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Substitution principle


Principles > Substitution principle

Principle | How it works | So what?
 

Principle

When I hear a story, I will substitute myself into the position of key story characters.

How it works

Empathy and identification

Whenever we hear or experience a story in which we feel empathy towards characters in the story, as a part of that experience of empathy, we put ourselves into the shoes of the other person, associating and identifying with them, seeing through their eyes and feeling something of their emotions.

Thus we substitute ourselves as other people in specific situations, and in doing so take on the broader characteristics, beliefs and values of those people.

Teaching tales

'Teaching tales' are deliberate story forms that seek to create learning, often through getting the person to associate with lead characters. Such stories are much easier to accept than teaching by telling the person what to do, as it allows them to save face.

So what?

Create stories, sentences and situations into which people are encouraged to put themselves. Do this with generalized statements about people or using sympathetic characters with whom the other person will identify.

Substitute the other person yourself into a story, telling them how similar what they have done, are doing or will do, is to another person you know. This binds together the other person and the character in your story. Then tell more about the story person and about what they did that failed and what they did that worked.

See also

Specificity principle, Alignment principle, Empathy

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