My Dad was a storyteller, or at least that is how I like to consider the family trait of loving to have a chat!! He loved getting to know people by learning about their lives and that is part of how many men saw the purpose of this archetype. Communication and men is often a challenge for women but what I found really fascinating was the differences between what the older men thought they were achieving in their communications and how young men experienced it.
The Sharing of Story
Most of us like to share stories with each other. We enjoy the bonding that comes from spending time with other men. Depending on our lifestyles and social context, our stories will vary and the degree of sharing will reflect the accepted conventions of our group. For some of us we will love to brag and exaggerate everything because it makes the story more interesting. We need to be seen as better and more successful in the eyes of other men and this is how we show our competitiveness, by telling great stories. We don’t get stuck in the details of stories, like women do, but tend to give the overall view of events. This makes the story more interesting, funny and dramatic.
We think our stories are better than women’s stories. When we are telling stories that include women, we think we are making us look good, or if it’s a story about a mate, we are making them look foolish, and not making the woman look bad. It seems like the details make the story about the woman, but we are really just bragging or hanging it on a mate. Whatever women see as gossip, we see as bragging. There is a real dichotomy between men and women’s experiences of men’s story telling.
The Purpose of Storytelling
There are those of us who don’t like to brag or blow our own trumpet. We don’t even like listening to other men who are full of themselves. We value making connections to others and understand the importance of sharing experiences. While we think that a man must learn to make his own decisions, we are willing to guide, through our story telling, those listening. Our stories give them the information they should use to make the right decisions in their own lives. But there will also be times when we see the value in giving direction and are not willing to negotiate options. Likewise, there will be times where we will enjoy thrashing out different viewpoints and even being open to new perspectives.
The real point of communication and sharing our experiences is to express to others our needs, wants, and desires. If we don’t tell them, we can’t expect them to know. In family situations, it is very important that we develop good communication skills. Yet some of us feel that women don’t want to know about us, as men, and this blocks us from opening up. We want to be men, not be converted into female men.
There is still a strong message about how men communicate. We believe there is a certain kind of manliness that comes from spending time with other men. It is not only important, but essential, that men maintain their masculinity. In the company of other men we help each other stay strong as men. We support each other to keep being men. The manly way to communicate is to be candid and direct – we cut to the chase; we get straight to the point. We don’t want to give this up. Men need time with other men, be it at the footy, Friday lunches, camping, at the races, or other sporting events. We don’t have to say a lot, we just have to be there, to keep each other on track.
Yet for some of us, we see this way of being with other men as the reason there is a void in passing on knowledge and experiences to other men in general, and the younger generation specifically, let alone how we communicate with men from different cultural and religious backgrounds. We are concerned with the lack of respect shown to the wisdom of experiences in eldership. Listening to the stories of experience enhances our lives and develops respect between the younger and older generations.
The Benefit of Communication
Some of us love to communicate with anyone, irrelevant of gender, race, religion, or culture. We value the honesty of sharing common experiences and emotions with others. We find that barriers melt away when we are open about whom we are and are genuinely interested in who other people. The joy of experiencing other people enriches our lives.
Our ability to make friends is governed by our ability to communicate with each other. By learning about someone and their life experiences we are better able to form deeper connections with them and enjoy their company more. It is through this openness that we can guide our friends in their relationships and often how they treat their partner. We gain a great deal of learning about ourselves when we are teaching others as well.
Some of us have experienced the value in guiding our daughters in how they grow up. Our knowledge of men can enhance our daughter’s lives. By helping them prepare for the world of men, work, and relationships, we can gain enormous satisfaction from sharing our stories with the women in our lives and how men are in the world.
Young Men Growing Up
As young men, we feel we have to find out about how to be a man on our own or base it on what we have learnt by watching the men in our families. Sometimes we role model ourselves on rock stars, sporting stars, or from movies, if we can’t find someone we want to imitate. We don’t feel like we are guided through story telling about how to manage our lives as men. We think some kind of a men’s movement or men’s group or mentoring would be the place for this to occur. From where we stand, it doesn’t appear that men really teach young men how to be responsible men. It seems to be more like a process of osmosis. We feel that learning about being a man would give us boundaries and guidelines about what is right and what is wrong in how we think, feel, and the actions we take. It feels more like we have to work it out for ourselves and that is the right of passage into manhood for us.
Communication in Relationships
But being a man, can also mean that we often don’t say much and tend to keep things to ourselves. We’re not sure women need to know about men either. We like to think this keeps us mysterious because we find women that way. We want to have our own surprise element in our relationships with women.
When in relationships we do need to set boundaries that enable us to maintain security and safety between each other. We need to establish enough communication that women can express their vulnerability to us. As men we like to keep our women and children safe and protect them. We have to be open to communicating with them to do this. Some of us like to think we just know what they need. As we mature, or experience getting it wrong, we know that it helps to listen to others express their needs to us. In return, we can learn to trust a partner and open up to communicate more about ourselves to those who truly want to learn about who we are as men.
What are your experiences of the storyteller archetype?