Seeing the best in life's challenges

The Science of Healthy Dialogue!

on July 27, 2013
Did you know that the slightest form of negativity can instantly sabotage a conversation? If you grumble about the weather or slightly frown when a colleague says something displeasing, stress neurochemicals are released in both the speaker’s AND listener’s brain.

Even expressing anger in therapy can make the problem worse because it neurologically strengthens the negative memories. If you don’t find a way to quickly defuse the anger, it damages parts of the brain that regulate emotions. Expressing negativity disrupts the decision-making functions in the frontal lobe, impairing reason and social awareness. Compassion is compromised and empathy is lost.

When you speak ill of others, it increases prejudice in the listener’s brain, *even when both parties know that the information is false*! That’s why political mudslinging continues, and it works by generating neurological distrust. The instinctual brain assumes that a negative word is a real threat coming from the world.

Anger is particularly dangerous because it gives the speaker a false sense of certainty, confidence, and optimism, and this misguided pleasure encourages the person to get angrier. However, repressing anger just pushes it into unconsciousness. What’s the best solution? Just watch those negative feelings and thoughts as you remain utterly relaxed. Don’t judge them and don’t try to make them go away. They’ll quickly evaporate. They’re just an old movie from the past projected onto a future that doesn’t exist and rarely have anything to do with the present. Let them go and let them be, and they’ll float away like clouds. Then flood your consciousness with pleasant images. Your brain can’t simultaneously focus on a positive and negative thought.

If you still feel the urge to express negativity when talking with others, slow your speech rate down and speak briefly. Let the listener respond, and then speak for another ten seconds. Brevity derails the wordiness associated with negative speech, and this will stop your brain from sabotaging the conversation and the goodness that rests in your heart.

From the Science and Spirituality column by neuroscientists Mark Waldman and Andrew Newberg, MD, SOM July 2013.

2 responses to “The Science of Healthy Dialogue!

  1. […] The Science of Healthy Dialogue!. […]

  2. Angela Bixby-Energy Intuit says:

    Meg- This is too fantastic to not re-blog, post & tweet! Thank you for this sage article! xo

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