"It is my simple mission to help everyone in our company understand the power of a relationship. In almost every account we have ever lost, it is due to the fact that we lost touch with the relationship." These words were spoken by a coaching client of mine, Barbara. She has recently been promoted to regional VP at a Fortune 100 company and her words should resonate with every person who wants to be successful.
Barbara is a business warrior who has learned that taking a little extra time with her clients over dinner insures her of a more successful relationship. “When I am at the dinner table I make it a point not to focus only on business. I find out what’s important to my clients. What has meaning for them? What are their life goals? And what keeps them up at night?” Barbara builds and nurtures these relationships by being interested in her clients’ stories. “I do this because I know it builds trust.” Barbara is a fierce competitor when up against a tough opponent. She knows how to win and her use of storytelling is both pragmatic and effective. But why does her strategy work?
Resent brain research finds that the human brain is not so much a “thinking brain” but a relationship making brain. Dr. Herald Guther who leads the Dept. of Neurobiology at the Psychiatric Clinic of Gottingen, Germany says, “Until quite recently, it was held to be self-evident that human beings have a big brain to make it possible for them to think. However, the research results of the last years have made it clear that the structure and function of the human brain is especially optimized for building relationships. Our brain is thus much more a social organ than it is a thinking organ.” He goes on to say that a powerful way humans build relationships is by sharing stories.
Here are five tips for using story to build relationships:
* Tell an authentic story. One that exposes a vulnerability or foible.
* Tell a story that you are passionate about. For example, your child hit her first home run; how you actually saved your client money by helping them overcome a problem.
* Tell a story of overcoming an obstacle. For example, you always had a fear of drowning but you overcame it during your rafting trip down the Colorado; you used to hate public speaking but you discovered you liked it when you learned how to rehearse first.
* Be sure to describe what lesson you learned from the event that helped you change.
* Include how you’re different now than before the event; think of this as “old you” and “new you.”
Stories build relationships by helping prospective clients see you as more than the title of “financial planner” or “tax attorney.” Authentic stories help you become a real breathing human being. Sharing stories establishes a common ground of trust and there is little question that clients turn to those they trust, especially when times are tough.