your purse, briefcase or jacket. Keep it with you and jot down short notes about ideas, thoughts, conversations and situations that have storytelling potential.
Listen To Your Family and Friends
Pay attention to your loved ones. They are sharing stories with you on a regular basis. Listen to your kids when they come home from school. Sit down for an after-school snack, and ask them about their day. You’ll have an almost never-ending supply of storytelling material. Listen with rapt attention to feel their emotions and exemplify those feelings in your story, as they are genuine and believable. Keep looking for new ideas and keep telling those stories to grow your business, connect with you readers and make the sale.
My ideal client is between 35 and 65. She may be married or divorced with one or two children. She is middle class, educated, and lives in a middle-to-upper class neighborhood.
She has always been financially independent. She owns her own business or would like to have a part time business of her own. She is discerning with money, though will rarely spend it on herself unless it’s for a practical reason. She makes lists and likes to be able to cross everything off her list, even though there is often more there than she can achieve. She compares her achievements to others as a way of gauging her worth. She often is overcritical of herself and lacks compassion for herself, though finds it for others. She grew up in an environment where she had to take on responsibilities too early, which forced her to put aside her creative, spontaneous side and lose touch with her own needs and intuition. As a result, she is an over-responsible, independent, strong adult. She is dependable and tries to be there for others, whether it is in her best interest or not. She is overly loyal and often takes care of others because she feels like she should because nice people do that. She follows the rules. She lives a lot in her own head and is afraid of making the wrong decision. She is a thinker and analyzer. As a result, she has lost touch with her own feelings and needs. She has difficulty setting boundaries with others until circumstances become extreme. When she does set a boundary, she feels guilty and often softens the boundary or changes it to suit the other person. She says “yes” when she doesn’t want to, then feels resentful. She doesn’t have a good sense of self-worth and therefore has difficulty honoring herself. She’s unaware of her own values and using them as a way of navigating life or making decisions. She makes decisions out of fear or guilt. Only when she feels she’s been pushed too far will she get angry and lash out or finally give herself what she wants. She is a busy person who experiences free floating anxiety in quiet moments. She tries to get out of these feelings through staying busy, eating, or distracting herself with Internet activities. She is afraid to feel “negative” feelings for fear they will lead to something bad or shut her down completely. She is knowledgeable about positive thinking and feels guilty or fearful if she isn’t thinking constructively. She has a spiritual reference (God, the Universe, Spirit, Higher Self) and may engage in a spiritual practice. She has trouble with meditation because her mind is constantly busy. She loves self-help books, psychology, and spirituality (especially relationship books, Law of Attraction, and codependency). She loves to read or learn about these things so she can fix her problems. When an issue arises, a book or self-help source soothes her. She feels in control of the problem. She is afraid to let go of control. She has difficulty relaxing and will often need to eat, drink, or distract herself with Internet use to relax. She is constantly thinking about the future and the next moment. She’d like to have more fun or nurturing activities, but can’t give herself permission or justify them. She often feels overwhelmed and drained. Her feelings seem to vacillate between anxious and depressed. She can be found working on her computer either from home or at coffee shops, running errands, and taking care of the people in her life. She enjoys bookstores and self-growth classes. She has a creative side, though it is undeveloped and not given priority. She has a worldly cause she believes in that she may or may not be aware of yet. She enjoys people and has friends, but doesn’t make relationships a priority – this can be because of lack of time or lack of energy. She has difficulty trusting or being intimate with men. She often attracts untrustworthy or needy men. (Or this could describe her relationship to a husband.) Her greatest desire is to learn to love herself. She realizes she doesn’t treat herself well and wants to change. Yet she feels caught in shame or guilt when taking steps toward this. She is tired of feeling anxious and depressed. She wants to feel better about herself and her relationships, but does not know how, despite the self-help books. She is attracted to my sense of self-acceptance, non-judgment, safety, optimism, and trust in myself and a Higher Power for my safety and future. She is ready to work with me because she sees my story and wants the balance and security I’ve achieved within myself. She feels seen and safe. I offer her a place to begin to get to know her own feelings and emotions without fear. I show her how to feel her feelings in a way that will allow, heal them, and lead her to hear her own Inner Voice. She feels encouraged to listen to and take action toward her own needs and self-care. She experiences more self-love, self-compassion, and self-trust. She feels more settled in her body and is able to feel good about herself and her decisions. When she makes a mistake, she sees the growth and good without shame. Though life may present her challenges, she feels more confident in herself and in life to take care of her. She is able to be with others in a way that allows her to be real and unafraid. She is able to lovingly set boundaries. Her relationship with herself and others are healthier because she is different inside. She now honors herself and is able to present with others in a way that honors them. New ideas and desires arise in her as a result. She is more in touch with her body, needs, and emotions. She knows more of what she needs and where her limits are. She knows herself and how to take care of herself under stress. She has the resources, tools, and knowledge to handle her life. She can hear own Inner Voice and feels empowered to take risks towards what she desires.
