Why do people behave the way they do? The answer can be found in the brain. When you understand the brain, you can understand people, not just what they do but why they do it. Joining Dr. Diane Hamilton today to share her expertise on the matters of the brain is Friederike Fabritius, a keynote speaker, award-winning author, and neuroscientist trained at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research. It’s easy to become frustrated by people who are different from ourselves, but when you know how our brains drive our behaviors, you’ll have more appreciation for other people’s behavior and lead better and happier lives.
We have Friederike Fabritius who is a neuroscientist, keynote speaker, and award-winning author. I am so excited to talk to her about her book The Leading Brain.
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The Neuroscience Of Behavior With Friederike Fabritius
I am here with Friederike Fabritius who is a neuroscientist, keynote speaker, and award-winning author. She was trained at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and is an alumna of McKinsey & Company. She works with Fortune 500 companies around the globe to transform how they think, innovate, and navigate change. She’s also the lead author of the book, The Leading Brain: Neuroscience Hacks to Work Smarter, Better, Happier. It’s nice to have you here.
Diane, thank you.
I was looking forward to this. You’re welcome. I chatted with Cosimo Turroturro. We’re both on the same speaker bureau together. He was telling me how incredible you were and I thought, “I want to have you on the show.”
Thank you. I’m grateful that Cosimo made the connection so that I could also check out your work. It’s been a mutual discovery, I would say.
We both are interested in some of the same things because I’m interested in how behaviors impact innovation engagement. All my work was in curiosity and perception, which ties back to the brain and neuroscience. I want to know a little backstory on you because that’s quite an impressive background you have. I’m fascinated by what you do, but what led to that?
Here’s how it was. Originally, I was always a curious person. I still am and I was always triggered by the question, “Why do people behave the way they do?” I want to know. If two people are fighting, I want to understand why exactly those two don’t get along. If two people fall in love, I want to know why those two and not somebody else. I’ve always been triggered by that idea and the answer can be found in the brain. I thought, “If I understand the brain, then I can understand people. Not just what they do, but why they do it.” That was my first step.
I always wanted to become a university professor or a scientist but once I was in the laboratory, I became frustrated. I was all day long in the laboratory with two monkeys who tried to bite me and I never met any real people. I felt like, “I’m learning a lot about the brain but I’m not making the world a better place. I’m not understanding people any better. I’m locked in here.” I felt like I had to break free so I joined McKinsey instead. That was a bit of a weird choice because as a psychologist, I had zero understanding of the marketplace and business.
It made it even more intriguing for me to see what’s going on in big companies. What puzzled me was that I discovered that everything I know about the brain is not applied in the workplace or at least it wasn’t when I started out. I felt like people are not sleeping and people don’t trust each other. There are a lot of inefficiencies and people never move when we know that exercise is important for the brain. I felt that things could improve so much if people only learned a bit more about the brain. Here I am. That’s my not-so-new mission but that’s what I discovered years ago that that’s what I want to do.
What you’ve done is fascinating because that’s what I always think when I watch Big Bang Theory which is a television show here. They have a scientist, Amy Farrah Fowler, who cuts a part of the brain and that’s her whole job. Of all the characters on that show, what she does is the most interesting. Like you, I would not want to be stuck in a lab with monkeys and some of that so it’s a challenge to know how to study this. I’ve had a lot of great psychologists on the show. Albert Bandura, for one. You think about what leads to behavior. It motivated me when I wrote about curiosity to find out what stops people from being curious. The Max Planck Institute coined the term curiosity gene. Did you have anything to do with that when you’re a researcher?Everyone is different, and we should appreciate and value that. Click To Tweet
Unfortunately, I wish I could take credit but I studied different things. Curiosity is linked to the dopamine system and the brain. Not everybody is equally curious and it’s hard to make somebody who’s interested in something. It’s better to use natural innate abilities, make them stronger, and foster environments where people keep their curiosity.
