The #1 Secret to Engaging Others!

Do you want to engage more customers?
Do you want to engage and make better connections with your colleagues and/or employees?
Do you want to engage more students?
Do you want a more engaged and motivated team?

In his book A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink describes two realtors looking to attract potential sellers. One realtor sent out a postcard touting the sale price of a recent home that he sold, which wasn’t much different than the price of other homes selling in the same area. Another realtor sent out a postcard to the same neighborhood, never mentioning a price, but stating:

Florence S. and her husband bought this delightful home in 1955. They paid $20,000 in cash for it and loved the many special details like solid oak floors, large windows including many with leaded glass, oak millwork around the doors,…an Old English fireplace mantle, and a garden pond. At age 91, Florence moved to Brighton Gardens, a retirement community in Friendship Heights, and the Fernandez sisters, neighbors and old family friends, asked me to sell this jewel. …Now please take a minute to welcome Scott and Christie C., the new residents who love the house just as much…”

Which realtor, do you think, had the greatest impact and significance on potential sellers?

Stories are compelling and memorable. Remember all of the stories that we heard from our parents and elders when were children. Even the exaggerated ones left an impact. I can still remember my grandmother sharing stories about how she had to walk 50 miles to school one way, every day, while being chased by dogs, in the rain, dropping her lunch, jumping over fences, and in the midst of a tornado, while crossing rivers. Each time she told the story, there seemed to be a new trial or tribulation she had to face during that “morning walk” to school. You remember the stories, right? Despite being larger-than-life, they are and were significant and memorable.

The human brain has been predisposed prior to birth to think, make sense, and create meaning from narratives (Nelson, 2003). Moreover, kids grow up hearing stories, seeing stories, having stories read to them, and reading stories themselves. The power of exposure to the story in these critical development years of the brain results in adults permanently hard-wired to think in terms of stories (Haven, 2007).

Pink (2005) points out that companies such as 3M, NASA, and Xerox provide its top executives with training in storytelling. Senior officials at World Bank found that when trying to get staff excited about changes, storytelling was the only thing that worked to persuade preferred action. Even in the field of medicine, storytelling is starting to play a significant role in dealing with patient health. Columbia University Medical School, Penn State, and the University of New Mexico are requiring students to learn how to listen and repeat the narratives of patients. The Journal of American Medical Association (2001) reported that “A scientifically competent medicine alone cannot help a patient grapple with the loss of health or find meaning in suffering. …physicians need the ability to listen to the narratives of the patient, grasp and honor their meanings, and be moved to act on the patient’s behalf.”

Research has shown, that teachers who use storytelling in their curriculum and instruction have more engaged students, resulting in higher student performance and extended remembrance of content (Craig, 2001).

Stories are the key for individuals and organizations to differentiate their goods and services in a crowded marketplace. Being able to provide information through story form is vitally important. Stories connect with receivers and are far more memorable than any other method of communication. Stories more readily grab and maintain the attention of listeners/readers. Stories are recalled better and longer than information delivered in any other way. Using stories enhances memory and facilitates information recall (Haven, 2007).

Stories, when used effectively, can be one of the most powerful sales tools in your toolbox. The vast majority of people make purchasing decisions based on emotions and later, back their decisions based upon data. Whether you are selling a product, a service, or an idea, speaking to a prospect’s emotions through stories will increase your connection to them and ultimately increase sales.

After all, it is the storyline that makes great movies and music.

An ancient saying goes, “You can never hate someone once you know their story.” When we don’t know the story of another, our brain fills in the gap by making up its own story.

If you want to engage others, your ability to share stories will be key.

Tips for increasing your ability to share stories:

1. Become mindful of your attention level as others began to share stories with you.
2. Begin incorporating short stories in conversations with friends and families. Kids hate this- but share those great, childhood stories regardless. I usually get the “Dad, here you go again…” comment or look when I tell my stories to my kids. Keep sharing the stories because they will become reference points for kids later on in life.
3. Begin to insert 1 to 2 relevant and compelling stories when trying to influence or persuade groups/students in the workplace.
4. Continually be on the hunt and collect in memory and on paper great stories.

What stories are you sharing in your organization and at home? Let me know!

Until next time, BE INSPIRED!

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