The Narcissism of Employee Engagement →

Simon Terry:

The discussion is unreal: The only facts in a discussion are the satisfaction survey results. Much of the rest of the discussion is belief, assertion and opinion with little to ground that in the real world employees experience.

This resonates strongly with my own experience. It became clear to me especially during the time I was deeply involved in narrative inquiry work.

Something I learnt very early on from Shawn has stuck with me. If someone starts a sentence with “I think …”, you’re not going to hear a story. Once you notice it, it’s hard to unhear.

Even when you ask people questions that encourage them to recount their experiences and provide specific examples (aka stories), they often state their beliefs, assertions and opinions instead. Perhaps this has something to do with psychological safety, or the comfort of rationality? Whatever the cause, it seems to be ingrained in our culture.

There are some great ideas in this post for changing this dynamic. It’s not easy, but when you can engage people around their own, real world experiences (stories) to make sense of complex situations, it can be effective and powerful.