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Fearful stories

 

Disciplines > Storytelling > Storytelling in organizations > Fearful stories

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Fearful stories talk about a person's concerns, worries and fears. They may be direct and graphic or may be indirect and even make use of metaphor.

Fearful stories are often told privately, as it is often not considered the right thing to do to expresses fear publicly, particularly where one might be considered weak and unworthy for having such negative emotions.

A widely held fear may also be expressed by leaders as a cathartic mechanism where others feel unable to make their fears known. A good way of doing this is to describe the fear and then assuage it in some way, for example by showing that things are not all that bad or that there is light on the other side of the hill.

Example

Did you hear about the reorganization that's coming up. Last time there was a 'night of the long knives' where all the managers had a massive stand up row. By the time it was all finished, half of them had been sacked. I've only just been promoted and am worried what may happen to me.

Its like that episode of Star Trek when the captain is seduced by the green woman. She's strange like an alien but I can't get her out of my mind. I don't know what she's done to me!

Discussion

When we are anxious, this creates a tension in us that seeks some form or release. Stories provide a way of doing this as our imaginings project futures more terrible than might reasonably be expected.

Being a motivating force (albeit negative), fear may be turned to some use for example in Lewin's change method for unfreezing a person or organization.

Played well, organizational fear can become an effective leadership tool as the fear is sublimated into positive action. Done badly, however, it can have the reverse effect, paralyzing people or causing a contrary reaction.

See also

Fear

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