Ever tried to argue your point of view with someone who sees things differently? Maybe thrown in a few well-placed facts (real, not fake or alternative) and figures? What tends to happen? Typically, you and your sparring partner will dig in your respective heels, umbrage may well be taken, and you either agree to disagree or worse, amygdalae fly off and, well, you know the rest …
A well-placed and appropriate story can be the thing that causes people to have those wonderful ‘A-ha! Now I get it’ moments. They can also move people to take the action you want them to take, break down barriers and turn something complex into something relatable and far simpler for people to grasp. Stories connect to our imaginations and can make things far more meaningful, relevant and real in a way that cold, hard facts can’t. Make no mistake – stories can be very, very powerful and valuable tools, especially when it comes to your culture.
Stories can change the way we think, how we act and feel, and guide our decisions, especially in ambiguous situations. A good story or two can influence and motivate people to achieve what they might have thought was too hard or even impossible. Gandhi, for example, changed the history of a nation through stories, not guns.
In short, using sometimes just a few words, stories can capture the culture of an organisation, show people how to live in a way aligned with your values and help build trust in teams.
That’s a lot of impact from the simple act of sharing a good story.
- Penny Nesbitt