So we have gone and done it, launched our neuroscience pilot (see our blog on 5th November- You CAN change how you think and feel with clients). The programme has set us all off on the journey into understanding the brain and why it does what it does and how we can, from this knowledge, bring the best we can to managing our client relationships.
Day 1 kicked off on one of those beautiful cold, crisp and sunny days that England does so well. A bunch of committed and open minded colleagues and clients got together ready to spend the day unpicking the most complex organ we have. There was definitely a sense of excitement in the group but also a bit of nervousness about where the day would lead us and what would we really take from the session.
As part of the joining instructions we were challenged to try something new, something that we had not done before. So the first exercise was for us to share that experience and to understand how that had triggered our thoughts, emotions, and physical responses. Mine was that I was a delegate in one of my own workshops, definitely a first! What did I learn about myself; that control is important, I am a creature of habit more than I thought, that new perspectives and breaking rhythms is incredibly energising.
We then spent the day looking further into how our brain works, what people are now understanding about the process of thinking and feeling and what implications it has for us in the way we can ‘control’ it. And a number of light bulbs went off for me, that over time will have a massive impact on how I engage with clients.
- The first light bulb was that our brains are designed to be the most efficient machine possible with the sole purpose of ensuring our survival. This means that we create neural networks (thinking pathways), based on our past experience, to ensure we can efficiently make decisions about situations – rating them on a scale from danger to reward. That means all our thoughts about what is real or not are only perceptions based on our past experience. If that is true we can create new experiences and therefore change those perceptions to find more reward.
- The second light bulb was that our emotions are data that help our brains to work out whether the situation is a threat to us or we are safe i.e. we cannot be happy unless we feel safe, if we are angry we are sensing danger. Therefore listening to our own emotions and sensing others is a critical part of any client relationship
- The third light bulb was that unless I trust you there will always be a sense of danger in my thinking which will set off my amygdala (the part of the brain that helps keep us safe) and encourage me to use emotions and behaviours that you may perceive as negative – parenting, controlling, I’m OK/You’re Not OK, frustration
Now my brain definitely hurts thinking about this, and you know what, I can’t wait to get to the next stage. During the rest of the programme we will be working on how we can manage all of this in the moment and come up with new ways of approaching our client relationships
How do I feel? Wonderfully liberated, scared and excited in equal measures.
Bring it on!