Power Stories Paint Vivid Pictures

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Power Stories Paint Vivid Pictures

Encourager-In-Chief: March 22nd, 2017

Power stories paint vivid pictures. They also teach valuable lessons.

A few years back, I presented a workshop to residents of a public housing facility. Management reserved the apartment building’s community room for the program and notified residents that the room would be closed for the duration of the workshop.

The community room was like a small school cafeteria. Along one wall were vending machines for coffee, soda, and snacks. For the workshop, ping pong and pool tables had been moved to one side of the room and the games and puzzles were stacked on a table in the corner. My lectern was at the front of the room facing six rows of long tables, with ten people at each table.

Maybe 40 minutes into the program, a casually-dressed woman in her thirties, wearing glasses came into the room, went to a vending machine, and purchased a coffee. As the coffee brewed, she turned, looked at me, and said, “is this a meeting or something?”

There I am, at the front of the room, various diagrams and lists on the flip charts on either side of me, an audience in front of me, and she wants to know if this was a meeting! She had disrupted the presentation and now I would have to work to recapture the audience. I was irritated. This wasn’t supposed to happen! The community room was off-limits during the workshop.

I told her the title of the program and added, tersely, that the community room was closed until noon. She said, “Oh, well, then I better stock up while I’m here.” She then purchased snacks from several machines. I began to remind the attendees where we were before the interruption. The woman gathered her snacks and headed to the door. Just before leaving, she paused and said, “this sounds interesting. Sorry I can’t stay to hear the rest,” and left.

Several members of the audience laughed but, inside, I was seething at her nonchalant rudeness and I must have looked upset because a man in the second row said, “don’t mind her. She’s been that way ever since her boyfriend shot her in the head.”

My anger drained out of me. The woman had suffered a terrible injury that affected her behavior. I was embarrassed to have been upset by what now seemed to me to be a very minor inconvenience. Whenever I am faced with a difficult person, I remember that I have no way of knowing what that person has been through in life. None of us know the struggles others have faced. We don’t know who’s been shot in the head until we hear their story and they don’t know our struggles, our challenges, our values—until they hear our story.

Powerful stories influence how we think, act, and feel. They break down barriers, form connections, build trust, and move us in ways that dry facts and figures cannot. Stories are powerful business tools—if you know how to create and tell your firm’s story.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
- Plato

(Click here to register for Tony Crocamo’s “Power Stories for Success” seminar at the Comfort Suites in Manheim, PA on April 6, 2017. )

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