My Boss Won’t Like Me Storytelling

“Anjali, I love the storytelling work we are doing here today. I will definitely use storytelling skills to inspire my team and engage my customers but I will never use it in front of my boss.”

Now, that is a statement I often hear. If you feel this way too, this blog is for you.

What kind of stories do bosses want to hear?

We tell stories to inspire, engage, motivate and influence. When it comes to bosses, drop the first three which are inspire, engage and motivate. The only thing I focus on when telling a story to bosses is – Influence decision-making

Now, a question worth asking is  – What kind of a story can I tell to influence a decision? 

These stories mostly happen to be insightful stories that can help with

  • TIME: Saving Time
  • IMAGE: Making an organisation, leadership team or brand that you work for look good
  • MONEY: Reducing Cost or Making Profit

I often ask my clients,” Is this a story for TIM?” TIM is just an abbreviation for Time, Image and Money.

When it comes to finding a story that influences the stakeholders, I look for stories filled with insight.

Insightful stories influence stakeholders the most. 

So, what is an insight?

Cognitive psychologist Gary Klein has said that ‘insight is when you unexpectedly come to a better story.

Here is an example of an insightful story.

*Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, 1990’s. A nurse has been watching a newborn for several hours. Suddenly, the baby turns dark blue, almost black. The medical team immediately calls for a doctor and a radiologist and prepare to intervene, convinced that it is a pulmonary collapse – a wide-spread problem for babies placed under artificial respiration – and where a hole has to be made into the chest, in order to insert a tube and suck out the air in order to allow the lungs to fill up again.

But the nurse is convinced that it’s a heart problem. As soon as she saw the baby’s color, she’s suspected that he was suffering a pneumopericardium: air filling the pocket around the heart and stopping it from beating. She therefore tries to stop her colleagues’ preparations screaming “It’s the heart!”. But her colleagues point at the heart monitor showing that the baby’s heart is beating normally. She insists, pushes their hands away and orders them to be quiet placing a stethoscope on the child’s chest.

Not a sound. The heart is not beating.

A neonatal surgeon enters the room and the nurse immediately hands him a syringe. “Pneumopericardium. Prick the heart.” The radiologist, who has just received the test results, confirms the nurse’s diagnostic. The surgeon inserts the syringe into the heart and slowly releases the air pocket preventing it from beating. The baby is safe.

Later, the team understood why the monitor had misled them: it was measuring the electrical activity commanding the heart beats, and this had not stopped: the heart was simply unable to respond to it because of the air pocket pressure.

Medically, the story above teaches important lessons. It instructs people in how to spot and treat the specific condition Pneumopericardium.

Key Takeaways 

  • Look for a story that provides an insight
  • Check if this insight helps TIM

If you find this storytelling insight useful please share and join Storied Book Club by clicking  here

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