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NTI Folx Tales:
A Celebration of the
Narrative Worldview

With Vikki Reynolds, a Steve Gaddis "roundtable," storytellers, artists ... and you!

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Outsider Witnessing


Throughout this conference, we will be inviting you to listen and respond to what you are hearing in a particular way we call “Outsider Witnessing.” This tradition often differs from other kinds of listening that tend to be more ingrained in us. Because of this, it is important to be attentive to how we’re listening and responding and not leave how we’re participating as listeners up to chance. 


In the Outsider Witness tradition of listening and responding, we are interested in acknowledging what is important to the person who is at the center of the conversation. Therefore, we are not listening to give advice, solutions, suggestions, interpretation, affirmations, or help. Instead, we listen for what the person is expressing that might help us know more intimately what they hold precious and what matters to them. As we listen, we try to imagine what they might be caring about as they share their story. 


And … When we listen for what someone values, we inevitably hear something that personally moves us. So, while listening, we also pay attention to moments where we are moved in some way. The movement we are noticing in us is a kind of harmonizing resonance. We don’t need to know or analyze why we might be experiencing this resonance, we just need to note what we heard or saw that produced it for us. We’re offering you this notebook so that you might take notes on the particular words, actions, and expressions that move you during this conference. 


Witnessing Responses

  1. The Expressions. 

    • What particular words or expressions were you most drawn to? 

    • In the expressions you saw or heard that moved you, what might you guess is important to the person? 

  2. Images. 

    • Do any images come to mind that were evoked by the expressions you were drawn to? 

    • If you were to guess, how might these images, mental pictures, metaphors reflect some of the person’s purposes, values, beliefs, hopes, aspirations, dreams and commitments about what the person intends for their life. 

  3. Personal resonance. 

    • Why were you drawn to these particular images? Personal interest, embodied interest – not academic or professional interest. 

    • What did it light up in you and why? 

  4. Transport. 

    • How has this touched your life and thoughts in ways that would not have been possible without hearing this. 

    • What has being moved by these particular expressions made possible for you? 


All you need to do as a listener is note what particular expressions moved you. If you choose to offer a witnessing reflection, we will be interviewing you, so there is no need to memorize the process or stress about it. 


Again, this is quite a different approach to listening than ones we are often moreyou are familiar with. In order to allow for this powerful process to contribute as much as possible to everyone present, we ask your permission to gently guide you away from:

  • Affirmations

  • Applause

  • Pointing out positives

  • Focussing on Strengths

  • Moral judgements or evaluations

  • Interpretations

  • Advice


While there is inherently nothing wrong with these things, and they are generally well intentioned, it is not what will contribute to rich story development, for either the storytellers or for you, their witnesses.

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