I Lied

It’s a personal story, this.  One from a long time ago…

It’s now that I notice how relevant it is to business storytelling.

There are certain moments when you just know that the truth won’t go down well.

If you ‘fess up, there’ll be storm, a great big hurricane, and it just might not be worth it!

It was our first date.  We had gone to a bar, just sat and talked for a few hours. It was nice, really nice.

My father had been really ill for the previous few weeks and we met the evening I was due to fly home to see Dad.  He asked how I was going to get to the airport.  I said I’d grab a cab, so he offered a ride on his motorbike.  I jumped at the chance!

The ride to the airport was thrilling, I’d always loved motorbikes but had rarely ridden one.  I arrived in plenty of time, flushed, happy and stood on my tippy toes to gave him a quick kiss before I ran to my flight.

When I arrived home the next day, Mom took me straight to the hospital.  I walked in and hid the shock that registered when I saw how weak and sick Dad looked.

He opened his arms, hugged me and asked what’s new?

I surprised myself when I told him, well, I had a nice date last night.  And he even brought me to the airport.

Oh, so he has a car, Dad said.

Eh, yep, yeah, Dad.

Sometimes, you just don’t want to share the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  It’s not the story that will work in that particular situation.  I knew that Dad would not be impressed by his baby daughter being whisked away by a strange guy on a motorbike.

I had to change the story!  And so often, it’s hard to tell less than everything.

You see, we tend to be pretty married to our ‘truths’.  We want to tell the whole story, detail by detail, step by step.  And here’s the thing, that’s not always relevant and often not very interesting.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not suggesting you lie (even though I did!!!).

But there are clear guidelines to make your story interesting and relevant, so you’ll have the impact you want.

  1. Focus on the part of the story that matters, that made a difference to you
  2. Always keep your ‘audience’ in mind, what matters to them
  3. Be of service to your audience, just 100% of the time!
  4. Drop the details that don’t add anything to the story.
  5. Don’t tell stuff that feels embarrassing, could hurt you (or others) or makes you feel uncomfortable.
  6. Be honest (yes…I know!) – I mean about your feelings and intentions, don’t pretend to be something you’re not

You know, I eventually did come clean.  I had to.  I married the guy on the motorbike!  And Dad loved him (and the bike!).

Do you find it difficult to know what part of your story to tell?

What challenges you when you tell your story?

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2 comments on “I Lied

  1. Thank you Lisa for your wonderful stories
    I agree with you that sometimes to say the really truth can hurt, but lying can hurt worse. I learned from Jorge Bucay’s book how to do not lie but neither telling the fully truth.
    I liked your suggestion about telling a good story, I usually found people who wants quick stories, it’s seems for me, they feel they are wasting time hearing others stories and I feel this like a disrespect, my question is : how can you adapt to your audience but still being yourself? Everyone has a way to tell stories where you find your self comfortable, so, should we change our style depending the people who we are talking to?
    Warms regards,

    • Thanks for your comment Eugenia, I agree, lying is always the worst option, yet everyone lies…at some level or another. There’s an interesting book on the phenomena by Dan Ariely – The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty.. I agree with you, being yourself is really important – so no, you don’t change your style but you just choose the relevant part of the story for the specific audience. If you want to impact them, that is.
      Requires actually thinking about who you’re talking to…and taking careful consideration of who they are…that something that people don’t always do. We tend to serve our own needs first! thanks again, Lisa

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