Wacky trend? No, it’s how we’re wired.


The Story

My dear and valued elderly friend, Rose is an extraordinarily discerning and intelligent woman; I both admire and respect her. During my recent interstate trip to stay with her she and I had both agreed that we would each be more comfortable knowing that the pressures of my work whilst away wouldn’t be building up, and that I could efficiently use some of my time with her to complete those immediately pressing client commitments.

What transpired intrigued me…Rose became curious about what was taking my attention in those moments I needed to snatch time to work. As is my way, I started to tell her about my excitement in a field of science called neuroscience and how it was helping people better understand people. With this knowledge, and in my area of expertise, this meant I could help both people and organisations understand how to work better.

“Sounds like a wacky trend,” was Rose’s reply. So I tried to reframe my information, presenting it in a different way, using different language, read some examples from the internet. “Still doesn’t sound like it will be around for long! Why don’t people just get on with their work and actually work. It’s not that hard, is it?”

After a few more failed attempts at painting a picture, her closing statement of “Well I’m too old to understand this new-fangled stuff!” put a full stop to that conversation. And both parties probably thought it should never be mentioned again…

Fast forward two days later…picked up my long time friend, Grace, with whom I went to school. Gorgeous seaside location, rain, soggy dogs with excited tails whipping up a frenzy outside a café, urgent with their need for social interaction.

Now, Grace is managing a team of people inside an organisation going through massive change. So, naturally, where did our conversation lead…we were both animated and dynamic in our exchange, lamenting poorly skilled facilitators, mandatory training for teams where there is no perceived value or relevance, the pressure some people feel when put on the spot to talk about what they are thinking…when suddenly, we were both drawn back to our friend, sitting quietly. The amiable conversation changed to areas closer to Rose’s interests and the remainder of the morning moved quickly.

Fast forward a few hours…sitting doing a crossword quietly together, conversation ebbed and flowed, topics introduced as little currents drawing our attention for a moment or more…and the topic of neuroscience gently rose onto the radar.

This time I was able to remind Rose of the conversation over coffee and tell her that that was the stuff neuroscience is all about; when you understand how the brain is wired, it is easier to help people to improve the way they work or connect with other people.

“Uh huh, but I wasn’t really listening…I still don’t understand…I’m too old…but if Grace is doing it, it must be alright!”

Neuroscience…so What?

…so What are some of the underlying neuroscience elements at play in this story?

Can you identify any of the following?


  • Fear of loss of status if the work isn’t done according to personal bias, and other’s expectations
  • My friend Grace is more highly regarded than I J