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Emotional naming

Emotional naming

emotional, feeling
One of the most powerful things you can do in a conversation is to name the problem. And if you use sophisticated terms and catchy, imaginative sentences, even better.  At the beginning of the pandemic the UK government referred to behavioural fatigue to delay their approval of social distancing measures. The idea was that if social distancing was imposed too early, people would get fed up and not comply with it. Despite an open letter from a group of behavioural scientists complaining about the government’s misuse of the term, the idea got some traction.  In a complex world where everything changes on regular bases we crave information in encapsulated form that make sense to our brains. And the way it all makes sense is through the emotions.  The neurologist Antonio…
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Places of authenticity

Places of authenticity

authenticity, stories
A customer is telling you how he’s doing these days. Suddenly the tone of his voice changes, he takes a deep breath and looks down for a minute or so, and you know that he’s about to tell you something beyond the normal business conversation between a sales person and a customer. He mentions that his dad died last week. You can see the sadness in his eyes. He tells you how they started the business together and how much his dad helped him in the early years of the business when he was young and inexperienced.   “My father was the kind of person who’d never let a client down, even if that meant losing money” he says.  “I remember once he offered a deferred payment to one of…
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Tell them what to do, not how to feel

Tell them what to do, not how to feel

message
In one of my latest posts, I talked about the rule of three and how brands, governments, and organisations use it to convey their message clearly.   This week the British government changed the lockdown message from Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives to Stay alert. Control the virus. Save lives.  After the new broadcast was released Google searches for Can I visit my family? hit the roof.  Compare Stay at home with Stay alert.  I know what staying at home means, but I’m not really sure what staying alert implies. Stay alert is open to interpretation and is fear-based, as if something bad is going to happen. The natural reaction to Stay alert is to try to understand what I am and am not allowed to do.   Why did the government change the message? Probably because they wanted to…
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Why your message needs to move from R to E

communication
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to influence people using perfectly rational arguments? I bet you’ve tried time after time, and failed consistently. Perfectly rational arguments have never convinced anybody to do anything that they weren’t already convinced about for other reasons. Even in the most dramatic and difficult situations such as hostage negotiations, where you might think logic and rationality are top of the agenda, the FBI recommends that negotiators use active listening, empathy, and rapport. As you will notice, there is no trace of “use perfectly clear and logical argument” or “make sure that what you’re saying is correct” or “show a rigorous and analytic approach when you talk.”  We know that communication is more emotional than analytical, but we can’t resist the temptation to think otherwise.…
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The power of the Rule of Three

message
In times of uncertainty we find ourselves considering why we do what we do, as we need extra motivation and focus to keep us going. Agendas are shifted and priorities change. Most of all, we look for clarity. During this pandemic each country has created its own way of sending a clear message to the population. If during the Second War World the British made popular: Zip it! Careless talk costs lives and Keep calm and carry on, these days we’ve been hearing Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives and Catch it, bin it, kill it. These messages are clear and have been crafted to ask people to do something very specific that can have a major impact in exceptional times.  These urgent messages that are designed to catch…
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Purpose is not a business goal

purpose
We know that purpose is the new competitive advantage. Customers and employees want to work for and buy from companies that are aligned with their own values. The idea that we’re hearing again and again is that a business’s purpose is linked to its profit, so if you want to be profitable you need to be purpose-driven.  A lot can be said about the association between profit and purpose, but what I find interesting is how business purpose is sometimes conceptualised and understood as a business goal.  Purpose thrives when a story mindset is applied, or as John Kay says in his book Obliquity when we take the indirect route rather than the direct one.  It’s one thing to put purpose at the core of your business because you believe…
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The enemy of your stories

narrative, story, vision
Business narratives are hard to convey because they force us to articulate why our business exists and why others should consider what we do.  Jeff Bezos’s executive meetings start in silence. Everybody has 30 minutes to read the executives’ six-page memos in which they discuss their ideas in narrative form. Why in narrative form? So that everybody fully understands what they are trying to present. PowerPoint is not allowed. A business needs to be clear about its narrative before turning it into stories. The narrative covers why they are here, why they cares, what they are changing, and why it matters. The narrative can sometimes be understood as the foundations of the story. Apple’s narrative is great design and performance, and building a better future. Before we tell any story…
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There’s no ego in that

story
We’re all wondering about the story that we can tell during the pandemic. Some businesses are changing their focus, moving online, starting to manufacture products they’ve never made before, finding new creative ways of servicing their customers.  Before the pandemic Canlis, in Seattle, was one of the finest restaurants in the West Coast; today it has been converted into a drive-through. In the morning they serve bagels, and for the rest of the day it’s a burger stand. They’ve moved fast – the whole transition was made in 15 days. They’ve kept their 115 employees, and might even need to hire more.  William Canlis, one of the founder brothers, said “What I love to do is to feed people. There’s no ego in that.” You can move forward with your…
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What’s already emerging

coronavirus, purpose
The coronavirus outbreak is changing how we interact with others: the implementation of social distancing measures and the inevitable virtual work meetings seem to be bringing us closer to others. We care for our neighbours, for the elderly and for the most vulnerable in our town as we never have before. In my work as a story coach helping leaders to translate their purpose into story, I obsessively observe peoples’ behaviour, trying to understand how it will eventually evolve into social norms and standards.  If you have been reading the news lately you’ll have noticed the level of scrutiny that businesses are subjected to these days. The main standard of whether a business is behaving according to what is now expected seems to be how they balance profit and people,…
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Time to upgrade your purpose

consumer behaviour
You might be finding yourself checking the news more often, calling friends and relatives to see if they’re OK. You might have decided to self-isolate or be living in a city on lockdown. You might find yourself working from home and homeschooling your kids. Maybe you’re worried about losing your job or wondering how the current situation is going to affect your business. You’re probably finding it difficult to focus on your work as your thoughts jump from one place to another. At times like this we all have similar worries. No matter whether you’re a CEO or a freelancer, everybody is thinking about what this outbreak means to our lives and the lives of those who are precious to us. But we know one thing for certain. Things are…
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