Authentic Life Stories: Sharing for Deeper Relationships

Sharing authentic life stories is a great way to catalyze a deeper coaching relationship. Here’s a way to use your stories in a friendship, coaching situation or peer relationship to take your relational intimacy to the next level.

The value of your peer relationship depends a lot on how much you open up to each other. So as you think about what to share, keep this objective in mind: what parts of my life story will help this person really know me and invite deeper intimacy in our relationship? For instance, would sharing your educational credentials and career path be more likely to build transparency or keep things on the surface? Unless they are balanced with stories of our struggles, sharing victories and accomplishments only tends to define our relationship as one where we try to look like we have it all together.

The authentic life stories that genuinely catalyze deep relationships tend to have these four qualities:

  1. Significant:I am talking about something meaningful that I really care about
  2. Detailed: I share the details of what happened instead of glossing over parts of the story
  3. Vulnerable: My story shows my human side. I share failures and reverses as well as victories
  4. Not Needy: I am not sharing to get prayer or sympathy, but to give the gift of intimacy

Now here’s the exercise. Take twenty to thirty minutes each to share (more if authentic_relationshipsyou want), and see if you can work all four of these characteristics in as you share your life story. Then take the same amount of time to hear your friends story. After you are finished, reflect for a moment: what difference does it make that we told our life stories?

Tony Stoltzfus is a coach, author, master coach trainer and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute.