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专栏 - 人间烟火

从“有故事的人”成为一个会讲故事的人:你的沟通技能将从此爆表

查大伟 2015年01月22日

查大伟(David Chard)是一位领导力培养顾问,在亚太地区拥有30年的从业经验。作为联心管理顾问有限公司(EngagingMinds)的创始人,他全身心致力于通过领导力和领导策略实现个人和组织向敬业型转变。他普通话流利,经常来往中国。他的联系方式是:info@engagingminds.biz
每一位领导者都是有故事的人,但并不是每个人都擅长讲故事,都懂得故事本身蕴含的巨大力量。相较于令人昏昏欲睡的数据和各种假大空的职场套话,讲述你自己的故事不仅能建立信任,还能激发员工想象并拥抱一个更加美好的未来。

    “一个人就是一段故事。”

    ——丹麦作家爱莎克•迪内森

    在这个专栏打头的几篇文章中,我们已经分享了一些现代领导者如何将讲故事作为一种最强大领导力工具的经验。这并不出奇,古往今来的领导者都曾使用个人故事、寓言和轶事来帮助听众有效地吸取和整合信息、知识、价值与策略。

    除了要懂得故事的力量,我们还需要知道怎样做才能成为一个会讲故事的人。我曾听人说过:“当然,我明白讲故事的意义,但我是否要付出一定努力,才能使自己变成一个会讲故事的人?这种能力貌似不是自然生成的。”我总会回答说:“是的,我理解。曾几何时,直立行走、读书写字、使用电脑也曾经是非常不自然的事。不过,一旦明白了‘为什么’学习这些技能是值得的,你就会很乐意这样做。对吗?”

    因此,在本文中,我想告诉读者,花点时间努力成为一个会讲故事的人,具有令人信服的理由。但愿更多的经理人和领导者能够学会讲故事,而不是干巴巴地摆数据、定方向、说一些陈辞滥调。接下来,我就给你说说为什么你应该在2015年、乃至余下的整个人生中,成为一个会讲故事的人。

    人们会记住故事并分享故事。储存在人类大脑中的记忆往往是各种故事,故事有开始、过程和结局。哪怕听者忘掉你的数据已经很久了,他们仍会记得你的故事,以及其中所隐含的智慧。如果你的故事是真实而吸引人的,他们会非常乐于与他人分享。很多源自个人经历的领导力故事,甚至有可能获得自身的生命力,然后像病毒一样在你的企业或社交网络上广泛传播。

    故事会引起所有的感觉、记忆和情感。做个小试验,现在严格遵照我的指示:我现在禁止你想象一头紫色的大象。重复一遍:现在不要想象一只紫色的大象。然后,不要想象这头紫色的大象穿着溜冰鞋,以100公里的时速从山路上滑下,它的脖子上系着一条在微风中飘动的鲜红围巾。不要想象它在滑行过程中脸上挂着喜悦而自由的微笑。

    结果如何?事实上,一旦你读了上述句子,我立刻引起了你的想象,你已经在想象中成功建立了这样一头紫色大象的形象。同时,你又利用自己的记忆,产生了高速、兴奋、鲜红和紫色等联想。引人入胜,令人无法抗拒的故事会一下子抓住你的心。我讲了一个故事,但你在自己的想象中将它建立了起来,并牢记在心。当你饶有兴致地构想这些形象时,你甚至有可能露出会心的微笑。

    故事能让听者得出自己的结论。假设你有一个基于个人真实经历的故事,在这个故事中,你或另外某个人经历了一项非常艰巨的挑战,经历了很多挫败和阻碍,由于选择不当而犯了很多难堪的错误,但最终克服了所有困难,获得了杰出的成绩。对于听众来说,聆听这个故事也是一个间接的学习过程。他们会对这个故事给予很大的关注,首先会判明情况,感受到这些失败决策所带来的痛苦,以及结果的不确定性所带来的压力,关注这个人如何克服了失误,感受到他们最终成功的喜悦。由于你采取了故事的模式,听者会自动吸收关键的经验,并且轻松地记住它们。

    故事能建立信任。上述例子的最好一面在于,你可以避免纯粹的说教或耳提面命。因为人们不喜欢你命令他们做什么。但是他们却喜欢你用故事来告诉他们怎样做是有效的,并且乐于把学到的经验用于未来的情境中。实际中,通过讲述你个人的失败故事,你还会得到人们更多的信任。当你把犯错和失败的例子讲给他人时,你也就展示了自己人性化的一面,他们会自然而然地更喜欢和信任你。因此,故事可以让你从一个“任务”型领导者变成一个专注于构建基于信任的人际关系的领导者。

    故事能帮人们想象并拥抱一个更光明的未来。作为领导者,你的成功取决于能否激发全体员工参与的愿望,以及他们的创意和激情。美国前总统肯尼迪有一个传奇故事:在美国首次登月任务期间,肯尼迪曾经去美国航空航天局访问。中途去洗手间时,他看见一位男士正在那里拖地板。肯尼迪向他报以微笑,感谢他把房间打扫得这样干净。那个男人马上回答:“不,先生,我不是在拖地板,而是在帮助我们登月。”深受感动的肯尼迪将这个故事分享给了其它人,这个故事迅速火了起来。在这个故事中,NASA就是这样一个各个层级的人充分投身宏伟愿景的组织,不管他们每个人的日常工作是什么。不妨想象一下,如果你的公司的员工也有类似的激情会怎样?你的员工是否因一个激动人心的愿景而兴奋?还是他们只是简单地在拖地板?

