Tag Archives: Storytelling

Storytelling

Three Approaches to Identifying a Career Path

-*What’s the best way to find your professional path?

Mark Savickas

Mark Savickas

Career interventions have evolved over the past 70 years from individual differences assessment to occupational development to current emphasis on life planning.
Vocational guidance was supplanted by “career education,” focused on fulfilling developmental tasks and adapting to occupational requirements.
More recently, “career counseling” built on the preceding approaches by considering each individual as the designer and author of a career path.

Mark Savickas of Northeast Ohio Medical University traced this incremental change, and noted that “each time that society has changed the prevalent form of employment, psychology has changed its methods of career intervention to help people deal with new identity issues and lifestyle problems.”

John Holland

John Holland

Early attempts to help people find their occupational paths focused on matching six personality prototypes incorporating six related value types with six associated vocational categories, thanks to John Holland of Johns Hopkins, who developed the Self Directed Search assessment.

Holland's Six Career Themes

Holland’s Six Career Themes

Individual were seen as “actors” who needed to match individual differences with occupations that best fit these characteristics.

John Crites

John Crites

Next came an emphasis on careers as a developmental challenge that requires adaptation and training to develop new attitudes, beliefs, and competencies that foster their vocational adaptation.

Donald Super

Donald Super

People were seen as “agents” striving to develop into an occupational role, with insight from assessments including the Career Maturity Inventory by University of Maryland’s John Crites and Career Development, Assessment, and Counseling (C-DAC) conceived by Donald Super of University of Connecticut.

Careers are currently seen as a “narrative construction” or a “life design project” drawing on emotion valence, autobiographical career stories and life themes that suggest professional construction and reconstruction.

Individuals are seen as “authors” of their career narrative in context of a life story.
Savickas developed this constructivist perspective to serve “workers in societies that have de-standardized the life course and de-jobbed employment” after applying Holland’s individual differences approach and developmental views of Crites and Super.

Three Career Development Approaches

Three Career Development Approaches

Paul Hartung

Paul Hartung

To enable this career narrative, Savickas and Northeast Ohio Medical University colleague Paul Hartung developed a structured career interview.
This “Autobiographical Workbook” asks people to share stories about self, identity, and career, including inquiries about role models, favorite magazines, how they made important decisions, and what their parents wanted for their lives to uncover prevailing interests, values, concerns, and precipitants to action.Career Construction Interview

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein

This approach helps people “envision how to use work to actively master what they passively suffer” and “fit work into life rather than life into work” by collecting stories about “…how a person constructed a career, then deconstructs and reconstructs these stories into an identity narrative, and finally co-constructs intentions that lead to action in the real world.
Narrative Construction and Life Design perspectives echo Ludwig Wittgenstein’s observation that problems are solved not by giving information but by rearranging what we already know.

In this collection and rearrangement process, Savickas sees the individual as a career architect whereas a career consultant is like a carpenter who suggests recombinations in light of current needs and future goals while respecting interests, values, and strengths.

This process also enables new perspectives on more productive approaches to past challenges when encountered in future contexts, working around obstacles, and drawing on past examples of competence and self-efficacy.

  • Which perspective on career development most guided your selection of work paths?

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Memorable Business Stories: Ideas and Numbers

Chip Heath-Dan Heath

Chip Heath-Dan Heath

Chip Heath of Stanford and Dan Heath, Senior Fellow at Duke University’s CASE center, distill principles that make messages memorable in  Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Citing urban legends and advertisements as examples of tenaciously “sticky” messages, they argue that unforgettable ideas can be recalled with an acronym that means “success” in French:   Made to Stick

  • Simplicity
  • Unexpectedness
  • Concreteness, with many details to act as “hooks” to “stick” to  memory’s many “loops” (Velcro theory of memory)
  • Credibility
  • Emotion-laden stories.
Robert Cialdini

Robert Cialdini

The Heaths’ principle of credibility draws on the three elements of persuasive messages outlined by Robert Cialdini in his best-selling Influence: The Psychology of PersuasionInfluence

Credibility is enhanced by liking, authority, and social proof in Cialdini’s model:

  • Liking – Appealing public figures or personal friends endorses
  • Authority – Well-respected role model or respected authority provides testimonial
  • Social proof – Others like me endorse it, and others provide justification: “because…”, though the actual reason is immaterial
  • Reciprocity – “I know you’d do the same for me,” recommended by Guy Kawasaki to convey that “You owe me…”
  • Scarcity – “While supplies last…”, “Limited time offer!”, “Act now, don’t wait!”
  • Commitment, consistency – Draws on people’s desire to appear consistent, and even trustworthy by following through on commitments: “I do what I say I will do…”
  • Contrast principle – Sales people sell the most expensive item first so related items seem inexpensive by comparison: Real estate transaction fees may appear minimal in contrast to a large investment in a house.

