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War stories

 

Disciplines > Storytelling > Storytelling in organizations > War stories

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

War stories in organizations are not literal stories of international military conflict, although they do tell of trials and troubles and how people survived and overcame the the events that afflicted them.

War stories are typically told at meetings, conferences and social settings, where old and young corporate warriors swap tales of derring-do, much as their military counterparts may tell and re-tell of their exploits.

Example

Do you remember what it was like out on the road in the old days? None of these mobile phones and wi-fi gadgets. It was you, your order pad and your customers. I once negotiated with a flea-bitten old hardware firm owner until three in the morning. By the time we had struck a deal, we were both so drunk we fell asleep where we were. You know that man is still a customer and his business is now fifty times bigger.

Discussion

War stories are typically told as ways of nostalgic invocation of past trials. When told with old colleagues, they re-affirm bonds of friendship and shared experience. When told to younger colleagues, they may demonstrate authority or other superiority, giving evidence of their prowess. When a younger person tells the story, perhaps they are saying 'Hey, I'm a tough guy too!'

By re-telling the stories, the teller also re-experiences them, gaining again the sense of excitement and danger, though now within a safe present.

War stories may also be told as a form of bragging, and competitions may arise as the warriors try to out-do each other with increasingly amazing stories (and maybe increasing elaboration).

See also

Warfare

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