I found there are four things that inhibited curiosity. They were fear, assumptions, which that voice in your head that tells you you’re not going to be interested or whatever, technology, over and underutilization of it, and environment, people around us. What they say and what they do impacts us. You mentioned the neurochemicals like dopamine and I noticed you focus a lot on some of those things. It’s interesting because you hear a lot about dopamine, serotonin, and some of these things. I was a pharmaceutical rep for fifteen years so we had to study all the things that I’ve ever since forgotten. Neurotransmitters are a big part of what makes our behaviors, right?
Neurotransmitters, to a certain degree, shape our personality. Some people have a more active dopamine system so they are curious, energetic, and always want to learn about the next new thing. Other people have an active serotonin system and they are more meticulous, detail-oriented, and risk-averse in a positive way because you don’t want everybody jumping off a cliff. It’s also good to have these different traits. People differ in their genetic makeup. It’s important to be aware of these differences because otherwise, it’s easy to become frustrated by people who are different from ourselves.
I had a client and she wanted to remove all of the jokes of my script in my keynote because she was afraid that they could be misunderstood. I assure you, there was nothing racist, sexist, or offensive. It was innocent little jokes to make people feel entertained, and she was risk-averse. “What if they don’t understand it?” At first, I was thinking, “Leave me alone,” and then I was thinking, “It’s serotonin. She’s just making sure nothing goes wrong. We need people who check those things. It’s okay.” It helps us to have more appreciation for other people’s behavior when it’s not exactly the same approach we would have to things.
I noticed you called it dopamine, the Kim Kardashian of neurotransmitters. Tell me a joke that she had a problem with.
One of the jokes I had is during the lockdown and the pandemic, and people were frustrated. Research shows that some people are lonely and some of their associates, a big consulting company, are lonely and stuck at home. I said, “I cannot tell you to go out and meet people. That’s not something I can tell people to do at the moment, but here’s something that does work and that people in Iceland do. They go and hug trees.” I’m serious about this. When you hug a tree, you release oxytocin, which gives you that feeling of bonding, love, trust, and well-being, and you release dopamine, which gives you a real boost of motivation, innovation, and feeling great.
Whether you hug a tree, pet, or human, I wouldn’t say it’s the same. Neurochemically speaking, it triggers some of the same responses. I have five kids. Being locked down with them, my challenge was not that I was lonely. For some other people, imagine you’re single and you’re in a city where you cannot leave even the house for an hour. All over the world, the rules have been diverse. I know one person in India that I work with for some virtual conferences and he’s been locked into his home for a month by himself. I would recommend hugging a tree rather than killing yourself. It won’t solve your loneliness but you should get a cat, dog, or find some living being you can connect to. She said, “We cannot tell people to hug a tree.” I said, “People are going to see it as a joke. It’s going to be a bit of a curiosity that people in Iceland have been doing it for real.
She said, “No. We’re going to tell this.” I had the intention of starting off the session by saying, “Does your boss think that now that you’re working from home, you’re lying on the couch, eating chips all day, and watching Netflix? Does your boss believe you’re working?” Research shows that people work 20% more than before. All of these concerns that people don’t work when working from home, they’re not relevant. We all know these bosses that try to control people that don’t think you’re working if they can’t see you. It’s a real problem. I wanted to start with a little bit of a joke like, “Is he a boss like this?” They go, “No. We can’t say this.” What if they have a boss that’s like this? They’re going to laugh about it.
Where was this?
I’m not going to say.
I didn’t mean the company. I meant the country.
All over the world, many different countries, a big region. The interesting thing is that I would say that my client is wonderful. For a moment, the client was full of fear that people didn’t know what was okay to say anymore. It became extreme that everybody was paranoid and freaked out by the situation that they felt they needed to be 100% sure that nobody could misunderstand anything. If you do that, you can’t open your mouth anymore.
It’s going to be a lot different on what you can say and what you can’t say. It’s a different time. All the things you’re talking about to help people with those examples are important. You wrote this book which I find is a great book. I know you tell stories and you give examples of different things. I like that you talk about a lot of the neurotransmitters and different things right off the bat. That was some of the stuff I was reading. We hear a lot about, “You can take this and get more dopamine and serotonin.” We’re all different.
