The beauty about stories is that they are like metaphors. I once saw a study that said that metaphors appeal to both the left and the right side of the brain.
I am not a Buddhist, yet am extremely fond of Zen Koans.
The way I try and do it is to research before every group facilitation stories, anecdotes, metaphors and humor that I can have in the "wings" based on the diversity of the group.
That way I may have options available to "unlock the potential" of someone.
Just like a builder uses solid construction practices, we need to design or build our training based on proven ways how the brain works. We know a lot about adult learning principles and how the brain works. The "best practice" of using metaphors and analogies takes advantage of at least two key facts:
- The brain works by building connections and associations.
- The brain remembers more easily things that are novel or unusual.
The right analogy or metaphor can be quite novel, build connections to the material you are teaching and often create the "aha" experience the learners need to effectively learn the new information.
Let me use an example. If I am working with a group of executives about the organisation’s reputation, I will tell them that they have to be careful how they communicate, how they behave as it will impact on the way stakeholders perceive them. That is a linear and left brain approach.
But for some this story will have more impact.
SPOKEN WORDS CANNOT BE RETRIEVED – The Story of the Feathers
A farmer slandered his neighbor. Realizing his mistake, he went to the preacher to ask for forgiveness. The preacher told him to take a bag of feathers and drop them in the centre of town. The farmer did as he was told . Then the preacher asked him to go and collect the feathers and put them back in the bag. The farmer tried but couldn’t as the feathers had all blown away. When he returned with the empty bag, the preacher said, "The same thing is true about your words. You dropped them rather easily but you cannot retrieve them, so be very careful in choosing your words."
Which one has more impact for you?
It depends on your style of learning and brain dominance preference.