Connecting with Those Around You

According to Webster’s Dictionary, communication is defined as the science and art of imparting, conferring, or delivering information from one to another. It can include:

  • Words (written and verbal)
  • Sounds and voice inflections
  • Volume and rate of speech
  • Signs, signals, and symbols
  • Postures and gestures
  • Silence
  • Use of space
  • Touch, taste, and odor
  • Facial expressions
  • Other nonverbals

Studies have shown that the message content in a 2-party communication tends to be transmitted in the following ways:

  • 10% through actual words
  • 15% through voice tonals (e.g., sound, pitch, inflection, rate of speech)
  • 75% through nonverbals

Communication involves far more than words and it has everything to do with the brain! Here are seven tips to help you communicate more effectively with those around you.


Tip #1 - Congruency increases the potential for clear effective communication

Any individual can experience congruency problems in communication situations. When considering males and females separately, however, each gender has some stereotypical challenges.

Females: x

Males: x

  • Speech styles tend to be somewhat indirect
  • Speech styles tend to be more direct
  • Tend to smile even when they don’t really mean it and are irritated or unhappy
  • Present more stoical facial expressions even when happy
  • Struggle with how to exhibit anger (e.g., the Mona Lisa smile, conditioned to be nice)
  • Struggle with how to exhibit fear or sadness (e.g., be brave, don’t cry)

xTarget #1 - Exhibit congruency

In order for the content of the communication to be transmitted clearly and effectively (to avoid mixed messages), your words, facial expressions, gestures, voice inflection, and body language must be congruent¾in harmony and coinciding with each other. 

For example, there are many different ways to say: EnerPrime™ is a great product.


Tip #2 - The subconscious mind readily understands positives and finds it more difficult to deal with negatives (the reverse of an idea) because negatives involve a two-step process.

Studies indicate that most people heard 7-9 negative comments or instructions for each positive one while growing up. This means that their memory banks tend to be filled with negative pictures and pejoratives. No wonder their communication isn’t as effective as it could be!

For example, when the brain hears the words “Don't touch the stove” it initially pictures touching the stove and then must try to change that internal picture by imagining the opposite. This can be accomplished in the short term but it is difficult if not impossible to do so in the long term. It is more effective to create a picture of the desired behavior in the brain initially by using words such as “Keep your hands away from the stove.

xTarget #2 - Use positive communication

Compare these statements: Don’t forget to take EnerPrime™ versus Take EnerPrime™ every day!


Tip #3 - Your brain is a different as your thumbprint

No two brains on this planet are identical, not even those of identical twins. Your brain is one of a kind, as unique as your thumbprint. That means that no other brain will ever perceive something exactly the same way as your brain does. We can observe some of our external differences (e.g., hand folding, arm folding) but this becomes far more difficult with internal differences. Nevertheless, the differences are still there

xTarget #3 - Find commonalties

Avoid trying to get another brain to completely agree with yours. Save yourself time, energy, and stress by letting go any expectation that this is even possible! Find points or perspectives on which you can agree (at least at some level) and go from there.


Tip #4 - The brain tends to downshift under situations of stress, threat, or trauma

The human brain is amazing! It actually consists of at least three interconnecting brains or layers of tissue. Each is known for somewhat distinct functions, though all systems constantly interact. The three brain layers are sometimes described as follows:

  • Thinking brain layer (or 3rd gear) composed of two cerebral hemispheres (conscious rational/logical thought, problem solving, creativity)
  • Emotional brain layer (or 2nd gear) composed of several limbic structures (generation of emotional impulses, control of immune system)
  • Action brain layer (or 1st gear) composed of the brain stem and cerebellum (instinct, reflexes, fight-or-flight response, survival behaviors)
  • xThinking Brain—Layer 3rd gear
  • Emotional Brain—Layer 2nd gear
  • Action Brain —Layer 1st gear

Human Brain Layers Cutaway

Metaphorically these three brain layers can be compared to gears in an automobile. When the going gets tough we shift to a lower gear to help us get through. Under situations of stress, threat, or trauma the brain tends to downshift. This helps to explain why children who experience chronic/severe stress may begin to exhibit survival behaviors. This phenomenon is not limited to children and can happen to human beings of any age.

xTarget #4 - Minimize downshifting

A person who is experiencing high levels of stress may have difficulty processing new information. Keep your communication simple, positive, and congruent. If you are experiencing high levels of stress personally, your brain may have downshifted and your communication effectiveness may be temporarily derailed. If your brain has downshifted, implement stress management techniques that can help you get back into third gear as soon as possible.


