Why Storytelling Can Make The Difference Between Successful And Failed Leadership
Everyone seems to get these days that storytelling is important, because we’re awash in data and information and can’t remember it all. But we do remember stories.
They’re even more important than that. They are how our brains work. For example, they are why we all feel that it’s safer to drive than fly, even though the statistics prove the opposite. We remember the horrifying stories of plane crashes, and forget the stats. That’s because we attach emotions to events to create stories – and memories. Our brains are constructed that way. So storytelling is essential if you want to use the brain the way it’s meant to be used. We remember the emotional, the particular, and the violent especially. We forget the boring, the general, and the anodyne.
Connecting with another human being is one of the highest forms of social being for us humans. At the heart of it is good storytelling. When I’m telling you a story, and you’re engaged in it, you match your brain waves to mine. And in fact, if I’m telling you a story with a familiar structure, your brain actually anticipates what I’m going to say next. The point is that that’s good for both parties. We want to be in sync with other people. It’s how we communicate well with others and it’s why good storytelling is so powerful. That feeling of synchronization is a profoundly satisfying one. We want to hear stories, especially ones where we can guess what’s going to happen next, a split second before we’re told.
Thus, when communications works, we are literally aligned with one another, down to our very brain patterns. That’s both inspiring and reassuring to know – when we communicate successfully, we are actually experiencing the same thing. Leaders take note. This is the essence of leadership communication. We are not alone — and we don’t want to be.