How many times have you heard someone say they are either right-brained or left-brained? They tell you that they are either creative or analytical. Well, it turns out that the either/or concept is a myth and science has proven that we actually use our entire brains all the time. We must stop pigeon-holing ourselves to be one or the other.
So what is really happening up there in our noggins? Well, remember yesterday, I explained the part of our brain called the neocortex? Well, the neocortex is the part of our brain that is divided into two hemispheres. So our thinking brain is really the only part with this divide – not the entire brain. And the main reason for it, is that it actually makes the neocortex a much faster super-computer, capable of processing information exponentially faster.
Right Brain vs Left Brain:
Each side of the neocortex does play a different role, but keep in mind that the whole system is interconnected, and we use both sides equally as much.
- Your left side is responsible for linear reasoning – grammar, exact number calculations, direct fact retrieval, etc. It is the part of your brain that is analytical, rational, and logical and is really the part of the brain that loves to label things. And most likely why we want to try and categorize ourselves as right or left brain!
- Your right side is responsible for holistic reasoning – intonations, approximations, common sense, etc. It is the part of the brain that thinks in pictures and metaphors and has the capacity to conceptualize and visualize. One major component of the right brain is that it is where all our autobiographical memories are stored.
“The right brain is the seat of our emotional and social selves.” – Daniel Seigal
One thing to keep in mind is how these two sides work in concert with each other. A mathematician will use his left side as he works those exact calculations, while simultaneously tapping into the right side to look for creative ways to find solutions. An artist will use their right side to imagine and visualize, while simultaneously using their left side for accuracy on fine lines and details. While the left side has often been considered the side for language, the right side processes some aspects like intonation and emphasis.
These are important points to consider as you work with others and in understanding why we make decisions based on emotions. And also let’s stop allowing people to get out of doing certain tasks because they have categorized themselves as one or the other. Sure, some people tend to have a more dominant side, but in tomorrow’s post, we will discuss neuroplasticity and how we can re-train our brains.
Here was a powerful quote from the article in the Guardian that I want to share to help you remember why this myth can be harmful:
“The problems start, however, when the left-brained/right-brained myth becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When your 12-year-old fills out an online personality test that pegs her as a “right-brainer” and she decides to skip her math homework – because the test told her she isn’t good with numbers – the persistence of this false dichotomy starts to become destructive. The same goes for the unemployed worker who forgoes applying for their dream job because the job description calls for creativity skills they think they may not have.”
Right Brain matters for decisions based on emotions
Remember in Part 1, I discussed the limbic system, or the part of our brain responsible for emotion? well, the right side of the neocortex is connected to the limbic system. So think about this…
The right side is where we store our autobiographical memories. Memories are what drive emotions. Emotions drive decisions. So the more you can tap into the right side of the brain through the use of images, metaphors, and what we perceive as “common-sense,” the easier it will be for people to follow an idea.
Our right brain actually is in charge of giving us a whole sense of ourselves, and it is where decisions stem from. It imagines possibilities and then fills in the gray areas.
Remember that we don’t live our lives on logic. If we did, we would all drive the same car, have the same kind of house, eat the right foods, and do things relatively the same every day. Each day, we make emotional decisions based on our intuition and incomplete information. There is too much happening all around us to process all of the stimulus, so the right brain does the best it can to make decisions. And also, because our experiential memory resides on the right side, we tend to use our memories to make decisions as well.
As salespeople, we need to understand all of this because most of us have been taught to sell based on logic. We try and have the facts and figures, we want the “best” answers, and we want to persuade through intelligent ideas. Well that just doesn’t work.
What we need to do is unlock the right side of the brain by getting people to imagine possibilities, tap into memories, and move them to make decisions based on emotions. And remember, we can all train ourselves to do this, even if we have been using logic as our go-to for so long. It will take some work creating new habits…
Tomorrow we are going to talk about new habits and neuroplasticity.
Would love to hear your comments on this below!
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