I used to train teams in the day when Myers-Briggs was popular. Even though a lot of people don’t look at it as that great of an instrument but what I found useful about it at the time was not so much that you found out what you were. You found out what other people were so that you could see the opposite of you, the dichotomies of personalities. We all expect that other people are going to think the way we do or be the way we are. That’s why I focus on studying perception as well. Is it important that we work on developing our levels of dopamine or our levels of serotonin? Are we trying to be like other people? Is this something that we should be developing in ourselves? Should we try to eat all the foods that give us the most of all this? What do you think about that?
It’s both. It’s always good to keep your dopamine levels up. As we age, they all go down. It’s good to have good dopamine levels because that can prevent dementia. It’s good to have good serotonin levels. We know that people who don’t have enough often are depressed and that there’s a correlation. It’s good to keep your dopamine levels up with a healthy diet, exercise, enough sleep, not too much stress, positive experiences, things that trigger our brain and that stimulate us. At the same time, it’s important to not try to be someone else.
It’s much better to have a strength-based approach. That’s also something that Myer-Briggs people have. Even though the tool is a bit under fire, they were the first to have the idea that everyone is different and we should appreciate and value that. That’s an important idea. If I’m a high dopamine person, love to do at the spur of the moment, curious, and a bit adventurous, then I should find a work environment where I can be myself and foster that. You should not become an accountant. I’m not saying that the life of an accountant is boring. I’m saying you should find a job where you can travel and experience a lot, and there’s a lot of change and flexibility.
If you’re high on serotonin, you might thrive in an environment where you can work without external disruptions to your idea. Many Nobel Prize-winning scientists, I’m thinking about bestselling authors who work on their project over a longer period without losing focus and interest. They need an environment where there is no constant disruption. How can you find the cure for cancer if your project is changing every three months? You cannot do experiments when there are too much disruption, constant change, and reorganization. It’s important to understand yourself and then seek a work environment that is in line with your strength.
I had Tom Rath on the show, the StrengthsFinder guy. It’s fun to look at what we’re good at and what we could explore. I did ask him, “Do we avoid our weaknesses?” He didn’t advocate that. It’s looking at the things that you’re good at and focusing on alignment. My interest is personality assessment. In general, it was fascinating to me. I wrote a book many years ago with my daughter about the different personality assessments and the parameters in there. There’s so much in the brain that people are trying to get this peak of performance. As a pharmaceutical rep, I would be calling on doctors who would be popping Prozac and different things to lose weight while I’m talking to them. It’s scary what’s out there when you see behind the curtain. Are we getting people trying hard that we’re running into serotonin syndrome? Do we need all these drugs that people are trying to take or we expect a level that’s not realistic?It's important to understand yourself and seek a work environment that is in line with your strength. Click To Tweet
I would never take these drugs because our brain is so much more complex. When people take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors which is an antidepressant, then they suppress dopamine activity in the brain. They can’t feel romance anymore, passion, and fall in love. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take antidepressants if you’re depressed and this saves your life. Of course, you should take it. If you have a medical condition and your doctor tells you to take it, go for it. Personally, I would never take anything that alters my neurotransmitter levels artificially because everything is connected.
There are many wonderful, natural ways to enhance your serotonin levels or dopamine levels. If you do something nice for someone else, if you’re generous, caring, and helping a person, your serotonin levels go up. It makes you feel great. That’s an easy way. You could go and exercise physically and then your dopamine levels go up. What’s not to like about it? There are no side effects. It’s only positive. It’s natural.
It’s for free. There are many things we can do. You can expose yourself to sunlight in the morning and then your serotonin levels go up and then your melatonin is triggered so you have less trouble falling asleep in the evening. That’s much better than taking sleep medication. There are many natural ways. I’m passionate about letting people know about these natural ways. Let’s face it, the pharmaceutical industry has a lot of money, lobbyists, and they’re not going to tell us about these natural alternatives.
