Everybody loves a good story. For thousands of years, people used to gather around the fire and connect through stories. Stories are filled with life lessons that people can apply to their lives. But why are we so drawn to stories when we only need facts to make decisions? In this book, The Story Factor, the author Annette Simmons talks about the power of stories. She tells us that a good story helps people interpret the facts and see the bigger picture. Things that people would not believe, understand or care about, become more meaningful as soon as they are seen through the lens of a simulated personal experience: a story.
In this summary, I’ll share with you three key lessons that I learned from the book.
Key Lesson #1: Stories help us to make sense of the world
In order to know how to tell a good story, we must first know what a good story actually is. Quite simply, a good story is one that simplifies the world and makes us feel we understand it better. The world seems complicated and chaotic, but a story has the power to make sense of it. It gives listeners a structure to organize their thoughts. This not only makes it easier for them to understand what you’re saying but can also help them make sense of their personal problems and frustrations. For example, if you are going through a breakup and someone tells you a story about their breakup, you can imagine yourself in the middle of their stories. This actually helps you better understand your own situation.
Key Lesson #2: Stories are effective tools for persuading others
Trying to directly persuade others rarely works. Because direct guidance only applies to one situation and is not relevant to other scenarios. Stories, on the other hand, are indirect, and the lessons we learn from a good story, we can apply to multiple situations in life. Let’s say one of your coworkers doesn’t act properly in the workplace and you want to help him to change his behavior. One way is to tell him outright to stop doing the bad behavior but this is too direct and may create some resistance. Instead, it would be better to tell him a story about someone who lost their job because they didn’t behave properly in the workplace. Your coworker probably would remember that story every time he tends to do bad behavior. He might even apply the lessons to be more polite. So even though stories are an indirect way of making a point, they can be much more effective than the direct naked truth.
Key Lesson #3: You need critical thinking, but you also need storytelling
Our society usually values critical thinking. In school, on the job, that’s what they teach us. But there is another way of thinking that no one taught us, and that’s story thinking. Which is framing problems and situations as stories. In critical thinking, the goal is to remove all ambiguity and emotions, but in story thinking, we forget the rules and embrace the emotions. As a result, we can interact deeply and connect to others through emotions. This prevents us from being too objective. After all, our experience of the world is subjective and if we try to tell an objective story about it, it won’t make sense to others. That’s why story thinking is more of an art than science.
Storytelling is a far more powerful way of influencing people than pointing out the facts and figures. Stories can help you reach any audience and inspire them to take action. In fact, storytelling is so powerful that once you become a storyteller, you have a great responsibility to tell stories that improve the lives of those around you.