Candor in business storytelling

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by: John Caddell

It's called a "confidence" game, right? Why? Because you give me your confidence? No, because I give you mine. So what we have here, in addition to "Adventures in Human Misery," is a short course in psychology. – David Mamet, House of Games screenplay, p. 34 (Photo still from the MGM DVD.)

"House of Games" is one of my favorite movies, and these lines in particular, spoken by the con man Mike to the psychologist Dr. Margaret Ford, have stuck in my mind for years. I think they say something important about connecting with people.

Connecting with people is critical for selling. And one of the ways we connect with people is to tell them stories about ourselves. [And, no, I'm not trying to compare selling with a con game. Was it necessary to point that out?]

The theme here is candor and openness. I was at a business storytelling workshop recently, and the stories that were most effective (by acclamation of the attendees) were ones where the teller let down his/her guard, and revealed something personal. This is one of the reasons storytelling is more effective than reciting a list of benefits to a prospect. In addition to being interesting and easy to understand, it also helps create a personal bond with the prospect. It means that you may want, in your business storytelling, to reveal anxieties, fears and feelings.

In other words, to give the prospect your confidence.

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