Thursday, October 31, 2013

Storytelling

There is lot of importance these days on storytelling in the world of communication and presentation.  While it is crucial for people to pick up the storytelling skills so that they can communicate and engage with their audience really well, it is equally important to listen to the storytelling that constantly happens in our brain. In fact the internal storytelling has a strong correlation with external storytelling.

Reading this blog the stories that your brain may tell you is "these days blogs of Yogesh are all about brain" or "looks like Yogesh is doing some course on how brain works" or "this blog is again on brain so let me read it later'.  There is a possibility that none of the above stories are happening in your brain but these are stories my brain is telling me about you. While these stories are light stories and may not have a big impact but let me talk about some deep internal storytelling of our brain.  

Imagine you are a 8 year old child who is selected to sing a poem at the republic day function in your school. Your parents have spent every evening for last 3 weeks helping you rehearse. Your father even took 2 days of leave and invited few relatives from home town to attend your performance. The D day comes and everybody is excited about the event including you.  The curtain is on and you stand being the curtain all set to deliver with your frill dress that your mother got it stitched especially for this event from her own savings. As the curtain opens you see a huge crowd sitting in the auditorium and you become extremely nervous.  The nervousness does not go away and you forget the first few lines of the poem. Your teacher who has also helped you prepare, your parents and relatives who are sitting in the first row are all trying their best to motivate you to get started but more they encourage you to sing the more you become nervous.  Finally you sheepishly dragging your feet move out of the stage and someone says "popat" which in marathi language slang means looser. Your brain tells you an internal story that you will be a looser for rest of your life. Let's fast forward your life and you are 28 years, very successful in your career but whenever someone invites you to address a gathering or an event your internal story says "popat".  Now what happened when you were 8 on that republic day may not happen now but the internal storytelling is so powerful that it convinces you that you will continue to be a looser when you address a large gathering.  So no matter how many storytelling sessions you attend you will not be able to demonstrate that skill until the internal storytelling is first mastered. 

While this story was a very deep long story of your life let me share a story that may happen in your day to day life.  Imagine you are a disciplined employee who always sends the weekly report to your boss sharp at 11:00 AM Monday morning.  One Monday you were tied up with some work that your boss had given to you on Friday and you miss out on sending the weekly report at 11:00 AM. The boss walks to your desk at 11:30 and asks you where is the weekly report.  There is a possibility that your brain will immediately tell a story that he does not have any appreciation for my timeliness, hard work.  I have been sending the report without fail for last 6 months and just for this one instance of delay he is following up with me and that too when I was busy with the work he had given to me and so on. In reality what should have happened is that the moment your boss asked for the report you should have said that I am working on the other issue and will send the report in an hour but our brain works so fast that we at times get embroiled by its storytelling. Now with this internal storytelling when you meet your boss over lunch or anybody else, no matter how much training you have got on external storytelling there will still be glimpses of discontent in your behavior because of this internal storytelling.

So in the upcoming festival of Diwali spend some time reflecting on all your internal stories and empower yourself to not get dis-empowered by any such long drawn or day to day stories.  I look forward to hearing what internal stories were you able to listen to and how you have now empowered yourself to really become a great external storyteller.

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