Reading Notes For: 

Stories allow us to build a simplified model of reality to make sense of the world around us.

Your Story Formula

It has been said that there are only seven basic narrative plots in storytelling that are used repeatedly just swapping out different characters. Those seven types of story, according to The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories by Christopher Booker (Bloomsbury), are:

1. Overcoming the monster;

2. Rags to riches;

3. The quest;

4. Voyage and return;

5. Rebirth;

6. Comedy;

7. Tragedy.

Just because there’s a formula or the story line might be the same, though, doesn’t mean the content is similar. It means that we can more easily follow the patterns and structure and our brains don’t get distracted. That way it’s easier to focus on the message being delivered.

Concerning communication, the heart includes three elements—our personal values, beliefs, and memories.  Through story, we truly experience what others experience, even if they are fictional.  The amount of oxytocin released by the brain, for example, can predict how much people are willing to help others.

For those with doubts about the scientific connection, this transfer of emotions is illustrated by how many people feel dominant after watching a hero or superhero movie—like James Bond, 007, saving the world or Marvel’s Avengers defeating evil.

“My experiments show that character-driven stories with emotional content result in a better understanding of the key points a speaker wishes to make and enable better recall of these points weeks later.”

Therefore, the story—the frame—becomes one of the most powerful ways to connect with your audience. When you tell a story, your audience becomes so engrossed in the narrative that they place themselves in the story.


Story also is one of those few ways humans can truly experience another’s perspective. That’s real empathy.

The Trust Factor

In telling stories, we make our way into the listeners’ brains and can create the desired narrative if, and that’s a big if, there is trust. If trust is established, stories actually can influence how people think and make decisions.

The best salespeople, leaders, and organizers create great narratives and powerful stories that deliver a message to help others take action. They understand the power of what they say and how they say it.

Body Language and Presence

Your body introduces you before your words.

It’s easy to get excited about learning tips around influence because they can have an immediate impact. But I urge you to focus on the authentic message and believe in what you’re talking about. In most cases that automatically creates congruent body language.

Record Everything

If you don’t own a voice recorder, you haven’t entered the world of professional selling.

Clues, Not Absolutes

A good rule of thumb is that body language cues should lead to curiosity, not conclusions. When we are curious, we ask questions sincerely and with an open mind. For example, when we see a person with their arms crossed—often a sign of combativeness—we may ask them how they are feeling. They could respond that they’re cold or perhaps feeling uncomfortable.

Accusing someone of being defensive because of one body language cue does not enhance one’s influence. The goal isn’t to read body language. The goal is connection, empathy, and trust.

Curiosity also works with self-reflection. We need to ask ourselves why we make a certain movement and what causes those micro-expressions.

Look for Clusters

Rather than making a judgment based on one nonverbal cue, look for clusters of information that either show congruency or incongruence with the language used. A simple example is the use of sarcasm.

A resonant leader is someone who understands that their emotional state, behavior, body language, and overall attitude are contagious and will infect an organization

One common example is the “My door is always open” mantra from leaders, who walk through the hallways with head down on the phone, not speaking to anyone.

“What’s your hallway walk?” How do you walk down the hallway? Do you make contact with people? Build relationships? Recognize people? Remember names? Or are you head down, rushing to your next meeting?”

Critical Questions

Body language helps us decipher four critical questions:

▪ Are they embracing or rejecting me or the idea?

▪ Do they like or dislike me or the idea?

▪ Are they engaged or distracted?

▪ Are they being honest or lying?

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