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Storytelling in Organizations: Why Stories Work November 29, 2009

Posted by Katie Swinerton in Specific Tools/Techniques.
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After I go to a conference panel or a presentation, and someone asks me how it was, I often find myself saying “well, he told this really interesting story…”, and repeating back a story that I had heard. Until reading Storytelling in Organizations, I thought I had this reaction because stories are memorable and an easy and natural way to communicate information. The authors of this book agree that this is part of the reason that stories are so powerful, but they also advocate that there is something else important about stories.

When we hear a story, we put ourselves into the story. We start to think about how the story could apply to our work, to our individual circumstance. When we see or hear abstract ideas, “ideas come at us like missiles, invading our space and directing us to adopt a mental framework established by another being, and our options boil down to accepting or rejecting it, will all the baggage of yes-no winner-loser confrontations.” When we hear stories, by contrast, we are more likely to invent a parallel story of personal relevance in our mind and to be open to the idea behind the story.