I started out the year responding to some open questions and would like to continue on that train today.
One of the questions I got last year was what can I do with the skills of storytelling. Initially, I wondered how to respond, but then again, not everyone is or desires to be a storyteller like me. The background of that question was from someone who while appreciating these posts wanted to know where to apply it in life.
So what can you do with the skills of a storyteller?
One of my mentees had an interview some couple of weeks ago and while coaching him about it, I was there to show him that the conversation is all about the stories which you are able to tell. Just as an example, I don’t want you telling me you are one of the world’s best communicators. I would rather that you share a story which shows me how you applied your communication skills.
I remember maybe one of the best interviews I ever attended. First of all, nope it didn’t work out, the role which they required just didn’t fit. But that didn’t stop both parties enjoying the conversation. I mean we even got to the point where the guy was giving me book advice for my boys and me reaching out to him later to give him feedback. What made this interview this so enjoyable?
When we started, I asked permission to ask my questions during the main interview and not wait till the end when they typically check if you have questions. Once we had established that, I began interviewing them as much as they were interviewing me. While I shared stories of my successes as an engineer, he shared stories of how their company operates, but more importantly the culture within their departments. We had a conversation and not a question and answer session.
Most of the time when we are interviewing for a new job, we arrive there with a mental block. We get nervous which limits our ability to show our true self. Now, imagine using the lessons of storytelling to overcome the anxiety, build trust in one another and deliver nuggets from your story mine. The easy part is that within every story, you can draw out multiple morals or use it to show different aspects of your character.
And by the way, his interview was super good. By opening up and showing his humanity, he could decide that there was a connectability with this leader. Or in other words, yes, this is someone I would be happy to work with. And evidently, they think so too.
During a trip to Newcastle in 2019, I still remember buying something which I never used and probably never will. You see, I just stepped into the airport, making my way to departure lounge when a lady approached me.
Lady: “Sir, I have a sample hand lotion for you (hand luggage compliant)”
As I accepted the gift, she continued “How often do you clean your skin?”
Me: “When I take my bath.” I replied, trying to keep moving.
She smiled and asked if I have a couple of minutes for her to show me something. Maybe it was the friendliness, maybe it was the free sample, but my curiosity was piqued and I decided to hear her out, certain that I won’t buy anything.
After confirming that I had a bath that morning, she brought out their exfoliating cleanser and applied it to my hand.
With that I figured out what exfoliation really meant – white flakes all over my hand, leaving my skin smoother than ever.
Lady: “Do you see what was still left on your skin? This is why you still need to have a deeper cleansing which is what this lotion does for you.”
I was curious and clearly impressed at this experiment, quite sure she noticed that. As if she was an expert fisherman, she slowly began to reel me in, telling me how much the kit was and yet how much discount she was going to give me. She kept the discussion going by telling me a bit about herself, a Spanish lady studying while working in Amsterdam.
Thinking about it later, I realized that it was the stories of herself and of course the sales lady teaching me about exfoliation that got me. Now I still don’t use the cleanser but I learnt new stories and how you could use them.
These are but just two examples of what you can do with the skills of storytelling. Next week, I will be sharing some more on applications.
My challenge to you this week is are you looking for opportunities to apply these skills yet?