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Storytelling: The One Skill You Can Use to Supercharge Your Career and Life

In a world that is starved for connection, telling stories is the best way to heal.

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Everyone has a story to tell.

Some people tell them. Some people hold them inside. And some people, if they are like my mother, struggle to get past the first sentence without forgetting someone’s name or repeating themselves over and over.

Then, there are storytellers. The people who tell a tale with such vivid description, emotion, and energy it feels as though you are right there experiencing everything for the first time. You gravitate towards them, and they light up as each word leaves their lips.  

Not only are they great at telling a tale, but according to research, they are also happier, healthier and more successful.

This isn’t some story I am brewing up.

Here are the three main areas storytellers create more joy and success in their life, and why, perhaps, you should learn to grow this skill set yourself.

1. Create more successful careers.

Persuasion is the cornerstone of business. It can look like convincing someone to hire you for a job, persuading a customer to buy your product or instilling a certain emotion in someone to spark action. You may be thinking business is all about analytical and calculated decisions. But, the key to someone’s heart, and wallet, is through a story that captivates them. To truly persuade and convince someone, you must reach them at an emotional level.

Look at Simon Sinek’s “Find Your Why” TED Talk, in it, he reveals how some of the most successful companies have won based upon selling through the emotion of “why” versus the facts of “what” they are selling.

Stories generate community, encourage collaboration, and implement order, all things a leader needs to succeed. The more powerful your ability to persuade other’s emotions, the more successful your career can be.

Consider joining a toastmasters club, volunteering yourself to present at your next meeting, or hosting a lunch ’n’ learn about a topic you find valuable. When I used to work in a corporate office, I told myself I had to present at least once a month. By putting myself out there I was sharing more, talking more, and speaking at organizational meetings more often. This put me front of mind with the leadership team the next time a project or promotion became available. Trust me, over time it will get easier and the payoff will be worth it.

2. Improve romantic relationships and increase attraction.

Research has confirmed that women find men who are good storytellers more attractive. This may very well come down to a primal need to survive and seek out the best provider. Think about it, a storyteller is someone who can captivate an audience, hold their attention and assert dominance over a situation. On the flip side, men in the study didn’t find women more or less attractive based upon their ability to tell a tale.

This isn’t the quick fix to attracting your soulmate, but, it does help strengthen relationships. Think about when you were deeply in love, you probably told them precious and intimate stories about your life and past. That experience of sharing your stories likely brought you closer to one another. The trick is to never stop this action. When you consider that poor communication is the leading cause of divorce, knowing how to tell a story matters more than you think.

Long term relationship conversations can get repetitive, especially if you’ve hit a slump. Instead of sharing the deepest moments of change in your life or the childhood memories that always make you laugh, you find yourself talking about your annoying boss or who is picking up the takeout for dinner.

Plan a night with your partner to sit around and tell stories or pick up a conversation starter card deck to mix things up. This isn’t just for romantic relationships. If you’re feeling disconnected, call up an old friend and head down memory lane together or build a fire in your backyard and sit around telling stories to one another. You will feel more connected and find commonalities you didn’t know where there before.

3. Find more self-love within yourself.

When you tell a story, you open yourself up to others, you allow connection to occur and you experience a form of self-expression. According to Psychology Today, self-expression reduces stress and increases a sense of well-being and other positive emotions.

Pay attention to the narrative you speak out loud as well as within your thought. The perspective you take on yourself while telling stories is directly linked to your mental and physical health. A more positive perspective results in healthier and happier people. This is why I have grown to deeply love writing, and acting, as they are forms of self-expression that show positive ideas and possibilities.

Storytelling puts you closer to your truth and your heart. Take the time to indulge in writing about an event in your life or telling someone a story that brings you joy. When you step into a narrative, it grants you a new perspective of yourself and those around it.

Storytelling is the ultimate form of communication, and in a world that is starved for connection, telling stories is the best way we can heal.

Previously published on Medium.

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