Why Empathy Matters in Storytelling and How to Use It

December 6, 2016

by Carla Johnson

down-and-out-in-paris-londonIn his book Down and Out in Paris and London, author George Orwell (of 1984 and Animal Farm fame…) tells the story of penniless British writer Eric Blair and his adventures on the streets of…you guessed it…Paris and London.

It was Orwell’s first novel and in good part, autobiographical. Although he came from a privileged background, he was curious about the world and, particularly, how people on the social margin lived. By the time he was in his late 20s, he realized he knew little about how people in his own country lived and he set off to experience what life was like for them. These travels not only became fodder for Down and Out in London and Paris, but the friendships and exposure to a broader universe served as literary fodder for later writings.

The empathy adventure not only made him a good writer, the experiences were good for him as a person.

As marketers, there’s a great deal that we can learn from Orwell’s empathy adventure when it comes to crafting stories and designing experiences. Because empathy is at the heart of design.

What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. To feel the emotions that they feel. Experience life from their point of view and imagine things from their perspective.

The Cleveland Clinic is one of the top-rated healthcare organizations in the country.  A big reason for this is because of their empathy toward patients and their families. Watch their video on empathy…

As a marketer, how does that change your perspective on what patients need to feel comfort, peace of mind and trust during their experience journey?

Now, how does this same perspective on empathy change the way you look at the stories that you tell? The experiences you create for your audiences?

Are you interested in creating stories that have deeper empathy for your audience? Contact me and let’s talk about how we can help. Or, connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, and if you like what you see, Subscribe here for regular updates.

Photo credit: Flicker user Moyan Brenn

     About Carla

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Carla is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author. Having lived, worked, and studied on five continents, she's partnered with top brands and conferences to train thousands of people how to rethink the work that they do andth impact they can have. her visionary expertise has inspired and equipped leaders at all levels to embrace change, welcome new ideas, and transform their business.

Her work with Fortune 500 brands served as the foundation for many of her books. Her tenth, RE:Think Innovation (available for pre-order) busts the myth that innovation is something that requires a specific degree or special training. in fact, Carla explains why, to be a successful company in today's hyper-competitive, customer-driven world, innovation must be everyone's business. Her goal is to teach one million people how to become innovators by 2025.

Consistently named one of the top influencers in B2B, digital and content marketing, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking. Today, she travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.