In my previous article, I went over how the old saying “It’s not personal, it’s only business,” really does become personal in our work/home/social lives where we depend on connection and communication with other people.
How modern psychological research has found that the word ‘together’ in a team environment will reinforce an individual sense of togetherness that is crucial to our physical and social well-being. We can’t shortchange ourselves when relating to each other on the job, with a team, or at home.
Negative Connection and Communication
Another very interesting line of research has been exploring the chemical levels in our brains. When we experience criticism or other types of negative comments, connection, and communication then our brains produce more cortisol. Cortisol has been shown to shut down the critical thinking area of our brain and stimulate the self-protection areas. Researchers who use fMRI scans have noted that the activity in the brain shifts to the amygdala, which is the area that governs emotions. Both areas of research have demonstrated what some are now calling the ‘amygdala hijack’ for the situation where we perceive threat, even in seemingly innocuous words another is using.
This harkens back to the days when humans had to be vigilant and ready for flight at a second’s notice – no time for thinking, just fright then flight. Although we don’t usually have to be ready for flight for survival in the work place, there are dangers that the brains interprets, and that supervisors or managers can quite easily mitigate by keeping a few easy things in mind.
There are behaviours that reduce the levels of cortisol, thus allowing the cerebral cortex, thinking area of the brain to be engaged. These behaviours include ways of interacting with others that demonstrate an honest interest and concern for another. Simply asking how the past weekend was, if someone who was not feeling well is now feeling better, or remembering an important date in the life of another. Not rocket science, just being a nice human being. Doing this, however, will start to build an account of positive regard with others that will not only carry you through the difficult times, misunderstandings that seem to always happen, but keep the cerebral cortex engaged.
Other ways to keep the brain thinking at its best include engaging in stimulating conversations, connection, and communication that explores topics with openness and true curiosity, being honest about what is on your mind and painting a picture of mutual success – together!
Behavior Action Plans
Things to stop doing, to increase brain activity, include trying to convince others to your point of view, becoming emotional so that you just don’t hear others, and pretending to listen. Put your phone and computer on mute, turn away from them and focus on the other person.
It’s not so hard; treat the people at work like you treat those you really care about. Even if you have to remind yourself at first to behave like this, time and again, I’ve noted that when supervisors act like this, they really do begin to care about the people on their team.15 comments