Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Conference Reflection: Guest Blogger Jane Purvis


Here are a few reflections on a session held at the 2012 North American IAP2 Conference in Halifax.

Our analytic brain gets a workout these days. Factual information flow is all around us, demanding our grey matter to process, process, process. This doesn't always work in favour of us looking at things from another angle, appreciating another perspective, and understanding complex issues. We can, however, help our brains to begin to consider information in a different way by introducing narrative techniques to our engagement processes. Pattie La Croix from Catapult Media took the time to introduce a few of us to the "Narrative Room" technique on Day One of the IAP2 North American Conference. In small groups, we listened to Pattie's ideas about story, and then were given the time and space to work through a narrative room process of our own.

Pattie’s work rests on her favourite definition of story – “A story is a fact, wrapped in emotion that provokes us to take action”. It is the broader narrative context and resulting emotion that takes us from reflexive thinking (our default), to reflective thinking. Reflective thinking supports us in processing complex problems and possibly seeing them in a new way. According to Pattie, narrative techniques also help to build relationships, as we can begin to understand appreciate fellow participants’ deeper personal context, perspective, and emotion with respect to an issue.

Following the small-group practice of the narrative room technique, Pattie reminded us two of the most important points about the ethics of narrative technique – 1) the story that is told should be able to be told in front of the people that it is about and 2) don’t story over someone else’s story.  Pattie made great use of our short time together, and I’m sure many of us will be looking for more information about how to properly use this technique in our processes.

Guest Blogger