AB Thinks  →  16th May 2017

What makes the brain tick?

Chris Winning

I was lucky enough to spend time at the Institute of Internal Communications live event in Bristol. Rubbing shoulders with some of the more forward-thinking and interesting brains in communication was indeed a treat.

And one of the two highlights of the event was, in fact, all about what makes the brain tick.

It turns out that 86% of our brain’s reaction is based on emotion. Only 14% is rational. Our poor brains would overheat if it were the other way around. Thinking, as it turns out, really is hard work.

The 86% uses Metaprogrammes to process our response to any (supposedly) new situation. Even when we cross the road, a good part of our actions are in fact programmed by these metaprogrammes. They act as sub-conscious filters saving our brain from overload.

We’ve all got seven of them. One of them is all about communication. Consider it a spectrum with ‘big picture thinking’ at one end and ‘detailed thinking’ at the other.

The language we use makes it obvious to anyone in the know where we sit on the spectrum. And we can flex our language to foster trust – simply by moving closer to where our stakeholder lies on the spectrum. Change communication practitioners take note.

A second highlight of the event was the idea that people in charge of the intranet should be given an incentive to delete content.

Our first instinct is often to produce more of the stuff. Angela Rossiter, global intranet manager at law firm Linklaters, asks each of her team to delete at least one piece of content every day.

She says the intranet of a firm with a knowledge-based product needs to help its employees find useful knowledge. Useless info can go. How refreshing.