When I was in pharmaceutical sales, what I found fascinating was they would do a study. I haven’t seen your peer-reviewed research. As you know in peer-reviewed research, you can even have everybody look at this and make sure it’s valid. You get this research journal to publish you. I would look at the marketing campaigns since I’m more of a sales marketing person at that time. I was looking at that going, “There was only one line in that entire peer-review journal that said this, but then there’s an entire marketing campaign.”
It looks like it does these amazing things but there was one little tiny aspect of it in the research. Some things are blown up and made great by these companies and that’s marketing, it’s business. I don’t know if a lot of people recognize that. I’m curious about your research and what you found. There’s so much to the brain. Is it the neurotransmitters? Is it some other aspect? What is your main focus of what you like to focus on? There’s so much that you don’t know about.
I have a popular framework, it’s called fun, fear, and focus. It’s about what you need to do or what you can do in order to do your best work and to feel great. We all want that especially with our situation, people can need a little boost. It’s about how you can create the perfect cocktail of neurochemicals in your brain. For example, when you have fun at work, your brain releases dopamine. It helps you to think better, learn better, be more innovative, it improves your mood and motivation. Having fun at work is not nice to have, it’s essential. You can also think about natural ways to have more fun at work. That’s one ingredient. Fun boosts dopamine.
The second ingredient is fear. We don’t want to have so much fear that we can’t sleep well at night anymore or that we’re stressed out, worried, and unhappy. What we do want to have is to be slightly over-challenged because that’s when your brain releases noradrenaline and that helps you to rise to the occasion. It’s the feeling you have when you take a cold shower and it kicks you awake. It’s a wake-up call for your brain.
That’s why deadlines are effective. That’s why we perform better on stage than at rehearsal because we need a little bit of challenge. It should be not too much and not too little. When we’re bored, we can’t think straight either. You don’t want to be bored and stressed, you want to be in your sweet zone. You can think about tangible ways like with COVID, to reduce fear levels. When we are in fear, we can’t develop solutions. We need solutions. We don’t need people who are paralyzed by fear. What we need is to be innovative, resourceful, creative, and find new ways of doing things.
Last but not least, focus. We’re distracted, multitasking, and constantly hooked on technology. In the end, we lose our focus and that’s a problem because our brain needs focus to do our best work. Acetylcholine, which is another neurotransmitter, is released when we’re fully focused and it’s a bit like a spotlight. It highlights your most important thoughts and it leaves everything else in the dark. What I’m saying is that when you have fun, fear, focus, and the right mix of the three, you can be up to five times more productive.
I love that because I talk about different levels of stress. I studied emotional intelligence and its impact and performance of my dissertation. I use Borton’s model because he had stress involved in it. I was looking at salespeople because a certain amount of stress, of course, a certain amount of fear, it’s a good thing to some extent. Everything is easy but it’s boring. You want to have a little bit of a push. Everybody has a perception of what they find challenging or hard.
I used to give two people in the same job position the same thing. One person will be done in five seconds and think it’s nothing and the other person freaks out and thinks it’s the hardest thing in the world. Perceptions are an interesting thing to talk about. You look on the internet, everybody goes, “Is this a blue dress? Is it a gold dress? Why do I see blue? Why do I see gold?” Why do you think we have such different perceptions of the world of what’s stressful and what’s not?
It has to do with neurodiversity. We all have these different neurotransmitters and different brain systems but some are more active than others. We have something that I like to call the stress spectrum. Some people with an active dopamine system enjoy constant change and a lot of pressure that helps them to work better. While people with a more active serotonin system perform better when there’s less stress. It’s not necessarily a gender thing because also women have testosterone and men have estrogen.
Depending on which mix you have in your brain and which chemicals shaped your brain architecture, you will react differently to certain situations. To give you one example, I used to have a colleague who loved traveling the world. We were on the road 24/7, 5 days a week, waking up in a different country or city every morning. He loved it and I felt stressed out. Many companies would say he was the high performer and I was the low performer, but that’s not true. I had all the ideas that our workshops were created by and all of that. One day, I sat him down and I said, “I know you love this. I hate it. How can we work together?”
