Storytelling is an important part of your communication. Storytelling is one of the buzzwords of the time. But aren’t stories just for kids?
No, in fact, most large businesses are also starting to actively use storytelling as part of their corporate communication. For instance in connection with change management, new business strategies or eg. as external advertising. And it’s no wonder companies are focussing on storytelling in their communication.
Research shows that good stories evoke a strong neurological response in the human brain. When a story for instance ends happily the reward and feel center in our brain (the limbic system) triggers dopamine. And this simply makes us feel more hopeful and optimistic. Similarly, with a strategic narrative, which is especially effective in changing attitudes and behaviors.
Stories are essential
In fact, stories are an essential part of our human survival strategy. For more than 30,000 years we have been telling stories (first in the form of drawings and sequential storytelling) and later with words. Try for example to check out pictures from the amazing Chauvet cave in France. Although the drawings on the walls of the cave are more than 30,000 years old, they are amazingly well drawn and very realistic.
And stories are so ingrained in our reality and the world – that we often don’t consciously notice when people are really telling a story. Our brain relaxes and we let our otherwise very active logical defenses fall away.
Related: The best storytelling model
What about your own life’s narrative?
On Psychology Today you can read more about how we use storytelling to form, frame and understand ourselves and our lives. Because all people form our identity by integrating our life experiences into an internalized story that we constantly tell others – and ourselves. A kind of life narrative that combines our past, present and future into a coherent narrative. And this tale is constantly evolved and rewritten.
Related: Stories help you remember
The brain excludes what doesn’t fit into our story
But our own narrative can become limiting to ourselves and our development and growth. And when it comes to corporate communication many companies simply don’t understand their employees’ life narrative. In fact, employees’ self-narratives can even be in direct opposition to the new strategy communicated from management and downwards in the company. And then every change management initiative falls to the ground and meets resistance .
We all selectively notice or pay attention to the things that matter to us and our own story. We constantly notice things in our world that are relevant to our own story. And at the same time we simply ignore what doesn’t fit into our narrative.
And this is why storytelling plays an important role in the everyday lives of all people. And if you, as a company, can step in and make your story fit into the story of your employees, customers or stakeholders, then your communication is successful.
Related: Visual storytelling is the future