best practices persuasion self-advocacy

Want a raise? Tell the right kind of story.

Consider the homing pigeon, Cher Ami, who took a few bullets, losing her foot and eye during World War I, but still delivered her message, saving a group of American infantrymen in danger. Cher Ami was a hero, especially among the 77th Infantry Division. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre and later went on to open a tap dancing school for aviary fanciers who also had a single wooden leg. I made up the part about the tap dancing, but the rest is true. The point is, Cher Ami can help you get that raise. Don’t believe it? I dare you to read on, flightless mammal!

Never tell a story that bores you to say it
The other day, while I was teaching a storytelling crash course to a group of tech professionals, a man volunteered to share a story he thought would compel his boss to take notice and reward him with a raise. His preamble began, “So this is a tedious story”…OK RED FLAG #1…

Then he described, some multi-step (tedious!) jargon-laden thing, and finally said, “I told them, ‘Why don’t we just look up the answer without asking the customers and confusing everyone?'” While it was great that he spoke up to his managers and prevented a lot of confusion, I advised the gentleman to tell a some other story of his awesomeness because this one would backfire.

Never tell a story about a time you did something any other logical person would do. 
If you want to impress the person who can give you a raise, but then tell a story where you say (paraphrasing here), “And then I went, duh, why don’t we just do this thing that is so obvious,” your listener will think, “Oh, yeah. Duh, I would’ve done the same. You’re not special.” Raise-worthy people think outside the predictable. Less Duh. More Eureka!

Never tell a story where your coworkers look dumb.
This tactic has the same negative effect as the first. If you try to show you are a genius among idiots, well, the baseline isn’t helping your cause. However, if you’re respectful of your peers and show how you contributed something special, now you’re an asset who offers your talent to the greater good. People who give raises like that.

It’s better to be a badass pigeon than a lameass peacock. 
Back to my girl, Cher Ami. Did she point out how her flight path was obviously the wisest route? Non! Or how weak the German anti-birdcraft fire was? Non! Did she complain that the two pigeons shot down before her were incompetent? Mon Dieu, Cher Ami is above schadenfreude. She did her job better than anybody and made it about the soldiers she saved. And now she is stuffed and enshrined in the Smithsonian, which is a big deal in pigeon circles and even some human ones. And yes, I get the irony about saying lameass when Cher Ami was missing a leg, but I think it makes my point even stronger, oui?
So what’s your story gonna be? How will you showcase the star? 

P.S. Cher Ami was a hen and is “still erroneously represented as a cock bird at the National Museum of American History and by many other educational and military history information sources” so don’t even start. THIS IS GIRL POWER. 

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