7 ways to become a better storyteller

Kare Anderson​ is an Emmy-winning journalist, now connective behavior and quotability speaker, and author of several books. Anderson shares advice on how to cultivate a relationship with the purpose of co-creating value that helps us accomplish more together.
Written by Vala Afshar, Contributing Writer

Kare Anderson is an Emmy-winning former NBC and Wall Street Journal reporter, now connective behavior and quotability speaker, and author of several books. Anderson's TED talk on The Web of Humanity: Be an Opportunity Maker has attracted over 2.5 million views.


Kare Anderson, Emmy Award winner, author, speaker, and consultant. 

Anderson is a brilliant storyteller. She writes on behavioral research-based ways to become more deeply connected. I regularly speak with Anderson to better understand how I can improve my speaking and writing skills. Anderson helps me better understand how the use of remarkable words, coupled with integrity and benevolence can help establish mutual trust and respect with others. I asked Anderson what we can do to cultivate valuable relationships where we can all accomplish more together. 

1. Trust and likeability go hand-in-hand 

Adopt a proven, counter-intuitive way to seem likable to others. One of the biggest misconceptions about connecting is seeking, first, to be liked. In fact, the counter-intuitive way to get someone to like you is in knowing this core truth: If they like the way they feel when around you, they will like you. They will project onto you the character traits they most like in others, even if you have not yet exhibited them. 

Conversely, if they do not like the way they act when around you, they will instinctively blame you for it, regardless of the true reason. They will project onto you some of the qualities they most dislike in others. What's worse, they will go out of their way to prove they are right, even in ways that damage their reputation as well as yours." 

2. Show interest by asking better questions 

People are far more revealing by the questions they ask than the answer they give. To get closer to understanding what is really on someone's mind, ask follow-up questions. This also demonstrates an interest in understanding that person.  

3. You, Me, Us 

Try this three-step triangle approach to cultivating stronger connections and reaching an agreement with others: You, Me, Us. First refer to their interest, then yours, and then cite how your interests coincide. It also enables you to attract diverse allies so that you can collectively make smarter decisions sooner together. To further motivate you to attract diverse allies, recognize that when three unexpected allies take a united stand on an issue or opportunity they have priceless credibility and visibility.

4. Stories anchored in redemption 

We are motivated to live up to and share stories anchored in redemptive themes: Rather than making yourself the victim or the hero in the stories you tell, describe a daunting time of loss, crisis, or criticism or where you made a mistake or acted badly, yet you were eventually able to learn from it. Such stories show vulnerability and a desire to grow and live fully rather than in fear. Then that facet of you can be the place where others can positively and productively connect with you, hard-earned strengths firmly attached. You can support each other in reinforcing redemptive characterizations and action. 

5. Go slow to go fast in growing a lasting relationship

Go slow to go fast in growing a stronger bond with others: When you see someone's interest rise in the conversation, you have a glimpse of the hook that can best connect you. Ask follow-up questions, directly related to what that person just said. If you do just this much, recent research shows you are among the five percent of Americans in conversation. In so doing, you accomplish two things. You've increased their openness and warmth toward you because you've demonstrated you care. And you've had a closer look at the hook that most matters to them in the conversation. Now you can speak to their hottest interest, in a way that can serve you both." 

6. Get specific sooner

Get specific sooner and reap many rewards. The specific detail or example proves the general conclusion, not the reverse. The more specific you are about anything the more clear you become, for yourself, and in telling others. Thus you reduce the chance of others misunderstanding you. And you become more compelling, credible, and memorable. 

7. Highlight positive intentions

Speak to their positive intent, especially when they appear to have none, and you are more likely to bring out their better side. 

Remind yourself that healthy relationships are based, not on a quid pro quo yet an ebb and flow of mutual interest over time.

I strongly recommend you follow Kare Anderson on Twitter (@KareAnderson) to learn more about her sage advice on becoming a better storyteller. 

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