Storytelling as a Tool

What was your favourite class in school? Who was your favourite teacher? Why did you like this subject and this teacher?

Your response might be related to your skills, what you were good at, or a personal interest you had outside of school. And it is possible that you had a favourite class due to a teacher who was very good at storytelling and made the subject interesting because of the way she or he transferred the content over to you.

Teachers and presenters often personalize the theory or add a story about someone so that you are more likely to recall it. Additionally, research (e.g. by American economist Paul J. Zak) has shown that stories trigger our empathic skills and therefore we are more likely to understand how others might react.

alice-in-wonderland-309964_1280Being empathic or having the ability to “walk in someone else’s shoes” is a very useful skill, particularly in a globalized world. We are more exposed to other cultures than we have ever been. But, tensions are also high many places. If you work in a multi-cultural team, you have probably experienced a fair bit of misunderstandings.

Storytelling is a resource one can tap into. When you share a story, you share your values, you share something about yourself that can help others understand you. This is helpful in a team setting. From my experience, it also seems to trigger the listeners – they remember their own stories. And if you are a presenter, that’s good news, because you increase the likelihood that they will remember the message you want to convey.

This is one of the reasons I wrote the book “Culture and Diversity. Stories for Work and Life”. I share my stories, with the intent to make people reflect and find their own solutions to increase inclusion and diversity in their surroundings. You can read the e-book on Amazon:

Here’s a short example from the book:

The first time I really lived and understood the need for diversity was when I worked as a recruiter in the late 1990s. All kinds of skills and ages were needed, for example the person who was happy with, and good at, registering numbers all day, who worked on projects for years; or the 70-year-old lady who was our most popular receptionist.

As a recruiter I learnt to appreciate the complexity of a society’s needs, and that all of us have a role to play, whatever interests and competences. Additionally, I had my first experience of seeing in practice the advantages of mixing strengths and personalities in a team. We worked in duos; one consultant with more focus on the business clients, one consultant more focused on hiring personnel. During one period I was working in a duo where we together represented charm and knowledge (I wasn’t the charmer…); a very strong combination when doing client visits. I was resistant at first, because, honestly speaking, I didn’t think my colleague was very skilled in our profession. But, to my own surprise, I noticed how we always came back from client visits with more business. My colleague ‘warmed them up’ with charm and small-talk, and I added the professional bit. It really worked!

What about you, where do you see diversity as a benefit to society or your team? What is your experience and your story?


Tags: , , , , , , ,