Stories and Social Capital

The telling of true stories crops up again and again as a useful interaction technique. It’s easier to raise a dissenting view if you do so my telling a true story; and it easier for others to listen to you. Compare “Your idea won’t work”, with, “At my old job, we tried something similar and found that it was really hard to write queries against the data because…”

Some years ago I enjoyed reading the book In Good Company.  It highlighted the power of stories.  Now, years later, I can still remember key examples that were mentioned in the book. (Which illustrates another benefit of stories – they are memorable.)

From the back of the book:

“In Good Company is the first book to examine the role that social capital — a company’s “stock” of human connections such as trust, personal networks, and a sense of community — plays in thriving organizations.”

Sharing stories are a key tool in building social capital.  But there’s also much more to building social capital; much more that can and should be done to build up trust, personal networks and a sense of community.  The authors admit that many of their suggestions can seem like common sense.  But like many common sense ideas, they are not so commonly followed!  I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last few years in a team with excellent social capital… and it’s been a huge boost to our success and happiness. This stuff really matters!

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