Using story in the news could increase empathy

For some strange reason, many people think that humans are primarily rational. Part of this myth is propagated through the media who claim to be ‘objective’ in their reporting. Surely, no one still believes this. The last time I saw a balanced news story was… I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Every piece of information presented must be sifted through an emotional filter. Our current emotional state will determine what that information means and what we do with it. Catch someone on the ‘right’ day, and they will support your cause and catch them on the ‘wrong’ day, and they will reject it. Change their day through your interaction, and you suddenly have emotional influence.

When the media claims to be objective, what they are really saying is we found some statistics and we are going to put them in our story so it sounds objective. The source and credibility of those statistics is rarely offered. They may choose opposing statistics or viewpoints to falsely illustrate ‘balanced reporting’, but every story will always be themed towards one side.

A recent news article (link below) reports using story in the media could increase empathy and compassion. I find this to be such a strange ‘realization’ as the media has a story based theme for everything they do. It’s just that it is usually a negative fear invoking theme designed to grab your attention. Nothing grabs your attention faster than the threat of danger. It is not the facts, but the emotional risks perceived that gets people to watch, listen or read.

Therefore, presenting a story with a positive emotional theme is simply the same principle, only with a different emotional focus. Hardly a revolutionary idea, but perhaps one we need to be reminded of.


Simple Tips to being more influential and getting your message across

1. Be clear in your mind what you want people to feel before you interact with them.

2. Put yourself in that emotional state first before you meet.

3. Use stories, anecdotes, jokes, examples etc in your discussions that are likely to support and amplify the key emotional theme/s you wish to present.


Original News Article Source:

2 Responses to “Using story in the news could increase empathy”

  1. Luis Reply

    A great man once said “facts are meaningless, they can be used to prove anything”. Does the story then become the manipulator of the facts, so that the reader/listener/viewer is to an extent pushed to agree with the story teller?

    Can a person be 100% objective? I presume this would not be possible. Are we not pre-programmed to judge according to our education, life experience and environment?

  2. Very true Luis. It is also not so much the story as the story-teller. If we like the story teller, we will be more easily swayed by their point of view simply because it is them and if we dislike them, we will be highly resistant of what they are saying even if it is intelligent, useful and credible.