    “To be a person is to have a story to tell.”

    ——IsakDuneson

    In previous articles on this blog we have shared our experience regarding the use of storytelling as one of the most powerful leadership tools available to modern leaders. It’s really no surprise, since leaders throughout the ages have used personal stories, parable and anecdotes effectively to ensure that listeners could easily absorb and integrate information, knowledge, values and strategies.

    Beyond merely understanding the power of stories, however, there remains the need for specific action and commitment to become a storyteller. I hear people say: “Sure, I can see your point about telling stories…but do I really need to make the effort to become a storyteller myself? It doesn’t seem to come naturally to me.” My answer is always something like: “Yes, I understand. And there was also a time when walking, reading and writing, typing and using a computer program seemed unnatural. But when you clearly understood ‘why’ learning these skills was worth the time, you simply got busy and did it. Right?”

    So in this article I want to remind readers of the compelling reasons why it is worth your time to become an effective storyteller, in the hopes that more managers and leaders will just get busy learning to tell stories instead of just spewing out information, directives and platitudes. Here are some of the many reasons why it is so worth it for you to decide, today, to become a great storyteller in 2015 and for the rest of your life:

    People Remember and Share Stories.The human brain is actually structured to retain memories in story format, with a beginning, middle and end. Long after listeners have forgotten your data, they will remember your story, and the wisdom embedded within it. And, if your story is authentic and compelling they will eagerly share it with others. Many leadership stories from your personal experience even have the potential to go viral, taking on a life of their own, spreading far and wide in your organization or social networks.

    Stories Engage all the Senses, Memories and the Emotions.Try this now, following my instructions exactly: I now forbid you to imagine a purple elephant. I repeat: Do NOT think of a purple elephant right now. Further, I forbid you to imagine a purple elephant on roller skates, whizzing down a mountain road at 100 km per hour, with a bright red scarf around its’ neck, streaming behind it in the breeze. And do NOT imagine the blissful smile on the purple elephant’s face as it goes whizzing down the mountain, freedom of the ride.

    Ok, how did you do? The fact is, once you read my words, I instantly engaged your imagination and you have installed a purple elephant in your imagination. At the same time, you have accessed your own memories of moving at high speed, feeling joyful, bright red and purple colors. Stories are immediate, engaging and irresistible. I told the story, but you created it in your own imagination, and you now own it. Perhaps you even smiled as you had fun doing this.

    Stories Allow Listeners to Draw their own Conclusions.Let’s suppose you have a personal story about an authentic experience in which you, or someone else, faced an overwhelming challenge, experienced multiple frustrating obstacles, made some embarrassing mistakes due to bad choices, but in the end, overcame the difficulties and demonstrated outstanding results. As your listeners experience your story, they are also learning vicariously: they are paying close attention by first identifying with the situation, feeling the pain of those unworkable choices, the tension and uncertainty about the outcome, noticing how the person overcame their mistakes and feeling the joy of their ultimate success. They automatically integrate the key learnings and retain them easily due to the story format.

    Stories Build Trust.Best of all, in the above example, you avoided the fatal error of just preaching or “telling” people what to do. Because people don’t like being told what to do! But, they do love a story that allows them to decide for themselves what was effective and willingly apply their learning to future situations. In fact, you will gain more trust from people by telling failure stories from your own experience than by merely boasting and bragging about all your successes. When you reveal your mistakes and vulnerabilities with others, you show your human side and they automatically like you better and trust you more. This is where stories can move you from being a leader focused on ‘transactions’ (tasks) to a leader focused on human relationships grounded in trust.

    Stories Can Help People Imagine and Embrace an Inspiring Future.As a leader, your success depends on how well you can inspire the willing participation, creativity and passion of others at all levels in your organization. There is a story about US president John Kennedy that illustrates the power of a vision that is embraced by all the players. According to this story, which has since become legendary, Kennedy was visiting NASA during the time leading up to the first US moon mission. During a break he went to use the restroom and encountered a man mopping the floor. Smiling at the man, Kennedy thanked him for keeping the room spotless. The man quickly replied, “No sir, I don’t mop floors. I’m helping us go to the moon.” Deeply touched, Kennedy shared the story with others and it went viral. Here was an organization whose members at every level had fully integrated the Vision into their thinking, regardless of what daily tasks they performed. Imagine, if you can, the power of a group of people similarly inspired in your organization. Are your people excited and inspired by a compelling vision…or are they simply mopping floors?

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