I recently listened to a podcast that discussed conversational intelligence. The authors point out that what we say can create physical and chemical reactions in people. Words literally change our physiology.
They point out that the amygdala, which is part of our primitive brain, is always in surveillance and protection mode. It can react in 70 milliseconds, which is much faster than the relatively modern thinking brain. The amygdala is responsible for protecting us and is in control of the freeze, flee, fight response way before allowing the thinking brain to get involved. This makes the first response to anything always an emotional one.
So when we communicate with others, if we do not consciously pay close attention to what we say, and how we say it, we can invoke unintended responses from the other individual’s amygdala. For example, when we pass a team member in the hallway, we may say “Morning” and move on with barely a glance. How many ways can that simple act be perceived? I was just given the cold shoulder; She is too busy or important to acknowledge me; I am not a member of the in-crowd. I hate my job.
When we communicate, we should always be asking ourselves a few questions. How am I being heard, seen and perceived? What emotion am I provoking or invoking? What nonverbal cues are we both displaying? Am I building trust?
The bottom line of communication is trust building. Trust makes us all feel as though we are truly involved in the conversation. There are many levels and degrees of trust as I have pointed out in other writings (conditional, unconditional, situational, necessity, etc.). Trust is a personal concept. Each of us will perceive trust differently and will modify it with a personal bias. I myself perceive trust as a belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
If trust is a belief, then it must be based on experiences. So if trust is a belief usually tempered by the personal experiences of the individual having that belief, trust must be influenced by their interactions and communication with others. Therefore if we communicate effectively we gain trust. Communication is key.
Imagine a team without trust. If we don’t trust our leader, fellow team members and our objectives and goals can we ever attain success? If lacking trust we are constantly reacting emotionally through our amygdala – the thinking brain doesn’t get a chance to become involved. Without the thinking brain, problem solving cannot take place and we have a dysfunctional team.
Communication is key. I am an advocate of one-on-ones within teams as the key to communication. Good communication will build trust and trust will quiet the non-thinking amygdala. Good communication requires that we elicit feedback to ensure understanding.
Communication is key and this includes conducting good internal communication. Yes, I mean talk to yourself. Build trust within yourself by eliminating the self-doubts and negative thoughts that clutter your thinking. Add value to yourself with positive amygdala quieting affirmations. When negative and unproductive thoughts show up, make a conscious effort to remove and replace them with opposing good thoughts. It is weird at first, however keep working at it and you will have greater confidence. So go ahead and talk to yourself. You are the greatest influence on you. Make sure it is a positive influence and trust you.
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