“She used to be afraid to have these conversations…” : an example of a Promise Story


Sport and life achievements and success concept. Rear view sporty girl raising arms towards beautiful glowing sunshine.

Sport and life achievements and success concept. Rear view sporty girl raising arms towards beautiful glowing sunshine.

Promise Stories paint a powerful picture of what can happen if…the reader, listener or potential prospect uses the information or system you are sharing.

They communicate up front “This is why it’s worth listening to what I’m about to share”.

Here’s an example of how to use a Promise Story, from an ezine I sent out to my HumanNatureAtWork.com  subcribers that is based on a conversation I had  with a client.

Storytelling in Action

It’s an example of a couple of storytelling lessons:

1. How to use simple, seemingly unremarkable experiences as the foundation of a teaching story

2. How to use success stories as Promise Stories that encourage people to do the work necessary to get the result they want.

So…here’s the ezine issue with the story as foundation:

I had an inspiring conversation with a client yesterday that made me want to ask you an important question. I’ll share with you what they revealed in a moment, but first the question:

 “What conversation are you avoiding because you don’t think it will go well, but… if it DID go well…it would make a BIG difference in your ability to deliver better results at work and…mean less stress for you?”

  • Maybe it’s a conversation with a peer who is really negative or isn’t pulling their weight.
  • Maybe it’s someone you supervise who isn’t performing at the level you need, but they always get defensive when you try to give them feedback, so you convince yourself their sub-par performance is not THAT bad.
  • Maybe it’s your boss who micromanages or doesn’t listen and it’s slowly eroding your enjoyment of, and commitment to, your work.
  • Maybe it’s at a more global level…maybe you don’t see the level of initiative and “How can we help this company succeed?” in your employees.

[ Note: this bullet point list is based on my old hypnotherapy days. Throwing out a number of potential situations the listener or reader can relate to helps them connect your story with their own life, both at the conscious and the subconscious level. It’s a way to help your stories connect with people at a deeper, more visceral level]

The email continues…

Whatever the issue and whatever the conversation you need to have…but aren’t, you probably have at least one you can think of.

Well, I’m here to tell you that, despite what you fear, that important conversation CAN work out.

I’m also here to tell you that, if you put in the effort to learn the skills of having constructive conversations and you face your fear and HAVE the conversation, it gets easier and easier…

…until you either no longer fear those conversations or…you might feel some anxiety but you are so confident in your abilities, you have them anyway, because you know the odds are they will go well…

Besides my own experiences with this, I have two reports yesterday from clients who shared their victories.

I will share one of them with you.

OK, Here’s the Promise Story

I was doing “Post-Series Wrap-Up” sessions with members of a management team I had been working with for the last six months. As part of these conversations, I asked how satisfied they were with their progress on the Professional Development Plan we put together.

One of the managers had labeled herself in the beginning as “spineless”.

She confessed to avoiding  difficult conversations that she knew she should have because of her fear of people’s emotional reaction and her discomfort with others being upset with her.

Throughout the series, she worked with and used the constructive conversation tools and principles we discussed. She didn’t just “learn” them in the seminars, she used them.

She sucked it up and had the difficult conversations.

By blending study with stepping outside her comfort zone and action, she engaged The Success Cycle.

In our coaching session, she revealed that she no longer fears those conversations or the other person being upset.

Rather than avoiding important conversations and feeling guilty about not doing her job, she is having them when needed.

And she’s getting results.

When I say she engaged in The Success Cycle, I mean she is experiencing the important “nothing breeds success like success” process that is so important to being willing to have the important conversations.

  1. When you practice the communication skills you need to learn to be more effective, you feel more confident and  hopeful that difficult conversations will go well.
  2. Because you feel more confident and hopeful, you are far more likely to actually HAVE THE CONVERSATION, rather than avoid it.
  3. Because you practiced and prepared, the conversation is far more likely to go well, leaving you with a positive outcome and a positive experience.
  4. Because you had a positive outcome and positive experience, these things happen:
    • You are going to be more willing to address difficult issues in the future because you have direct experience that these conversations can work out.
    • Because you will be more willing to have difficult conversations in the future, you will continue to get better and better, which means you will have even more confidence, and therefore your willingness to have the important conversations will continue to expand to even more challenging conversations.
    • This cycle of skill development leading to greater optimism, leading to greater willingness to have the conversations, which leads to greater skill development, continues, making you increasingly more effective and increasingly more comfortable having these conversations.

OK, so now what?

So…if you haven’t already identified what conversations you’re avoiding, do that.

  1. Reflect on the emotional turmoil it’s creating for you NOT having the conversation and CONTINUING TO HAVE THE PROBLEM because you’re not willing to have the conversation.
  2. Get cracking learning the skills that will increase the odds the conversation will go well. You can find a number of articles at my website on this. Here’s one: Let’s Talk for a Change. If you want the spiffy, printer-friendly PDF version, there’s a link at the bottom of the page.
  3. If you want either coaching on this or a program for your team, let me know.

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