31Activating the Self-Disclosure Loop

You tell stories, I tell stories, and your stakeholders tell stories. It’s human. It’s how we communicate. In conversations, people don’t spit out facts in bullet-point lists. Instead, they use stories.

We tell stories to be understood. And, when we are telling our story, we feel important. When you listen attentively, you encourage stakeholders to expand on their stories and tell even more.

But consider your emotional state when another person is telling you their story. Your mind drifts. You feel the urge to jump in and add your two cents. You don’t feel important. You experience disruptive emotions.

Stakeholders tell stories to be understood. Within these stories, you gain insight into the buyer’s emotions, negotiation strategy, and perceived alternatives.

But you prefer that they communicate in bullet points, because it’s easier for you. You want to speed them up and get them to the point, so you can get back to negotiating.

Resist this disruptive emotion. Your stakeholder wants to talk. Don’t get in the way. Remember that inside their story are clues that lead to the cards they are holding and a path to an agreement.

Harvard researchers Diana Tamir and Jason Mitchell discovered that humans get a neurochemical buzz from telling stories and self-disclosure.1 In this fascinating study,2 subjects were given the opportunity to talk or brag about themselves while their brain activity was being observed on high-powered 3-D magnetic resonance ...

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