Simon Terry

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The Intimacy of Working Out Loud

Most stories get told out loud because the storyteller hopes that the telling of the story can transform a nameless event into a familiar or intimate one – John Berger

Work can be demanding and alienating. Isolated into performance units in a mechanical process of production the individual can feel disconnected from peers. Worse peers may be structured as competitors, if not in performance terms, as competitors for scarce resources and attention. 

As John Berger highlights in his book Confabulations the power of storytelling is to creat human moments of intimacy out of every day events. We tell stories to find the intimate humanity in our relationships and our experience. 

Working out loud involves narrating work. Working out loud takes what to us are the mundane challenges of our work and tells their stories to others. To our surprise, our mundane experience can be extraordinary to others. Our limited capabilities look magical to someone who doesn’t know how or that our everyday work is even possible. 

In a world where we are always connected, it can be hard to remember that crowds are lonely places. We can devalue human connection because we have so much of it. The value of working out loud is that its stories of work bring opportunities for new intimacy in our relationships. When we add the generosity that working out loud asks of its practitioners, then all kinds of magic are possible. 

We tend to associate intimacy with closeness and closeness with a certain sum of shared experiences. Yet everyday total strangers, who will never say a single word to one another, can share an intimacy – John Berger

Working Out Loud week is from 5-11 June 2017. See wolweek.com for more. 


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