When leaders understand the neuroscience of effective communications everyone gains.
At the core of neuroscience and the brain are how we manage change and decision-making.
We pay people to make good decisions and to exercise reason and judgment, that part of the brain is called the prefrontal cortex. Underneath that prefrontal cortex is a little place called the amygdala. The amygdala manages our fight, flight, or freeze response to a threat. The Amygdala is called the reptilian brain. If you were to make a fist with your hand, the index finger would represent the prefrontal cortex, the executive decision-making and your thumb on the inside represents the amygdala.
Neuroscientists like Dr. David Rock and many others have learned through sophisticated technologies that the amygdala gets activated in a number of ways. Actually, there are five ways called SCARF = Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness. SCARF is an exploration of how some people are more sensitive to status threat and reward, while others are more sensitive to certainty).
For instance, anytime your status is threatened that amygdala is hijacked and you can no longer think and engage the executive functioning part of your brain known as the pre-frontal cortex. An example: You have a meeting with a client. To kick the meeting off you inadvertently end up talking about politics. The mention of political anything triggers the client. All of a sudden that client can no longer think rationally about the things you’re selling. The client’s amygdala has been hijacked. In fact, it takes about 25, 30 minutes to get the amygdala back to neutral.
Once back to neutral for they are able to think rationally about what it is you’re trying to sell.
When in fact, you might only have a 30-minute window to make your pitch.
Another example: You go into a performance review. If you haven’t given your employee a sense of what to expect beforehand, they’re not going to be able to hear all of that corrective feedback you want them to absorb? The manager says we are here for me to give you feedback on your performance. The employee says, oh my gosh, I don’t know what just happened, but I’m really pissed. Neither person ends up having their goals for the meeting met.
The antidote to the power of words sending a meeting into a tailspin is a new trend in one-to-one communications, companies now say we’re not going to do annual or semi-annual performance reviews. We’re now going to have coaching conversations.
That’s an organizational response to something very, very basic, the need for certainty.
Guest – Angela Durham
Your Host – Arthur Jones