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How to Engage the Brain

Mediation Bytes by Karin Hobbs

How do you engage the brain to improve your work, your life, your teaching and your daily negotiations?

First, our brains do not like boring things. After about 10 minutes, we check out. More importantly, emotional arousal helps the brain learn.  Humor, anecdotal stories, and change in tone of voice or pace, helps the brain function. So, keep your points short, sweet and to the point. As you teach or negotiate, use a little humor or tell a personal story. If neither of those seem appropriate, try to provide an anecdote that may provoke emotions. The emotional change will help the brain retain and learn.

Second, stress adversely affects the brain’s ability to improvise, to retain information and to solve problems. So, create a relaxing environment to the extent possible. In this day and age, stress is nearly always presents. We need to make concerted efforts to diffuse the stress to allow people to learn and reach better agreements.

Third, our brains love us to be in motion. We evolved to walk 12 or so miles per day according to scientists. Oxygen helps the brain function. Use this information and have clients or students walk outside during a negotiation or a class. Exercise allows blood to go to the brain, bringing it glucose for energy, oxygen that helps absorb toxins, and stimulating protein that keeps the neurons connected. Likewise, if you are in a dispute, take a walk for 15 minutes. Your head will clear, and you will be able to think more clearly.

John Medina, outlines these and other concepts in “Brain Rules.” After watching his presentation in Seattle where he captivated me and a 100 other attorneys for over 2 hours, I was convinced he knew his stuff. I used these and other concepts in recent mediations and when I taught a week long intensive mediation and negotiation training at Pepperdine. It works.

                        author

Karin S. Hobbs

A Fellow and Board member of the International Academy of Mediators, Karin has enjoyed a distinguished career as a mediator, an attorney and a trainer.  She established the Appellate Mediation Office at the Utah Court of Appeals in 1997, served as Chief Appellate Mediator, was Bar Counsel for the Utah… MORE >

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