Telling Stories for Peace of Mind | Nicholas Poellinger | TEDxHECParis | Summary and Q&A

September 25, 2023
TEDx Talks
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Telling Stories for Peace of Mind | Nicholas Poellinger | TEDxHECParis

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In this video, the speaker discusses the power of storytelling as a defense mechanism against burnout and exhaustion. The speaker emphasizes that stories shape perception and provide meaning, making them essential in combating burnout. Additionally, the speaker highlights the importance of connection and belonging, which can be fostered through storytelling. The video concludes by urging the audience to tell themselves a more constructive story and to approach their own narratives with kindness and self-compassion.

Questions & Answers

Q: How can storytelling help combat burnout and exhaustion?

Storytelling can combat burnout and exhaustion by shaping perception and providing meaning. When we tell stories, we process our experiences to find meaning, which can help us navigate challenging situations. The way we perceive our work and the stories we create about it have a huge impact on how it affects us. Feeling like we have enough time to finish our work can significantly decrease the risk of burnout.

Q: How does storytelling foster connection?

Storytelling fosters connection by allowing us to share experiences and connect with others emotionally. When we tell stories, we preserve accounts of events and share them with others. This sharing of stories helps create bonds and deeper connections with those around us. In the context of burnout, having connections in the workplace can significantly lower the risk of exhaustion.

Q: How can managers use storytelling to combat burnout?

Managers can use storytelling to combat burnout by shaping communication in a way that highlights individual contributions, manages expectations, and encourages connection. When managers emphasize the value and impact of each team member's work, it fosters a sense of purpose and control. Additionally, encouraging social connections within the team can create a supportive and nourishing work environment.

Q: How can we ensure our own storytelling remains constructive?

To ensure our own storytelling remains constructive, it is important to reframe our perspective on failure and setbacks. Instead of viewing them as final blows or insurmountable obstacles, we should see them as stepping stones in a bigger journey. By considering the context and looking at our failures from a broader viewpoint, we can tell ourselves a more forgiving and empowering story. It is crucial to be kind and self-compassionate when narrating our own narratives.

Q: How does storytelling impact our future chapters?

The way we tell our stories right now can have a significant impact on our future chapters. By approaching our narratives with kindness and self-compassion, we create a more constructive and empowering story for ourselves. When we believe in our own stories and see ourselves as resilient and capable, it sets the foundation for future success and well-being.

Q: How can we apply storytelling in different aspects of our lives?

Storytelling can be applied in various areas of our lives, such as personal relationships, professional settings, and even self-reflection. In personal relationships, sharing stories helps create deeper connections and understanding. In professional settings, storytelling can be used to highlight individual contributions, manage expectations, and foster a sense of belonging. When it comes to self-reflection, telling ourselves empowering and kind stories can help build resilience and positive self-perception.

Q: What is the significance of the blinking cursor in the video?

The blinking cursor represents the blank page or screen that serves as a metaphor for opportunities and potential. It symbolizes the daunting experience of starting something new or facing a challenge. The speaker uses the image of the blinking cursor to invoke different reactions from the audience and to emphasize the importance of storytelling and self-narrative in overcoming obstacles.

Q: Why is storytelling considered a defense mechanism?

Storytelling is considered a defense mechanism because it provides a way for individuals to cope with stress, burnout, and exhaustion. By shaping our narratives and finding meaning in our experiences, storytelling allows us to reframe our perspective and find strength and resilience. It helps us navigate through difficult situations and create a more positive and empowering narrative for ourselves.

Q: What role does perception play in storytelling?

Perception plays a crucial role in storytelling because stories shape our perception of ourselves, others, and the world around us. When we tell stories, we process our experiences and give them meaning. The way we perceive our work and the stories we create about it can impact our well-being and the risk of burnout. By consciously shaping our perception through storytelling, we can enhance our resilience and ability to navigate challenges.

Q: How can storytelling help in the fight against burnout on a societal level?

Storytelling can contribute to combating burnout on a societal level by fostering connection and understanding. When we share our stories and experiences, we create a sense of solidarity and support. By highlighting the importance of stories in the workplace and promoting meaningful communication, managers and leaders can create environments that reduce burnout and prioritize well-being. The impact of storytelling extends beyond individuals and can contribute to societal changes in how we approach work and mental health.


Stories have the power to shape perception, foster connection, and provide meaningful context to our experiences. By making storytelling our defense mechanism, we can combat burnout and exhaustion. This requires reframing our narratives, cultivating self-compassion, and creating supportive environments in the workplace. Additionally, by telling ourselves kind and empowering stories, we can shape our future chapters and build resilience. Storytelling is not only a tool for personal growth but also a means to create societal change by prioritizing well-being and meaningful communication.

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