Consciously Crafted Conversations: To Enhance Social Energy

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Editor’s Note: Are you ready to fill your five energy tanks? Deborah and Ute have a gift for you— I’s their Energy Calendar and you can open a door each day for the next 30 days and get great tips! Go to the end of the article.

If you missed it, our last article served as an introduction to the topic of Social Energy. This is a newly discovered fifth personal energy tank, joining the ranks with our Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual Energy tanks. At the end of the article, Ute and Deborah indicated where Social Energy touches our lives and how it impacts our relationships.

After consideration, we deemed it natural to dive into the topic of Social Energy through the lens of conversation. After all, Judith E. Glaser, our mentor, said, “Everything happens through Conversations”. Judith was also a big believer that conversations are the golden threads that keep us connected to others.

As such, our guiding question regarding Social Energy in relation to conversations has become:

“Why are some conversations like energizers, and a means to forge and strengthen bonds, whereas other conversations leave us depleted and feeling disconnected?”

We invite you to feel this for yourself.

First, take a listen to this 30-second recording. For context, Keila, the narrator, visited her work colleague, Sallie, at her home the night before, and is recounting the experience for you. Tune into your emotions as you listen. How do you feel when you hear Keila’s story? What words come to mind?

From our experience in asking other listeners, we imagine the following word collage might well represent your thoughts:

Next, bring to mind a situation at home, at the workplace, or maybe even at the grocery store, when someone said something to you that drained your energy instantly.

Now listen to this (which is not nearly as toxic as the previous clip).

Then, ask yourself the same question: How do you feel? Do any of the following words come to mind:

This little experiment you bravely participated in is proof of how conversations can mix an emotional cocktail, pulling you toward or pushing you away from your conversation partner. The cocktail can pack a powerful punch, both when it’s filling you up with positive energy as well as when it is draining your energy tank.

As Judith E. Glaser also suggests, “Words create worlds”. The words we choose can either fill our Social Energy tank or drain it. What’s more, it’s not just our tanks but also the tanks of those with whom we’re engaging. We have the ability to leave others either energized or exhausted by intentionally choosing our words in conversations.

Are you curious about the neurochemical effect that you experienced even while listening to these words third-hand?

Example #1 illustrates how Keila’s judgmental words made us feel, well, icky. Judgment is one of those emotional states (along with irritation, impatience, defensiveness, worry, etc.) that tells our brains that we’re not safe. This in turn releases a hormone cocktail of cortisol and adrenaline that surges through us. Some additional stress may be pulsing through our bodies due to our questioning, “If Keila says that about Sally, what is she saying about me?” or “Wow, she’s mean. Am I safe around her?”

Example #2 is the other side of the coin, with Keila being appreciative of Sally’s unique decor. With these words, some of us feel drawn in and perhaps curious about her experience. We may be inclined to ask some questions about what she saw. The cocktail of neurotransmitters we’re now buzzed from (oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine) act to open us up.

So, how can we use this information about these neurochemical cocktails to our advantage?

  1. We can intentionally choose our words to inspire better connection and higher levels of trust.
  2. When we sense someone is closing down, we can consider our word choice and recognize they may be protecting themselves from being open and vulnerable.
  3. We can tune into the cocktails that are being mixed in conversations around us: at home, at work, or in the news. Consider whether the word choice is meant to build bridges or to burn them.

With this taste of science, we invite you to observe what kind of cocktail you’re consuming while in various conversations. How can you manage the flow and mix of ingredients to your advantage? After all, there are times when you should protect yourself and disengage, and there are instances when you can open up your Social Energy tank and share generously with those around you.

Over the next couple of weeks, we invite you to tune into how your body responds at different times, with different people and under different circumstances. Because the more you notice, the more likely your attention captures and brings to your consciousness an awareness that otherwise might just ‘slip away’ unnoticed.

We’ll be back soon to explore more of the science behind these emotional cocktails in our next article, with a surprise guest contributor!

Just in time for the Spring, check out the Sustaining Resilience Energy calendar! Each door will provide you with tips to fulfill your five energy tanks: Physical, Emotional, Mental, Spiritual, and Social. Brought to you by the dynamic duo, Deborah and Ute whose column, Sustaining Resilience appears monthly at The Three Tomatoes. Start with door #1 and open a door each day for the next 30 days. CLICK HERE TO START NOW.

Deborah Goldstein is the founder of the Driven Professionals, a community driven to support the health, well-being & success potential of NYC professionals. Deborah is also the founder of Goldie’s Table Matters, providing education and entertainment to both corporate and private clients nationwide.

Ute Franzen-Waschke

Ute Franzen-Waschke is passionate about developing people for the international workplace. Throughout her career, she has worked with her clients on co-creating environments that allow individuals, teams, and businesses to thrive, be the focus on communication, relationship, or corporate cultures. Ute is doing research on how Coaching can support wellbeing and engagement in contemporary corporate work environments. She is the author of the book “How to create a successful remote work culture”, Co-author of the book “Changing Conversations for a Changing World Vol 1 & 2”.

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