Both memorable messages and persuasive messages take advantage of habitual reactions to typical situations.

These automated and sometimes unconscious processes are a heuristic to help people to deal rapidly and efficiently with routine activities and tasks.
However, “auto-pilot” reactions  may lead to being persuaded to act in ways that might not be helpful, such as excessive eating, drinking, spending, or engaging in risky activities.

Jonah Berger

Jonah Berger

ContagiousWharton’s Jonah Berger formulated an acronyn, STEPPS, to describe narrative elements that increase the likelihood that a story, idea, or product will spread like a contagious virus: 

  • Social Currency – Passing along the information makes the sender appear “good” – knowledgeable, helpful or other   
  • Triggers – The message evokes a familiar, frequent situation
  • Emotion – The story evokes emotion, so will strengthen the emotional between the sender and receiver   
  • Public – Similar to Social Currency, passing the message reflects favorably on the sender
  • Practical Value – The sender provides actionable value in sharing the message
  • Stories –  Memorable, surprising elements increase the likelihood that others will convey the message
Randall Bolten

Randall Bolten

Finance executive Randall Bolten draws on similar observations about human cognitive and perceptual processing to recommend ways to tell a memorable and motivating quantitative story.

His Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You, discusses “quantation” as another type of business storytelling that affects  “personal brand image.”Painting with Numbers

Edward Tufte

Edward Tufte

Even more practical than Edward Tufte’s breathtaking examples of effective “information architecture” in The Visual Display of Quantitative Information and Envisioning Information, Bolten provides coaching on designing memorable, persuasive presentations and “pitches” featuring quantitative information as “proof points.”

His book demonstrates the Heaths’ principles of simplicity, concreteness, and credibility while drawing on Cialdini’s proven approaches of authority, commitment, consistency, and contrast. The Visual Display of Quantitative InformationEnvisioning Information

-*What principles do you use to tell stories that motivate others to act as you hope?

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Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact

Annette Simmons

Annette Simmons

Annette Simmons asserts that the power of stories derives from stimulating feelings and focusing these sentiments on a goal or action in her book, Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact

Nancy Duarte

Nancy Duarte

Nancy Duarte, who designed Al Gore’s original Inconvenient Truth slides, concurs in her most recent book, Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences 

George Lakoff

George Lakoff

UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff, in his classic, Metaphors We Live By, contends that stories create a framework that directs and filters attention, and enables the speaker to “control the conclusions.”

Simmons suggests the following sources of stories:

1.Personal stories of your successes
2.Personal stories of failures, to demonstrate learning, and to build trust and credibility
3.Stories of mentors and other people who influenced you
4.Memorable stories from books, movies, and current events that influenced you.

Aristotle

Aristotle

She referred to Aristotle‘s premise that the best stories contain knowledge (logos), feeling (pathos), and credibility (ethos) when she offered guidelines for effective story-telling:

1. Describe events in a way that evokes a concrete, sensory experience, as it is the way to stimulating emotion
2. Be brief
3. Offer measurable outcomes
4. Enable the listener to similar situations, organizations
5.Solidarity, or enabling the listener to experience another person’s point-of-view

-*What practices enable you to craft influential, memorable “stories”?

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Why and How of Business Storytelling

Jonathan Gottschall

Jonathan Gottschall

Jonathan Gottschall’s book, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, adds to the burgeoning number of volumes that analyze the meaning, mechanisms, and impact of storytelling in business settings.

He argues that stories help people navigate life’s complex social problems at work and home, by helping develop empathic understanding and “trying on” solutions through observational learning in a virtual “experience simulator.”

The Storytelling AnimalGottschall discusses dreams as “night stories,” focused on a protagonist’s quest to achieve goals, and he acknowledges dream researchers’ definition of dreams: “intense sensorimotor hallucinations with a narrative structure,” including literary elements like plot, theme, character, scene, setting, point of view, perspective.

He considers psychotherapists as “script doctors,” who help individuals revise personal narratives to restore efficacy as protagonists in one’s life story.

HBR Guide to Persuasive PresentationsNancy Duarte provides guidance on best practices to tell compelling business stories using literary and graphic elements in her latest book, HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, published by Harvard Business School Press.

She is well-known for producing Al Gore’s original slides that formed the foundation of his Academy Award-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth.

Nancy Duarte

Nancy Duarte

Duarte gained wide-spread recognition for her first book, a business best-seller, slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations 

Her second book was well-received and built on the principles she articulated in her original book. Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences 

-*When have you been able to “try on solutions” to life’s challenges by telling or hearing relevant stories?

-*When have you served as an informal “script doctor” to help someone modify a problematic personal narrative?

Related posts:

Lessons from Business Storytelling in Constructive Personal Narrative

Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins Five Elements to Construct a Good Story

 Business Stories as Narratives 

Business Storytelling = Trance Induction?

