The dominant narrative

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Life is filled with nuance. Our ability to perceive things, not so much. We come up with a story (about an organization, a person, a situation) and all the data that supports it, we notice, and the nuance we discount or ignore. So, if you believe that Whole Foods…

Life is filled with nuance.

Our ability to perceive things, not so much.

We come up with a story (about an organization, a person, a situation) and all the data that supports it, we notice, and the nuance we discount or ignore.

So, if you believe that Whole Foods is expensive, you won't notice the items that are a little cheaper, but the overpriced things that confirm your narrative will be obvious.

If you believe that your boss is cold-hearted, you'll gloss over the helpful moments and remind yourself of the other times.

We engage in this narrative and people do it to us as well, and to our brands and our institutions, all the time. Insisting that they see the whole truth isn't going to be a productive strategy.

It's easy to pretend that the dominant narrative is insightful, based in reality and in sync with what we wish it was. Denying it doesn't make it go away, though.

We can't easily change the dominant narrative that people have about us, we certainly can't do it by insisting that our customers or colleagues bring more nuance to the table.

Instead, we can do it through action. Vivid, memorable interactions are what people remember. Surprises and vivid action matter far more than we imagine, and we regularly underinvest in them.


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