Hot-syncing: How to Get Through to Anyone

by Louise Holmes and Jeffrey Cohen;  Jeff is an Executive Coach in New York City


Have you noticed that some people have a knack for getting through to people, convincing them to buy into their plans, goals and desires? It may seem like magic, but it really isn’t.


Mirror Neurons

When the brain’s “mirror neurons” fire, we have the ability to be transported into another person’s mind, briefly making us feel what the other person is experiencing. These cells are nature’s way of teaching us to care about other people.


Neurologist V.S. Ramachandran, director of the Center for Human Information Processing at the University of California, San Diego, calls them “empathy neurons” or “Dalai Lama neurons,” as they dissolve the barriers between self and others. So, what’s the secret to activating the “mirror neurons” when you’re talking to someone?


Rewire Yourself to Listen

Many of us don’t listen well, especially with the people we deal with each day. We think we already know what they’re going to say. We interrupt. We try to top their story with a better (or worse) one of our own. We talk around, over and up against people, with little actual listening to them.

Beware the Amygdala Hijack

The amygdala is a part of the brain that processes memory and emotional reactions (especially fear and anger). When it takes over, the primitive reptile brain runs the show, and surges of adrenaline keep us from thinking clearly over the next few minutes — an effect that may take hours to fade.


The term “amygdala hijack,” first coined by psychologist Daniel Goleman, refers to what happens under acute stress. Goleman uses the term to describe emotional responses from people which are out of measure with the actual threat. An amygdala hijack exhibits three signs: strong emotional reactionsudden onset, and usually a post-episode realization that the reaction was inappropriate.


If you’ve ever said or done something in the “heat of the moment” that you later regretted you were probably the victim of an amygdala hijack. Sound a little bit like yourself on a bad day? Sometimes you just want to explode when someone “pushes your buttons”?


How to stop your “Fight-or-Flight” emotional reactions

Use the 6-second rule. Pause for 6 seconds to take 6 deep breaths, think about 6 fun things you want to do over the weekend or anything that will help you focus on something else until the initial reaction to lose control subsides.


Try saying something like: “Thank you for your feedback. I need to think about this. Can we schedule a time to talk about this more tomorrow?”


How do you reason with someone else who’s in amygdala hijack?

You don’t. You’d be wasting your time. You must speak to him before the hijack occurs — or talk him down from it using empathy.


Master this short model for empathetic listening. It has two simple steps …


Ask! Listen! –Ask! Listen! — Ask! Listen!


That’s it. Note that “Talk!” is not in this formula.


Here are some sample statements and questions to give you the idea. Remember, ASK, then be quiet and listen:


  • “It sounds like you’re really upset about this.”
  • “I sense some hesitation in your response.”
  • “You’re raising an important issue.”
  • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
  • “I understand. You feel that you’re expected to do all of the work around here.”
  • “It sounds like you’re feeling unsure about this.”
  • “You sound angry about this.”
  • “Can you tell me more about it?”


On the Same Wavelength: “Connect” With the Other Person

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes so you can change the dynamics of a relationship in a heartbeat. In that instant, you “get” each other, and this breakthrough leads to cooperation, collaboration and a genuine connection.


When you mirror what another person feels, she’s hardwired to mirror you in return. When you say, “I understand what you’re feeling” — and you mean it — she will feel grateful and, in return, express her appreciation with a desire to understand you. It’s an irresistible biological urge that pulls another person toward you.


Brain imaging data that shows humans are literally ‘wired to connect’ emotionally,” says Carl Marci, MD. “There is now converging evidence that, during moments of empathic connection, humans reflect or mirror each other’s emotions, and their physiologies move on the same wavelength.


Most of us want to be heard and understood by others. We want others to buy in to our plans, dreams, and desires. The “mirror neurons” research shows that if we’re around a positive and optimistic person we mirror their emotions. So, why not take the lead and leave the other person feeling good, feeling valued, feeling uplifted?


And then go one step beyond and ask “is there something I can do to help?” or “how can I help you make this happen?” Talk about your Mirror Neurons! You’ll be leaving them feeling good about themselves – and about you!


When you make that genuine empathetic “hot-sync” connection with someone else, you’re building trust, and more likely to transform yourself from a stranger to a friend and ally.


What’s your experience? What works for you (and what doesn’t) when you really want to connect with another person one on one? Do mirror neurons play a role in your ability to connect with your audience, if you’re presenting to a group? What if you could learn to easily synchronize your brain waves with someone else’s, to literally be “in-sync”, would you be interested?


One Comment

  1. Yolanda Allwood
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Hi Louise! It was such a pleasure to meet you last week at the suzanneandlarry event. I hope you are well. By the way, this site is great! I’m going to sign up for your newsletter! Be well. Yolanda Allwood

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