Source: The Huffington PostI like to consider myself a fairly empathic guy, but on a recent appearance on "This Week in Startups" I told Jason Calacanis that I am viewing people more as modems than as human beings.
Nearly everyone who is connected to the Internet is connected through a modem and everyone who uses a modem has had on multiple occasions had to unplug it, power down, unbundle it, rest it, power up, reconnect and then reboot it. That occurs when the modem is filled beyond its capacity to receive and transfer information between your computer and the Internet.
And when your modem is overloaded, there is no other alternative than to follow the steps above. Well what if as people we function as modems that are constantly trying to receive and transfer information between your customers and clients and your company? your board of directors and your employees? your shareholders and your executive team? your department and other departments? you spouse and your children? your aging parent and their health care providers? yadda, yadda, yadda and yadda (I told you that you were overloaded)?
Like modems I think we all need to unplug, power down, etc. and that is what we do when we take a break, do yoga, exercise, go on vacation and "eat, drink and attempt to be merry."
Here's the rub. We are in actuality NOT modems. A modem can unplug, power down and reboot without any build up or accumulation of old data when it restarts. We on the other hand are overloaded by a lot of "peoplestuff" (and that's a euphemism). So even when we take a break, it is there waiting for us at work or at home and often with the additional emotional charge of our having taken the break.
After listening and caring about the needs of the world around us, a break certainly gives us a break, but what works even better is to have the world reciprocate by listening and caring about us in return. I have referred to that in my book, "Just Listen" as having our "Mirror Neuron Receptor Deficit" corrected.
Mirror neurons are special nerve cells in our cerebral cortex that fire when we watch another person do something, imagine ourselves doing the same thing or when we actually do the same thing. They are what are behind the phenomenon of yawning when others yawn. They are also thought to be behind imitation, learning and empathy...and when defective associated or possibly causative of autism and autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger's Syndrome.
My observation which is borne out by my clinical practice is that each time we do conform psychologically and emotionally and behaviorally to the needs of the outside world, a reciprocal hunger to have it be returned is created. That is what I have designated as a "Mirror Neuron Receptor Deficit," i.e. our ache to be mirrored. That also explains why we often tear up when someone is spontaneously kind to us or when we see those tear jerker scenes in movies when two people who are at odds are finally in sync with each other. Crying at those moment - what I call "tears of endearment" -is the result of that deficit, ache and hunger suddenly being eliminated.
If you really want to correct a mirror neuron receptor deficit in others, earn their gratitude and reciprocal generosity in addition to suggesting they take a break, in addition to giving them a solution, in addition to even understanding them try listening to them in a way in which they "feel felt." When that happens they will exhale, relax, open their minds and hearts to you and be grateful in return.
And as MasterCard would say, that experience is "priceless."
Dear blog readers, Please accept my deep and sincere thank you. Your support has been instrumental to my book, "Just Listen," reaching #1 in four categories at amazon and it being reviewed the current TIME magazine.
Catch an upcoming free webcast on: "The Simple Way to Get Through to Difficult People" at Career Coaches: Special Interest Group on Wednesday, October 14 from 12-1 PM EDT.