Change Management Storytelling: Words That Matter

Words are not just a mechanism of conveyance. They are a mechanism of influence.

Given below are three research based findings from Robert Cialdini’s book Pre- Suasion: A Revolutionary Way To Influence And Persuade that prove that words are a mechanism of influence.


Studies have shown that subtly exposing individuals to words that connote achievement ( win, attain, succeed, master ) increases their performance on an assigned task and more than doubles their willingness to keep working at it.

How do I use this insight? 

An important component of Change Management Storytelling is telling a positive upbeat story of future when the change is implemented. I ensure that I use words that connote achievement in the future story. One thing to be mindful of whilst building a positive future story filled with words that connote achievement is to keep it realistic and subtle. You do not want to run the risk of sounding lunatic because future has not really happened as yet. Your enthusiasm should not sound fake.


When you ask someone, ” What is the problem?” They will focus on the problem even if there isn’t one. This happens because as humans we have a tendency to hunt for confirmations rather than for disconfirmations.

How do I use this insight? 

I use this insight  when eliciting stories for Change Management Storytelling

Rather than asking, “Tell me about a time when you were unhappy about a decision made in your organisation?” I ask, “Tell me about a time when you were happy or unhappy about a decision made in your organisation?”


Violence laden language could lead to elevated harm doing and therefore should be replaced with achievement laden language.

How do I use this insight?

Recently I conducted storytelling coaching for a Strategy Head of a MNC and whilst putting together the strategy story I was mindful of my choice of words. Instead of Target and Beat we used words Goal and Outdistance. Instead of Bullet Points we used Information Points.

Why do words have such an impact ?

Because, words trigger an association and these associations become the building blocks of our thoughts.

Narrative’s Storytelling Workshops, Trainings, Talks and Consulting Work is built on such insights from research based work

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