ABCs Of Your Career Journey – N Is For Narrative

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By E. Elizabeth Carter  

 

We all have a past and with that we all have a story. In telling our narrative to others, some highlight accomplishments while others tend to focus on inconsequential things or even possibly negative ones. These stories do help explain who we are and how we come to certain conclusions on issues. As we continue on our career journey, we need to decide how we want our story to progress.

If we are explaining our past to a potential employer, a person at a networking event, or some other “stranger”, we need to craft our story in a way that makes it compelling while also being truthful. A master storyteller that I know always starts with the end and works backward. He usually has a great opening sentence which captures everyone’s attention. From there he provides interesting details (both good and bad) while also demonstrating that he knows when to speed up parts and also when to pause so we can grasp everything that he is conveying to us.

In addition, having what I call “go to” words or phrases not only help us frame our story but give us confidence to share even when the story has some sad or depressing parts. The key thing is that whatever your story may be, you need to at some point express what you have learned from the different situations you faced. By doing this, you are not just telling a story. Instead you are conveying your takeaways and how your story has shaped your decisions in the future.

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Storytelling is important for anyone who wants to stand out from the pack no matter what team, group, company, etc. that you are a part of. As an example, few people can remember the concepts they learned in college or a training course verbatim but if the instructor attaches a story to it, now it becomes memorable. Think about all the speeches or presentations that you have listened to and which ones you can still recall a sentence or phrase from. This is the type of story that you need.

Lastly good storytellers always have their body language mirror what they are saying. If they are telling an upbeat story but they look like they are going to cry it sends a mixed message. To master this takes some work so brainstorm your thoughts and ideas, make your story more succinct, practice it, and then share with others.

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