Psychology, neuroscience and client engagement

Posted on: May 17, 2015

At the Law South 2015 conference last week, I presented a paper that explored some of the latest developments in psychology, neuroscience and client engagement that might help support people in achieving extraordinary client engagement.

I can’t cover all the content on I presented psychology, neuroscience and client engagement, but here are some of the most interesting elements:

  • The future A futurologist indicated that “those whose only advantage is intellectual skills will lose out” – 1% of the workforce will see their income increase and 99% will see it decrease and the difference lies in interpersonal skills for the “caring economy”
  • Emotional intelligence (EQ) Only 35% of those tested were able to accurately identify emotions as they happen. When tested alongside 33 other important skills, EQ subsumed the majority and accounts for 58% of all job performance. 90% of the highest performers were also high in EQ. This book on emotional intelligence is important
  • Relationship management The six core competencies according to Goleman are: inspiration, influence, development (the work of Nancy Kline on appreciation was mentioned), initiation of change (being “vigilantly aware”), conflict management and collaboration.
  • Trust Key components of sensitive trust (as opposed to rational trust) are empathy and social intelligence.
  • Storytelling Storytelling is such as effective communication method as it involves neural coupling, mirror neurons, dopamine release and multiple processes in the cortex. The self-reference effect helps people recall information too.
  • Persuasion As well as the six principles originally outlined by Robert B Cialdini, his latest work identifies 60 small changes that have a big influence on behaviour. We considered the challenges of familiarity and how best to manage empowerment and feedback (with references to neuroscientist Naomi Eisenberger and the strong correlation between self-confidence and the preference for negative or corrective feedback) when managing service stumbles. Framing effects and cognitive bias were touched on for pricing discussions. Cialdini’s books are reviewed here.
  • Managing emotions – The type and strength of emotions, recognising masking and dealing with anxiety and anger during conflict. I mentioned the model from Steve Peters’ “The Chimp Paradox” where behaviour is driven by the a) rational/human b) emotional id/chimp and c) the automatic/superego/computer elements
  • Personality models – We considered the strengths and weaknesses of well-known models such as Myers Brigg, Insight Colour Analysis and NEO personality tests to help people improve their self and social awareness and adaptive skills. I outlined newer methods which look at personality in teams that build on Belbin (Talent Dynamics) as well as models for relationship, cognitive processing, decision making and conflict management/negotiation styles and critical generational issues.
  • Non Verbal Communication – The “Honest Signals” work of Sandy Pentland was examined and, in particular, the importance of mimicry, activity (interest and enthusiasm), influence and consistency. The idea of mood contagion raised some smiles. Kahneman and Simon’s “kith and kin” research also considered the value of cohesion. The insights into power poses from the fabulous TED video by Amy Cuddy were actually tried out by the audience. Wish I’d taken some photos!
  • Active listening – The investment in training in this area for professional listeners was considered. We thought about the Chinese symbol “to listen” – which includes elements for the ears, the eyes, undivided attention and a heart (empathy). The problems of being time poor or time pressured were acknowledged. 
  • Insight I made a bit of a diversion at the end to look at the latest sales training methodologies to consider the success of the challenger type who adopts a different view, offers disruptive ideas and asserts control. And we reflected on the similarities with the Maverick type described in the earlier session by Rupert.

Group work analysis 

I promised that I would provide an analysis of the themes emerging from the group work which explored the top nine interpersonal, engagement and relationship management competencies to supplement the work-in-progress model I presented:

  • Empathic (8)
  • Listening (8)
  • Communication (6)
  • Trustworthy (4)
  • Inspirational (3)
  • Honest (3)
  • Collaborative (3)
  • Approachable (3)
  • Confident (3)
  • Energetic (2)
  • Clarity (2)
  • Humility (2)
  • Adaptable (2)
  • Reassuring (2)
  • Curious (2)
  • Challenging (2)
  • Open (2)
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Transparent
  • Judgement
  • Influential
  • Conflict resolution
  • Interest
  • Prioritisation
  • Professional
  • Competent
  • Intelligent
  • Reliable
  • Assured
  • Questioning
  • Engaging
  • Innovative
  • Team player
  • Integrity
  • Caring
  • Collegiate
  • Non-judgemental
  • Understanding
  • Rapport
  • Positive
  • Independent
  • Commercial
  • Sincerity
  • Diplomatic
  • Friendly
  • Self-aware
  • Responsive
  • Objective
  • Likeable
  • Proactive


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