I’ve just learnt something about the brain that has changed how I view making conversation.
Depending on what tasks we are doing, the brain uses one of five different types of brain waves to process and respond. The two key ones when it comes to conversation are Alpha brain waves & Beta brain waves.
The Alpha brain waves tends to respond sub-consciously, responding automatically to common stimuli. Basically, it does the things that don’t require much thought. It’s reflexive.
The Beta brain waves activate when something comes along that needs active processing and conscious thought such as problem solving or figuring out. It’s responsible for creative thinking and dealing with new stimuli.
Alpha conversations require no thought. They are the typical predictable conversations that are parroted often, so much so that the responses are automatic. These conversations are often token with no real benefit. They tend to keep people at a distance, aren’t impactful, and nothing new is learned or revealed.
Beta conversations are a little dangerous, because each step is improvised and is created in the moment. They go in unpredictable directions, require a real presence when interacting, and the conversation potentially throws up new ideas. These conversations tend to be a lot more rewarding.
Unfortunately, people often tend to opt for Alpha conversations. We leave ourselves in automatic rather than switching on.
And that’s a missed opportunity. Wouldn’t you rather have rewarding Beta conversations?
When you next have a conversation, ask yourself whether it’s an Alpha or Beta conversation. Are you really engaging? Are you switched on? Are you enjoying the conversation?
If you aren’t listening, the conversation doesn’t evolve. It’s just two people saying things they each already know at each other.
Some things are good for us to hear, even if they are things we already know.
Martin Pistorius was diagnosed as being brain dead. Yet he was conscious, alert, and could see & hear everything that was happening around him. No one realised for 11 years.