January 17th, 2014 .

One Thousand and One Nights: Better Communications

Pat Morden

Imagine this:

The emperor is convinced that women cannot be faithful to their husbands, yet is determined to never be a cuckold. His solution: marry a maiden one day, and chop off her head the next morning, before she can get up to anything.

One young life after another is lost. Then one day the beautiful and courageous Scheherezade steps forward to marry the Emperor. On their wedding night, she offers to tell him a story. She spins a tale filled with magic, mirth, adventure, and a few naughty bits. She is finishing the story as dawn breaks. The Emperor begs for another story, and she promises him one the next night. And so it goes for – you guessed it – 1001 nights.

The Emperor was not just entertained and distracted. He learned from Scheherezade’s stories, which often had a moral. He became a kinder, wiser and more tempered ruler, and a good father and husband. (Which was great for most people, but put the head chopper guy out of work.)

So what’s my point?  Stories are powerful. They catch and hold our attention. More than that, they have the potential to change behavior.

That’s why smart communicators tell stories. Interesting, vivid stories about people we can identify with. Stories that engage, compel, inform and inspire.

Stories are hard work. Collecting them forces us out from behind our desks, and sometimes, out of our comfort zones. Often it seems easier to produce what I call corporate bumpf. But it simply doesn’t work as well.

It’s never too late for a new year’s resolution – why don’t we all resolve to write less bumpf and more stories?

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