Where do unconscious interactions
come from ? What can we do ?
Unconscious interactions come from our belief
that the following generally accepted assumptions are true
we believe that other people have
generally the same perceptions and
conclusions than we do
we are persuaded that we are aware of
our interactions with others: what we
conclude, what we decide to do and say,
what we actually do and say...
Brain research has now demonstrated
that they are in fact false.
I will use the term "undermind"
for the brain processes we are not aware of and
"mind" for the brain processes we are
First, the brain hardware, the synapses (the
connections between the neurones), we use to
interpret the signals coming to our brains, is
very different from person to person. So our
respective interpretation of the data we hear
and see are much more different than what we
generally believe or assume.
Second many more aspects of our interactions
happen in our undermind than we believe. We
have much more unconscious interactions than we
our undermind processes and filters the
incoming data, what enters into our ears or
appears on our retina, to present the mind
with information which is not only
meaningful, but also which is closest to
what the mind expect to see or hear. And
the incoming data includes much more non
verbal info than we think.
So in a business meeting, each of us has
very different interpretations of the same
basic data: what is said !
our undermind is always scanning
our environment for potential threats. And
whenever it sense something that looks like
a threat - even remotely: better be safe
than sorry -, it triggers immediately a
reaction of fight or freeze of flight. The
undermind does this much faster than the
mind can process the same raw data and the
undermind forces then the mind to focus its
attention on the threat to the
exclusion of the rest.
a business meeting,
we can observe this
when we see suddenly a colleague engaging into defensive
or irrational behavior without any
apparent logical reason !
our undermind takes a decision to act or
speak 0.2 to 0.4 seconds before our mind is
conscious of the start of this action (or
start of these words). If it feels
challenged by this action "initiated
from under", our mind will
post-rationalize and invent a good reason
for it. Our mind can then influence
subsequent stages of this actions, but the
initial impulse is unconscious.
So in a business meeting, we
say words that seem logical at the moment we
say them, but that we regret after the
Are we doomed to always endure the consequences
of the defensive interactions coming from our
Are we doomed into defensive
No, our mind can learn to use constructive
interactions and then,
once we have practiced them enough, our undermind will also begin to
use less ineffective unconscious interactions. Brain sciences show
that this learning requires three crucial elements:
slowing down the interactions so that
our mind can "see" the underming
trying to impose its direction
observing ones own unpleasant feelings
which often indicate that the mind
perceives body responses to actions
initiated by the undermind
be aware of the feeling of low mutual
trust: this is the strongest and most
reliable indicator that the team is engaged
So when we look at a team building workshop or technique, we
should ask ourselves:
does it create the awareness that our
interactions are not always as effective as
we believe them to be ?
does it help us to slow down our
interactions so that our mind can have
glimpses into what is coming from the
undermind and decide eventually for
something more effective ?
- does it help us to observe our feelings,
including low mutual trust, as warning
signals that our mind(s) is(are) hostage of
our undermind(s) ?
interactions toroot team building
interactions to team building