Imagine a good friend telling you about a pill she takes every morning that produces amazing results for her in the area of her interpersonal relationships. This is a friend who used to have difficulty connecting with people. Now, she establishes an easy rapport within minutes. Building trust with people had always been difficult for her, but now people offer their trust, information and commitment spontaneously. People used to tune out when she talked. Now her conversations fascinate her listeners.
Do such wonder drugs exist? Yes, but not in tablet form, they’re stored inside you. All of us come equipped with hormones that, when triggered and released, have a remarkable effect on our ability to connect, create trust and fascinate people. These hormones produce a relational chemistry we have with some people and completely miss with others.
Let’s explore the simple science of how human beings ‘synch’ with each other. The limbic system of your brain (the emotional center) is an open-loop system, meaning emotions can be contagious. Someone’s tears, or their smile can trigger an involuntary sympathetic reaction in you.
In their book Primal Leadership, Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee discuss this open-loop phenomenon and describe how emotions spread between people.They cite studies in which scientists measure the heart rate of two people as they have a good conversation. At the beginning of the conversation, their bodies are functioning at different rhythms, but fifteen minutes later their physiological profiles look remarkably similar – a phenomenon called mirroring.
Scientists describe [the limbic loop] as “interpersonal limbic regulation,” whereby one person transmits signals that can alter hormone levels, cardiovascular function, sleep rhythms, and even immune function inside the body of another…The open-loop design of the limbic system means that other people can change our very physiology – and so our emotions.
Put us together in face-to-face conversations and we regulate one another’s emotions. You’ve probably experienced this yourself. One team member’s strong, buoyant mood affects one person after another until the whole team is feeling upbeat. Another member’s critical, negative mood can equally infect an entire team in destructive ways. These authors go on to say:
This circuitry also attunes our own biology to the dominant range of feelings of the person we are with, so that our emotional states tend to converge. One term scientist’s use for this neural attunement is limbic resonance, ‘a symphony of mutual exchange and internal adaptation’ whereby two people harmonize their emotional state.
Recent discoveries in neuroscience confirm there are steps you can take to increase your chemistry in the relationships that are most important to you. In the coming weeks we’ll share how you can create connections, increase trust and spark fascination in your conversations – both face-to-face and virtually.
Co-Founder of Juice Inc, Thought Leader & Author
Co-Founder of Juice Inc.
Vice President, Business Development
Business Development, Juice USA
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