How to harness the power of story telling

onceuponOxytocin is a powerful neurochemical that when produced, can create enormous amounts of performance improvement by enhancing empathy and motivating others to cooperate. Note that we are talking about the hormone produced by the hypothalamus, not the pain relievers with similar names like Oxycontin or Oxycodone. A recent study, conducted by researchers at the Harvard Business School, attempted to find a way to harness the power of oxytocin and apply it to work-related environments. The first step was to discover what types of interactions released this powerful neurochemical. They did so by exposing participants to two different situations, a character-driven narrative shot on video and a face-to-face interaction. By taking blood samples before and after each interaction, they discovered that the video with the character-driven stories released more oxytocin. In other studies, researchers have discovered a similar effect: stories that developed tension, like a good hero-action flick for instance, sustain the viewers’ attention making them more likely to mimic the behaviors of the characters on the screen. Furthermore, character-driven stories with emotional content resulted in a better understanding of key points the speaker was trying to make and helped the listener recall these points later on. Now that we know what types of stories induce a favorable response, how can we spur oxytocin production in a business setting in order to create motivation, kindness and empathy in employees? The key is to learn how to craft a story that isn’t just another lifeless mission statement and then to find a way to share it with others. There is additional neuroscience research that tells us how to do both of these things effectively. From working with top performers for over 15 years, we’ve found that a key to extraordinary effectiveness is the stars’ internal story, based on achieving a greater compelling purpose. The first step is to guide the stars to translate their internal story into the written word. We suggest they write a short story around 280 words or less. By instructing them to focus on “high power word density” the core of an exciting story can be developed. Once your stars have written their own story have them share it with others, or even have them tell their story in a short video. This will enable each person to perceive their own greatness using the science of “fair process.” After everyone has shared their story, your organization can experience a collective release of oxytocin and all the benefits that go along with it. Now sit down and write your own story!]]>

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