Are Invisible Conversations Preventing Your Success?
Editor's Note: This is a continuation of our core conversation on "Great Connections Lead to Great Ideas." Last Friday, I gave a mid-conversation roll-up so we can all stay caught up with where the conversation is. Today, Jonathan Fields tells us about the invisible conversations we're often in with out knowing it.
Two team leaders sit in adjacent rooms. One is shown a screen with images of puppies, kittens and various other upbeat images and leaves the room feeling great. The other is shown horrific war footage and leaves agitated, anxious, and a bit depressed. They’re then sent back to their teams and within minutes, every person on each team takes on the emotional state of the leader. It’s a phenomenon known as “emotional contagion,” a/k/a the invisible conversation. An interconnected network of brain cells known as mirror neurons respond to the emotional state of those around us by mirroring that same state. This immensely powerful conversation happens without intention, and much of it can be nonverbal. Though it’s as powerful as any deliberate, verbal conversation, if not more so. And like a virus, it can spread emotional states from a single person to large numbers in an astonishingly short period of time, bypassing the normal conscious filters and gates that would allow for a more deliberate weighing and response. For those who tend to work in isolation, it’s a lesser issue, but for those who work in groups, organizations or creative hives, collectives or even co-working spaces, the mood of a single person, especially one in a leadership position can determine the mood of the entire group. This is especially important for any kind of creative quest. Bringing great art and business to life requires the ability to lean into the unknown. To live for extended periods of time in a state of uncertainty and take action without perfect information. Your ability to do this is largely dependent on your state of mind. The more anxious, fearful, depressed or agitated you are, the less capable you are of handling the psychological demands of that place. So, if you’re on a quest to do great things in the world, pay attention to the literal conversations you have with those around you. But, also, pay serious attention to the general emotional states of the people you surround yourself with and less-obvious emotional and invisible conversations they foster. These things can play a major role in facilitating or destroying the mindset needed to do what you’re here to do.