Tough Talks Book Series

Conflict resolution: research on your brain

I’ve long been fascinated about how our brains impact, or are impacted by, conflicts and difficult discussions. While doing my research for Tough Talks® in Tough Times, I tracked down information about the physiology of emotions and what role they played in giving and receiving bad news in the workplace. Each person I interviewed described the same physical reactions to receiving bad news: pounding hearts, upset stomachs, dizziness, dry mouths. And I wanted to know why.

Here’s the reason:  When a person hears bad news, no matter what else they were previously thinking at the time, their minds and bodies immediately perceive a threat of some kind.  And when that happens, their sympathetic nervous systems are activated and release a rush of 1100 neuro-chemicals, according to Deborah Del Vecchio-Scully, who is on staff with Associated Neurologists of Southern Connecticut. These neuro-chemicals have to run their course. They can’t be stopped. The result is what each person described to me.

These emotions and reactions are further discussed in Chapter 3 of Tough Talks® in Tough Times, where the CHECK® system is described in detail. The CHECK® system gives you a 5-step plan to make your difficult discussions easier.

When I was at the library the other day, a  book on the “New Releases” shelf captured my attention. It’s called Your Brain and Business: The Neuroscience of Great Leaders. It’s written by Snirivasan S. Pillay, M.D., an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.  He writes about how brain science can be used on the job with business relationships, negotiations and change management.  A brief perusal of it has already turned up information I’ll want to share with you on this blog. So…stay tuned.  There’s more to come.


This entry was posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Difficult conversations, performance management. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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