DONE RIGHT, STORYTELLING WITHIN AN ORGANIZATION
CAN BE TRANSFORMATIVE, HELPING TO SHAPE CULTURE,
MOTIVATE EMPLOYEES AND GALVANIZE TEAMS
By Melissa Campeau
On one recent and particularly hot and humid September
afternoon, 342 junior school students sat shoulder to
shoulder on their gymnasium floor. Despite the heat,
they were perfectly still, eyes fixed on the screen over-head,
watching flickering images of Terry Fox and his Marathon
of Hope and listening to a deep-voiced narrator tell Terry’s story.
The film wrapped with a call to action and students sprinted
to the front of the gym to pick up their pledge forms for the
school’s fundraising run, inspired by the story and energized by
their shared mission.
That’s the power of storytelling. In business, the right story,
well told, can change minds and motivate action, impacting every-thing
from enrolment in a training program to the culture of the
STORIES, TAKING SHAPE
Stories have always been compelling – and important – to
humans. From the earliest cave paintings to the narrative arc of
a good Marvel movie, we intrinsically understand them and are
drawn to them. Most of us tell some kind of story on a daily basis,
but storytelling for business isn’t just sitting down with a coworker
at the pub and casually spilling about the crazy thing that hap-pened
at the gym last night. Instead, it is carefully crafted, with a
particular design and purpose. Its goal is to move the listeners and
compel them to a particular emotion and action.
It might take the shape of a personal story, designed as a met-aphor.
Murray Nossel, co-founder and director of Narativ and
author of Powered by Storytelling, suggests that a story should
involve sharing something that happened to you, personally.
Our brains really are wired to hear and react to stories.
Here’s what happens when we listen to one:
1. The story activates neural coupling, helping the
listener match the situations in the story with their
2. The brain engages in “mirroring,” meaning the
listeners and the storyteller begin to have similar
3. When listening to an emotionally charged story, our
brains flood with dopamine, securing the story in our
minds more accurately and for a longer time.
4. Character-driven stories cause the brain to
synthesize oxytocin – a chemical that encourages
empathy and co-operation, creating fertile ground
for teamwork and co-operation.
dogfella / 123RF
18 ❚ NOVEMBER 2018 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL