Everyone Loves A Good Story

I love telling stories. I also love listening to stories. Picture me at Barnes and Noble, throwing elbows to squeeze onto a first-row bench to hear a story alongside the kids. They’re my thing.

Storytelling is a skill, something anyone can be good at if they want to bad enough.

But what does storytelling have to do with HR?

In HR, we usually rely on facts and figures to make our case. We get the data, create spreadsheets, and present our findings in meetings, hoping to persuade others with logic and evidence.

Seth Godin once said, “A statement of fact is insufficient and often not even necessary to persuade someone of your point of view.”

Think about it: Have you ever been in a meeting where someone shared a compelling story that completely changed the tone of the conversation?

Maybe it was a personal story about overcoming a challenge or a funny one that broke the tension in the room. Whatever the case, stories have a way of resonating with people on a deeper level than facts alone.

Seth’s goes on to say: “Politicians, non-profits and most of all, amateur marketers believe that all they need to do to win the day is to recite a fact. You’re playing Monopoly and you say, “I’ll trade you Illinois for Connecticut.” The other person refuses, which is absurd. I mean, Illinois costs WAY more than Connecticut. It’s a fact. There’s no room for discussion here. You are right and they are wrong.

But they still have the property you want, and you lose. Because all you had was a fact.

On the other hand, the story wins the day every time. When the youngest son, losing the game, offers to trade his mom Baltic for Boardwalk, she says yes in a heartbeat. Because it feels right, not because it is right.

There are lots of ways HR pros can better use storytelling: sharing personal stories in presentations, using storytelling techniques for engaging training materials, or integrating employee stories into company communications. Stories have a unique power. They allow us to share our experiences and values, and inspire others to action. In HR, this means going beyond the numbers and presenting information in a way that actually sticks.

Stories make connections.  Connections drive people to act and behave differently.  Things change when behaviors change.  Facts don’t do that – connections do that. Stories do that.

One thought on “Everyone Loves A Good Story

  1. I live this, Tim! I will share this with my fellow ministry students. We are constantly working on improving our skills at giving a sermon. One of the main pieces is to be vulnerable and tell one’s stories. It is so important to be relatable. Thank you for this timely article.

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