I’ve been thinking about The Wall Street Journal article, “Why Good Storytellers Are Happier in Life and Love.”
The story cites new research from the Journal of Personal Relationships — when my wife says I subscribe to everything, I now have a credible retort — that shows women find men who are good storytellers more appealing. In one part of the study, telling women that the man in a picture was a good storyteller upped his rating in social status and leadership as well as attractiveness.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “Psychologists believe this is because the man is showing that he knows how to connect, to share emotions and, possibly, to be vulnerable. He is also indicating that he is interesting and articulate and can gain resources and provide support.”
As they say in the lab, that’s a lot of extrapolation. I half expected a line about storytelling being an indicator that the man cooks a mean beef bourguignon and writes sonnets in his spare time.
What happens when you flip the roles? Does storytelling from women have the same mesmerizing effect on men?
In a word, no. Melanie Green, an associate professor at the University of Buffalo and part of the research team that included the University of North Carolina, wrote, “In our data, men just don’t seem to care whether women are good storytellers or not.”
At this point, you might be thinking that if you needed a helping hand with happiness, you would turn to resources like Deepak Chopra or Oprah or Baskin-Robbins. You come to this humble outpost for takes on business communications and brand building.
Bringing the discussion back to the field of business, I turn to Mark Twain who hypothesized, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
In other words, this research on storytelling shouldn’t prompt you to call an emergency offsite to discuss segmenting your communications by gender so you can earmark storytelling fodder for women and package the rest of the stuff for men.
I’m telling you that men like storytelling too. How else do you explain that every time “Brian’s Song” appears on late-night cable, it still attracts a sizable male audience even though the movie debuted in 1971?Enough said.
When it comes to connection and brand building, storytelling is gender-agnostic.