We established ground rules. I said, “I’m not going to travel more than three times a week. I’m not going to take early morning flights.” He loved preparing the presentation the night before and I said, “I prefer doing it two weeks in advance.” What we did is I prepared it two weeks in advance and I sent it to him, he ignored it and then he looked at it the night before. That was fine for both of us. It’s important to have a dialogue around these things and not judging others but allowing the other person to work the way they enjoy it and to find your own way how you deliver your best performance. No one size fits all.
That ties back to the training we used to do for the MBTI or Myers-Briggs, the judging versus perceiving. I’m like you, I want to do it two weeks early. The people who are more perceiving liked the night before thing. You’ll drive each other crazy if you’re on a team with somebody who’s expecting it two weeks ahead and the other person does his best work the night before. As long as you give somebody a deadline and they meet that, it’s that discussion that has to be had. I don’t know that everybody recognizes how important because the more diverse teams are, the more you have to get along with all these different people. The more diverse they are, the more interesting the product or what they come up with.
I worked in a company where they gave us the management by strengths personality test where you would find out if you were more of a direct person, extrovert, a person who likes to read the manual, or slow-moving. They had these different colors they gave you so you’re either red, green, blue, or yellow. We had to put our color on our cubicle so other people knew our preferences for how we like to interact. Part of me thought it’s weird to put people and stereotype them into a box. Part of me found it helpful so that you didn’t go to somebody who wanted data and not give them data. What do you think about that thing? Do you think that it helps to know what other people are? Do you think you’re categorizing them too much and trying to put them into a box?
Let’s say you’re vegetarian like me and then you go to the restaurant and they say, “Seventy percent of our customers love the meat burger. We’re going to serve it to you because that’s our best bet.” How happy would you be? I would rather have people know what I like and then they can deliver that. I can be myself rather than not talking about these things. You get the burger when you would rather have the tofu. In a work situation, it’s inevitable to talk about these things. We can do it in a respectful way. We don’t have to exploit people’s privacy or stereotype them. It’s more a thing of, what would you like to do more off and what would you like to do less off? Which situations put you into the flow and which situation stress you out? You cannot guess what other people have in their hands.
Especially if you’re managing many people, it’s hard to know what they want if they don’t tell you. It’s good to have these open discussions in order to help people feel well at work. It’s frustrating when you have to live up to somebody else’s expectations. I’m a big believer that it’s good to do these workshops on diversity, test people, and do psychometric tests. Always with the understanding that every person is unique and stereotyping isn’t getting us anywhere.No one size fits all. Find your own way how you deliver your best performance. Click To Tweet
It’s helpful to me. The assessments that I’ve created are more like, “Here’s your level and here’s what’s stopping you. Here’s how you can move forward.” Even the assessments like MBTI, they’re helpful more about finding out what the other people are than what you are because you know what you are and who you are because you answered the self-assessment. It’s entertaining to me when people get their personal assessment back, they answered the questions and they’re surprised by the results. You have to know who you are. You answered the questions. What’s interesting about you is that you are fluent in six languages. My daughter can speak 4 or 5 languages. That’s an interesting quality. What part of the brain helped you with that? Do you think that people are naturally inclined to be good in that? Is this something that is specific to some people that have better development in the brain?
How can you become fluent in a new language? Some people are more gifted than others. At the same time, everybody can do it. Otherwise, children wouldn’t be able to learn to speak. There would be some who never learn it, though everyone learns it. It’s in our brains. We have a built-in language learning system. There are a couple of things you can do. First of all, I never studied grammar. Why didn’t I study grammar? Children don’t need grammar to learn to speak correctly. People get focused on these rules of grammar and then they still can’t speak a single sentence correctly.
It’s more about developing intuition because your brain will do that work for you. Your brain is a pattern detection machine. When you expose yourself to a language, your brain will intuitively pick up the rules of grammar and then you will develop an intuition. You will think, “This didn’t sound right. It didn’t feel right.” That’s your brain telling you that a grammar rule is violated. It’s much more effective though to expose yourself to the language than to study the rules.
