Getting “Them” To Listen

STF 2018 Presenter, Mark Binder

© Mark Binder, 2018 STF Presenter


There is a moment in storytelling when the audience leans in and every word and gesture is gold. And then there are the times when you’re telling stories to a cinderblock wall.


These days it’s more important than ever for our stories to make a difference, but simultaneously it’s more challenging to get to the point where people are listening.


Maybe you believe in gun control or a woman’s right to choose. Maybe you believe in free speech or protecting government from corruption.


Several years ago, I ran for State Rep against the sitting Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He voted for a stupid bill (38 Studios) that cost taxpayers a hundred million dollars. I had an impossible time getting the “liberal media” (NPR) to even take my campaign seriously. And I’m a freaking liberal! In the end, NPR cut me down and diminished my work until the votes were counted. I lost by about a thousand votes. Later on his corruption became clear. The day after the Speaker was indicted, NPR admitted that they might have made a mistake.


Since then, I’ve learned that you can’t take any kind of relationship for granted. Storytellers often work with metaphors, but these days subtlety is ignored in favor of brickbats (or tweets).


What kinds of stories actually make a difference and how can we be heard?


The workshop that I’m offering at Sharing The Fire is about cutting through the noise, bridging the gaps between silos, and telling stories that can connect people and action.


It ain’t easy.  Unless you’re preaching to the choir, chances are that “they” — those folk whose minds you want to change — don’t want to hear what you have to say.


And if you’re honest, maybe you don’t want to hear what they’re saying either.


This workshop is meant to be a provocative collaboration. Anybody who knows me knows that I’ve got lots of vehement ideas, but I know my limits. Each of us have tricks and tips that we can pass on and share.


We’re mining for gold—but unlike hard currency, you can keep all of it.


Want to learn more about putting a new spin on an old folktale. Take Mark’s workshop , Getting “Them” to Listen: Effective Communication to Bridge Divides, (Saturday, March 24  from 1:30 am – 3 pm) – part of Sharing the Fire 2018.  Visit the STF Conference Details page to register for the conference.  Want to share your own experiences on this topic?  Leave a comment.


STF 2018 Presenter, Mark BinderAbout Mark: Mark Binder is the author of more than 20 books and audio books for adults and children. Learn more and buy his edgy material at and his family work at

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