A story about stories

One Friday afternoon, the telephone rang. It was a woman who asked me if she could discuss my website. Thinking that this was another website developer cold calling, I was about to politely terminate the call on the grounds that I already knew a website developer—indeed the very people who have since created the website you are looking at—when I thought better of it, and asked her why she asked.

[Incidental lesson one: don’t make assumptions!]

Anyway, it turned out she was the HR manager in the UK office of a global corporate. She proceeded to ask me a number of “gatekeeper” questions, assessing my suitability for an, as yet unsaid, purpose. After five minutes or so, she asked, would it be convenient if her boss called me at 9am on Monday? I said, of course.

So what was it she and her boss had liked about the emotional intelligence at work site?

“We liked the stories”.

At 9:02 am on Monday the phone rang. It was the boss. We than had an interesting conversation about his business and his need for a coach to work with a particular member of staff. I tried to keep the conversation short as I like to meet people face to face and I wanted there to be something left to discuss if he was willing to entertain the idea of a meeting.

He was and we did. And so it came to pass that I started coaching this manager.

After a few sessions, I had a conversation with the HR manager.

“How come you called me?”, I asked.

“We googled you”, she replied.

“What did you search on?”

“ ‘emotional intelligence’ Swindon”, she said (the UK office is in that fair town).

[Incidental lesson two: search engine optimisation can be valuable. My business was third on page 1.]

[Incidental lesson three: think in terms of the phrases likely to be used by the people you what to attract, even if those phrases don’t appeal to people you meet in, say, networking events. I know that ‘emotional intelligence’ is a phrase commonly understood by HR managers in larger SMEs and corporates, and they are the people I want to entice.]

Anyway, having found my website, clearly she had looked up others, too. So what was it she and her boss had liked about the emotional intelligence at work site?

“We liked the stories”.

People relate to stories. They understand them and remember them far better than technical details.

by Jeremy Marchant, edited 30 april 2019
© 2019 Jeremy Marchant Limited . image:  unsplash

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