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Success Stories - How Sharing Experiences Can Help Your Business

June 20, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 124

Success stories

How often do you hear or tell stories at work? For most people there are two answers to the question. Informally, stopping by a colleague's desk, over a lunchtime sandwich or on the way to a meeting - all the time. But formally, in meetings or presentations or in written reports - practically never. As individuals, we tell the stories of our lives continuously, from the trivial detail to the landmark event and everything in between. It's the single most effective way we have of connecting with one another, and we learn it at our mother's knees. More than that, stories are better at conveying important information than bald statements of fact, and they carry it deeper into our consciousness. Stories don't tell us what to think or feel. They leave us room as listeners or readers to attach our own thoughts or feelings to what we hear - so we feel personally involved with the events described. And there's no right or wrong way of telling a story (other than honestly), because stories are merely a truth, not the truth.

Yet despite, or perhaps because, of all this, businesses look on stories with suspicion - as being something childish or trivial, or potentially dangerous and hard to control. And such stories as do surface in the workplace tend to take the form of case studies, which are almost always as dull as they are smug. But, as John Simmons and I explain in our new book, there are so many other ways to use them. Take the story of the McIlhenny Tabasco Company of Louisiana. The business is on the skids. Tabasco sales have fallen year on year and the directors are holding a crisis meeting. Enter the tea-boy with his trolley. He sees the grim faces, the plunging graph, and asks what they're talking about. Priding themselves on their southern openness, they tell him. I know what to do, he says after a moment. Go on then, tell us, they humour him. Easy, he replies, make the hole bigger. And they do.

It's a simple story and it doesn't set out to make a point - though we draw our own conclusions from it about the value of honesty and openness. But it does tell of human struggle, of emotions like worry and relief; and so it should, because working life doesn't just echo human experience, it is human experience. We are far more likely to relate to a story of human experience than a set of sales figures or a humourless corporate statement about 'growth going forward'. And the business benefits are real and tangible. People who heard that story would have experienced a warm, human connection with the brand that would very likely have translated into a sale next time they needed tabasco.

Of course, not every business has a story quite like that. But all businesses are the product of human sweat and endeavour, of triumph and disappointment, and to reflect that, even in the smallest way, as we talk about what we do at work is to offer our customers a more engaging sense of what we do, and our colleagues or employees a more human view of what we stand for and the common purpose we share. And why would we not want to do that?

Jamie Jauncey is co-author of Room 121.

Room 121: a masterclass in writing and communication in business by Jamie Jauncey and John Simmons is available to buy now fro or

Source: EzineArticles
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