It started well. She leaned in, smiled and began.
She spoke about the frustration of working with a team member who was unpredictable. ‘..sometimes he would be in a great mood and really communicative, other times it seemed like he hated his life…’ She continued ‘he had this look on his face, a scowl, everyone knew not to go near him on those days’.
It was interesting. We were involved, engaged, ready to hear more.
Then she started going off on other team members, mentioning a boss she couldn’t stand and the project that was really boring.
By this time I noticed people shuffling in their seats. Their discomfort was for several reasons. Her interesting comment on human character, the unpredictability of the work environment and the possible lesson she had learned from that, had turn into a full blown bitch. About everything.
It was negative, uninspired; it was tiring. The energy in the room had dived into the depths of misery. Everyone felt low.
And so did she.
I’m not even sure that she realized what she had just created.
And she is not alone.
This kind of negativity is easy to fall into, we all do it.
I remember when I was about 7 months pregnant with my first child, a friend began to tell me a horrific story about her sister’s difficult birth. I said to her, with a smile, ‘I don’t think I want to hear this’. She laughed and said, ‘I know’….and continued.
Then I told her, ‘I really don’t want to hear this’. And she still continued.
Ultimately, I walked away, I didn’t care if I was being rude. I realized that my emotional state was much more important and precious than the need to be polite to her sensationalist, negative storytelling.
And that’s what this is, a form of storytelling.
Often we don’t notice that we get drawn into negative storytelling.
You see, Storytelling requires taking responsibility for what you tell.
The affect it has on others. And on you.
If you choose to tell a terrible story, it will influence you and impact your environment. It will probably be told on, and do more damage. It’s toxic.
Think about your stories – do they serve you? do they serve others?
Every time you go to tell a story, you have a choice.
To tell a story that uplifts and inspires. Or to dampen, repress and make the world a more dull place.
What story will you tell?
Share it here.