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Struggling to Communicate with Someone at Work or Home? Try This...

(How to Enhance Your Relationships Using One Key Physical Intelligence Technique)

Last week, we looked at how Physical Intelligence enhances creativity. This week, we’ll examine how Physical Intelligence helps us adapt to different types of people and build trust.

Susan, a single mum and a successful head of sales for a large pharmaceutical company, knew she needed to make improvements in the sales process but was up against senior executives who opposed the changes she was proposing. She tried going into battle with her boss, and it didn’t work. By applying a Physical Intelligence technique called ‘Relationshift’ (see below), Susan was able to manage herself, reverse out of a head-on collision, sit back and take control of conversations, agreeing where possible and, if not, calmly discussing areas of disagreement. She describes it as being like ‘air-traffic control at Heathrow airport’: ‘With many messages and planes coming in, agitation and my rising cortisol levels will interfere with building trust. It is critical to remain calm and communicate openly, continuing to value the other person’s message, especially if you want to change where the other person is going to land. I have been in meetings where I feel the old “me” coming out and I apply “Relationshift” immediately and say to myself, “Get back in your box, dearie,” because I know that if she comes out and I go into battle, it will be counterproductive.’ Susan's experience with Physical Intelligence was so positive, she invested in it for her team and after three months, they achieved a 12.5% improvement in the quality of their commercial deals, in part through improving internal communications.

One of the most powerful human acts that enables us to live together in this pluralistic world is to respect other points of view…something that can be challenging at times, especially when we feel affronted by another person’s beliefs or behaviour and yet need to work closely with them or live alongside them. How do we demonstrate respect for and engage in civil discourse with those who have differing views and yet stand our own ground? Creating excellent relationships requires balancing our own agendas with those of others and flexing our behavioural style to create the chemistry of trust. This depends on our ability to balance three chemicals:

• oxytocin (core to social bonding and trust),

• dopamine (essential to goal- orientation/ seeking and gaining reward) and

• testosterone (critical for independent competitive action), and the management of the threat hormone cortisol.

Our neuroscientific programming, makes this more difficult than it may seem at first glance. Our brains are wired to notice difference and to prioritise bonding with people who are the same – who think the same, who look the same. Initial assessments are made in a flash; they happen without intention before we even form a thought. Clearly, in a diverse, global world, there are many moments when we have to – and very much want to – override our basic programming, suspend judgement and respect differences.

In businesses, in addition to Susan’s example where there was tension between people on the same team, there can be tension between departments with different priorities. For example, an innovation department working on new product development needs to get a product to market in order to address a critical business need while the legal department needs to manage risk -- at times conflicting objectives that cause each team frustration. How can the heads of those two departments work together rather than enter into a battle of wills? We have seen this kind of scenario time and time again take its toll on the performance levels of well-intentioned individuals, negatively impacting their work and home lives. One appears to threaten or thwart the other, leading to a rise in cortisol. And yet both innovator and legal expert are right and have vital roles to play in the bigger picture. The same battle of wills can also take place at home -- for example, between parent and child, partners, and friends. In all cases, each party is entitled to their own opinion and deserves to be heard.

Managing the feeling of being threatened – reducing cortisol, balancing oxytocin, dopamine and testosterone – is critical. The technique we call ‘Relationshift’ – enables us to shift relationships from being against each other to seeing each other’s point of view. Here’s how it works:

Find a time and place to reflect on a relationship that you would like to improve. For example, if you are experiencing resistance at work or in an ongoing personal discussion. You will need about ten minutes alone for this reflection, and then you may choose to arrange a real conversation.

- Close your eyes and think about a relationship with someone with whom you get on really well. (This helps you begin the exercise with an oxytocin boost, putting you in a compassionate state.)

- Name your emotions and notice how they feel in your body. Where do they start? How do they move?

- Now think about your relationship with someone who you find it hard to understand, and who triggers negative emotions in you.

- Name your emotions and notice how they feel in your body. As cortisol rises, where do they start? How do they move? Are they feelings of frustration, impatience, dislike, anger or resentment?

- STOP. Feel the impasse; notice the specific signature of high cortisol in your body – e.g. tension, gripping, getting warmer, flushing, recoiling, stomach clenching, irritation or a feeling of giving up.

- Resist taking action; center, breathe and ‘disarm’ – lowering cortisol.

- Enquire of yourself: which of your values or drivers does this person threaten? Is it control, ownership, achievement, harmony, security, certainty, freedom, creativity or status?

- Move away from the impasse and metaphorically ‘shift alongside’ the other person; mentally switch perspectives. Move your thoughts to what it may be like in their shoes, how they might be feeling. Imagine standing side by side with them, looking at the world from their perspective. What do you see? (When you ‘shift alongside’ the other person, you release oxytocin.)

- Think about how you can move this relationship forwards. Think through some possible solutions where both people could get some of their needs met.

- Arrange to have a conversation in which you aim to: discover and respect, ask questions, share perspectives, stand your ground where necessary (balancing dopamine, testosterone and oxytocin in both parties), and agree a way forward (boosting dopamine and oxytocin in both parties).

Like Susan, applying Relationshift to our own personal or work relationships enables us to produce outcomes that are realistic and fair, sometimes sharing the strain and the hardship equally, sometimes finding a beneficial outcome for both parties.

For more information about how Physical Intelligence can help you, your team or your organization, visit us at or order our book, on sale now.

About Companies in Motion

There are over 80 easy to use techniques and tips to build our Physical Intelligence. You can read about all of them in our new book, Physical Intelligence: Harness Your Body’s Untapped Intelligence to Achieve More, Stress Less and Live More Happily available from Simon and Schuster. (Order here.) (Multiple translations will be available later in 2019.)

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