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The Shortest Distance between you and the Truth…

…… is a story (Anthony de Mello). Storytelling as a Leadership Tool  seems to be a recent development-yet, it’s as old as…well, as old as Aesop (as in the fables). Now science knows why it works.

Aesop was a Greek storyteller believed to have lived about the 5th century BC. It’s possible that those fables were either written by a number of people, or were aggregates of existing tales. According to Gregory Carlson of Creighton University,  a fable is “a short past-tense fictional narrative that invites perception of a point about how to live life" – an ethical truthfulness. May of us grew up hearing about “The Ant and the Grasshopper”  to teach us the value of not being lazy…”The hare and the tortoise”  to emphasize that “slow but steady wins the race” (not sure I’m sold on that one) and (my personal favorite) "The Wind and the Sun” to demonstrate the value of kindness and a benevolent disposition.

So, in reality, storytelling has been used to illustrate recommended actions for a long time.

In The Dale Carnegie Course, we’ve used it for more than 100 years. Even our Sales Training helps professionals sell value from both an logical and emotional standpoint.

Why?  Here’s the science:

Stories are not only more interesting, but our brains respond differently to stories than they do to generalities. Paul Zak (See his TED talk on Trust, Morality & Oxytocin) has dubbed oxytocin  the “moral molecule” and has found that when the brain synthesizes oxytocin, people are more trustworthy, generous, charitable, and compassionate.  It makes us more sensitive to social cues, so it helps us connection or engage with others in a different way than lecturing does (parents of teenagers, and dictatorial bosses, take note)…Isn’t that how you want people to communicate?

Most researchers will tell you as storytellers we need to” buy” attention-I suggest we need to earn it. In order to earn it, we need 1) sincere, honest narrative/stories (preferably first person) and 2) effective story structures.  How do YOU earn attention?

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