If you are a leader, sales professional or someone whose success depends on an ability to motivate, inspire or influence others, these little things called mirror neurons can provide you with the help you need.

All you have to do is give them a reason to do their thing.

If you are a leader, sales professional or someone whose success depends on an ability to motivate, inspire or influence others, these little things called mirror neurons can provide you with the help you need. All you have to do is give them a reason to do their thing.

For the scientifically inclined among us, mirror neurons are a particular class of visuomotor neurons in the brain that show activity both when an individual performs an action and when he observes another individual performing the same action.

For the rest of us: Mirror neurons are the reason we wince at the sight of blood, or pucker when seeing someone chomp down on a lemon. Mirror neurons allow us to sense what it feels like to kick the winning field goal during the game’s final seconds or not, if you’re a Bears fan.
In other words, mirror neurons are the reason human beings are gifted with an ability to empathize with one another. They help put the commune in communicating.

A large body of research exists on mirror neurons. Researchers at Princeton University conducted one of the most important studies on mirror neurons. While examining functional MRI’s of the brain, they found that our brains light up in the same exact location as the person describing something with sensory detail. In other words, let’s say I describe a building as old, with creaky wooden floors and ceilings that had yellowed with age. As you imagine this, your brain is being stimulated in the same portion of your brain as mine as I describe the building. Scientists refer to this as “neural coupling” which is what happens whenever we make a so-called “connection” with our audience.

There is no better way to get your audience’s mirror neurons to go to work than through storytelling. Read the following about being a leader others want to follow, and then answer the questions below:

I remember one time when I decided to play hookey from work. I had been working consecutive 16-hour days trying to win a new account. “Hey! I deserve a break,” I thought. So I called in sick. (I just clamped my nose [like this], so I could sound like I had a cold. ) Then, I got in my car and drove to the beach.

First, I looked for a good place away from anyone. I selected a cool place under the trees and extended a mat on the white sand. There I was, taking in the ocean breeze, hypnotized by the rhythm of the waves when all of a sudden my phone started buzzing. Half asleep, I picked it up. “Oh no!,” I thought. It’s my boss!

As I was shocked out of a half-slumber, I accidently hit “answer,” instead of sending the call to voice mail.

“I just wanted to thank you,” my boss said
“For what?”
“Well, I just found out we won the account you were working on all week.”
“Oh, uh, well, that’s great, I said.
“And I hope those waves I hear help you to get well soon.”

Now that’s a boss I will never forget.

You may have never had a similar experience. But could you identify with what happened as it was described to you? Did you see the beach and hear the waves? When the phone started buzzing, did you feel a sense of panic? Those were your neural mirrors at work. Consider how you would have reacted had I just read that, as a leader, it’s important to let your people know they are appreciated.

Often, the best teacher is experience. When it is impossible to provide someone with a direct experience, as would be the case through a group exercise or role play, mirror neurons can come to the rescue. By providing vicarious experiences, mirror neurons can give your audience the next best thing to being there.