To fully understand how you can develop behavior within team members, we must first understand how Appreciative Inquiry can change an organization by changing people. One method to initiate this change is through positive questioning. For example, imagine you have a one-on-one meeting scheduled with a member of your team. By establishing a positive start, recognizing the values and strengths of that employee, you can then ask the question of “What are some of the challenges you are finding with project X?”. In such an environment the employee will feel encouraged to move towards a positive discovery process, which can also lead to the employee identifying improvements and areas where they may require your mentorship. More importantly, you have allowed your team to feel comfortable to come to you with a problem.
By establishing a positive tone, you have now also transformed your team’s mindset to one that is open to collaboration, thereby enlisting change within the organization. By doing so, as a leader, you are aware of the challenges and victories of your team on a consistent basis. Too often leaders fail to establish such an environment and lean towards micromanaging what is wrong when they are not getting the results they expected. This is when employees are faced with the dreaded “Do you know why I called you in here today?” This question flares the employee’s emotionalized ego state; which often invokes either fear, confusion, or pride. This type of trigger may induce a “fight, flight or freeze” response. Therefore, when the employee answers the aforementioned question they may start to make excuses, deflect or jump into a full-on combative mode before they utter words.
To better understand why an individual can be triggered into the fight, flight or freeze response when faced with a challenging question we first need to understand the neuroscience of stress-provoking scenarios. Our limbic system is involved in motivation, emotion, learning, and memory. Additionally, the reticular activating system acts as the gatekeeper to filter all incoming stimuli to determine threats and importance to us. The amygdala is a part of our brain that assesses the stimuli we encounter. When the amygdala perceives a stimulus or situation as threatening, our memory center (the Hypothalamus) triggers downstream chemical changes in the body that will result in your body being in the fight or flight state. Due to these chemical changes in the brain, individuals in this state are not likely to remain rational, calm or logical without training to manage them.
Hopefully, that very summarized explanation of how we process inputs can now help you appreciate how all stimuli could trigger psychological and physiological response systems within the body. It was mentioned that each stimulus the amygdala will assess also involved our memory center; therefore our brain can distinguish from our previous experiences to help balance our response. In this step of the reactionary sequence, our brain’s largest section, the Neocortex, will introduce reasoning and logic to our ultimate response. The human response system can easily be developed. Our “knee-jerk” emotional reaction will show before any logic comes into play. Yet, when you have all three levels of our brain engaged in a series of checks and balances to continually assess the need for “flight, fight or freeze”, you will then have more control over your response within milliseconds of a trigger.
Deirdre teaches a program that opens up growth potential through understanding the neuroscience of human baehaviour, emotional intelligence, advanced communication, critical thinking, body language an overarching internal wellness philosophy. These skills are the foundation of “Soft Skills” mentioned in previous blog posts and focus on “pre-escalation” in managing interactions, developing self-mastery and control for improved wellness and aid team dynamics and the ethical influence of others.
To further read about the science of developing culture enhancing team behavior, I recommend reading Deirdre’s book, Mistakenly Underappreciated: Re-engaging the Disengaged. Additionally, make sure you sign-up for email notifications to be notified when our next blog is posted.
Employees serve the strategic and mission goals of an organization when their psychological and physiological wellness are optimized. Statistically these skills aid budget savings in attendance, productivity and efficiency. Email firstname.lastname@example.org today to discuss how we may serve your best possible workforce.
Written and published by Atosa Asadi