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September 3, 2020

晓之以理,动之以情 – ‘Logic can convince, but only emotion can motivate.’

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One of the reasons storytelling is so powerful in business is that it taps into emotion. Yet many of us are biased towards influencing through logic… and logic alone.

Influence through Emotion

Daniel Goleman, author of best-selling book Emotional Intelligence, explains that our brain’s evolved neocortex is the reason our emotions are so powerful. The emotional centre of the brain can ‘influence the functioning of the rest of the brain.’

WHAT!!!! All our professional career we have been told that logic is the most important thing. At some point in your career, I’m sure you’ve heard variations of:

“Just give me the facts.”

“You can’t argue with the data.”

“Keep emotion out of business.”

This misguided bias towards logic over emotion is changing as more people realise the importance of emotional connection and therefore storytelling in business.

In my training I often say that logic informs but emotion influences.

Convince or Motivate

I was running virtual storytelling training this week with the global leaders of BlueScope Steel. Celine Zhang who is the President at BlueScope Coated Steel in China shared with me an ancient Chinese saying.

晓之以理,动之以情

This translates as ‘Logic can convince, but only emotion can motivate.’

When it comes to business, I think we focus too much on convincing people and not enough on motivation, especially in relation to communicating strategy, purpose and values. They are two very different aspects that result in two very different outcomes. For example, I can be convinced that exercising every morning is a good thing but if I’m not motivated, I won’t do it. I can be convinced a strategy makes sense but am I motivated by it?

So, my question to you is what outcome do you want? People to be convinced or motivated?

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