Listening to Car Talk on Saturday morning, it occurred to me that a big part of what makes the show so compelling is the stories told by the people who call in. Tom and Ray coax the humor, individuality and drama out of every caller. The stories are as important, often more important, than the specific automotive problem being discussed. These personal narratives are compelling because most of us can relate to them. Most of us drive cars, and thus empathize with the dilemmas facing the car talk callers. Besides, the callers and Tom and Ray make us laugh and that’s powerful.
When I talk with prospective clients about our musical team building programs, one of the first things I mention is story. Every company, association or group has a story to tell. The songwriting process enables us to brainstorm, to take lots of themes and ideas and articulate the key things that make an organization what it is. This process gives voice to the personal stories we all have as employees and colleagues. Everyone has a personal take on what they experience at work, and as we create song through story, groups discover the big ideas and company themes that are shared in everyone’s personal narrative. It’s similar to car talk in that when someone starts talking about a personal experience, you can see everyone in the room riveted with that, “I feel your pain” kind of attention. Below is an exercise you can do using storytelling as a catalyst to team building.
Integrating Car Talk with a free team building activity
- Have people in your group each tell a personal story about a problem they’ve had with their car, how they got the problem resolved and how it made them feel. Allow for free flowing discussion so you don’t miss those, “I feel your pain” moments from other people
- Next ask someone in your group to share a problem they’re currently having at work. Ask them how they’ve tried to resolve it – then ask them if they’ve shared it with colleagues. You’ll find increased collaboration with team members offering tips and solutions.
- Try to set up a regular time to trade stories about car problems and then segue into stories about work problems. You’ll build empathy, unity and hopefully increase productivity through better problem solving. I guarantee you’ll discover laughter along the way.
- Will this idea work for you? Are you willing to give it a try? I hope you’ll share your thoughts below.