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Our brains are malleable. We’re not BORN like this… whatever this is

Published: 03 December 2020

This blog post is tailored especially for leaders in business, and in life, is about understanding that our brains are malleable, and that we can apply techniques to counteract our instincts. We’re not BORN like this… whatever this is.

Neuroplasticity forms part of the Neuroscience basket of techniques and practices that we can use to determine the outcomes of our actions. These techniques are powerful in business but can be used as powerfully as an individual. Charles recently spoke about The Neuroscience of trust – Trust being one of the most important factors required in building healthy relationships. Part of his content questioned how one would practically go about implementing neuroscience techniques.

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What I’ll be speaking about is just that, how the programmes you roll out in your business can and should be underpinned by Neuroscience – there are two elements Talk2Us has focussed on since 2015 and which underpin all the programs we develop, bespoke or generic.

The elements are understanding and working with narrative theory and similarly working and understanding neuroplasticity. These two elements complement one another.

There is a multitude of texts on both concepts and it’s a study in and of itself. For the purpose of this vlog however, I have chosen six elements to be considered when putting together your next corporate initiative around change. I reckon there’s a lot of change going on at the moment and with most of suffering from adventure fatigue resilience is we need to get us through the pandemic and into 2022. A hope beacon that will be immensely useful to ensure that your change programs are effective and result in adoption and impact.

Let’s for a minute deconstruct the nature of change and how our brains react to it. Our brains prefer to feel ‘comfortable’ when they’re comfortable they don’t send signals to the rest of our anatomy that increase our heart rate, release more cortisol and adrenalin so we can flee or fight or in a lot of instances just go into a state of panic or have an anxiety attack. I don’t believe anyone of us, living through this pandemic, has not had this horrible pang of anxiety at some stage or another.

Our brain perceives considerable change as a threat and immediately our considered thinking is highjacked and we struggle to manage our emotions. Our brain is also more particular in remembering threats and holds onto them for longer to safeguard itself and us.
In essence the power of a threat outlasts that of a reward, the outcome of this is that when we speak of change, it is seen as a threat, which leads to anxiety and distraction, causes a negative impact on our ability to perform - in order to then counteract poor performance management attempts to implement further change and a vicious spiral of entropy erupts within the organisation.

So how do you implement necessary change and at the same time safeguard your business against entropy which leads to diminished performance?

Hilary Scarlett a renowned neuroscience change management consultant offers six elements to consider when constructing your change initiative. An acronym SPACES encapsulates six elements that assist people in managing their change anxiety –

  • Self-esteem - Treating the past with respect, encouraging a positive mindset through narrative, asking opinions, trusting the team and giving praise and recognition. These will obviously manifest differently dependent on the change initiative and the history within the organisation
  • Purpose - What will success look like? Difficult and radical change is easier to deal with if you understand the ‘why’, the benefits and what your role is
  • Autonomy - Identify what can be controlled by whom and allow people to influence the outcome of elements of the change especially those in their sphere of influence
  • Certainty - We all love certainty but nothing loves it more than your brain. Provide a plan for each step along they way, lay out expectations and try hard, very hard, not to continually move the goalpost – within the limits of working through some unknowns
  • Equity - Fairness and transparency is what motivates most of us – we’re hardwired to be on the look out for it
  • Social connection - Keep everyone on the bus, unless of course they want to get off, then let them, in fact shove them off as they will derail everyone else. Remember prisons punish people by giving them solitary confinement. Inclusivity is of paramount importance. Create an environment of collaboration where there are no stupid questions and no wrong answers.

All our programs are underpinned and interweaved with neuroscience techniques. We work with specialists in their fields and in 2021 we’ll make every effort to bring these specialists into our studio for a bit more on this massive, but interesting topic.

If you’ve found this useful please like and share. If you have any queries please do not hesitate to Talk2Us we’d be delighted to hear from you.

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