Seriously, I’m the french fry connoisseur. I’m the sommelier of the deep-fried Idaho Golds. I am fully devoted to the pursuit of the perfect french fry. It must be hot, crispy on the outside, lightly salted (none of that weird truffle crap), and it must have a dense inside with a moisture factor of about 18%, give or take. It needs a slight drizzle of room-temp ketchup. It cannot be a steak frite; it cannot be the shoestring variety. And it must be able to stand at attention. I mean, limp is never good.
Even though I am the ultimate french fry zealot, it turns out we can’t literally love a french fry.
Love is powered by a neurotransmitter, a powerful hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin cannot be generated by an affinity for inanimate objects, possessions, activities, or even food. Oxytocin is the powerful chemical that courses through our body when we feel a true sense of trust, connection, and warmth with another person (or animal of course). It turns out my excitement and anticipation of the next french fry feast is a response to that persistent dopamine addiction. The most powerful way to temper our drive for dopamine is with oxytocin!
And the empowering point is — we actually have the ability to generate that lovin’ feelin’ i.e., oxytocin, in the minds of others. Through intentional, selfless communication, we can generate feelings of trust and bonding in the minds of our team, our clients, and friends. I teach many strategies that can elevate oxytocin and thereby strengthen and deepen relationships. Today’s Talk to the Brain Tip is just one of the many. It’s a strategy I simply call Validate.
While the Validate Strategy can be applied to large audiences too, today we are talking small settings like team meetings, client relations, and intimate networking opportunities. When we truly validate an opposing or varied perspective, we create a sense of trust and connection. But it must be authentic. One key is to keep an attitude of sheer wonder, being deliberate in bringing zero judgement to the conversation. And then apply the 3-deep question rule.
Asking just one question in our quest to validate can be problematic for several reasons. First, asking only one generic question like “why do you think that way?”, is often received as disingenuous. It can also be perceived as a challenge, which elevates cortisol, a barrier to oxytocin. Another key is to be very intentional about the three questions. One question rarely gets to the heart of the matter; but by three curious questions we can even help the receiver to investigate why they feel the way they do. Three questions that are centered around a judgement-free curiosity can catalyze or strengthen bonds at a surprisingly fast rate.
Just recently I heard Michelle Obama say that certainly she does not agree with the people who protest the Black Lives Matter movement. She went on to say, however, their reasoning for protesting is rooted from somewhere; and that it is our responsibility to seek to find out how and why they came to be so steadfast in their stance.
Deep, trusting relationships are the master key, not only to sales, but to leadership, and to progress. Relationships with trust, safety and depth are key to a fulfilling life that is not dependent on that ever-enticing dopamine rush. So the truth is, more than french fries, we need each other.
Love and Cheers,