By Karen Cortell Reisman
Barbara, the receptionist at the Dallas Holocaust Memorial Center communicated like a genius.
Barbara greeted guests at the front desk of this museum, took the incoming calls, handed out the audiotape tour, and answered questions. She was busy, as you are.
Even with her varied responsibilities, Barbara always answered the phone as if it were the most important thing she would do that day. One day, she spent twenty minutes on the phone with a retired English schoolteacher who was physically unable to visit the museum.
Barbara asked, "Where did you teach English?" "Thomas Jefferson High School", the teacher responded. "In fact," the she continued, "I vividly recall the story of one of my students. Her mom survived the Holocaust. It's one of the reasons I'm interested in your museum." The teacher concluded the conversation by asking, "Do you have any donation envelopes and could you send me one?" "Of course!" Barbara enthusiastically replied.
The Holocaust Museum received a $10,000 check from this retired schoolteacher.
The retired teacher remembered my story. I was her student at Thomas Jefferson High School, and my mother's story had stuck in her mind for over thirty years.
I could have written this newsletter about the importance of being authentic and present while fielding phone calls. You already know this. By telling the story you are reminded about the importance of having "Barbaras" on your team, and it validates how memorable stories can be.
You might ask, "Where do I find these stories?" Look around. Have funnier eyes. Observe with purpose. The idiom that truth is stranger than fiction applies to all of us! When a story with an "ah ha" happens to you, jot it down. Use the story in a meeting to make a point, or with a client to further your mission, or with your children to reinforce one of your values. The trick to story telling is two-pronged. First, your story must make some point that relates to your message. Second, be brief with just enough detail. Otherwise, your verbiage will become tedious.
Tell more stories, rather than doing data dumps. People will want to keep listening to you, and they'll remember what you said.