THE BLOG

Why Storytelling Is Essential for Success

06/15/2015 05:08 pm ET | Updated Jun 12, 2016

"Let me tell you a story." These are magical words. They inspire people to pay attention and to relax a bit, leaning into the prospect of being entertained.

I love to tell stories, whether it's something silly like bowling a strike and then, immediately after, a gutter ball in a recent contest (in my defense, I hadn't bowled in 25 years); or something more serious like sharing a complicated real estate transaction with twists and turns that would rival a nighttime television drama.

Why do we tell stories? It's not just to hear ourselves talk. It's because it's the most effective way to convey information. There's something primal about how we learn through storytelling that reaches deep into our past.

Great stories inspire and teach us and through them we can share an experience without necessarily having to have had the experience ourselves. One of the reasons I'm completely open about sharing both my successes and my failures with the people I mentor is so that maybe they can learn what I learned without having to go through the often painful education process. I can tell my team that a certain form must be filled out but it has a lot more impact when I tell them the story of someone who neglected to fill out the necessary paperwork and then was liable when the roof of a home caved in.

In real estate, I can share statistics all day long but at the end, what does the person on the other side of the table have? A bunch of numbers? A probability that I will do what I say? What the data doesn't convey is the person behind it.

Behind every sale there's a buyer and a seller, and, especially in my experience selling real estate in Los Angeles, there's a story behind it. Sometimes it's a happy story, sometimes it's a dramatic one but even the happiest tale has bumps in road and those are the parts of the story that make it most interesting. It's in those moments, of the times we faltered or were challenged, that show us who we are and what we are truly made of.

Don't be afraid to share your business stories with your clients. Sometimes we can feel ashamed about touting our accomplishments. We feel we will be seen as braggarts or we are afraid to bore our audiences. We retreat to the safety of numbers. I prefer to use numbers and stories together. The numbers deliver the information, the stories provide the experience and together they give a full picture that both empowers and inspires.