Living Vicky Blog

Are you in control of your “Lizard Brain”?

Living Vicky hosted an event Tuesday evening at Strayer University’s Courthouse campus in Arlington, VA for our entire team and special “Ambassadors”.  Ambassadors are local organizations that have been supporting Living Vicky through thought leadership, valuable introductions and active partnerships to support our mission.


Dave Joseph, of the Public Conversations Project, delivered a lively and engaging workshop aimed at building constructive conversations.  Enlightenment dawned with the Lizard Brain explanation.

Depending on our environment, other people involved, and our own personal state of mind, certain conversational factors are just escalations waiting to happen.  Recognizing this, our brains immediately juices up the Amygdala portion of the brain, and shuts down the Prefrontal Cortex.  This is giving control to the lizard brain.  It used to be a good thing.  You know, the kind of thinking designed to save us from sabre toothed tigers and stampeding mammoths.

The Amygdala is known for “Fight, Flight or Freeze” – none of which works well in today’s constructive conversations.  If your best friend tells you “That color looks awful on you”, you probably race to the closet to find something else to where that day.  If your mom or sister says the exact same thing, with the same tone and inflection, we may respond with a something very close to a snarl!

We ran through scenario, and past unsuccessful conversations, looking for these triggers:Lizard Brain

  • Tightening of the chest, faster breathing
  • Feeling flush or hot, as blood runs from our core to our limbs preparing for fight or flight
  • Vocalization changes – higher/louder
  • Trouble articulating
  • Tunnel vision – or “seeing red”

Dave explained that it is helpful to learn what these triggers might be, and keep the lizard at bay.  He had loads of helpful tips to make sure that you are actually engaging in dialogue – meaning you’re trying to reach a mutual understanding or positive outcome by:

  • speaking in modulated and respectful tones
  • asking genuine questions (ie, one that you don’t “know” the answer to)
  • speaking for ourselves and allow others to do the same
  • assuming good intentions going into the conversation
  • really listening to what the other person is saying, as opposed to looking for a space in which to jump
  • asking for more time to reflect before responding, if needed

There was much, much more – but you get the idea.

This event was not only a life lesson for us, but also an opportunity to experience, first-hand, an actual Living Vicky Traveler Pilot program course.  Want to check out what other cool things we’ll be doing in the Pilot?  Click here

This entry was published on August 23, 2013 at 10:54 am and is filed under Vicky Courses. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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