Stretch your hand out in front of you, and then lift it up. Was that a conscious movement or an unconscious movement?
You might think that you did it consciously, but there are 35 muscles required to move your hand. You certainly did not focus on all these when you made your movement. So it is starting to look like the movement may not have been conscious after all.
All human learning and beliefs are stored unconsciously. If closing a sale depends on getting someone to change one of their beliefs, the only way to do that is by tapping into their unconscious mind. A good story can do just that.
Whenever you are exposed to new information, a threshold called the critical faculty barrier stands between the conscious and unconscious mind. When information comes into the conscious mind, your brain assesses the likelihood that it is true or false. If your brain thinks the information is untrue, the barrier stops it from advancing in any further. If your brain thinks the information is true, it goes past the barrier into your unconscious mind. When your brain allows the information in, you have just created a new belief.
A story allows you to plant your belief into someone’s mind. It asks them to suspend their disbelief as they wait for the resolution of the story, letting you get past the critical faculty barrier and right into the unconscious mind of the listener.
Think about how hard it can be to get someone’s attention when he or she is watching something interesting on TV. TV puts people in a light trance, during which their critical faculties are suspended. A story does the same thing, keeping the listeners suspended in a trance-like state until they hear the resolution and point of the story.
Now is a great time to remind you that you should only use this skill in an ethical manner. Being able to persuade people is a very special skill. It has to be practiced with responsibility and always with the client’s best interest in mind.
For as long as they have existed, superhero movies have been one of the favorite movies of mass audiences everywhere. When you watch a superhero movie, you see some unbelievable events. If you were to evaluate all these special stunts and effects on a one-by-one basis, you would probably decide that they are actually not very realistic and could never work in real life.
However, you’re not sitting there in the theater, second-guessing how realistic all the effects are. Moreover, if you were, you would not be enjoying the movie.
The reason you still get to enjoy the movie is that a story helps to suspend disbelief by surpassing the critical faculty barrier.
How does this relate to business? In the same way as the superhero movie, using a story to make your point can help you get past a person’s critical faculties in order to change or install a new belief. You are then able to more clearly show them how your solution can help them achieve their goals and objectives.