The Power of Story
We believe in the power of applied science.
We don’t claim to be scientists, but we do have a strong appreciation for the science found within story and how our brains process information. When it comes to sharing your business purpose, story can be a compelling method for creating lasting emotional connections with employees and customers alike.
Story helps provide necessary context for your audience and creates empathy in the listener. Neuroscientist Paul J. Zak has studied how story effects our brains and how, upon hearing story, it can lead to the release of cortisol (which helps focus our attention) and oxytocin (which increases pro-social behaviors and empathy). When this happens, it can create the conditions for trust and reciprocity on the part of the listeners.
Most important, Zak concludes that “emotionally engaging narratives inspire post-narrative actions.” Even after the story is over, the effects of trust and reciprocity linger.
Logic vs. Logic + Story
Ever hear a business leader who is frustrated because employees can’t seem to remember their own business strategy? We believe that one of the reasons for this is because business strategy is often communicated to employees using logic-only frameworks. Logic, such as data, facts and reason a is no doubt essential, but one of the challenges with logic is how our brains process it. Logic activates the language processing parts of our brains (Wernicke and Broca), where we make sense of the language, and that’s it. Ironically, logic does not activate those parts of the brain responsible for changes in behavior or decision making. So, while communicating through logic might be rational, using logic only tends to be ineffective because the approach doesn’t create personal meaning for the listener. Hence, it’s not an effective method for galvanizing the workforce and moving then into action.
In contrast to logic alone, when business leaders communicate using story, it activates all of the various cortexes and parts of the brain that light up when we experience something. These are the parts of the brain that are responsible for behavior changes and decision making. Story penetrates those parts of our mind where we can shape perspective, change opinion and create strong emotional connections with others.
When we tell stories, a fascinating thing happens to the brains of our listeners: they synch with our own. This is called “neural mirroring,” which is where the speaker’s brain and the listener’s brain actually mirror the same brain activity. The better the speaker tells the story, the more of an emotional connect is felt by the listener.
The scientific evidence that supports how story can be used to create competitive advantage in business is compelling when you consider all of its potential applications. Story can play a critical and effective role in business, from leadership, to sales, to marketing, to operations, to recruitment and more. And in today’s highly competitive world where more must be done with less, story can not only help create competitive advantage, but it can be a highly cost-effective way to drive performance.
All the world’s a story. Are you telling yours?