Sometimes when I tell people my core business is story telling, they look at me slightly askance, as if to say, stories are about fiction, so do you Andrew not tell the truth!
That’s so not true. In fact ( yes ‘in fact’) I present workshops on the Science of Story because I believe that great storytelling is the ultimate form of communication. Great leaders have always been great storytellers, from Jesus to Solomon , from Mandala to Obama, from Branson to Jobs.
Storytelling is natural, and shows up as a critical part of nature.
I came across a great story about the Dance Fly in The Rules Are No Game; The Strategy of Communication by Anthony Wilden (1987).
The Dance Fly male is a great story teller. In some species, rather than just straight copulation, the male captures an insect and offers it to the female before mating. Other species adorn the dead insect offering with threads of silk, and so create a symbol. Another Dance Fly species offers the female a silk balloon with no dead prey; simply a symbol of food. The communication has become entirely information, with no ‘matter-energy’ in the form of dead prey provided for the female.
There is no direct conection between the information and what is symbolises or stands for.
So what is my point?
Simply that great storytelling is naturally a part of evolution and that communication is about a lot more than language, it involves all our senses, ideas, metaphors, facts, wrapped in story.
A cynic might say the Dance Fly and his silk is the original spin doctor. However, let’s be honest, communication is always a goal seeking activity. As Wilden says: “ Every act, every pause, every movement in living and social systems is also a message; silence is communication; short of death, it is impossible for an organism or a person not to communicate.”
And in the 1960s Ray Birdwhistell, author of Kinesics and Context (1972) said:
” In a communication system, nothing never happens.”