In this blog TPC Leadership’s Associate Partner Biran Yilancioglu discusses the importance of coaching during periods of change.
How many of you are familiar with neuroscience? The amygdala, the limbic system and the pre-frontal cortex?
I’m not going to go deep into neuroscience here but there is one thing that I want to explain so please bear with me.
Amygdala, the limbic system and the pre-frontal cortex
There are two different parts of our brain.
1) Firstly the pre-frontal cortex, the place that stores our skills like logical thinking, problem-solving, abstract thinking, decision making etc…
2) Secondly the limbic system (where our amygdala is). The task of the limbic system is basically survival. It evaluates each and every stimulus and decides if it is a threat to our survival or not. If the limbic system decides that a stimulus, (doesn’t matter what it is…a car coming at you, someone threatening you, a lion chasing you or your team going to lunch without inviting you….), is a threat it doesn’t deliver the message to the cortex. This is called amygdala high-jack. The message sticks in our limbic system and we start to behave from the limbic, not from the cortex. Meaning we can’t use our problem-solving skills! And sorry to say but, our limbic system knows only three responses fight, flight or freeze.
Uncertainty/lack of clarity
Research shows that one of the things our brain consider as a threat is uncertainty or a lack of clarity. Think about your self driving in heavy fog, unable to see the road. How do you feel?
Your brain thinks the lack of clarity and uncertainty is a threat to your survival, so you feel uncomfortable and stressed.
The limbic system is actually a protection system. But sometimes it fools us and keeps us from logical thinking. Think about the people jumping from the window on the 5th floor during an earthquake… Does that make sense? No, but at the time of threat, we just can’t think logically.
So what does it have to do with change, complexity and ambiguity?
It is clear, right? Change brings uncertainty/ambiguity and again complexity also brings the ambiguity…
So when we are talking about coaching through complexity and ambiguity we are talking about helping our brains to get out of the limbic system and reach our potential in the cortex.
Next time when you think someone is resisting to change, think twice!
Links to more information about neuroscience: https://davidrock.net/