We remember our lives through stories!
Almost all of us have gown up with stories as part of our lives through books read to us, books we’ve read, academics, as well as movies, plays, entertainment and even religion. Stories give us the opportunity to learn, feel, empathize or live through the lives of others. Our own stories of our lives do the same thing.
We remember our lives through stories; first day of school, high school graduation, getting married or divorced, birth of your first child and on. Those stories are not just what we remember, but can include all five senses. Sometimes entering a building and an odor can take you all the way back to a time where you associate that smell. Your whole body feels it…some say, maybe it’s de ja vu, but it’s possible your brain is remembering a piece of your life story. The same can be said for what you feel, like the warm summer sun on your face with a slight breeze.
Stories help us build relationships!
Those stories are part of our hard wiring as humans, and are your reason for being. They connect you to not only things, but to people. How often have you gotten together with a group of people you haven’t seen for a while, family/friends/co-workers/schoolmates, and almost immediately started telling stories about your shared path? These “walks down memory lane” stories instantly re-connect people no matter how much time had passed.
Emotionally connecting with your listener or audiences whether in a professional or personal setting is a powerful way to begin to build a relationship; through trust and common ground. Stories provide a huge opportunity for us to share, connect and advance the conversation in a more personal intimate. Earning trust is critical in any relationship, but especially in corporate relationships and communications.
I’ve always loved a good story, not just those stories you read in books or see in movies, but those that are told by everyday people. Stories about real world events are my favorite kind. Stories are everywhere, but not everyone has the ability to tell a good story. And, those who can tell a good story, certainly understand the art of storytelling. For some storytelling is innate, but for others, not so much. We’ve all been subjected to stories told by those who, just plain don’t get it. Storytelling is an art, and you can, not only learn how to tell a story, but you can learn how to make storytelling part of your everyday world, whether personal or professional.
Who doesn’t love a good story?
Stories can have a huge impact on your leadership effectiveness in professional settings. As I indicated earlier, humans have used stories forever to emotionally connect to other individuals, show empathy or as a learning tool. It only makes sense that if used in the business world stories will not only create the same emotional connects between individuals, but provide an avenue for changing behaviors or processes more effectively. Successful and appropriate storytelling as a leader helps connect business initiatives in a manner that feels more human and less corporate. If done correctly, storytelling motivates employees at the depths of the human soul, emotionally, and helping them truly relate to the new initiative or process change. Stories bind and motivate individuals to work together as a team towards a common goal. Stories become the glue binding your employees to your culture and values.
Through storytelling you’ll more successfully be able to communicate company information in a manner that’s more dynamic, and believe it or not, more sophisticated and more readily accepted by your employees. Get away from corporate speak and you’ll instantly see improved communication and trust.
Benefits of Storytelling in Business
- Increased levels of employee engagement
- Increased operational flexibility
- Increased strategic alignment
- Help build the next leaders from within who exhibit and embody the organizations behaviors, culture & core values.
- Transcends age-groups, cultures & genders
One of my favorite all-time quotes regarding real-world storytelling is “Don’t let the truth stand in the way of a good story”! Nobody enjoys sitting through a bad movie, or reading a bad book, the same is true about storytelling. Storytelling is all about understanding and knowing your audience. And, this is even more important in the corporate or business world. Whatever you do, don’t bore your audience. If you need to adapt a story slightly to make it appropriate for the audience, I say go for it. Colorize away! Add details. Subtract others. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to modify your story to fit your audience or situation.
7 Key Take-Aways of Storytelling
- There better be a point to your story and everything piece of the story better lead to this “point”.
- Never ever repeat the same story over and over again or to the same audience.
- Keep it fresh. Natural story tellers never have a problem finding material.
- When I say, “don’t repeat your stories to the same audience” recognize your stories improve with practice.
- Love the story you’re telling, and you will automatically become more animated and energetic. Your audience will make your enthusiasm theirs.
- You know instantly if you told a great story. There’s no better feeling then knowing you connected on an a personal level. For natural storytellers it’s an adrenalin rush that can’t be beat.
- Storytelling can’t be forced. There’s a time and a place. And the time and the place dictates the story, as does the relationship you have with your listener.
And, why not read a book on storytelling! There are a ton of books to choose from. Just choose one and bcomee a better leader!
Best of luck on your storytelling, but remember this one thing…Don’t Let the Truth Stand in the Way of a Good Story!
Images: Source Amazon.com via Pinterest