Developing the most fundamental story habit is a walk in the park. You don’t need to say much. You don’t need to think hard.
All you need to do is LISTEN.
When you listen, you have the opportunity to hear true-to-life stories. True-to-life stories mean the audience can relate to them.
When using storytelling at work, you just don’t tell any story. You can’t just make something up.
Fiction does not cut it. You need stories that your team, employees, or colleagues can recognize as something they experienced.
Why do stories need to be relatable?
If you are a leader, you use stories for different purposes. It’s a means to inform, convince, and argue. How can people accept your information and argument if what you present is something they could not understand?
Imagine you are the director of a certain department in a university. You head many individuals whose objective is to educate. These people will not be able to adhere to what you are telling them if they are unable to see themselves in the story. It’s hard to invest in something if there’s no way for them to feel a connection.
For this very reason, listening becomes the most fundamental story habit. It allows you to accumulate a wealth of stories that will enable your team to perform its task and serve its purpose.
Let me take a closer look at how relevant listening is in your story habit formation. At the end of the discussion, hopefully, you have sufficient knowledge to use this habit and experience the benefits.
How to develop the most fundamental story habit
Leaders like yourself always find themselves at the other end of the spectrum. You are expected to do all the talking. But it would be best if you also were a good listener.
How can you move to the other end? Here are some tips on how to become a good listener:
Be prepared to listen
Since you are used to being front and center, it might take some time to get used to being in the back seat. You are always talking to the university’s students, staff, and administration. That’s your status quo. But you must ensure that when you listen to other people’s stories, you focus on them.
Relax before receiving information so that you can look at it objectively. Breathe deeply to clear your mind of distracting thoughts.
In doing these things, the stories you receive become clearer; you understand the meaning and value behind each one. With this clarity and understanding, you recognize the need to store them for future use.
Working at a university, you get to listen to all sorts of stories. And even in an ordinary setting, you will encounter various tales. The trick is not to be judgmental about the things you hear.
Remember that storytelling in the workplace requires different scenarios. You have different audiences with various needs and tasks.
For example, when you talk to students, you must adjust to what they know and experience. Therefore, you need a portfolio of stories that can cater to anyone.
There’s no room for misinterpretation. You want your storytelling to be accurate. So, it would help if you allowed yourself to ask questions.
If there are unclear details, and you have the opportunity for it, ask questions. Let’s say you are listening to a professor talk about her success in handling a difficult student, but the details are a bit vague – ask questions.
Who knows? This detailed and specific story would be handy when you talk to another professor facing the same problem.
Your utmost attention is needed. If you don’t have the opportunity to clarify, staying focused is your best bet.
When listening, your goal is to figure out what the person speaking is trying to say. You won’t be able to do that if your mind is elsewhere.
For more information on effective listening, check this link.
The value of the most fundamental story habit
What will all this listening do?
It helps you to understand
The majority of people do not listen with the intention of understanding. Mostly, they want to respond. In the university setting, it’s critical to consider whether you’re genuinely listening to what other people are saying or if you’re being distracted by any pre-conceived notions based on the assumption that you already have an inkling of what they’ll say.
When you truly listen to someone else’s story, you gain a new and different understanding of who they are, their perspectives, and interpretations of the world and themselves. This understanding will allow you to relay a relatable story.
It will help create a solution
Storytelling gives you an opportunity to convince your team to come up with solutions to workplace issues. You cannot come up with relatable and real stories without listening to others.
With your job as a leader in an educational setting, your multiple storytelling efforts, both in the classroom and in the larger school community, will foster creative projects. These projects can be the means to make the educational community prosper.
It can be a call for action
Once you have the creative projects and other solutions, it’s time to take action. Sometimes, your team needs a bit of a nudge to get it going.
The stories you gathered can be a means for them to take off with the projects. The success stories can inspire them.
Listening to other people’s stories is an ongoing process of learning about yourself and others. It can help you process and understand experiences in new ways, leading you to solve problems and take necessary steps.
Listening is a skill. Always be prepared, open-minded, curious, and focused on enhancing it. You can only get good results from these.
Everyone has something to teach you. Effective listening provides you with information and perspectives that help you grow as a leader.
When you possess the most fundamental story habit, you can take pride in being a great leader.