by Judith E. Glaser
The consequences of your interactions are filed daily in your memory bank, either as “feel good” or “feel bad” experiences. Memories with strong emotions linger, since the brain more easily files and calls up memories attached with strong sensory data. Smells, tastes, and emotions attached to a memory give it distinctions that enable you to call it up more easily. With little provocation, we can instantly call up a bad experience.
Haven’t you ever had a bad experience with a boss? If you’re really upset, you’ll talk about it forever. Emotional trauma or experiences that threaten our ego, well-being and self-esteem, or just push our hot buttons, tend to linger and create toxic effects that, over time, become the stories everyone wants to tell.
Culture develops through story telling, and stories are a primary “currency” for entering each other’s space of intimacy. We share our wounds and hope for a compassionate response back. On the other hand, letting go of the past and embracing the future frees energy that has been bound up in feelings of the past. Harboring bad feelings about others, and building cases about experiences long gone, only limits our ability to experience our own vitality. Bad feelings bring us down. Negative spirals produce more negativity in our lives. Letting go is the ability to interrupt and let go of the past and embrace the future.
Try This: What About You?
Think about the people on your team. Think about emotions that you experience when you’re with different team members. Think about how some conversations close you down, whiles others open you up.
- Based on how you are feeling, are you encouraging engagement and healthy conversations—or territorial and unhealthy conversations?
- Mark the relationships in which you may be participating in triangulation and case building. Are you opening up or closing down a relationship that is of great value to you?
- What tools and resources can you draw upon to give you insight and clarity into how to work more productively with team members?
Conversations that feel mean—feel bad to the brain—producing cortisol—like a “red light” stop us from engaging with others in healthy ways. While conversations that feel good produce oxytocin, which opens us up to engagement, trust and innovation.
Judith E. Glaser is CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc. and Chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is an Organizational Anthropologist, and consults to Fortune 500 Companies. Judith is the author of 4 best-selling business books, including her newest,Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (Bibliomotion, 2013) Visit www.conversationalingelligence.com; www.creatingwe.com; firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-307-4386