Traditionally, many school-aged children love school and look forward to start of a new school year. But for other children, it’s also a time of great stress. In fact, stress—those overwhelming feelings of doubt about ourselves or our ability to handle things—is as common in children as adults. The greatest challenge to parents today is teaching children to manage stress effectively. Children may react to excess stress with behavior that seems immature, inappropriate, or even disturbing. One child exhibits anxiety and tears the night before going back to school. Another child speaks of new teacher and asks her parents questions while trying to imagine the teacher’s personality. Another child enjoys shopping for school clothes and looks forward to seeing new friends. Stress can be terrifying to children who lack the emotional maturity or experience to understand and deal with it. The challenge for parents, teachers, and other caretakers include how to recognize signs of stress in children of different ages, how to know when stress threatens to overwhelm a child, and what to do about it. In Nurture Your Child’s Gift, I offer excellent suggestions to help parents cope with their children’s stress. A stressed-out condition can result from a specific cause or from life in general. Here are some examples:
At 17, Jen was a high school senior expecting to graduate with honors in the Spring. Just before Christmas, however, Jen’s father lost his job and the family had to move into the basement of a cousin’s house. Jen soon developed a severe allergy, then asthma. The illness cost her so much time from school that she required home-schooling to make up the difference.
Mark was only two when his parents divorced. Confused, Mark wandered the house, calling plaintively for his father, but weekends with Dad made him cry. Most weekends, Mark developed upset stomachs that were so bad he’d miss preschool on Mondays.
Toddlers need to feel safe and comfortable. Stress for preschool children can arise from a new face at home or at day care, the disappearance of a familiar face, visiting lots of new places at once, or abrupt changes in the family’s structure, relationships or daily routine. During the grade-school years, children become concerned with pleasing people like teachers, parents, guardians and coaches. School life—even a change in assigned seating or having to take a test—brings higher levels of stress every year. And when it comes to peers, even the threat of diminished acceptance is terrifying. Sleep-overs, birthday parties, sporting events and music competitions can trigger stressful reactions. Through middle school and beyond, the pressures kids feel from parents, teachers, peers, society at large, and from within increases. Children have to learn adapt to these pressures. Because they have grown in their intelligence, curiosity and knowledge of community, demands for their attention, time, energy and effort can often feel like a tug of war. As in the cases of Mark and Jen, it is not unusual for life-altering events to express themselves in illness. At the University of Missouri, for instance, researcher Mark Flinn found that a child’s risk of upper-respiratory infection increases by 200 percent for the seven days following a high-stress event. And parents like Miranda’s might confuse what they believe are normal behavior with an expression of anxiety. Children often display their tensions in small acts that have aggressive undertones.
How You Can Help
There are many ways parents can help their children deal with stress and stressful situations.
Don’t try to fix everything for the child, and avoid offering advice. Sometimes just listening so that your child feels truly heard may be enough to relieve the stress.
As you listen, ask questions that encourage your child to think a situation through. “What’s the next step?” or “How would you handle that?” are good questions. Ask a lot of “what-if” questions, too.
Help children listen to themselves. Nurture Your Child’s Gift suggests quiet-time techniques for children to listen to nature sounds like rain or waves upon the beach, to their own heartbeat, or to recordings of whales, dolphins or birds.
Encourage children to spend time listening to their thoughts. When they feel free to speak their own thoughts aloud about a situation, things suddenly become clear.
Nurture Your Child’s Gift details a diaphragmatic breathing exercise for kids and parents. Shallow breathing is associated with the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Deeper, effective breathing produces feelings of relaxation and calm.
Use soothing and rhythmic music, even simple drumming, to help your child relieve muscle tension. It works!
Don’t overlook exercise for releasing stress and tension. It works for your child just as it does for you. Have children walk the dog, get on the treadmill or stretch through easy yoga movements for children. Any movement they enjoy will help ease stress away.
Parents can do much to alleviate stress in their children’s lives. Effectively dealing with your own stress is the first step. Showing your kids how to release their stress comes next.
Emotionally healthy children do better in school, find more success as adults, and lead happier lives. They can be happy and fulfilled as they grow up.
Follow these strategies to increase your children’s emotional wellbeing:
1. Be open about your feelings. The world isn’t always positive, and you may have struggled. It helps your children understand your feelings if they see the reality of the world.
Kids copy their parents, so they’ll mimic your emotions.
As an emotionally healthy adult, you’ll show your kids that it’s normal to have both positive and negative feelings. If you’re open about them, they’ll be able to learn from you.
You may be tempted to protect your children from your real emotions. However, you’ll miss a teaching opportunity.
2. Avoid judging feelings. Adults sometimes criticize others and their feelings. Your kids are always watching, so they learn to judge others too.
