Business storytelling, part #1: How to transform your business and people with stories

This blog begins my four-part series on business storytelling. Enjoy, share, and if you are interested in my business storytelling workshops, get in touch.

Smiling therapist speaking to a rehab group at therapy session

Despite the linear, objective thinking that drives much of business communication, linear, objective communication often fails woefully. For example, take our current Treasurer (she says, stopping short of adding the word “Please!”) who, despite apologising, continues to be beleaguered by a comment he made about “poor people” and their petrol usage. Before he apologised, he insisted that hey, he was just quoting stats. Big mistake. Statistics aren’t truth; in fact, discovering truth requires subjective thinking, and without it, he was called callous and out of touch.

Objective communicators are often seen this way. They may think they’re right, but being right is never enough. Why? Because we are all having a subjective experience. On the other hand, society has to function, so you can’t have everyone doing everything according to their personal truth 100% of the time. If you only communicate subjectively, you’ll be seen as being so touchy-feely that you’re no practical use. We need both objective and subjective communication.

Story is the perfect union of objective and subjective communication.

Stories counterbalance and convey facts. They give context and application to information. They engage and connect people. They humanise you and make you trustworthy. They are a powerful tool for any leader, coach, trainer, marketer, business person, sales person… hell – anybody.

It’s no coincidence I begin my blogs with a story. Or that my training sessions have many stories woven throughout. They help the information get through. They are the reason my email open rates are three times the average. And they save me from coming across like a preachy know-it-all.

Telling stories is simple. You already tell many stories a day – now, do it with volition. Beware that it might feel uncomfortable at first: stories require you to be authentic, and being authentic in a business setting can make you feel vulnerable. Choose stories that illustrate the information you want to convey. Annette Simmons suggests choosing from:

a) A time you did great
b) A time you blew it
c) Someone you admire
d) A book, movie, or current event.

One is fine for a blog or email, and the average meeting or session will need about three.

Tell stories. Listen to them. They will transform your business and the people you communicate with. How? That’s another story for next time.

Photo credit: © Wavebreakmedia via DepositPhotos