What is your native language?
I’m German. My native language is German.
What else do you speak? I’m curious.
English, of course. I spent some time living in Texas when I was a high school student. I lived in the US. I have some memories I never experienced. I’m immensely grateful for it. I moved to Sweden but I knew Swedish before I moved there. When I arrived, I want to be able to already communicate. I moved to Italy so I learned Italian. When I was in Italy, I realized when you speak Italian, it’s easy to also learn Spanish. I moved to Spain and then I learned Spanish. In school, I learned French. My kids go to a French school. I get to practice that daily by talking to the teachers and checking their homework sometimes.
For me, language learning is quite easy. I studied how languages are processed in the brain. I applied all of the things I learned in my studies to my own learning process. I also worked as a language teacher when I was a student to support myself. I tried it out on myself and the others. I have a full book ready in my head on how to learn a foreign language. My book agent doesn’t think there’s a market for it because, in the US, people can get by with English and some Spanish. There’s no real interest and need for such a book. I have it all ready in my head.
I’d like to read that. My daughter amazes me. She speaks Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish. In eight months, you get one of those that makes it easier. It’s impressive to see when people do these things. How hard is it? Is it the old dog, new tricks thing? Is it hard?
That’s not true. We know from neuroplasticity that we can learn at any age. What’s hindering people is the idea that you can’t learn when you’re older and then they don’t even try. It’s a hindering mindset. We have to understand that kids see it as a game and playful activity. They have fun. As adults, there’s this idea that you can learn a language by sitting down with a boring, irrelevant language learning book. Of course, your brain is going to ignore that because it’s artificial and there’s no emotional relevance. We know we learn best when we are emotionally involved and when we feel passionate about what we’re doing. Every baby wants to understand his mother, father, what his aunt is saying, and what the grandfather is talking. As adults, we need to find a good reason why we learn languages. When that reason is lacking, we have difficulties learning because our brain figures that it’s not important.
I like Duolingo for learning new languages. There are a lot of different ways to help us. Technology has been great with that. I love the work you do because it ties into everything I study on curiosity and perception. There’s so much we don’t know about how the brain works. What’s the most frustrating thing to you about the brain that we don’t know? Is it why we sleep? What are the parts that we don’t know? What is it that you would like to know more in terms of the brain?
I have a weird answer to that. Sometimes, I have personal questions that I try to figure out and that I can’t find a solution to. Here is what I’m wondering about at the moment. It might be a bit weird because it’s not a big research topic. The one thing that I don’t understand is, when it comes to COVID, there are two camps. There are the people who say, “Wear a mask.” There are those who say don’t. You have them in the US. They’re all over the world.
I wonder why do some people fall into one camp rather than the other? I know that in the US, it’s at the line of Democrats and Republicans. I don’t want to get into your politics because it seems messy to me. In other countries in the world, it’s not politically necessary. I’ve been wondering because people don’t move a bit. There’s no understanding, no common ground for the other place. There’s a lot of conflict. It’s dividing society. That’s something I’ve been wondering about for a while now.
That almost seems like religion to me. People will go in one direction. There are blinders to anything else. It’s that confirmation bias kind of thing, don’t you think?
Here’s a study I would love to do if I have the time. I’d love to test the people who are pro lockdown and the people who are against it. I would like to run a psychological test to see if there are any other genetic differences. Is it something that some of them are more freedom lovers and the others are more safety lovers? This is something that I wonder about a lot. It’s not a big topic in terms of research topics. It’s something that puzzles me. On many topics, people at least discuss, agree. and find common ground. Some people love pasta and others say, “I prefer pizza.” They still like each other.
