Sharing a list of what needs to be done in the workplace is not enough to promote motivation and engagement.
On the other hand, when we offer an example of a past situation (say, last week), we are using storytelling to enrich and consolidate the facts. Storytelling is vital to engagement. Storytelling is the ability to describe facts linked in sequence, using a logical organization and structure capable of conveying a certain meaning.
When you tell a story, your audience will get engaged with it and be able to repeat the behaviors learned, because they came along with the emotion of a narrative. If we can make an emotional connection with someone, so that they can recall from examples the appropriate procedure to adopt at work, then we have made good use of storytelling.
Here’s a metaphor to help explain this process. If a river were the narrative structure of a story, the water would represent the unfolding of the story, with its main elements being characters and challenges. Where the river finally meets the sea could represent the outcome of the story. The emotions characters experience are comparable to the force of the running water, its temperature, and even the life forms that inhabit it. The better the story is told, the more we feel we are in this river, perceiving the current, water temperature, and so on. That is, if the story gets us involved, we will remember the experience and learn how to dive in the next time we are at the riverside.
New Challenges, Old Stories
Today’s workplace is multigenerational, and younger generations are working with principles and toward goals different from those of their parents and grandparents. Yet storytelling is a common language in the working environment, regardless of age. As never before, storytelling allows people to convey meaning that can be perceived and valued by different generations. It helps people focus not on their differences, but their similarities.
To be able to work with different generations in the workplace (regardless of whoever is leading), it is imperative to use storytelling techniques to engage, lead, and expand your team. Think about these questions:
- How can you improve your storytelling competency to engage people at your workplace?
- How can you use an effective form of storytelling in the corporate world?
- To optimize your performance, how and when can you learn storytelling techniques that enhance your natural-born competence to achieve better results?
Want to learn more? Alfredo Castro will be speaking at ATD Latin American Summit October 4-5, 2017, in Mexico City.