When you first think of Thanksgiving what usually comes to mind is family and friends and the incredible opportunity for socially acceptable gluttony. While we are all thankful to be surrounded by loved ones and not being judged for helping ourselves to seconds (or fourths), how often do we stop to be thankful for the stories we come away with from these occasions?
Like the story that becomes the best one Grandpa ever told? The one that made you forget about your mashed potatoes going cold? The ones that stick with us and change what we think about a person or our family or maybe even our world?
If you step back to think about it, it’s one of the most simple yet meaningful gifts to be thankful for when leaving the table.
If you’re coming away from these first few sentences going, "yeah, well, I don’t think I have any stories to be thankful for that have stuck with me like that” - we have some ideas on how to help you get there. There are plenty of articles that can coach you through how to get a good interview from someone that are extremely helpful. But having done interviews over time we’ve discovered some tips that help a storyteller flourish in a way that makes story time more effective and impactful for all people involved.
In the true spirit of thanksgiving we’ll focus on this one tip that really helps change the tone of interviewing or getting a story from a family member - be thankful.
Sounds obvious but it’s so simple and it works.
It’s easy to want to ask someone a million questions about their past, especially when you’re interested. But it’s taking that step back to be thankful for the story that makes the difference. Let your interviewee know how much you value their story, what it means to you to have the chance to hear it and feel a part of it.
Look at it as a gem that you now have because in a way, it truly is. Let your storyteller know that too. Gratitude has a way of coming back to you and this includes in story form. A storyteller that feels appreciated will feel empowered to be open and share, making for a better story and interview overall. You may find you’re able to make new discoveries because your interviewee feels (possibly for the first time) that someone feels like its a privilege to hear what they have to say.
So don’t be shy this year at the table when you have stories you’ve been meaning to ask for.
And be thankful.
Happy thanksgiving from the humanstory team!