Storytelling Matters

The history of mankind, and, the history and evolution of organisations, demonstrate the significance of storytelling. The invention of YouTube, talk shows and reality shows, and, a plethora of blog sites point out the human interest for narratives and storytelling. Psychologists have come up with noteworthy insights into the meaning we construct in the form of storytelling. The content of human thought, feeling, and behaviour have become integral to storytelling. Psychologists who are focused towards the study of personality asserted that the uniqueness of an individual and individual differences are tapped from their stories, which will reveal innermost thoughts, frames of reference, emotional reactions, and cultural assumptions. A narrative approach has been found to be invaluable by several organisational psychologists and researchers in the field of personality.

 

Narratives reveal motives

 

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) developed by Morgan and Murray in 1935, and, its Indian adaptation carried out by Uma Chaudhary in 1960, is one among the powerful psychological tests which use the method of spontaneous storytelling. This test consists of a series of black and white drawings of one or more person/s engaged in ambiguous stimuli/activities. The central idea to this was that people would project their concerns, desires, and wises onto ambiguous stimuli.  When the participants are gently prodded to tell a story about each of the pictures, their concerns and preoccupations would be revealed in their stories. Fictional characters in a story allow the participants to express their desires that they might be uncomfortable attributing to themselves. This helps psychologists understand the deeper levels of human personality. The popular achievement, power, and intimacy needs are identified in this test which will have relevance to leadership development. Specific patterns of thought and behaviour are predicted from the imaginative stories that people construct to ambiguous pictures. Implicit motives come through when people are asked to write narratives about their emotional experiences. Therefore, storytelling unravels enduring patterns of human motivations that influence effect behaviour, and cognition.

 

In Quotes “Implicit motives come through when people are asked to write narratives about their emotional experiences. Therefore, storytelling unravels enduring patterns of human motivations that influence effect behaviour, and cognition.

 

Narratives reveal identity and self-understanding: An individual’s life story can be conceived as the construction of

 

(a) Reconstructed past

(b) Perceived present

(c) Anticipated future.

 

The role of narration in understanding personality and self-concept development is greatly appreciated in the field of Psychology. Autobiography of personal experiences, and interpretations of those experiences, create a story of meaning to an individual’s life.

 

Narratives go straight to the heart: The Irish poet and Philosopher James Stephens wrote, “The head doesn’t hear anything until the heart has listened. The heart knows today what the head will understand tomorrow.” The emotional nature of human beings has been proven by neuroscience beyond doubt. Developing emotional connect with people is considered to be one of the most important traits of successful people. Therefore, use narratives to reach out to people.  

 

Narratives-Tool for leadership and organisation development: Leadership teaching and leadership learning are embedded with phenomenology of narratives. Using inspirational language at workplace, motivating others, enthusing teams, and leading organisations to a growth orbit cannot be a mechanical and mundane activity, and, it requires the method of storytelling. 

Narratives-Tool for cognitive development: It has been documented that human intellect has three layers viz. information, knowledge, and wisdom. Information and knowledge are defined as cognitive processes (information processing, working memory, decision making), which are essential for all organisations. While it has been articulated that children learn through stories, it is not an oxymoron to state that adults learn through stories as well.

 

Narratives and neuroscience: The neuroscience of narrative is an advanced study, and, now we have understood that Oxytocin, a neurochemical in the brain, is responsible for motivating people to engage in cooperative behaviours. Compelling narratives enable the release of oxytocin, and, have the power to affect our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours. Further, psycholinguists have shown that effective stories impact people in such a way that makes them to get engrossed in the flow of the story.

 

The role of narratives and storytelling matter a lot in this age of digital marketing, AI, and other new age technologies. Narratives and storytelling methodology can be used by senior leaders/ HR Professionals in organisations to build communication skills of employees, enhance interpersonal skills of co-workers, leads teams effectively, propels organisations into a new orbit of growth, mentors and coaches leadership pipeline of the organisation, and forms a positive organisational culture. Therefore, storytelling matters in every walk of life for people across all ages who want to make difference and hence there is case to learn and master the art, science, and craft of storytelling skill.

 

In Quotes “Storytelling matters in every walk of life for people across all ages who want to make difference and hence there is case to learn and master the art, science, and craft of storytelling skill.”

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