As business owners, one of the constant struggles you face is (practically) no one – including your employees - views your company the way you do. The fact is it is simply a function of how the human brain functions. Why is it important for you to understand basic brain functioning? Because you can leverage how the brain functions to better manage your workforce and create better results.
With the emergence of sophisticated medical imaging technology in the 1970s and 1990s, neuroscientists were able to physically study the brain in a way never before possible. They could examine the brain in real time and test out theories of brain functioning. As a result, more has been learned about brain functioning in the last 20 years than in most of previous recorded history. Of the recent insights about how the brain works, some are particularly relevant and useful to managing work relationships.
One insight is that no two brains are even remotely alike. Want proof? Think of the “telephone” game you may have played as a child. You start with one statement and pass it along a line of people. Each person’s hearing and interpretation of the statement changes it slightly and a very different statement comes out the other end. Another example is the slightly (or greatly) differing stories different eyewitnesses will give for the same event. The wiring and “maps” we create in the brain are influenced by the way in which we see the world, by our own unique experiences, even by our existing hardwiring. And because no one else shares our exact perspective and point of view, no one else has exactly the same set of maps as we do.
What’s the point?
It turns out that our way of seeing the world is so clear, we think others see it the same way. When we interact with others over an issue (goal, problem, challenge…) and they come at it at a slightly different angle, it can trigger us and cause us to want to help them “see” our angle. Because their brain is as unique as yours, they will not “see” what you see. Instead, the interaction devolves into a battle to see who can get the other to see what he sees. In other words, it turns into a waste of everyone’s time.
Another (counterintuitive) insight is that it is nearly impossible to eliminate existing wiring. The simple act of focusing on it lights up the circuitry involved and further embeds it. This insight is at the root of many failed attempts to “develop” a weakness. You actually make the weakness stronger by focusing on it. That’s the bad news.
The good news is found in yet another insight – it is easy to create new wiring. If you want to create something new in the brain, pay it attention, do it often, over a period of time, and reinforce it with positive feedback. The brain has an amazing ability to create new wiring; in fact it is doing it all the time. You can harness this power by creating an intention (goal, focus, insight) and finding ways to revisit and support that intention over time.
How does a business owner leverage these insights?
Think about it.
What can you do differently knowing that every other brain in your operation is completely different than yours, with a different set of maps, beliefs, assumptions, experiences, etc? How can you interact with people in your company in a way that works in harmony with their unique brains? How can you find ways to bridge the gap between your thinking and their thinking? What do you need to do to stop forcing your unique brain upon them?
How can you avoid further embedding the type of thinking and hardwiring you don’t want in your operation? How can you help people overcome their weaknesses and play to their strengths?
How can you help your employees create new wiring around the kinds of knowledge, skills and abilities you need to achieve your goals? How can you help them embed this new wiring? And how can you create your own new wiring to help move you from where you are to where you want to be?
Think about it.
Paul McGinniss is founder of Response-Able Consulting LLC, a brain-based workplace and executive coaching company that helps busy executives create new thinking and new results for their businesses. Contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org or 516.215.4233.