from the


from the Top of the Mind


from the
Top of the Mind

“Dr. Crawford’s presentation was the highlight of the conference and a much needed reminder for all of us (especially nurses) to keep it all balanced. Bill’s psychology background surely protruded through his messages and I know it was well-received by all!”

Nancy Perovic, RN, BSN
University Of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago, IL

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“Until we learn to create the sort of interactions that trigger psychological safety in others, we will forever be fighting the neurobiology of suspicion and resistance.”
~ Bill Crawford

The 1st Essential Element to Effective Influence & Communication

In my seminars, one question that comes up a lot is how to become more influential with others. It seems that people believe that they have to convince the other person of the superiority of their position, which is rarely met with enthusiasm. In fact, what often happens is that the other person starts arguing more vehemently for the very behavior my participants are trying to get them to change.

I like to help them understand that all of this has to do with how the brain processes information. I show them how the other person’s middle brain (limbic system) is interpreting our need to convince them as dangerous, and throwing them deeper into their resistant brain (the brainstem). However, in this weeks quote and comment, I also want to include information on what is triggered in our body, and how all of this is tied to the concept of psychological safety.

This was brought to the awareness of those interested in effective communication by Google and their “Aristotle Project,” which was research into what makes an effective team. While there were many factors that influenced the results, the one that made the most difference was whether the participants felt safe to speak up, make mistakes, and challenge the status quo.

Interestingly enough, this work around the importance of psychological safety is congruent research by Dr. Stephen Porges into the workings of the Vagus Nerve. This is a major cranial nerve that runs from the brain to many parts of the body, and from the body back up to the brain that triggers either the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight), or the parasympathetic nervous system which is designed to calm us down and return us to clear thinking. In fact, the subtitle to his book on how the Vagus Nerve affects our experience of life is “The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe.”

What all of this means to those of us wanting to be as influential as possible in our lives and the lives of others is the importance of ensuring that we are engaging others in a way that they feel safe with us before we go into problem-solving. Of course, it’s possible that we think we are being someone with whom who people can feel safe, but it is their perception that will determine whether their brain and Vagus Nerve trigger suspicion or trust. Therefore if you are the person in charge or wanting to be influential, it’s best to ask something like, “What do you need from me to feel safe in this conversation?”

In order to ask these sorts of questions and choose qualities and characteristics that allow others to feel safe with us, we need to be coming from the upper 80% of our brain, which is called the neocortex, and what I call the Top of the Mind. Then, we need to deal with what I call the six blocks to effective communication and influence which is the third part of my book and seminar on accessing our clarity, confidence, and creativity, regardless of the situation.

This is what I have the pleasure of teaching to individuals, organizations, and leadership teams around the world. Therefore, if you would like to ensure that you and your leaders are communicating with your employees and customers in a way that inspires trust, I suggest you contact me, because until we learn to create the sort of interactions that result in our being perceived as someone with whom others can feel safe, we will forever be fighting the biology and neurobiology of suspicion and resistance.

~ All the best, Dr. Bill

Dr. Crawford's Info Packet

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