By Kathy McKenzie, Director FIRE UP Coaching
The best coach training in the world – PERIOD!!
How do you respond when someone in your area of expertise claims to be far superior to you?
I found myself having quite a strong response to an email sent to me last week by someone directing me to the link of a competitor whose website banner made this claim. Why should I care that someone is making a claim to be the best in the world? I was trying to be rational and not have an emotional response but deep inside I was definitely being triggered. I was having a feeling about my feeling! Was my ego out of control, was it vanity ? Why should I be getting annoyed by something I have no control or influence over, when I know it is just marketing and I can spot a great generalisation when I see it?
The answer came this morning as I listened to Judith Glaser on my fourth webinar in her program on Conversational Intelligence. I had that AH HA moment and can be comforted by the fact that my response is just a typical limbic brain response, when we perceive a threat or think we are being judged in some way.
Judith Glaser has been researching in the area of neuroscience for over 40 years and her work enlightens us on the neurochemistry that is occurring in every human interaction or conversation. This morning’s session was on navigating the complexity of our neural networks. The part of the brain that facilitates navigation is the hippocampus which is situated in our Limbic system or the Emotional brain. The hippocampus stores information about previous interactions we may have had with a person and is visualising different routes in our mind to plan for our approach and determine what our experiences are. Our brains are constantly scanning for threat or trust. Can I trust this person or are they a threat? As I listened to Judith it made sense.
I understood why I reacted so strongly to that email. When I think back to my previous experiences (which my hippocampus so quickly retrieved) with the person who sent the email, they were not positive or rewarding and ended up making me feel very inadequate as a business person. None of us like to feel judged or criticised, and when we do, our brain releases the neurotransmitter cortisol that prepares us for fight or flight.
Hence when I opened the email my brain immediately navigated through the networks to determine threat or trust and triggered an alarm bell. The part of the brain that gets activated when we perceive a threat is called the Amygdala and as the emotional gatekeeper, if it gets information from the other parts of the brain where data is stored about a past negative experience, it goes onto high alert.
The part of the brain we want to be able to activate to override our irrational emotional responses is the Prefrontal Cortex or our Intellectual brain. This is the part of the brain that operates at a higher level and allows us to go beyond our previous limits and achieve more than we ever thought possible.
When we are communicating with others we want to consciously think about how we can support that higher level thinking and not inadvertently trigger a threat response. When I activate my higher level brain I would open an email about a clever competitor and start planning for how I can be creative in connecting to more clients and supporting the growth of coaching and humanity.
My higher level brain is not threatened by competition but excited by possibilities and opportunities.
Judith has designed a model for us to work with organisations around how they can identify areas that currently evoke threat responses and change them to be more conducive to developing trust. I presented this to a group yesterday and they immediately recognised their workplace as being heavily fear based but were excited about going back and sharing and expanding their new found awareness with their teams so that they could start the process of change.
Use this model in your team, organisation or family to reflect on what happens currently.
|Healthy Thriving Workplace|
|FEAR BASED WORKPLACE||TRUST BASED WORKPLACE|
|Promotes release of cortisol, testosterone, norepinephrine||Promotes release of oxytocin, dopamine,serotonin|
I have shared this model with many groups over the past few months and it has resonated strongly with every single one. Judith’s work on the Healthy Thriving Workplace is a great foundation for knowing what needs to be present in all conversations to ensure you are building trusting relationships. By building trusting relationships we build a positive culture which in turn supports people to come together and achieve far more than they ever could as individuals. As human beings we are programmed for connection and our brain is a “we” centred tool. When the “we” is cohesive, supportive and collaborative the “I” thrives.