Over the last several weeks we have been discussing how exceptional leaders play big by staying in the game during difficult and stressful times. We’ve covered how default reactions by the amygdala can cause us to act out and we may not even realize we are doing it. Exceptional leaders have self-awareness and understand the impact they have on those they lead. Last week I ran across a great little story on a default behavior we can probably all relate to at some time.
There was an old song by Sting, lead singer of the British rock group “The Police”, which had the lyrics “Don’t stand so close to me.”
Well guess what? The amygdala really doesn’t like people getting too close to us. In different societies personal space is varied. In parts of Asia you never look someone in the eyes, because it is considered very offensive. In western society we have about a two-foot circumference of personal space. Someone encroaches on that space and our amygdala triage center starts shouting, “Warning, Warning, trespassers!”
In Australia they did a study on shoppers and the change in attitude of the shoppers when someone encroached their space. The study group hired “relatively attractive” phantom shoppers in their 30’s to ever so lightly brush up against shoppers or just stand near them. The results were those who were targeted, either lightly brushed by the phantom shoppers or had their space encroached, spent less time in the store and when surveyed they had a more negative brand evaluation of the store. The amygdala had gone on high alert due to encroachment of space or touching.
The results showed that people who didn’t get crowded were more likely to linger and buy something they liked. The amygdala was soothed and customers could focus on what they were shopping for at the moment.
Just an example to show how even exceptional leaders have to be on high alert for default behaviors. We are constantly being bombarded with stimuli and our brain will react to it or if we are aware we can respond to it.
Thanks for coming along.