When you judge and criticize the emotions of others, you show your kids that it’s normal to make fun of or mock other people.
They can suffer emotional damage because they learn to criticize others or become scared to show their own feelings.
It’s also important to avoid labeling feelings as good or bad. Sometimes you may be happy, and sometimes you may be sad, but both are normal. Help your children to accept and not to be ashamed of how they feel.
You can’t control every aspect of your child’s life. If you try to tell children how to feel, they can become scared to show their true emotions. They learn that they can’t be honest about their feelings, so they stifle or hide them.
When you tell your kids they have to be happy, you prevent them from figuring out why they don’t feel this way.
Parents often feel that their kids are an extension of their personalities and expect them to act and feel the same way. However, each child is a unique individual. You can’t expect them to feel the same way as you.
4. Resolve your emotional wounds. You’ll find it difficult to teach your kids how to deal with their feelings when you’re struggling with your own. Kids naturally copy their parents, so they may pick up on your traumas.
Take care to prevent the emotional wounds from your past or present from carrying over to your children.
5. Ask questions. Kids benefit from opportunities to discuss their emotions. Ask questions and find out how they feel, rather than assuming what they’re feeling.
When you ask about their feelings, your kids will learn to articulate them. They’ll learn to express their thoughts and emotions.
Emotionally healthy children grow up to be successful and happy adults. They’ll also be able to use these skills when they get older and face challenges. The ability to be emotionally available and knowledgeable is a powerful tool. Your kids will enjoy great advantages from learning about their feelings.
. How we parents communicate and demonstrate conversations with our children speaks louder than any intention or goal. A parent coach or family consultant trains parents and family members in communications skills. How are your communications skills?
Not Like This
“Caron, speak up.” My father screamed. Other statements he used were….
“Quit mumbling. Stop mumbling. You are driving me nuts.”
My father was a man with a hearing loss, probably acquired from his stent of service in the second world war. He boasted how he was lucky to be alive despite the shard of metal in his brain. He drank a lot which often resulted in being a happy drunk until he couldn’t hear what one of his children said. Then, his short fuse resulted in the not-so-nice screaming bout.
The story of my father demonstrates how truly important establishing two-way communication within families is. Two-way communication implies two people are speaking, but also listening, as well as respecting, opinions and solutions. Two-way communication suggests that listening receives as much respect as speaking.
Communication styles are characterized by the way people want to appear and be heard:
People want to look (or attempt to appear) a certain way when communicating. For example, it was necessary to my father that he raised his voice and corrected me because he was the “boss.”
Unclear, poor communication leaves family members unhappy and lonely. If your communication skills are lacking, then a family member may be miserable and feel alone. These tips can help you improve the opportunities for being heard, speaking your truth, and inviting conversations with your children.
Ten Right-Way Communication Skills for the Home
Fostering a more favorable environment in your home includes offering opportunities for discussions and space for disagreements, Try these communication strategies
1. Be open and honest with one another. While being honest, be kind when saying something that may cause a family member any distress. Children are more receptive to calm voices, kind words, and tone of voice, but then, isn’t everyone?
2. Have some fun each day. Family fun doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. It can be as simple as having ice cream cones or playing with your pets. Simple tasks or rituals make a significant difference in how the communication flows in a home, mainly when people are engaged in functions together.
3. Set priorities for chores that everyone must do. Agree on who does what chores and when they should do them, so everyone participates in age-appropriate tasks. Write them on a chore chart ahead of time to prevent arguments!
4. Keep privacy boundaries. Adults and kids both need their privacy on a regular basis. Ensure that the kids understand the importance of respecting this priority.
5. Have a family meeting each week to discuss family issues. Find a time in which everyone in the family can attend. Hold the meeting every week, preferably at the same time. In the meeting, let each family member speak their mind, even if it’s a complaint. Solve challenges, run ideas by each other, and make plans for the future together.
6. Allow free time. Everyone needs some time to do things on their own or with their friends. Meeting this need will help each family member feel more satisfied, fulfilled, and open to communicating.
7. Spend holidays and special events together as a family. Strengthen your family bond with special occasion family traditions. Let the kids share their ideas about the occasion, too.
8. Establish a weekly family night. Make time just to enjoy being together. Watch movies, play games, or have story time. Encourage laughter and open communication.
9. Learn to negotiate. Learning to compromise and come up with win-win solutions for everyone involved is a priceless skill that will serve your family members well throughout their lives.
10. Say, “I love you.” Each day, remember to show your spouse and kids how much you love them. Share loving, encouraging words and hugs freely throughout the day – even if it’s a hard day, especially if it’s a hard day!)
A happy home promotes a supportive place to live, play, and look forward to the future! A comfortable home welcomes your loved ones when they return from work or other outings. They can leave the stresses of the outside world behind as they enter the warm sanctuary of home. Practice these communication strategies to create an inviting environment in your home because you shape the foundation for your child’s ability to get along in life.