We’ve all experienced those interactions at work. The ones that hurt. The ones where fear kicks in and you want to run to the nearest restroom. They leave you with that sick feeling in your stomach. They make your heart beat faster. Your head pounds, your hands tremble, or you stammer…. which is completely out of character.
These reactions occur in various settings and in response to numerous stimuli……
• In a meeting where your toughest client greets you with a smirk and leads with a question carefully chosen to kick-off the beatdown.
• In your performance review when you’re given feedback that’s inconsistent with everything your boss has said all year.
• At lunch with a colleague when you learn you’ve been the subject of gossip and misinformation.
• And, in the worst-case scenario, when you’re laid off or fired.
Welcome to the world of social pain. It’s real pain and it hurts…..just like physical pain. Here’s why.
Our brains evolved to experience threats to our social connections in much the same way that they experienced physical pain.
The same neural circuitry that causes us to feel physical pain is activated when we experience social pain. And today’s workplace is first and foremost, a social system. With this social system comes many opportunities for reward, recognition, learning, challenge and friendship interspersed with instances of shame, embarrassment, bullying and rejection. Sometimes you can shake it off quickly. Other times, the pain stays with you much longer. The short-term fix is to take two Tylenol or other over the counter pain reliever. The long-term fix is to learn and apply strategies that will help you manage situations that trigger social pain.
Social pain is real. Suffering is optional.
Every Brain Needs a Coach.
Are you IN?