In my research on ‘how to collaborate more’ I’ve spent time thinking about how neuroscience, specifically social neuroscience impacts collaboration. Social neuroscience is the study of what happens in the brain when people interact (connect). What social neuroscience refers to as mirror neurons, spindle cells and oscillators and what they do when people interact (connect) is worth knowing about. Mirror neurons – followers mirror their leaders. The delivery is more important than the message. You can be a demanding leader, but in ways that create a positive mood. Simply increasing the amount of smiling and laughter in your behavior will make a marked difference in your effectiveness as a leader. Laughter in the work place is serious business. Spindle cells – are four times the size of other brain cells with an extra-long branch to make attaching to other cells easier and transmitting feelings to them quicker. Spindle cells trigger neural networks that help us choose the best response among many. In other words, specific talents you are born with, if practiced, can be turned into strengths (strengthened neural networks) and experience (strengthened neural networks) can be turned into better decision making. For example, gauging whether someone is trustworthy or the right fit for a job. Oscillators – coordinate people physically. For example, you can see oscillators in action when two people kiss. Matching, pacing and leading the physical movements in another person is connecting with another person’s brain like two violinists playing together in unison.

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