Sometime back I was part of an official gathering which focused on the work done and the way ahead. It can’t get any different, right? Add some games and dance and of course alcohol to the agenda and wallah, you have the perfect recipe for an annual gathering.
However, there was a twist in the tale. And I was pleasantly surprised. At the end of the gathering, different groups presented their idea of actionable for the Organisation to make progress in the future.
Unassumingly, a key actionable was need for ‘Emotional Connect’, between employees, between Management and employees and of course between organisation and the customer. Since then, a part of my brain has been actively thinking on this aspect, maybe 3% of the brain. Remaining 97% of the active brain is involved in the deliverables of way forward.
So, the 3% of my brain kept on wondering, what is emotional connect. Frankly, I did not know where to search for the answers. Of course, there is an emotional connect with family, friends and near and dear ones. And yet you do not have it with everyone. There are some with whom you share a deep emotional connect and with some it is a shallow interface.
So the question was, what was I exactly looking for – A shallow interface like we have some colleagues, or something between shallow or deep (let’s call it middle) or a deep emotional connect that you share with limited few in the world. At this stage, my 3% brain said that he has met the expectations and any additional work that it would done from now on should be labeled as ‘Exceed Expectations.’ Of course, I agreed, even the 97% realised that the 3% is working on something special but they knew it was not part of KPI, so they did not raise any objection.
Coincidentally, at the end of the alcohol party during this gathering, 5 of us met in a room to discuss life. We all knew each other well but what really happened at 2 AM in the night was unbelievable. Except one person, the 4 of us were reasonably charged up and together we sang songs, gave our gyaan on life and then talked about the first love, the hits and the misses. Surprisingly, it was a candid conversation wherein all contributed. Surprisingly there were no barriers in communication and thoughts and maybe in connecting emotionally. What made this happen? Daaru?
The important point is that I am in touch with at least 2 on more or less on an everyday basis in office and things have only improved and I am sure it will be the same for the other two. So how did I reach a level of ‘middle’ emotional connect with my colleagues in such a short time. And I guess this is what an organisation expects. This is what an organisation needs. Further deep diving was required to know what exactly happened.
MINT came up with an interesting article on ‘The science of Emotions’ within a couple of days. An interesting article I may say. An excerpt from the article says ‘Emotion might be happiness produced by being given a reward, such as a pleasant touch, praise, or winning a large sum of money. Conversely it could be the fear produced by the sound of a rapidly approaching bus or the sight of an angry expression on someone’s face. But the human brain works to avoid stimuli that are punishing, it noted.’ (Published by Edmund Rolls in 2000).
Interesting I thought and at the same time quite dumb, as it was common sense. At this point, the 3% made a point that if more information is needed, then it will construe as ‘Far Exceed Expectations.’ After a lot of discussion between the 97% brain cells, the 3% was appreciated and rewarded and asked to proceed for more glory and success. And something more interesting came to the fore. Something called as ‘Amygdala’ and ‘Neurotransmitters’. Amygdala is known as the emotional centre of the brain as it gets direct sensory information which it learns and stores and uses to control emotional responses. It is also linked to the parts of the brain that govern your senses, muscles and hormones and thus depending on the external stimuli, the amygdala makes the body to reach, especially in danger situation. So what about situations that are pleasing? For that the brain has a pleasure center area that releases chemicals called as neurotransmitters. These chemicals communicate information throughout the brain and body by relaying signals between nerve cells. Dopamine is one such chemical that is related to experiences of pleasure and the reward learning process. In other words, when you do something good, you’re rewarded with dopamine and gain a pleasurable, happy feeling. This teaches your brain to want to do it again and again.
I somewhat understand this, I said to myself. But, then what happened the other day? How did daaru create a happy pleasurable feeling, an emotional response of being connected? Further investigation revealed that alcohol affects brain chemistry by altering levels of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are either excitatory, meaning that they stimulate brain electrical activity, or inhibitory, meaning that they decrease brain electrical activity. Alcohol increases the amount of the chemical dopamine in the brain’s reward center, which creates the feeling of pleasure that occurs when someone takes a drink. Aha!
So in a nutshell, the 3% told me that your external stimuli should be such that it results in release of chemical called dopamine across nerve cells and the amygdala learns and stores this information such that it gives an emotional response of being happy and content, in short, being emotionally connected (if the external stimuli is a person).
So, the final question is that if the external stimuli is not alcohol then how do you ensure that emotional connect remains? How to ensure dopamine release is always there and amygdala processes this information time and again? And I realise that of all the reward system, humans in general are constantly affected by the sensory information of what we hear i.e. words. And when we hear good words from someone and we rely on the person basis the words, trust is formed which consequently leads to an emotional connect. It explains why we listen to babas and gurus or even behavioural trainings as they induce release of dopamine and impacting our amygdala.
But what happens when we say something to a person and don’t do likewise. I guess, the trust goes out of the window. And once trust is gone, emotional connect is gone. ‘Ab pachtaye kya hot, jab chidiya chug gayi khet.’ By the way, when my 3% demanded a reward for its FEE performance, the 97% made it a point that it was a special project and accordingly a suitable reward is enough. And since it was not part of KPI, the overall rating is Meet Expectations. Unfortunately, the Amygdala registered, dopamine went to sleep and the 3% does not have any emotional connect with the 97% anymore. Cest le vie.