When my friend told me her mother-in-law was mean to her, all I knew was what my friend thought about her mother-in-law.
When that friend told me her mother-in-law gave thoughtful gifts to my friend’s children and husband year after year but never once had given my friend a gift, I knew her mother-in-law was mean to her.
It’s the power of the anecdote. The value of a story. The weight of details and specifics.
If I tell you it’s hard for me to take things to the D.I. because it seems that every time I take something to the D.I. I need it again, you’d think I was a little paranoid.
If I told you about the two bed frames that were taking up space in our basement for years until I realized I would never again have use for them because we had beds with frames in our bedrooms and because every time we bought a new bed a free bedframe came with it and if we told them we didn’t need it they said just throw it away but I couldn’t (breath) so I finally donated it and then a week, yes, a week later my son and his new wife bought a new bed but it didn’t come with a frame so they put their mattress on the floor ... if I told you that, you would be paranoid too.
I don’t want to make you paranoid. Nor do I want to prevent anyone from donating to the D.I.
I just want to help everyone know how much a story helps others not only see what you think but why you think it and might even help them think it as well.
The details that come from stories and lead to conclusions are an important communication tool for the media.
We don’t say a politician is crooked, we say he was arrested for using money from his campaign fund for a trip to Tahiti.
We don’t say the governing body couldn’t agree on anything, we say they deliberated for three hours before tabling the question for two more weeks.
And then we let you draw your conclusions.
This method can be effective for anyone, whether you’re talking with a friend or whether you’re writing your memoirs.
Tell the story, let the listener draw the conclusion alongside you.
The man in the writing class I was teaching said he’d had an argument with his wife and none of us were too impressed. That seemed common enough.
But then he read us what he’d written about what he said and about what she said. And we hurt for them.
The woman in the writing class told us about how difficult it had been for her to counsel people in New York City who had suffered trauma from witnessing the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, and we pitied her.
But then she read to us what she’d written of their specific experiences, and we wept with them, and with her.
When you tell the story before drawing the conclusion, you bring the listener/reader to your side and help them see in the same direction you are looking.
Write it, say it in detail.And you’ll bring us with you.