Are you a Scarer or are you a CARER?



ScarerRecent brain research has discovered that social pain, like feeling rejected, and physical pain, show up in the same area in the brain (see brain scans below). The purpose of social pain, from an evolutionary view, is to adjust our behavior for survival – so we ensure we are not rejected from the tribe, resulting in death soon afterwards.

Social pain releases norepinephrine and cortisol, precursors to the flight or fight response. Here’s 2 mins of my interview with leading Social Neuroscientist Professor Matthew Lieberman, (who has just released his new book “Social: Why are brains are wired to connect”) to explain more.

There are 5 social needs to be met in order to minimise social pain and maximise social reward. These significantly impact an employee’s levels of engagement, productivity and well-being.

These needs are a leader’s best friend. Why? Because they alert you to how people are likely to react to change. You can refer to them whenever there is an upset, or when considering changing anything in the business and assess the likely social pain or pleasure that may result. You can them develop strategies to mitigate them. They are easily recalled with the acronym “CARER”. Last week I wrote about Certainty – the C in the CARER model.

  • Certainty (Predictable)
  • Autonomy (Choice)
  • Relatedness (Bonding)
  • Equity (Fairness)
  • Reputation (Status)

Lieberman draws on original research from his UCLA lab to reveal how social needs are often more important than our need for food or shelter. He equates social pain and rejection with physical pain, and social rewards with pleasure.

By taking into account these 5 social needs, you can be mindful of the potential threat or reward you may be creating for others, and take action accordingly. Further information. Are you a CARER or a Scarer? What can you do to adjust?

September 8, 2014

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