Reducing Resistance in IEP Meetings with Storytelling

Fall is fast approaching, and it's a time when many parents choose to schedule their IEP meetings. It's critical to go into the meeting prepared mentally. Several days or weeks before the meeting, start thinking about what you are going to present to the team and how you are going to say it. How you say it matters tremendously!

One tip that has been helpful for me at my daughter's IEP meetings is using storytelling to communicate my ideas. When I want to propose new goals or changes in services, rather than just coming out and asking for what I want, I tell her story.

Storytelling is an art that increases engagement. It's a key ingredient in communications to teach and to influence. It's a way of reeling people in. We are taught to use storytelling when trying to get buy-in on ideas in the workplace. Preachers use it. Why not in an IEP meeting where the stakes are high?

Storytelling to Persuade

I came across something to support this idea in the FETA (From Emotions to Advocacy) textbook, "Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy." In Chapter 6, page 50:

"The Five Golden Rules for Negotiators. Rule #3 is storytelling." "Storytelling reduces resistance. Make requests by telling the child's story."

I had never realized that I was using a storytelling approach in my IEP meetings. I just felt that telling my daughter's story made it easier for the IEP team to identify with what my daughter was going through. This was highly effective.