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Oxytocin Increases Empathic Work Relationships, Workplace Trust, Generosity

Paul Zak

Paul Zak

Paul Zak, director of the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies at Claremont Graduate Center, and author of The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity, suggests that the hormone oxytocin empathic understanding, generosity (donating to charities, giving money to others in experimental situations), happiness, and trust/trustworthiness.The Moral Molecule

He verified these laboratory-based findings in real-world situations, like a wedding he attended in southern England, prior to which he drew blood samples from the wedding party.

Zak says that oxytocin can be increased by massage, dance, story-telling, prayer, engaging in social media with a loved one, and hugs.
As a result, he “prescribes 8 hugs a day” for better mood and improved “relationships of all types.”

He says that oxytocin can be inhibited by improper nurturing in childhood, stress, abuse, and by oxytocin’s antagonist, testosterone.
Known as the “selfish hormone,” testosterone is also correlated with expressions of power and leadership in the workplace.

One reason women may have challenges expressing these traits in work situations is that their average testosterone levels are ten times lower than men’s.
Zak’s TED Talk

Amy Cuddy

Amy Cuddy

Related Post:

Thoughts change bodies, bodies change minds, roles shapes hormones: Amy Cuddy on “Faking Until It’s Real”

-*To what extent have you seen “eight hugs a day improve mood and relationships”?

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Lessons from Business Storytelling in Constructive Personal Narrative

Business Storytelling books and resources have proliferated, drawing many lessons from Hollywood’s storytelling business and from advertising, public relations, and marketing.

David Epston

David Epston

Michael White

Michael White

Yet business readers may be less aware that more than two decades ago, Australia-based family therapists Michael White and David Epston asserted that people experience personal problems when the stories they tell about their lives do not represent their actual experiences.

They offered ways for people to “re-story” of “re-author” their personal narratives in their now-classic Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends

Michel Foucault

Years after White and Epston built on French philosopher, Michel Foucault’s Post-Structuralist/Modernist analysis of narrative, Paul John Eakin integrated literature, cognitive science, ethics and social criticism in his intriguingly-titled books, Living Autobiographically: How We Create Identity in Narrative and How Our Lives Become Stories: Making Selves 

Eakin echoes Foucault’s view that cultural and social “discourses” influence the narratives people develop about themselves and others, and he, like White and Epston, suggests that personal narratives can be modified to reduce subjective discomfort. How Our Lives Become Stories

Though White and Epston led their clients’ introspective analysis of personal narrative, philosophers like Foucault, and perhaps even Eakin, would argue for the viability of self-guided introspection.

-*When have you used stories to help others solve problems?
-*When have you heard stories that helped you resolve issues?

Related Resources:
Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire

Whoever Tells the Best Story WinsWhoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact

The Elements of Persuasion: Use Storytelling to Pitch Better, Sell Faster & Win More Business 
Tell to Win

Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story

The Leader's Guide to StorytellingThe Leader’s Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative

Winning the Story WarsWinning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future

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Business Stories as Narratives

Paul Smith

Paul Smith

Paul Smith’s book, Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire, builds on thought leadership (references below), with tools to develop effective business narratives in response to 21 business challenges and “five 5 E” leadership scenarios:

Envision Success
Environment for Winning
Energize the Team
Educate People
Empower Others

Smith explains that business effective stories are:Lead With a Story
• Simple
• Timeless
• Inspiring
• Respectful
• Easy to understand
• Segue easily into appropriate learning modes for various ways of taking in information
• Compatible with business discourse

Peter Guber

• “contagious” (amenable to retelling and viral broadcast such as the “purposeful narrative” discussed by Peter Guber – see previous posting below)

• proof-points

He explains “four levels of discourse” to understand story as a rhetorical device, and suggests using more than one of these in memorable business stories:

Exposition explains with information
Description makes vivid with compelling details
Narration tells a story or explains a sequence
Argumentation convinces with logic or evidence.

In addition to these elements, Smith recommends weaving in:
• Metaphors
• Emotion
• Realism

Surprise “to sear the entire story in your audience’s long-term memory” because memories consolidate shortly after an event (or its story) happens

Specific, familiar examples of outcomes that have occurred to individuals like themselves, and vivid individual characterizations

Style: Use the CAR mnemonic to “drive” a story:

o Context: Sufficiently-detailed time and location of the story to “set the stage” for dramatic action and “lesson”
o Action: Catalyst, turning point, climax and final action towards resolution
o Result: The outcome, and its importance or “lesson learned.

Smith’s book joins an expanding list of valuable references to increase business narrative impact:

Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future

Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins
The Elements of Persuasion: Use Storytelling to Pitch Better, Sell Faster & Win More Business

The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative

Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story

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-*What elements do you consider when crafting a business story for greatest impact?

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