Reinvigorating Your Brain When Disengaged

Reinvigorating your brain is the solution to being disengaged. This is because disengagement is emotional detachment and the brain is the body’s emotional and cognitive control center.

I got interested in the topic of disengagement from GaIlup’s report that in 2014 less than one-third (31.5%) of U.S. employees were engaged in their work (see: http://www.gallup.com/poll/181289/majority-employees-not-engaged-despite-gains-2014.aspx) with the majority (51%) ‘not engaged’ and 17.5% ‘actively disengaged.’ Gallup defined ‘engaged’ as ‘involved in, enthusiastic, and committed to their work and the workplace.’ With less than one-third of U.S. employees engaged in their work, business is poorly positioned to move the needle on addressing environmental challenges like climate change. Sustainability author and business advisor Andrew Winston says about business that ‘it’s practical to operate in a way that solves these problems so we actually have a functioning planet we can do business on’ (see http://ensia.com/interviews/andrew-winston-business-in-the-age-of-climate-change/). It will take employee engagement and ingenuity for businesses to develop the technologies and approaches needed to rapidly scale our approach to reducing carbon. Rapid carbon reduction is necessary in order to have as soft a landing as possible as we head into the climate change crisis.

This post starts with an introduction about the causes of employee disengagement and then talks about three ways to reinvigorate your brain.

Kristi Hedges describe 8 common causes of employee disengagement (http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2014/01/20/8-common-causes-of-workplace-demotivation/). These common causes fall under the three categories of problems with company leadership (lack of confidence in company leadership and poor business performance leading to lack of progress and job insecurity), problems with company climate or culture (lack of recourse for poor employee performance, unpleasant coworkers, and poor communication of company information), and problems with the boss (micro-management and boring assignments). These causes are a problem because they position the disengaged employee as a victim of circumstance. While there are legitimate circumstances that warrant removing yourself from a given workplace, there really is no such thing as the perfect boss, company leadership, or company climate/culture. When you consider yourself a victim, you are disempowering yourself. As Eckart Tolle, the author of ‘The Power of Now and the New Earth,’ says:

To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.

Similarly Richard Bach, author of ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull,’ says:

If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.

When you find yourself disengaged at work, the best response is to be responsible or, as Steven Covey (https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits-habit1.php) says, to be response-able. In the case of disengagement in the workplace, you are able to make the response of deciding to take the power back. Rather than be a victim of circumstance which causes disengagement, engage in the activities that are healthy for your brain: positivity, learning, and interacting with others.

The first way to reinvigorate your brain is with positivity. Shawn Achor, author of ‘The Happiness Advantage’ and founder of the Institute of Positive Research and GoodThinkInc, reports that when a person is in a state of positivity their brain performs 33% better than when in a state of neutrality, negativity, or stress (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLJsdqxnZb0&index=2&list=PLcrdIYb-QqFZ-_24qSKQXz7OOaSoMo_Ai). Achor goes on to share the following five techniques for increasing positivity in your life by just practicing for 2 minutes a day for at least 21 days in succession:

The second way to reinvigorate your brain is through learning. Neuroscientist Dr. Heather Berlin said at a 92Y’s Off the Top: The Neuroscience of Creativity event in March 2015 (http://www.inc.com/magazine/201402/ryan-underwood/creativity-boosters-neuroscience.html):

There is synaptic plasticity across the lifespan of the brain – the ability to make new connections. There are brain stem cells that can migrate out at any age like in the hippocampus to form new connections in the brain. Always try to do something novel, like learning a new skill, to keep your brain healthy.

Fulcrum Connection offers tools to improve learning in the workplace including the LEARN Plan and the Job Impact Assessment.

The third way to reinvigorate your brain is interacting with others. A study by Ybarra and colleagues in 2008 shows how social interaction improves brain function (http://sharpbrains.com/resources/7-opening-the-debate/why-social-engagement-can-boost-brain-function-the-case-for-walking-book-clubs/). Ybarra’s study consisted of three groups. One group was engaged in discussion of a social issue for 10 minutes. A second group solved crossword puzzles and engaged in other intellectually stimulating activities for 10 minutes. A third group was the control group which watched a 10-minute clip of Seinfeld. Following the 10-minute group experience, the cognitive functioning of all participants was assessed. The improvement in cognitive functioning versus the control group was as high from the social interaction as from the intellectual stimulation after only 10 minutes. Ybarra and colleagues explain this finding by noting that social interaction involve the same mental processes that are involved in cognitive tasks such as memory, attention, and control. Fulcrum Connection also offers many tools to improve social interactions in the workplace such as tools for effective influencing, networking, problem solving, collaborating, strategizing, and changing.

In summary, disengagement is emotional detachment and emotions are controlled by the brain. Therefore, the best way to combat emotional detachment is to fire the brain back up which can be done through positivity, learning, and social interaction. If you practice positivity, learning, and social intelligence in the workplace, then you can expect to perform better in your job. For example, Fulcrum Connection has assembled a new suite of tools to thrive on a steep learning curve and to interact effectively with others.

If you would like to learn more about reinvigorating the brains of employees in an organization or group, then please contact Valerie Patrick at Fulcrum Connection LLC (412-742-9675 or valerie.patrick@fulcrumconnection.com). Ask about our new suite of tools to help stamp out employee disengagement. Also ask about our first-time client offer.

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