When I was a little girl, I had a very active imagination and would often tell “stories.”
OK, that’s just a nice way of saying I would lie. I would lie to get out of trouble. I would lie to get reactions. I would lie just to make things interesting.
It infuriated my mother.
When she confronted me, I would vehemently deny the lie.
Then, she got smart. She told me a story.
She told me the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” It’s a folk tale about a boy who repeatedly tricks the village people into believing that a wolf is attacking his flock of sheep. When a wolf actually does attack his flock, the villagers don’t believe him and his sheep are killed. Moral: Liars are not believed, even when they tell the truth.
That story struck a chord with me and I changed my ways.
If you are trying to get people to make a change, rather than being immediately direct, which might cause resistance to set in, clothe your message in story.
I’m reminded of an old Jewish teaching story, “The Naked Truth.”
Truth, naked and cold, had been turned away from every door in the village. Her nakedness frightened the people. When Parable found her she was huddled in a corner, shivering and hungry. Taking pity on her, Parable gathered her up and took her home. There, she dressed Truth in story, warmed her and sent her out again. Clothed in story, Truth knocked again at the doors and was readily welcomed into the villagers’ houses. They invited her to eat at their tables and warm herself by their fires.
Dress up the truth. Clothe statistics in story. Decorate the dull.
Telling a story can connect with people emotionally in ways that a direct approach can’t. Plus, people remember stories. If they remember your story, they’ll remember your point. I’ve had quite a few people tell me they remember a story I tell about my mom and the lesson I learned, “Listen from Your Heart.”
So, the next time you want to get a point across, tell a story!
Want to engage your audience with stories? Want to learn the secrets of storytelling in business? Do you want to create your own compelling stories?
Yes? Then, come to my Storytelling for Business Workshop on Saturday, February 25! The Workshop tuition includes 3 90-minute sessions, materials, lunch and refreshments plus a free 30-minute follow-up phone consultation. The Early Bird deadline is 2/5 for the $79 tuition (save $20). If you register with a friend, the tuition is only $69.