Decision Workshops

I understand the stories the people involved are telling

Alongside other things, we should consider the stories people will tell themselves and others about the problem.  These stories can be part of a deeply ingrained culture and moral attitude.  They how people will try to eliminate dilemmas, and how they will react to you.  There are six story archetypes (or syntaxes of stories) that people will tell describing themselves and the way they are interacting with others. These are shown in the table below:

The ways that people will react will depend strongly on the story archetypes they and others are telling. Sometimes sides can assume others are acting under a different syntax. For example a “conspiracy theorist” will assume that they are operating in “Working Together” or “Equality” syntax, but believe the other side is acting in “Individualism” syntax, trying to “sucker” them. These views fundamentally alter people's attitude to trust and willingness to be persuaded.


Changing the syntax with which the people involved approach a problem can often be the most important step in breaking a deadlock.  But sometimes a syntax cannot be changed.  If so, there is no point in pretending it has been, or your actions will be fruitless.

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