Tip #5 - The brain matures more slowly than the physical body

The physical body matures more quickly than the brain. Lack of awareness can serve as a recipe for disaster. Avoid assuming that because an individual has an adult-sized body that he/she has a maturely developed brain, as well. For example, myelination (the coating of the nerves with an insulating sheath of cholesterol) of the Corpus callosum occurs at a highly predictable rate from the back to the front, spanning birth to approximately 21 years of age. Myelination of the pre-frontal lobes is completed around age 20 or 21. Development of the prefrontal cortex takes even longer and may be completed somewhere in one’s mid-twenties. The pre-frontal lobes contain functions related to planning, decision-making, managing willpower, using conscience, and reflective analysis.

xTarget #5 - Be patient when communicating with other brains, especially those under age 25

Lack of awareness about body versus brain myelination and maturation rates may contribute to communication glitches including generation gap. As adults, we may observe adolescents with adult-sized bodies and assume their brains have reached adulthood, as well. Realize that some life-impactful decisions that were made prior to the age of 24-26 may, in retrospect, not work very well once the pre-frontal lobes have developed into maturity (although the brain can continue to mature and create additional synaptic connections throughout life).


Tip #6 - Why questions can increase defensiveness and/or trigger downshifting

Why questions can be perceived as threatening to some individuals and can put them on the defensive and/or trigger their brains to downshift. In addition, studies have shown that individuals under the age of 21 tended to process their responses in the emotional brain (where there is no conscious thought) when attempting to answer why questions or problem-solve. Individuals over the age of 21 tended to process their responses in the thinking brain where there is conscious thought. No wonder disconnects can occur when individuals, some above age 21and others below age 21, attempt to communicate with each other. Each may be trying to communicate by using an entirely different portion (gear) of the brain, one person accessing conscious thought in the thinking layer and the other accessing subconscious functions in the emotional layer.

xTarget #6 - Minimize the use ofwhy questions

Compare these statements:

  • Why haven’t you attended the last two meetings? Versus I’ve missed seeing you recently and wonder if I can do anything to make it possible for you to attend?
  • Why aren’t you taking EnerPrime™ regularly? Versus I believe EnerPrime could help you meet this health challenge more successfully.

Become adept at rephrasing questions to avoid use of the word why. Try:

  • What do you want to have happen in this situation?
  • What behaviors need to occur to achieve this outcome?
  • What are some consequences that might occur if you ____________________?


Tip #7 - Male and female brains stereotypically process information differently

At some level most people acknowledge that male and female brains are different. A lack of awareness regarding some of these specific differences or a failure to take them into consideration in a practical manner has triggered a great deal of miscommunication.

When it comes to communication styles, each gender tends to exhibit some stereotypical behaviors.

Females: x

Males: x

  • Tend to process aloud when thinking or problem solving
  • Tend to process silently when thinking or problem solving
  • Tend to want to start at the beginning
  • Tend to want the bottom line up front

xTarget #7 - Accommodate for gender and stop expecting the dog to meow or the cat to bark

xWhen speaking with a female, start at the beginning and tell the story sequentially and chronologically.

For example: 

When their daughter experienced a health challenge a young couple starting searching for a product that could help to strengthen the functioning of her immune system. They traveled all over the world and talked with top researchers and scientists. One thing led to another and eventually their search resulted in a product they named EnerPrime™. Because of the way in which it helped their daughter’s immune system they began to share the product with others, until today...

xWhen speaking with a male, state the bottom line up front and then be prepared to answer questions or provide additional information as requested.

For example: 

EnerPrime™ is a designer product that was developed to support immune system function.


In Conclusion

xCommunication involves far more than words. With a bit of forethought and planning you can increase your communication effectiveness by leaps and bounds and have fun in the process.

Use your own unique brain for success—by design. You are the only one who can!

©Arlene R. Taylor PhD


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