Helping Leaders Achieve Greater Influence, Higher Engagement & Increased Results

Don’t Make Jack a Dull Boy!

This comes from an old English saying:
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, (obviously it is not gender specific), but as it turns out there may be something in that old saying.

Neuroscience reveals we are very social creatures, we actually have areas of our brain dedicated to social interaction, we need it to thrive and survive. Starving the brain of social interaction for extended periods means we may feel isolated and less motivated. Our brains have evolved larger than other mammals and we now believe this is to enable us to keep track of many social relationships between us and those between others. We became a dominate species by forming relationships, collaborating and creating more than any single person or mammal could create on their own.

Our brains are wired to make us feel good when we work with and help others and when others show respect and like us. Powerful feelgood chemicals like oxytocin ensure we feel rewarded for helping others.
In order to build relationships, our brains to get to ‘know’ others. We have to spend time and interact with them in more than just ‘task’ related situations.

I have often seen leaders deliberately suppress social interaction in their office or work area from an assumption that chatting and socialising equates to slacking or skiving. Surprisingly, it turns out that suppressing social interaction between your workforce is likely to reduce performance overall, not increase it. (Obviously if people socialised all day and did no work, that would be a bad thing).

Neuroscientists have discovered that we all have a part of our brain that lights up or is activated, (viewed live via brain scanner,fMRI), when we feel ‘threatened”  by a situation, I am not referring to physical threat where the stronger fight/flight mechanism kicks in, this ‘threat’ is very subtle and is mostly at an unconscious level. The result is we are likely to feel less positive towards this person and less likely to work hard or put in extra effort for them.

Conversely, there is also a part of our brain that lights up or is activated, when we feel ‘rewarded’ by a situation or person, for example being fair and honest. This again is very subtle and is mostly at an unconscious level. The result is we are likely to feel more positive towards this person and more likely to be proactive or put in extra effort.

Regularly triggering the ‘threat’ circuits or your people will make them less likely to do more than required, ie compliance. They will move away from you on the Human Connection Scale™.


By Peter Green

Peter is a speaker, workshop facilitator and author. Founder of Limbic Leadership, helping front line leaders harness the brain for massive influence, higher engagement and exceptional results from their teams. Leadership Development Grounded in Neuroscience!

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