You’re in the canned foods aisle at the grocery store and the employee spills a display case. You help the employee pick it up without hesitation. This wasn’t a massive inconvenience to you, but something interesting happened without being noticed. When you did that nice gesture for them, a shot of oxytocin went through you, and it also went through the recipient. Beyond that, it went to the people who witnessed this act of kindness. Oxytocin is a feel-good chemical. Unlike dopamine, that is commonly related to instant gratification, oxytocin is known more as the bonding hormone.
Not only are acts of kindness a catalyst for oxytocin, so is physical touch. It is so powerful that many studies show that a lack of touch in childhood leads to struggles building trust later in life. Touch, and therefore oxytocin, is one of the reasons we “shake” on contracts. We need that physical affirmation of what will happen. Oxytocin helps create fundamental bonds of trust between humans.
Since the physical concept is a little harder to achieve in the workplace, due to countless barriers that shouldn’t be crossed and can be taken poorly, we will focus this week on the generosity side of the equation.
I’ve given you the challenge before to go out of your way to help out, but this week I want to give you the task of challenging your team.
This week’s challenge: bring your team together and explain some of the bioloby basics and encourage them to make one effort every day of the week to go out of their way use these simple steps of praise that kick in these powerful chemical responses. It may sound simplistic, but it is foundational.
This isn’t the usual approach, and it will have to be carried out by you and led by you. The end results as leaders and team members can be incredibly motivating and trust-building.
The ideas for this post came from a highly suggested read, “Leaders Eat Last”.
Written by Emma Pister and Karl Pister