Humans are social animals. Our survival on the Savannah depended on cooperation and collaboration. Within our own social group, and particularly when meeting strangers, humans needed to work out who we could ‘trust’. The human brain has developed a very fast and powerful neural circuit, a pre-conscious early warning system, to pick up the subtlest of cues that help to identify ‘friend’ or ‘foe’ – can I trust this person?
The amygdala, situated in the primitive midbrain, constantly and vigilantly monitors a wide range of verbal and non-verbal cues to decide if the individual(s) is trustworthy. Trust activates our ‘safe circuit’ while distrust activates a ‘threat circuit’ and these neural circuits exert a powerful influence over how we think, feel and behave. Understanding how to tune your ‘social WiFi’ can boost success when it comes to building rapport, trust, engagement and successful negotiation.
Tapping into emotions for business survival benefit
We may like to believe that we’re prefrontal decision makers (rational, logical and objective), especially when it comes to business negotiations. But in reality, the majority of decisions we make every day come from our mid-brain, our emotional core. You may even be surprised to hear that 80% of the decisions made by economists are led by the unconscious mind. Furthermore, no matter how much we may try to hide it, all emotions play out physiologically, in the theatre of the body, offering up somatic markers that the astute among us can pick up, tune into, and use to drive the direction of a conversation.
It makes sense therefore, that tuning your social WiFi more acutely can only help you communicate and negotiate more successfully:
1) Prime your own neural circuits
Get yourself into a positive state before a meeting. It is important to understand the impact of your emotions on others. Better self-awareness can ensure that not only will you start negotiations in the best possible frame of mind, but that those around you will pick up on these emotional cues and feed off them. Positive visualisation primes adaptive patterns of behaviour and together with emotional literacy, emotional regulation, curiosity and active listening can help build rapport, trust and help to close the deal.
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Stephen Covey
2) Prime your customer or prospect’s neural network
Get them into a good mood before the meeting. Engage positively to tap into a hopeful circuit, rather than a threat circuit, before any negotiation and you are more likely to succeed. Priming your customer or prospect’s mood state before the meeting will help you build trust and rapport. If people like and trust you when the negotiations start they will be more comfortable and more likely to want to do business with you.
3) Focus attention
Focusing in on the wrong things at the start of any negotiation will impact everything you do afterwards. Cognitive bias modification, i.e. getting people to change their focus, is very difficult. Focus in on what is most important to your customer or prospect and what will trigger a positive emotional response from the first point of contact. Understanding the impact of emotion is a fundamental negotiating skill. Build greater emotional literacy and develop an adaptive cognitive style, and you will negotiate more successfully.
How business intelligence technology can help tune your social WiFi
Business intelligence software providers are becoming more widespread, enabling business leaders to influence and negotiate more successfully. For example, Artesian gathers news and information from millions of online sources and extracts over 12.5 million actionable insights a month for over 25,000 users. It can help you:
1) Prime your own neural networks
Feel confident and prepared right up to the minute you walk through the meeting room door, with the latest intelligence on your customer or prospect delivered directly into your hands
2) Prime your customer or prospect’s neural networks
Use insight to understand their business persona, their expectations and pain points, how they like to operate and what good service looks like to them personally. Then engage with them in the run up to the meeting using what you have learned
3) Focus attention
Gather insight to understand your customer or prospect’s priorities and anything new happening in their ecosystem. Keep the attention on their needs at that moment in time, and never get caught on the focus back foot
Dr. Brian Marien
Co-Founder and Director, Positive Group
About this post…
This article ‘Tune Your Social Wifi‘ is a guest post by Dr. Brian Marien, based on his Keynote session at Connections 16. Hosted by Artesian, Connections is a half-day event designed for B2B sales and marketing leaders. Information-rich, provocative and entertaining, Connections draws senior executives from Fortune and FTSE 500 companies to share ideas, best practice, and shape the future of customer engagement. The theme of Connections 16 was the psychology of the sale, with Keynote sessions from Alistair Campbell, Dr Brian Marien and Richard Mullender.