It’s Like a First Date: A Story-bite that Drives Focus

In the process of changing to a new budgeting process, my client called a meeting to bring alignment between different factions in preparation for a presentation to the executive team. One team had created a budget proposal, while another team had been challenged to assess the proposed budget against strategic priorities and identify gaps. As the meeting started, tension was thick until a member of the senior leadership team walked into the room and said, “I know that this is a different process for everyone. But it’s sort of like a first date. You say, ‘What do you want to do?’ And your date says, ‘I don’t know, what do you want to do?’ You reply, ‘I don’t care, whatever you want to do.’ The dance continues until someone says ‘Maybe we could do ___,’ and with relief you settle on a plan.” A chuckle rippled through the room, the tension dissipated, and everyone understood why the process felt a little murky.

This is a brilliant example of how a metaphor or “story-bite” can reframe and redirect a conversation into a more productive path. Humor dissolved the tension, and the story brought the business challenge into focus. The group gained understanding about why the process felt awkward and ambiguous. Most importantly, everyone was more open to the first stake that had been put in the ground.

Could you use this “story-bite” in business or health promotion settings? In business settings, this story can go beyond budget planning to galvanize a team around a new process or innovation. In health education or counseling, this “story-bite” might help coach someone into negotiating with their family, friends, or co-workers for support around a lifestyle change.



  1. Cindy Thorne on August 5, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Been doing this for years. Its why in large part my business is so successful. I takes being savvy which is so duplicatable. Curious? Would you be interested in learning more as an RDN?

    • Jean Storlie on August 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      Cindy – Thanks for your comment. I’m glad that storytelling has worked for you — very powerful. I’m not sure what your question means. Please e-mail me so we can discuss:

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