Why telling stories is no longer something to be ashamed of.
The world of business has arrived at a place where telling stories is no longer something naughty, but rather a skill that should be developed. What we need to understand is where and how it is a useful skill to have, and how to leverage it most effectively.
What is particularly important to recognise, is that every challenge we face as a business has at its heart a communication conundrum. Story telling is already having an impact on our business whether we like or not.
Customers are sharing stories to the wider world about their experiences of our business. Employees are sharing stories about their work to friends and family. Our leaders are sharing stories with wider stakeholders on their vision for the business. And those stories can have an impact on motivation, morale and our share price.
By identifying the stories that are already influencing your business, you may be amazed at what you’ll discover. If these narratives are enhancing the business then build upon them, create more of them and share them widely.
However they may not be the stories that you want to tell! The good news is that these stories can be changed, new narratives can be created that are more focused and empowering and once they are communicated, these stories can herald a new wave of business success.
Well used storytelling can be an incredible way to bring clarity to every area of our business, whether they are customer-facing or internal such as in leadership or cultural change. There are several places where storytelling fits into business and here are some of the key areas where it can work well to enhance the success of your business communications:
Effective teams are built on shared stories
Every team is made up of a unique set of individuals, with unique stories. There is often a blend between those who have business focused stories, and those whose stories reflect a preference for developing relationships. The art of storytelling can be used to identify where these personal stories might clash, then to create a new empowering story for the team as a whole. That in turn builds the energy, motivation and determination that ultimately fuels success.
Story telling can define your business culture
In any organisation there are as many unique stories as there are people. But when there is an alignment within the organisation, between the stories that people inside the organisation believe and tell, a consistent message begins to appear running through the organisation. This in turn becomes your culture.
The key is in engaging people and understanding their stories – recognising that these stories reflect their beliefs and values. Setting the stage for developing a new integrated story that brings the different strands of the business together, creating a new cultural story that propels the company forward with hearts and minds aligned.
Storytelling engages more than the mind
Studies have shown that a well-told story, takes people on a journey, stimulates their emotions, causes the release of neurotransmitters in their brain and makes it more likely that they will take action. Great stories usually tap into fundamental life themes such as overcoming fear through courage, trusting your intuition, learning from mistakes. So while you might balk at the idea of sharing a story from your personal life it may enable you to connect with your audience and communicate in a deep and memorable way.
And the benefits don’t stop there. Research by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services has shown that there are benefits for the teller of the story as it can empower, encourage personal growth and build resilience too!