The last place you would probably expect to find a standup comedian would be in an Army uniform. But there I was for the better part of a decade, trying to make one of the most dangerous chapters of my life a laughing matter. Not because I didn’t take the Army seriously, much to the contrary. I took it very seriously, which is why when the laughter stopped I was in big trouble. Continue Reading →
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Brand Storytelling: Core Power for Business
“As I look back on my four decades in business, I see that persuading customers, employees, shareholders, media, and partners through telling to win (storytelling) has been my single biggest competitive advantage.” Continue Reading →
Blue Skies Over Battlefields
Life has taught me the importance of telling my story. I can’t afford not to now. Sharing it, I discovered I had value and a purpose. A personal commitment to help others helped me learn that. In the process I affirmed myself. But that’s not where I started.
Mirror, Mirror in the Group
The little boy loved to play army with his friends. There were the battles, the victories and the teamwork. As he grew older, he dreamed of doing something meaningful with and for other people. So he enlisted. But he never dreamed he would feel intense isolation after the battles ended and the teams disbanded. He would be alone with flashbacks of fear, guilt and horror.
In the military culture, it made sense to subdue vulnerable feelings – they didn’t exactly promote survival. So the soldier learned a new and necessary habit: emotional silence.
He did not know it, but his brain – like everyone else’s brain – recorded and retained information for the new habit in the basal ganglia. This is where neuropathways are formed for repeated behaviors.
So, later as a civilian, when he wanted to change this habit and he thought of sharing some of his experiences, he found it difficult and seemingly impossible. Relationships suffered. He suffered.
Blessed with a strong intuition, he accepted an opportunity to meet with some vets. As they everrr soooo sloooowly opened up about their feelings, his mirror neurons – like everyone else’s mirror neurons in the group – were activated. These brain cells are believed to mirror the behavior of others, so the quiet observer feels as though he is the actor.
He gradually saw and heard people who had similar and unique stories of horror, fear and guilt. Eventually, he felt that it was OK to share.
And guess what happened next?
In a safe and relaxing atmosphere, the childhood habit of teamwork and camaraderie overrode the adult habit of emotional silence. In other words, brain activity that is related to different habits – even opposite habits – can be remembered and rekindled by environments and situations when there’s a need for that specific habit. That’s what neuroscientist Ann Griel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology tells us, and her work with habit formation won her the prestigious Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science.
There’s more good news. The brain is flexible, or plastic, so people can deliberately reinforce helpful habits. And even in stressful times, those chosen habits will get triggered more easily and more often. For healthcare providers, educators and anyone else interested in behavior change, that’s the best news.
There’s one last point to remember: When you need to use narrative communication to tell a story to influence behavior change, decide on which emotions you want your audience to mirror. Is it compassion and love, or is it guilt and shame?
Narrative Communication to influence Behavior Change
Sharing Learning through Narrative Communication to Influence Behavior Change
Saved By My Own Story
It has been a painfully slow climb out of darkness. For a really long time, I allowed past traumas to run my life. Bad stuff happened. Years went by. I couldn’t get beyond it. That’s called stuck. And being stuck sucks. Continue Reading →
Stories Are The First Simulators
What by a beautiful moon this morning. The moon, I am inspired by how it was that we succeeded reaching it’s surface decades ago. Continue Reading →
Stories Change Perspective
Hi, I’m Dr. Gerard Gibbons, on-location in the Owens Valley, one of the most magnificent landscapes in the world. A good place to demonstrate how important perspective, memories and stories can be. Continue Reading →
Story vs. Narrative
Hello, I’m Dr. Gerard Gibbons with emotive storytelling.com with a few comments to share against the backdrop of this majestic scenery.
Storytelling was the hot topic at the most recent SXSW interactive conference in Austin, Texas. Continue Reading →
It’s All About Behavior Change
Let me ask you a question. What do these concepts have in common?
Prevention, compliance, marketing, sales, assertive communication, setting limits, and incentives.
Look closely. The commonality may not be obvious because they are each associated with diverse areas of endeavor including medicine, business, interpersonal relationships, morale building and parenting.
Give up? Continue Reading →
Stories are Infectious
Tell me a story.
How often have you heard that? As a parent, no doubt you have – many times from your kids. Hello, I’m Dr. Gerard Gibbons founder of emotivestorytelling.com. There is always a tug on my heart when my little girl says daddy, tell me a story. And of course I love tell her stories. This is Emotive Storytelling. Continue Reading →