When you first glimpse someone (or something) new your brain reacts instantly, but you knew that. What’s destructive is that when you instinctively feel danger – or simply irritation – you respond quicker, longer and more intensely than if you feel safe or another positive emotion.
Your negative reaction to “the new” affects you much more than a positive response. Knowing that you can understand the power of choosing how to respond to what you don’t like – and the need to practice making that choice. You may set in motion a spiral up of negative reactions between you and the other person until you both get stuck against each other.
That’s one reason why the carrot and stick approach to rewarding and penalizing employees, family members or friends actually harms relationships and collective performance. So suggests Dave Rock in Your Brain at Work and Dan Pink at the TED conference and in his forthcoming book, Drive: The Surprizing Truth About What Motivates Us.
Keep cool while under fire
The most effective way to avoid being the victim of one’s reactions to stress-appearing
event, suggests Jeffrey Schwartz, co-author of The Mind and the Brain, is to establish regular routines in which you watch the patterns of your thoughts and feelings to become more self-aware in the moment. Schwartz believes that the collective practice of such mindfulness is the only way an organization can change.
And collaborationis difficult, ironically, because without self-awareness we can’t see beyond ourselves.
That’s why mindfulness can also be a powerful bonding practice, as well, for a family or circle of friends to collectively adopt.
Don’t let somebody else determine your behavior
The more mindful you are the more aware you become of your unconscious processes. That way you have more cognitive control, found Kirk Brown, meaning you have a greater ability to shape what you do and what say, than people lower on the mindfulness scale.
Hint: We tend to like people who act like they like us.