I still think it’s more like the political, religious voices. I was interested in something similar. When Myers-Briggs was popular, I did a little bit of my own personal research. If the T versus F dichotomy, the thinking versus feeling dichotomy of Myers-Briggs, which was thinkers tend to make their decisions based on facts, figures, and things like that. The feeling is much more on their values so they make their decisions based on your values. I was thinking, “The feelers were more likely to be religious than the ones that were thinkers.” In all the research I did, I couldn’t find any correlation. It’s the same thing. Why did this script go this way? It sounds like we want to know the same kinds of things. I’m completely with you on that.
I wish I could say, “They have identified a certain gene that the ones in this camp have this part of the brain region that’s more active.” I can’t figure it out because it seems to go across intelligence levels and social backgrounds. In the US, it’s more political. Here in Germany, some people who are to the left will think like this and some are more to the right. It seems to me like it’s a mess.
I’ve got a question for you on that. I saw something when I was doing that research and I had to look back. Wasn’t there some research that showed there was some genetic component to whether you had faith or not? If there is, isn’t faith tied to whether you think you’re going to die without the mask or not?We can learn at any age. What's hindering people is the idea that you can’t learn when you're older, and then they don't even try. Click To Tweet
I should look into that. We see a lot of extreme behavior and beliefs at the moment. Everything is heated. The simple thing is when people are in fear, oxytocin is released because you bond to those around you to protect yourself and those around you against the danger. People go into camps. You protect your family and your loved ones and the others become the enemy. It’s a natural thing that we have.
You see that with mothers, oxytocin levels get high but you become a bit aggressive when somebody gets close to your baby and touches it. You don’t want that. In animals, we can see that a lot. When love is highest, aggression also soars. That’s something we have at the moment that fear levels are high. You try to protect those you love. The other people who are in the other camp become your enemy and then you have to combat them. This explains why it’s heated and the reaction is strong. I still don’t understand why some people fall into one camp rather than the other. That’s something that I would love to hear about if somebody finds out.
My daughter is on this Facebook group where they share health tips and things that are working. There was one guy in the group who was always posting how ridiculous it was that people were wearing masks and it’s a scam. She said he ended up dying from catching COVID. You wonder what it takes for somebody’s mind to change. Sometimes, it’s something like that that would change. You might have to go through the experience. You have a certain brain. You’d be the expert in that.
That’s also a thing, it’s hard to change our minds. Once you’re convinced, you only look at evidence that supports that. Confirmation bias and changing your mind is difficult. It happens often when somebody whom you trust and like discusses with you. We have a hard time accepting feedback from strangers who don’t have our best interests at heart. If I go on the street and I say to somebody that I don’t know and lecture that person about COVID, that’s going to be a difficult conversation. If I talk to somebody I love and who’s close to me, there’s a higher chance that people would listen.
When it comes to feedback, intention matters. People always ask me, “How can we give better feedback? How can we have these difficult conversations?” It’s all about intentions. People can sense whether you mean well with your feedback whether you want to improve, help, and see the potential in that person or whether you want to criticize and put down that person. That makes all the difference whether you’re trying to help that person thrive or you’re trying to punish somebody for bad behavior.
It is a time that there’s so much focus on all these ways that people behave. It’s a crazy time. That’s why it’s interesting to talk about brain and neuroscience. Since we’ve talked so much about the brain, there’s so much of that brain discussion, how much did it make you want to start studying the gut or the stomach after you started to see the connection to that? Do you go in that direction at all?
A little bit. I know there’s a strong brain-gut connection and the microbiome is extremely interesting. There’s going to be an explosion of research in that area in the future because we’re only at the beginning. The bacteria, how they influence our health, and even our mental state. I’m not an expert on gut health but I do think that nutrition makes a big difference. We should all think about getting enough probiotics and prebiotics so that our gut health is in a good state because that can influence our entire health and well-being. People didn’t know that years ago.
It’s interesting. My husband is a physician. I get to hear a lot about that from him. Naveen Jain was on the show about Viome. It’s his company that deals with that. It’s a discussion that comes up when you talk about the brain. Everything you’re working on is fascinating. I enjoyed this conversation. A lot of people are going to want to get your book or follow you. Is there a way to reach you that you want to share or a website or anything?
