You see someone yawn and you yawn too. You watch a friend bang their elbow and you feel sympathy pains. We see people do things every day and our body responds with similar sensations. This is the work of mirror neurons and the primary cause for empathy.
In keeping with the discussion on why we make decisions based on emotions, we are going to see how powerful mirror neurons are in getting people to respond in the ways we want.[aio_button align=”left” animation=”none” color=”blue” size=”small” icon=”none” text=”Go to Part 3: Neuroplasticity” target=”_blank” relationship=”dofollow” url=”https://joegirard.ca/decisions-based-on-emotions-part-3-neuroplasticity/”]
In the previous posts, we have discussed how our brain has evolved to respond to stimulus and how we can re-train our brains to adapt in new ways. Today, I am excited to go over mirror neurons as they play a pivotal role in being able to quickly build rapport with others.
Back in the 1990’s, neuroscientists at the University of Parma made a very cool discovery. They were performing a series of tests with macaque monkeys while monitoring brain activity and noticed that the certain neurons in the brains reacted not only when a monkey performed an action, but also when it watched another monkey perform the same action, and even if they heard the action being performed in another room.
This was the beginning of many studies that help explain why we feel empathy for others when we see or hear them doing something.We are genetically wired to be empathetic because of mirror neurons. That is also why a smile can be so powerful. When we smile, others smile!
Intent is everything
One of the key drivers for mirror neurons is intent. The more powerful our intent is with an action, the stronger the impulse in the other person’s mirror neurons. That’s why we can’t fake a yawn and elicit the same response. Have you yawned yet in this post? (Not because of the writing I hope).
Essentially, mirror neurons give us the power to be emotionally contagious. We have the ability to create a sense of well-being in others through our actions, or we can create painful interactions with our behaviours. Our intent is what determines how strong of a reaction we will get in others.
Understanding why we are hardwired in this way, helps us to see how we need to be totally aware of how we present ourselves. As we have previously discussed, much more happens in our subconscious minds when we meet people than our conscious minds.
So make sure that your actions have intent. Remember my previous video post on setting intentions? When we take action with intent, others not only see it, but they feel it as well. You can elicit very strong responses in others just by having the right presence. You have massive control in the way people unconsciously perceive you.
The unreal power of vulnerability
If you haven’t seen the TED Talk by Brene Brown about the Power of Vulnerability, make sure you watch it. This is an area that I, like many other professionals, struggle with. We all try and be perfect and portray ourselves in the best light as possible, don’t we? We don’t ever want to be perceived as less than we are and no way should we admit our mistakes or shortcomings! Well, my goal here is to open your eyes to vulnerability as an extremely effective way to build better relationships and make more sales.
Imagine yourself in a sales situation where your goal is to get the other person to open up their needs to you. What do you do? If you are like most salespeople, you jump into your questions and try and dig into their issues. But what often happens? Well, the other person feels trapped and perhaps even more guarded. Why?
When someone feels trapped in questions, they revert back to their reptilian brain and are in “fight or flight” mode. They instinctually protect themselves from danger. If you have been reading all four parts of this blog series, you will see that we can’t tap into decision making through logic and must create emotions for the highest chance of success.
Looking at mirror neurons, what do you think the best way to get someone to open up is? If you guessed that YOU should open up first, you are correct and win this round.To effectively get people to be vulnerable and open up to you, YOU must be vulnerable first. Your mirror neurons basically make the other person think:
“If he’s willing to open up to me and be vulnerable, then he must trust me. In that case, it’s safe for me to open up to him and share something in return.”
The punchline is that we have an instinctive response to vulnerability and our brains actually create a desire to reciprocate.
Personally, I have struggled with applying this concept myself. But since I have practiced opening up and being vulnerable, I find people are way more responsive and willing to share. It creates amazing synergy between two people, quickly breaks down barriers, and opens the conversation up to new possibilities.
If I am reading your mind correctly, you may be thinking that in the business world, vulnerability is often seen as a sign of weakness, right?
Salespeople and other business “professionals” have been trained to have all the answers and to be superhuman. My dream is that the new school of thinking on leadership is one that embraces vulnerability as a strength. Human to human connections. And not just for some fluffy, dancing unicorn reason. But because it actually makes good business sense. Get rid of that pretense of bullshit that always exists between two strangers and open up already.
I will leave you with one last thought on the power of vulnerability and mirror neurons.
When a seller seems to have all the answers, the buyer mirrors them. They read the sellers body language and intention and they think:
” Everything is good with her? Then everything is good with me too. I DON’T NEED TO BUY ANYTHING.”
Remember that, the next time you are trying to get someone to make a decision. The faster you can get someone to be vulnerable, the faster they will open up and discuss their problems, and the more responsive to change they will be. And all you need to do is go first!
What emotions are you conveying that create openness in them? How can you tap into the part of the brain that will create stronger connections? Will you do the work it takes to make this your new reality?
I will be launching a new sales training program soon incorporating these ideas in psychology and much more. I will be creating my own sales storytelling program that will help you sell easier and faster, in any sales situation. Make sure you are on the email list below to stay up to date on that.[aio_button align=”left” animation=”none” color=”blue” size=”small” icon=”none” text=”Go to Part 1: Brain Evolution” target=”_blank” relationship=”dofollow” url=”https://joegirard.ca/decisions-based-on-emotions/”] [aio_button align=”left” animation=”none” color=”blue” size=”small” icon=”none” text=”Go to Part 2: Right vs Left Brain” target=”_blank” relationship=”dofollow” url=”https://joegirard.ca/decisions-based-on-emotions-part-2-right-brain-vs-left-brain/”] [aio_button align=”left” animation=”none” color=”blue” size=”small” icon=”none” text=”Go to Part 3: Neuroplasticity” target=”_blank” relationship=”dofollow” url=”https://joegirard.ca/decisions-based-on-emotions-part-3-neuroplasticity/”]
Read more at:
- Brain Facts – Mirror Neurons
- Psychology Today – Mirror Neurons: The Most Hyped Concept in Neuroscience
- Greater Good – Do Mirror Neurons give us Empathy?
- Scientific American – What’s so Special About Mirror Neurons?
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