When was the last time you stopped to think about your brain?
If you’re like most people you go throughout the day using your brain (although there is always the argument that some people don’t) and yet likely never stop to think about what it takes for it to work well for you. Communicating well depends on having a brain that is working well.
The brain is like any part of our body in that it needs to be taken care of in order to function effectively. For many people, an average day at the office is full of people, challenges, decisions and information that can overload and drain the brain’s thinking ability and derail your communication before you even begin to realize what’s happening.
Communicating well depends on having a brain that is working well.
Once the brain becomes overloaded the pre-frontal cortex or thinking part of the brain can literally shut down and lead to and an emotional or habitual response to a situation. Both emotional and habitual responses are far easier for the brain to deal with than thinking through a situation and coming up with an appropriate response for the moment.
The key is to care for yourself and your brain and prevent the automatic emotional or habitual type of communication that leaves you feeling misunderstood, embarrassed or frustrated.
Follow these simple steps to ensure you are at your best for communicating effectively:
Prioritize the Hard Stuff:
Putting off that difficult conversation until the end of a long and challenging day is going to make it harder
Deal with the hard stuff while your brain is fresh. If you have a particular challenging communication issue to deal with, do it while you have the energy to think about it clearly. Putting off that difficult conversation until the end of a long and challenging day is going to make it harder for your brain to deal with than if you have it at 9:00am when you are fresh.
If the challenge is finding the time to communicate in the way you want to, think about how to resolve the time challenge while you’re fresh.
Drop the Multi-tasking:
As soon as you try to do more than one thing at a time that requires conscious thought, the brain will begin to get overwhelmed.
Studies have show that, contrary to what we want to believe, our brains are not capable of multi-tasking. Sure, we see people checking their email while walking along the street, but they are able to do that because they are not putting any conscious thought into walking (and this can have its own consequences). As soon as you try to do more than one thing at a time that requires conscious thought, the brain will begin to get overwhelmed. The dangerous thing here is that we don’t usually realize when we are reaching the point of overwhelm and continue to try to multi-task. The build up of this throughout a day will impact the ability to think and communicate effectively.
Live a balanced life and take breaks
Regular breaks (even small ones) give your brain a chance to re-charge
An overall balanced lifestyle that allows you to re-charge yourself and your brain regularly will keep your stress levels in check and allow you communicate more effectively. I’ve often had clients tell me that they notice they have trouble communicating well when they’re tired. This may sound like common sense, yet it’s so often not taken into consideration when thinking about how to communicate well.
Regular breaks (even small ones) give your brain a chance to re-charge. Stepping away from your desk, a person, a meeting, or whatever you are working on allows space for the pre-frontal cortex, or thinking part of the brain, to be activated rather than the brain’s automatic habitual or emotional responses kicking in.
Keeping your brain functioning well so that you can communicate effectively throughout the day doesn’t require anything complicated or time consuming. Its about taking some simple steps on a regular basis.
To read more about how to create better communications habits read my blog posts: The Key to Developing Better Communication Habits and Seven Steps to Kicking Career Destroying Communication Habits
What are you going to do to take care of your brain today?