Working with a new vendor this past week I tried to understand who they were and if I could work well with them. Questions circled my mind:
- Did I like what they were explaining about their experience?
- Were they good listeners and willing to hear my side and perspective?
- Was I the only one asking questions or did they also need to know more about my business?
- What was my gut feeling about the phone call?
As the conversation continued I kept processing how the information was being shared. What started out as facts and figures ended up morphing into storytelling and emotions. Not only were the stories helping me imagine the joy and benefits of working with them but the narratives also brought a great deal of credibility to their work.
Four Reasons How Storytelling Builds A Leader’s Credibility:
1. Stories Help Us See Things More Clearly
Facts and data can be helpful in initially connecting with our team members or colleagues but the stories can add meaning to those numbers. How many times have you read a report that showed a decrease in output and you just couldn’t figure out why that was happening? When the story behind those figures is shared we develop a clearer understanding of what caused a drop. But without that narrative we can’t make an informative decision about our next actions to take.
2. We Connect Emotionally Through Storytelling
Through their stories, leaders are able to convey how they felt during a situation and even how it changed them in some way. When co-workers or customers hear our stories they put themselves in the same place. This happened with the vendor I was working with when she shared how she experienced some of my frustrations through an anecdote. When telling a story:
- Use details to paint a deeper picture
- Make sure there is a climax- a point of realization
- Be clear how the experience changed you and helped you grow
3. A Story Can Expose Gaps
A great story can often show the missing pieces that a colleague or customer is facing but wasn’t sure how to identify it. When leaders explain the imperfections of a dilemma they encountered they are also helping us see the areas we too need to improve. The vendor I spoke with had similar frustrations that I was feeling that were revealed in their story. We then spent time brainstorming ways to fix the problem I was trying to solve.
4. Storytelling Can Build Trust
Ultimately to create credibility leaders need to build a trust level with others. Trust is the foundation of any relationship so for us to work collaboratively with our team members or clients we must develop a trusting connection. Through storytelling we are able to share our feelings about a roadblock we faced. Our stories should include:
- Our initial fears or failings
- The steps we took to overcome our challenge
- The obstacles we faced and what emotions that sparked inside of us
- Relief on eventually solving our situation
How has storytelling helped you become a more credible leader?
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