Why tell stories at work?

Stories Drive Our Behavior

Stories have profound effects on the brain, which makes them incredible tools to support and drive behavior change. Decades of psychological and behavioral research shows stories have the power to shift our mindsets, spread and reinforce learning, and help us adopt new behaviors. Researchers have used stories to help people manage health conditions, adopt exercise routines, break bad habits, and more. Avanoo simply leverages that same power to enhance our performance at work.

Stories Are Persuasive

“Narrative reasoning” refers to our natural tendency to understand the world in terms of stories.1, 2 Even judges, who are supposedly neutral arbiters, are far more likely to be persuaded by a story than by facts alone. This makes storytelling ideal for applications like change leadership, training, and habit formation.

1 Chestek, Kenneth D., Judging by the Numbers: An Empirical Study of the Power of Story. Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2010.

2 Wistrich, A.J. & Rachlinski, J.J. & Guthrie, C.. (2015). Heart versus head: Do judges follow the law or follow their feelings?. 93. 855-923.

Stories Shape Our Mindset

Behavior change requires us to believe we’re capable of growth – what psychologists call “self-efficacy”. The stories we tell about our own performance and abilities strongly predict how successful we’ll be in adopting new behaviors.3, 4 If you say you can, then you think you can; if you think you can, then you can!

3 Jack J. Bauer, George A. Bonanno, I Can, I Do, I Am: The Narrative Differentiation of Self-Efficacy and Other Self-Evaluations while Adapting to Bereavement, Journal of Research in Personality, Volume 35, Issue 4, 2001, Pages 424-448.

4 Webb, Thomas & Sheeran, Paschal. (2006). Does Changing Behavioral Intentions Engender Behavior Change? A Meta-Analysis of the Experimental Evidence. Psychological bulletin. 132. 249-68. 10.1037/0033-2909.132.2.249.

Stories Provide Social Support

Behavior change is most effective when we have social support from peers and colleagues.5 Storytelling drives connection and builds relationships, strengthening the network of support we need to reinforce and sustain new habits.

5 Greaney ML, Puleo E, Sprunck-Harrild K, Haines J, Houghton SC, Emmons KM. Social Support for Changing Multiple Behaviors: Factors Associated With Seeking Support and the Impact of Offered Support. Health Educ Behav. 2018;45(2):198-206.

Stories Are Memorable

Researchers have found that information is much easier to remember when embedded in a story. Depending on context, the memorability of a story outperforms plain facts by anywhere from 6x, to 12x, to over 20x.6, 7, 8 A good story sticks in our minds, reinforcing new learnings and behaviors every time we recall it.

6 Bower, Gordon & Clark, Michal. (1969). Narrative stories as mediators for serial learning. Psychonomic Science. 15. 181-182. 10.3758/BF03332778.

7 Forbes, Data Storytelling: The Essential Data Science Skill Everyone Needs, 2017: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brentdykes/2016/03/31/data-storytelling-the-essential-data-science-skill-everyone-needs/

8 Harvard Business Publishing, What Makes Storytelling So Effective For Learning?, 2017: https://www.harvardbusiness.org/what-makes-storytelling-so-effective-for-learning/

Backed by Science; Designed for You

Avanoo’s unique StoryApp technology leverages the science of story to enable interpersonal and professional growth for leaders and teams.

“Employees reported that Avanoo not only helped them improve their skills, but also inspired them.”

Debbie Bush, Director of Learning & Organizational Development at Equity Residential

Tell us your story.

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