My website is Fabulous-Brain.com. I’m also on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. My name is hard to spell so that’s why I have this website called Fabulous-Brain.com because I thought if I tell people to go to my website, which is my name, nobody will find me. I want people to find me. I have that. I’m most active on LinkedIn because it’s a business platform and lots of my clients are there.
Thank you so much for doing the show. I enjoyed this.
Thank you for making it such a fun experience. We have so much in common and shared interests. I enjoyed this.
Thank Cosimo too.
I’d like to thank Friederike for being my guest. We get many great guests on this show. I love it when we get into any of the psychological, brain-related type of discussions. Her work was fascinating to me. We’ve had a lot of great psychologists on the show like Albert Bandura and others. Every time I get to speak to any of these individuals who do this amazing research, it’s always inspiring. It’s important to understand behaviors. We know that people are hired for their knowledge and fired for their behaviors. If we can figure out what makes all these things make us tick and what makes us interested in certain things and not interested in others, it all ties into my interest in curiosity.
I studied some of the psychological aspects involved with curiosity. I found that curiosity increases dopamine, which is the feel-good chemical. We all want to feel good. I did see that people were living longer. There were a lot of benefits to improving curiosity. I always have leaders ask me about what are the benefits of improving curiosity in the workplace. We know it ties into engagement, innovation, productivity, and a lot of that. There are also the health-related aspects that we were talking about here. For a true understanding of behaviors in the workplace, we have to learn more about the brain and our chemicals of how they impact us. I loved all of our discussions about that.
I would like to see more research done. If anybody is reading this and they do research in the area of innovation or engagement, there’s some great content out there. I know that Francesca Gino’s research in HBR is great to show connections between productivity and improving curiosity. I’d like to see more. It’s common sense if you think about it. If you light the spark, you’re going to include things like innovative ideas and more engagement if people are interested to look into things. There are a lot of anecdotal stories and a lot of them are in my book, Cracking the Curiosity Code. When I give talks, I also give a lot of anecdotal stories. I’d love to see more research done because there’s so much behind that kicking in of the dopamine, how that makes you feel good, that’ll improve performance, and everything else.
There’s a lot that you can find on my site. If you go to DevelopCuriosity.com or go to the DrDianeHamilton.com site, you can find the free courses and different things that I offer. If you don’t see a drop-down menu of what you’re looking for, make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the page because we do have a lot of information down there, testimonials, and a lot of other things. You can’t have every menu item at the top. Make sure you look at the bottom for some of that and take some time to explore the site. We have so much great information about the importance of developing curiosity.
If you take the Curiosity Code Index, you can find out the four factors that inhibit curiosity, which is fear, assumptions, technology, and environment. It’s a 36-question assessment that’ll give you that feedback. Also, on the site is the Perception Power Index, which will give you a combination of IQ, EQ, CQ for curiosity, and CQ for Cultural Quotient, pretty much, and the PQ, your Perception Quotient. You could find out how perception is an epic process. You’re evaluating, predicting, interpreting, and correlating to make these conclusions. How we perceive others is huge in the workplace. I hope you take the time to look at all this stuff on the site. I hope you enjoyed our episode because I know I did. I hope you enjoy the next episode and join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- The Leading Brain: Neuroscience Hacks to Work Smarter, Better, Happier
- Albert Bandura – past episode
- Tom Rath – past episode
- Naveen Jain – past episode
- LinkedIn – Friederike Fabritius
- Twitter – Friederike Fabritius
- Facebook – Friederike Fabritius
- Instagram – Friederike Fabritius
- Cracking the Curiosity Code
- Curiosity Code Index
- Perception Power Index
About Friederike Fabritius
Friederike Fabritius is a neuroscientist, keynote speaker, and award-winning author. She was trained at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and is an alumna of McKinsey & Company. She works with Fortune 500 companies around the globe to transform how they think, innovate, and navigate change. She is the lead author of the book The Leading Brain: Neuroscience Hacks to Work Smarter, Better, Happier.
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