The power to influence is often associated with force, the ability to make someone do what you want them to do. This suggests a push strategy. However, story is a pull strategy, – more like a powerful magnet than a bulldozer; the dynamics are different. Learning to influence through story dramatically improves the leverage of your efforts.
Most methods of influence introduce a power struggle where one, – influencer or influencee, – “wins” and the other “loses.” Story has a quality of graciousness that bypasses power struggles.
A push creates another push back. When using story it is possible to invoke a new dynamic where pull attracts pull. It is a coming together of self-interests rather than a competition between self-interests.
We humans pursue our own self-interest, – however you define it. Thus we generate our own momentum, – motivation, – at all times. Every human being is motivated by some desire that reflects their current view of the world and what goals will get them what they want. The goal of an influential story is to connect their momentum with your goals.
Before you can influence you must establish some connection. Story builds connections between you and those you wish to influence. Broader and stronger connections enable broader and stronger communications to flow between you. Influencing is much easier when the channels are open.
Genuine influence occurs between people who feel conformable with each other. Regardless of our differences, – money, status, race, gender, experience, culture, – as human beings these common understandings flow beneath our superficial differences. Telling a story that connects to any of these common understandings allows you to connect with any human being. The myths and fables that have lasted thousands of years lasted because people connect with them on a personal level.
When someone can connect to you through your story, they make a decision that at some level you are just like them. Whether it is because you think like they do, value the same things, or feel the same feelings, the similarity is enough to generate a feeling of trust. Once you can make this connection, the trust you create will accelerate your ability to influence and persuade those who feel connected to you.
Your story must first connect you both to a place where you can agree and can feel the same things.