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Up Regulating / Down Regulating

As the level of uncertainty in organisations (due to constant re-organisation) is rising and pressure to perform increases, the level of organisational cortisol is increasing. And this is a bad thing!
Cortisol is the hormone produced when we are feeling stressed or in high states of uncertainty.
Oxytocin is the hormone produced when we feel safe and trusted and leads to connection and co-creation.
We should be focussing on upregulating our oxytocin producing behaviours.
We don’t always know how what we say will impact others. Our self-awareness and awareness of others is crucial to create conversations that hit the mark. By understanding the conversational triggers that can either create trust, or lead to distrust with those we are communicating with, helps to build our empathy and compassion for others.
Curiosity and discovering what others are thinking are keys to building trust. This can be a game changer for your relationships and connecting with others. A client of mine has completely changed some of her challenging relationships by adopting a curiosity mindset in her interactions with others and her ability to have co-creational conversations has been enhanced considerably.
I’m currently working with several teams from different organisations and I’m constantly reminded of the untapped potential within organisations. However there is a lot of uncertainty in many organisations and uncertainty leads to increased stress levels and diminished productivity.
High performing teams generally have high levels of oxytocin as team members feel trusted and empowered to do their job.
High performing team members continually work on how they can do even better and how to evolve their ways of working and thinking. Everyone in the team feels valued, focused on building on each other’s capacity and capability to learn together to co-create new ideas. The whole team is invested in being the best they can be individually and collectively with a view of lifting the entire organisation.
Low performing teams, conversely, have high levels of cortisol. There is too much to do with the wrong skill sets in place. Or the behaviours of some individuals are creating stress in others. The leader may have unrealistic expectations on what the team is capable of producing, or doesn’t understand how to effectively lead, which in turn down-regulates individual team member’s ability to think effectively. Trust is low and people are focussing on just surviving.
Key words which can down-regulate oxytocin producing behaviour and up-regulate cortisol producing behaviour are: exclusion; judgement; limiting (mindset); withholding; knowing; dictating; criticising.There are ways to support these teams and turn them around. As before, it is essential that leaders drive this and provide the support and guidance to develop oxytocin producing behaviours.
Key words for up-regulating oxytocin producing behaviour are: inclusion; appreciation; expansion (of mindset), sharing; discovery; developing (others); celebrating success.‘Up-regulating oxytocin producing behaviours means creating conversations that inspire transparency, relationship building, understanding, a share vision of success, truth and empathy.’ Judith E GlaserNext time you are in a conversation:

  • Be aware of what’s happening now, in this moment. Living in the moment is about paying attention and noticing what’s happening around you. So stay conscious and pay attention to the impact you are having on others and they on you.
  • Focus on the words you are using so that fear and distrust are down regulated (cortisol producing behaviours) and engagement and trust are up regulated (oxytocin producing behaviours)
  • Rather than telling someone something, create a curiosity mindset and ask more open questions to extend their (and your) thinking further
  • Watch the reaction of people you are interacting with: are they opening up or shutting down based on what you are saying.

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