When we interact with new people, we have biological responses within .07 seconds. We are naturally predisposed to be more trusting of some people than others. But as we interact more with the same people, those predispositions get washed away and we begin to have even stronger biological responses to the people that we like (and the people that we don’t like).
At work, this means that having more positive conversations will lead to us being happier, more productive, and more successful.
It sounds a bit like pop psychology, but it’s actually true. When we have positive conversations with the people around us, our brains release oxytocin. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone. It’s also known as the “love hormone.” When your brain releases oxytocin, it encourages you to feel a closer attachment to the person that you’re speaking to. Your trust levels will go up, and you’ll feel more calm and close every time you have a positive interaction with that person, among other effects.
This means that to encourage positive performance in the workplace, we should also be encouraging positive conversations. Particularly amongst managers and supervisors, Conversational Intelligence is key. Everyone who has direct reports within your business needs to be able to communicate effectively with their team members without relying on stress or fear to motivate performance. By creating positive relationships through good conversation instead, managers can get more out of their team members and create a more positive workplace culture.
One of the many benefits of oxytocin is that it helps ease stress. Many businesses are under the false impression that hard work and productivity go hand-in-hand with stress. But this doesn’t need to be the case. In fact, people who have positive attachments to their coworkers and bosses are likely to be less stressed and more motivated to do a good job, both because they will be more attached to the work itself and to the people that they work with.
Changing workplace culture is never a simple task, but it can start at the level of conversation. By focusing on Conversational Intelligence — meaning communication that is direct, empathetic, and personal — executives can help cultivate an environment that is more bonded, less stressful, and more productive.