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Conversations That Matter!

Trust me, you want more oxytocin, as it is the one that makes people feel safe and open to ideas. With oxytocin, we have a good chance to have fruitful conversations

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We have conversations all the time and sometimes no hour passes without a conversation. We also have conversations about conversations, before the conversations and after the conversations. We think about conversations. Some conversations are pivotal, life changing. Majority of the difficult and critical decisions are also taken over a discussion. We remember some conversations for life.  

They are quite an important part of our life. We feel good about some of the conversations whereas some of these do not go well.

Chemical Reactions -

Working behind the scene are chemical reactions. Our conversations trigger generation of different types of hormones depending upon how they are perceived by us. For simplicity, let us focus on two hormones that affect us in a big way-

  • Oxytocin- Also known as a good hormone, if generated, makes us feel good about ourselves.
  • Cortisol – Not so good hormone, if generated, we do not feel good about ourselves or a situation.

So, the conversations where we feel good, result in more of oxytocin and in the opposite case more of cortisol. Cortisol shuts down the thinking capability of our brains and initiates defensive and protection mechanisms. It takes people away from agreements or finding common ground. It makes people want to avoid or run away.

Understanding Conversations -

So, what do we want? We want more oxytocin and less of cortisol. Why? Because, that keeps people open to discussions, makes them feel safe and considerate.

So, let us talk about the few factors that can lead to generation of cortisol.

  • Lack of Trust – When you do not trust somebody, the quality of conversation is poor, e.g. when your boss is asking a lot of tough questions, some how you feel not being trusted. Suddenly it impacts the quality of conversation.
  • Being Judgemental – When other person is pre-decided or fixated and you sense that, you may also shut down, as there seem to be a limited chance of a fair conversation.
  • Marginalized/Side-lined – When other person has unfair power over you and you feel small in comparison and do not see any fair opportunity to even share an honest opinion.
  • Uncertainty – When the conversation lacks clarity about possibilities and it seems to be going nowhere, both parties may lose interest and will avoid conversation.

Trust me, you want more oxytocin, as it is the one that makes people feel safe and open to ideas. With oxytocin, we have a good chance to have fruitful conversations.

Action Time-

So, what can you do to generate more Oxytocin? We need to focus on the other person, which is an important part of having a great and fruitful conversation. It is important to understand the other person irrespective of whether it is a personal conversation or a professional conversation. You can do the following to boost oxytocin-

  • Attention- Pay attention to the other person, make him/her feel that he/she is an important part of the conversation. The truth is that they are.
  • Listen to connect- Listen to understand, not listen to reply or counter. Have a genuine respect for the other’s opinion.
  • Develop Trust- Be vulnerable, be open to share your assumptions, your thoughts, so that you develop trust. Once the other person trusts you and your motives, it will be easier to have a conversation.
  • Agility- Not taking a hard stand: Be open to accepting alternatives. You may feel you own your opinion, but the truth is that you own your opinion only if you have the power to change it. Mostly, the opinion owns us and makes us closed to alternatives. Do not let the opinion own you.
  • Ask genuine questions to understand more- Have genuine curiosity about the options that the other person offers. Do not ask questions to ridicule or make them feel small or insignificant.

Wishing you great conversations!!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Tags assigned to this article:
conversations communication oxytocin Cortisol

Manbir Kaur

As an Executive & Leadership Coach, Manbir helps leaders unleash their potential, build great teams, boost performance & lead a happy life

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