• Chemical Brain Freeze

Change and Fear of the Unknown

Last week we talked about unmet emotional needs and the impact they play on our behavior.  We had talked about the five key emotional needs consisting of: Safety, Power, Acceptance, Respect and Value.  When we feel one of these needs is not being met, our brain sends out warning signals and our behavioFear of the unknown Ar can change.
Let’s take a look at how change can affect how we are feeling about ourselves, especially when dealing with the fear of the unknown.

I had a discussion with a surgeon who was complaining about a piece of equipment he had bought.  It had cost him $80,000 but his staff wasn’t spending the appropriate amount of time learning how to use the equipment and getting it into the patient flow process.
Think about why people struggle with change.  In the current mode people are recognized for their performance. Their rewards are based on this performance.  They know the process, can multitask, balance out the workload, understand the patient flow and all the various intricacies of the process.  Now you ask them to introduce a new piece of equipment that will interrupt the process as the staff goes through the learning curve.  The staff is not familiar or confident in running the machine and even less confident in answering questions by patients.
They begin to question their value.  Will they be as effective and be able to provide the same performance as they have in the past?  They second-guess quite a bit about having to use the equipment.  The piece of equipment begins to take on a negative nature.
As the surgeon watches the piece of equipment gather dust he realizes that if it doesn’t get into the process quickly, he is going to have a very expensive boat anchor on his hands.
The amygdala portion of the brain picks up warning signals about this piece of equipment and the staff ‘s struggle with getting trained on the equipment and getting it into use.  Many times one of the key warning signals is the fear of the unknown.  How will this equipment affect our process?  How will it affect our workload?  Will we be able to process more patients faster or fewer patients?  Will someone lose a job because this equipment is utilized?
The best way to soothe the amygdala is at the beginning of the change process.  Communication is key at this point and the time spent explaining why the equipment is coming into the practice is time well spent.  Don’t assume the explanation has to be done only once.  Get someone trained on the equipment fast enough so they can help train others and take away the fear of the unknown.  So many times sales reps show staff what the equipment can do but don’t allow for hands-on-training.  The hands-on-training takes the fear of the unknown away.
Anytime you can remove a fear,  you’re moving in the right direction.
Thanks for coming along.

Exceptional leaders know the combination to “Playing Big”


Last week we discussed how the amygdala part of the brain can affect how leaders can either play big or play small in dealing with stressful situations. One key point that we focused on was how easy it is for the amygdala to “awfulize” and think of all the bad things that can possibly happen. The amygdala naturally does this to prepare for the worst that can actually happen to us. In some situations it can be a great benefit. In other work environment situations it can stop us in our tracks. To understand why the amygdala reacts in certain situations it’s important to understand what the baseline is for a non-reactive amygdala.
We all have emotional needs. Maslow in his work mapped out the emotional needs of humans. People have added to his work and changed portions but Maslow’s work still provides a solid foundation. I like to keep it simple, so I focus on five key emotional needs. They are:
• Safety
• Power
• Acceptance
• Respect
• Value.
These five needs are applicable to children and adults. When these needs are met the amygdala is pretty content. When these needs are not met, people will act out. Watch what happens to a small child when they try and interrupt talking adults to show them something. When the adult says, “Not now, can’t you see we’re talking.” The child will walk away and pout. They don’t feel accepted or included and the amygdala will go into action and they pout and withdraw.
Now watch in a business meeting when people are sharing ideas and when one person finally gets a chance to speak up and the meeting leader says, “Sorry Cindy, but we need to move on.” Cindy will typically do what a small child will do. She will sit back, cross her arms and withdraw. I have watched men and women do this in meetings for years. They don’t feel like they are accepted or treated fairly (respect) or valued (feeling heard). The amygdala goes into action and the person doesn’t even realize they have sat back and folded their arms.
Exceptional leaders know the combination to Playing Big by recognizing unmet emotional needs and the acting out by the person who experiences this situation. A quick comment by an exceptional leader can bring Cindy back into the meeting in seconds. “Cindy we are short on time but I would like to get your input after the meeting.” In seconds Cindy feels valued. Simple example but the combination to playing big is not complicated. When you see people acting out, whether its children or adults, you can be pretty certain that there is an unmet emotional need not being met. We’ll share some more examples in the next couple of blogs because observing and understanding what is happening in stressful or difficult situations can help you work on becoming an exceptional leader.
Thanks for coming along.

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Chuck Inman has spent 30 years in a career, which has covered sales, marketing, training and coaching.  In his sales and marketing leadership roles he has successfully launched key products and grown various businesses.

Exceptional Leaders “Play Big”

one on one dialogueOver the last several blogs we have been covering Chemical Brain Freezes (CBFs) from what they are to how do you keep them from occurring. Now that we understand the brain science a little bit, it makes sense to discover why we don’t always do the big things that need to get done.
You’ve heard the expression “Play big, don’t play small!” haven’t you? It refers to taking the steps to accomplish some of the big things that need to be completed. Sometimes this means having those difficult conversations and speaking up when required. Playing small is when we send an e-mail or a text message instead of meeting someone face-to-face or over the phone for a critical conversation. Playing small is not speaking up in a meeting when the group is asked if anyone has any input. Instead two days later you put out an e-mail and try and address the issue. But as we all know e-mails and text messages have no tonality and can be interpreted in many different ways.
Now here comes the science on why we do this over and over again.
The amazing amygdala, will sense danger when you consider having a face-to-face or phone call with someone. It goes through the catastrophizing stage of assuming everything that could go wrong will go wrong. This portion of the brain is trying to protect you from the fears and feelings of being vulnerable. You can get yourself so worked up thinking about all the bad things, which could happen that you don’t pick up the phone and call or have that face-to-face meeting. You calm yourself down by telling yourself you’ll send a text or e-mail message and your amygdala cools down, you don’t go into a full blown out CBF and your breathing returns to normal. You actually think you are in a good place because you have calmed down and now with all sorts of clarity you are assuming you are doing the best thing possible for the situation. In reality, you have resorted back to default behaviors and playing small.
It takes courage to meet someone one-on-one or pick up the phone. Exceptional leaders know the value of playing big and crossing over to the other person’s side to gain their perspective. They may not always agree, but they do understand the importance because they play big. They can get over how they feel and then focus on how to accomplish the goal in the best way possible.
Watch how your body responds the next time you have an important meeting or have to make a key phone call. Do you feel your heart rate pick up? Does your breathing get shallow? Stop, take a couple of deep breaths, go to your gratitude story and then ask yourself, “What are the advantages of ‘Playing Big’ right now. Will it matter in 3 minutes? 3 days? 3 weeks? or 3 months? Now you have your neo-cortex back in the game, you’ve regrouped. Now you can walk into the room looking forward to playing big or pick up the phone expecting some good results from playing big. Exceptional leaders play big and they also know how to keep others they deal with playing big. More on keeping yourself in the game in the next blog.
Thanks for coming along.