Humans and Stories

Or: “why are stories important”?

As humans, we transmit information through the telling of stories (or narratives). How did we explain weather before we could explain it scientifically? Through stories about gods and thunderbolts. How did we explain the values of our cultural group? Through stories about the right ways to do things and the consequences of doing the wrong things. How did we pass histories through the ages? In the form of stories.

The examples are endless and for every example, there is a concrete story that I could give. The key point is that human lives have always been rooted in story, and still are. As technologically advanced as we are, we still stories to define our cultural perceptions, to tell friends about our day, to explain complex problems and solutions, to remember sequential events and to retell a sequence of events.

What is fascinating about stories is that not only do the stories we tell ourselves affect what we believe about ourselves, others and the world, but that changing the story that we tell ourselves also changes what we believe about ourselves, others and the world. This means that immersing yourself in how to use story as a tool for self-development, for interpersonal communication, and for business or academic communication can help you share stories that can literally make change happen.

Imagine:

…you are anorexic, continually telling yourself how fat and ugly you are. What if you could start telling yourself a different story, one in which you are perfect as you are, that you are not fat and not ugly in your own eyes? Could that make change happen?

…you grew up green and were continually told that anyone coloured blue was evil and bad. You now have to work with some blue people and your work is suffering because of your beliefs. What if you could start telling yourself a different story, one in a blue person is just likely to be good or evil as any green person. Could that let your guard down, enough to help you see people for who they are, not just the colour of their skin?

…you are a scientist and you’ve uncovered incontrovertible evidence that cattle farming is leading us to

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Suzanne ranks in the top 3% of experts that I have ever met. She is smart, sharp, professional, insightful and delivers great results. I have worked with her as a colleague and on my own business projects. She understands all aspects of communication – online, in person, through visual mediums and cross borders. Suzanne is one of the first people I seek to consult and involve in all my projects. She is outstanding. – Rasheed Ogunlaru, Coach, Speaker, Author

When I was invited to speak at a health and wellness conference, I was so excited that I thought I’d pass out. Then the reality sank in and I realised I’d have to prepare and deliver a presentation to 300 people and I almost did pass out. Fortunately, I found Suzanne. We spent a full day together and she helped me gain clarity around what I wanted to say and then helped me design a presentation the helped me say it effectively for the people in the audience. The continual impromptu opportunities to deliver parts of the presentation were invaluable in helping me understand what I was doing well and where I wasn’t having much of an impact, and her feedback throughout was useful. I delivered the presentation 3 days later, with a lot more confidence and energy than I would have otherwise had, and not only did people ask questions – that I could answer! – but a number of people complimented me on an engaging and interesting presentation. Now I can’t wait to do my next presentation. All thanks to Suzanne! – Jackie Thomas, Nutritionist | Boulder, CO
Working with Suzanne to understand what it was that I really wanted to say – she calls this “finding your story” – was invaluable. It sounds simple, but until I spent time with her getting my head around the idea that I had a story to tell and that I had to tailor that story to my audience didn’t really “click”. Once I had my story in hand and my audience in mind, preparing my pitch was relatively straightforward and definitely helped in winning the new project I was bidding for. She’s a pleasure to work with, too, which made the session even better. Highly recommended. – Mark Agentos, Independent Project Manager