Remember the bio-feedback days. It was all the rage, an entire arm of the psychology, self-help, medical community started a little cottage industry. I don’t know where it started, maybe with the old lie-detector machines that measured Galvanic skin response. The essence of the science was that various stimuli in the environment create predictable biological responses in the body, sparking electrical and chemical changes in brain patterns and hormone levels. It’s what gives you the sweats when you get nervous.
You don’t hear much about bio-feedback anymore, but the bio-responses in your body are still very real. As a Manager, these bio-responses can work for you and against you. For the most part, bio-response is unconscious, we don’t know what is going on inside, but the hormones are being released nonetheless. As brain patterns change or hormone levels build, if the Manager can become sensitive to the change, two very important things can occur.
- Heightened intuition
- Channeled reaction
Charlie was in my office yesterday. We were talking about mostly nothing for a half a minute, when I suddenly became uncomfortable. Something happened inside of me, mostly with my stomach. I wasn’t in discomfort, but there was a significant twinge. Some people believe that intuition is unexplainable, but I think intuition is simply getting in touch with the bio-responses that unconsciously occur all the time.
The twinge in my stomach was caused by a short silence, a white space in the conversation. I had asked a question about Charlie’s last meeting with his boss. There was no response from Charlie. Silence in a conversation often causes a momentary awkwardness, which is a bio-response to “I don’t know where this conversation is going next? I thought I knew, but I don’t know now. I wish I knew, but I still don’t know. I hope this conversation get some direction soon, because this awful silence is killing me.” BOOM. That’s the bio-response. Heightened intuition (simply getting in touch with the bio-response) tells me that we are talking about something more significant than the weather. The first important element of bio-response is heightened intuition.
The second is channeled reaction. The automatic (unconscious) reaction to a bio-response is to avoid. Do anything to make this feeling go away. The silence was awkward. The automatic (unconscious) response is simply to “talk.” Make the silence go away. If I talk, the silence will be gone, the awkwardness will be gone and I won’t feel this way. It is also likely that the conversation will steer back to a discussion of the weather.
Channel the reaction. When the Manager becomes aware of the bio-response, the reaction can be channeled productively. My bio-response to Charlie was a twinge in the stomach. The twinge told me that this conversation had potential to be more meaningful. I could avoid it or I could engage. Avoiding it would be easy, simply talk to fill the silence, talk about anything. OR, I could engage, and channel the reaction. I could let the silence continue. I could let the silence do the heavy lifting to move this conversation to the next level. Something significant had happened between Charlie and his boss and Charlie needed to talk about it. We could have talked about sports, or we could have engaged in a meaningful discussion that had real impact on Charlie.
The bio-response gives the Manager a heightened sense of intuition and the possibility to channel the reaction to a more productive outcome. Listen to the twinges, watch for white space in conversations.