The following is a guest post from Dave Marr at t2 Managment Training in the UK. t2 is a specialist management consultancy, established to provide strategic leadership training and development for company directors and management training for their teams. t2 is one of only a small number of leadership and management development providers to have achieved the prestigious Training Quality Standard.
Using Stories in Order to Make Your Point as a Manager
Why are stories effective?
Stories are processed by a different part of the brain to that which we use to follow instructions. Most people have an aversion to being told what to do, but stories can subdue those feelings by giving us indirect instructions that we don’t mind following. A good story often has a moral or a lesson to be learnt and it is this which drives many people to listen and follow suggestions.
Points and examples work in the same way too. They give people information about how things are supposed to work in addition to what is expected of them. This gives clear focus.
From time to time, you might hear a great story. Try to remember the key points and how it might benefit your staff. Then you can pull it out of the hat when you need to motivate and empower your staff to follow specific instructions or to hit a particular deadline. A good storyteller is always at an advantage, but as long as you remember the main points of the story and the point you are making, you’ll be fine.
You can also find a lot of resources online on how to tell a good story and get your point across effectively. Find some opportunities to practice this technique. You can use previous employees or employers as examples if they are relevant to your anecdote. This will also help you relate to your own story if you use people you know. As you proceed with the story make sure you integrate those all-important indirect suggestions (in addition to the desired outcome).
Be careful, when you begin relating your stories, that you don’t repeat them or explain too much about them. The power of storytelling is to allow your staff to take away the moral or contents of the story and think about it from their own personal perspective. Ambiguity is often more powerful than direct suggestion and can really make a difference to how your staff perceive you and how they work.
Very often people will ‘listen’ to a story’s message that they won’t listen to in another form. The great thing about a story is that it motivates and gives you something to aim for – if they could do it, wouldn’t can’t you?!
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