Telling stories that matter

Whether we define ourselves as writers, content providers, senior communicators or graphic artists, we are storytellers. Our mission is to successfully craft the stories that support our brand, generate client loyalty, and boost sales for our companies.

IABC membership exposes us to the best storytellers in the business.

At this month’s Leadership Institute, for example, chapter leaders from around the world participated in a program packed with effective speakers. Each presenter offered different tales about communications leaders, trends, challenges and successes. Their stories included personal hardship and crises, challenging work and well-deserved opportunities. Each speaker motivated us to return to our chapters with these stories in mind.

Our keynote speaker was the always-funny Cynthia D’Amour, author of “The Lazy Leader’s Guide to Outrageous Results,” among other popular recruitment and motivational books.

D’Amour’s interactive presentation included many colorful stories. The one that resonated most with me was about receiving praise. She asked us to think about the times others have complimented us and to recall how we accepted or demurred. She forced us to admit how difficult it is for us to graciously accept sincere praise and heart-felt thanks.

Women particularly have a difficult time receiving praise, D’Amour pointed out. We’ve been taught from an early age to avoid boastfulness and to be humble, even if the praise is deserved.

Our exercise was to praise our neighbor for 90 seconds – and for us to accept the praise gracefully when the tables were turned. Faced with sincere praise that demanded our acceptance, every one of us stumbled.

This exercise convinced me that we women must redouble our efforts to develop self-confidence. It also illustrated plainly just how important praise and gratitude are to everyone.

How often do we thank our vice president of finance for the hard work they do to keep our books, pay our bills and reimburse our expenses? What praise have we given the chapter secretary who keeps accurate records of our board meetings and circulates minutes in a timely fashion?

It’s difficult to remember to properly thank the people who make our chapters run smoothly. It can feel awkward to praise someone who does a good job without complaint.

Still, thankfulness and praise are precious and appreciated. Our gratitude and acclaim make doing business together more honest and real and motivate all of us to serve as well as we can.

A spirit of thankfulness, admiration and respect empowers us to keep telling the stories that matter in our wonderful careers as professional communicators and expert storytellers.

Cathi Douglas
IABC/OC president, 2018