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From Where We Sit

Stories we can tell

Anton Ng

While waiting to board my 12-hour flight, I browsed the web through Hong Kong International Airport’s free internet stations. I searched “things to do in Amsterdam” in Google to give me an idea of what I can do in the city in my spare time. This is atypical. I normally have my itinerary all planned out, either because I am travelling with my wife—who is such a great organizer—or I had already planned out my trip due to excitement. That was not the case for this Amsterdam trip.

With no fixed plans on what to do and where to go, I constantly looked for things to do on the fly. On my last day in Amsterdam, I found out through Twitter that BlackPink, arguably today’s K-Pop queens, is in the area. They will be having a concert later that night in an arena that is just train ride away from where I was. With no other plans for my last night in Amsterdam, I did not hesitate to purchase a ticket.

Many were surprised that I watched a K-Pop concert by myself, and in a foreign country at that. I do not consider myself a K-Pop fan, but I do enjoy listening to such music. What was my gateway K-Pop song? None, to be honest. My fascination with K-Pop did not start, because I heard or experienced the “product,” but because I watched a Netflix show called Explained that told me the story of K-Pop from its early beginnings to how the Korean wave is conquering the world.

It was the K-Pop story, rather than the K-Pop songs themselves, that convinced me that I should start listening to the genre. The creativity and intentionality of Koreans were evident in the show I watched. It made me appreciate the songs even before I actually listened to them.

When I was still studying in university, I applied for a prestigious internship. During my interview, I felt that I was not connecting with my interviewer. He did not seem to be interested in what I had to say. Expectedly, I was not selected. A few years later, I realized that I may have had a better chance of connecting with the interviewer if I incorporated stories as part of my communication tools.

Stories can make you relatable. Do not simply tell your audience that your most significant weakness is being a procrastinator; instead, share with them a story on how procrastinating impacted your way of doing things, your mindset, and your emotions when the deadline was still months away and how those all changed as the deadline approached.

Giving advice to co-parents is a sensitive endeavor to pursue. Because there are a million ways to raise a child—from sleep training, breastfeeding, and disciplining—there are beliefs and practices that we parents hold dear. An attack on those beliefs feels like an attack to our very own person.

Stories do not impose. Rather, stories creates opportunities for people to exchange ideas without being overbearing. Stories can act as a means to allow parents to relate with each other’s burdens and how they tried to overcome struggles. Do not simply tell your co-parents that they should do this or do that; share with them how you and your baby struggled with sleeping at night and what you did to help overcome the lack of sleep. Share both what worked and what did not work.

Presenting the organizational results of operations, especially those that contain many numbers, can sometimes be dull. Even though there are important messages to land—such as the organization being able to meet its targets or that there are significant red flags that management needs to address—incorporating a story on how such information and messages are communicated can make it more compelling.

Stories can get people excited and hopeful. It can also bring about sadness and help people prepare for the worst. Do not simply congratulate your organization for reaching your goals this year; share with them the story of how a shop foreman persevered to learn new skills that contributed to the attainment of organizational objectives.

The tragedy of a great message is that it would not be as impactful on our audience as we would have wanted, because we did not incorporate a story to bring the message home. Let us not waste a powerful message, simply because we did not take advantage of incorporating a story. A good story can ignite emotions that few other communication tools can.

Stories can get people excited. It can spark hope, it can inspire. It can draw people to try new things. It made me listen to K-Pop music that led to my BlackPink concert experience.


Anton Ng is a Partner of the Audit & Assurance P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to or For more information, visit our Website:


As Published in The Manila Times, dated 29 May 2019