How Buying Emotions Are Made And How To Create Them In Others

In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett talks about how buyer’s emotions and feelings are formed in the brain, regardless if it’s positive such as happiness, or negative, such as remorse. We cover some sales training nonsense on the topic of influence and Lisa debunks a few more sales myths in this episode.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett
Researcher of Psychiatry & Psychology

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Can we go up on today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast?

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Your brain makes emotions, emotions don’t happen to you. They are made by your brain for particular situations that you’re in. Your brain is always regulating your body. And your body is always sending information back to your brain. And you feel that information from the tug of your lungs, expanding, the rush of your blood through your veins, the feeding of your heart.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, my name is Will Barron and I’m the host of the Salesman Podcast. The world’s most downloaded B2B sales show. On today’s episode, amazing episode, we have Dr. Lisa, she’s the author of How Emotions Are Made. And that’s exactly what we’re diving into in today’s show. We’re diving into how the buyer emotions are made in their brain, whether it’s happiness, whether it’s buys malls, whatever it is. We also dive into how to influence over people’s emotions and we call that some of the nonsense that sales trainers have been talking about influencing other people and their emotions over the decades. Lisa dives into that and the book’s a whole tonne of it. Everything that we talk about, and this episode is available at the show notes at salesman.org. And with that said, let’s jump right into it.

 

Can Humans Control Their Emotions? · [01:52]

 

Will Barron:

And we’re going to talk some science, we’re going to talk emotions, and we’re going to hopefully be able to discuss where, well I’m going to call buying emotions come from. So that might be happiness. If you buy the right product, it could be the fear of missing out, if there’s an offer a deal in place, it could be unfortunately regrets or buyer’s remorse. I want to dive into where all these come from, then hopefully how we can help buyers have better buying experiences moving forward. So before the obvious question of where the heck do buying emotions come from? I want to tee things up with asking you, are we in control of our emotions? Because sometimes it seems like I can choose to be happy. I can choose to change my state of mind, but sometimes emotions come in crushing it and hits us like a car crash, I guess, a car wreck. So are we in control of the emotions that we feel?

 

“Your brain makes emotions, emotions don’t happen to you. They are made by your brain for particular situations that you’re in. Your brain is automatically constructing emotions out of a set of ingredients. And you have control over seeding your brain with those ingredients to make emotions more automatic in an effortless way, but control in the moment as in stopping feeling one thing and in order to cultivate a different feeling is extremely hard I would say.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman ·  [02:17] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Well, that’s a really hard question actually. That could be answered in many different ways. I guess the answer would be, yes, you are more in control than maybe you think you are, but that control looks very different than what you think it does. So your brain makes emotions, emotions don’t happen to you. They are made by your brain for particular situations that you’re in, your brain is automatically constructing emotions out of a set of ingredients. And you have control overseeding your brain with those ingredients to make emotions more automatically in an effortless way, but control in the moment as in stopping feeling one thing and in order to cultivate a different feeling is extremely hard I would say. If you’re very physically worked up, you can change the meaning of that worked up feeling and therefore change the emotion, but calming your body down is actually extremely hard to do for anybody.

 

Do We All Have The Capacity to Feel The Same Emotions? · [04:10] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure, you’ve touched on something here that I wanted to come to the end of the show or later on the show, but we’ll address it now. These feelings that we feel, does everyone feel the same feeling? And then from societal, I guess, norms put a label on it, of I feel butterflies. And so I feel nervous, excited versus other people might feel butterflies and have a different association with that feeling so they feel a different emotion. What I’m asking is all emotions ubiquitous, and we all feel the same. They can be categorised, or do we add a layer on top of emotions that changes what they actually feel towards personally?

 

“So your brain is always regulating your body and your body is always sending information back to your brain. And you feel that information from the tug of your lungs expanding, the rush of your blood through your veins, the beating of your heart.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman · [04:21] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

So your brain is always regulating your body and your body is always sending information back to your brain. And you feel that information from the tug of your lungs expanding, the rush of your blood through your veins, the beating of your heart. You experience those sensations. As simple feelings of affect, feeling worked up, feeling calm, feeling pleasant, feeling unpleasant, those aren’t emotions, they’re simple feelings of mood or what scientists call affect. They’re always with you every waking moment of your life. Your brain’s job in part is to link the sensations from your body and these affective feelings to the words going on around you in the world in order to give them meaning so that your brain knows what to do next. And so it’s more than just labelling. What your brain is always doing is categorising sensations to give them meaning a way to think about it as like this, your brain is trapped in a dark silent box called your skull.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

It’s receiving sense data from the world like changes in light, changes in sound, pressure, changes in chemicals. It doesn’t know what the causes are of these changes. It only receives the outcomes of those causes, so when there’s a flash of light or a loud bang, say a loud bang, what is it? Is it someone slamming a door? Is it a car backfiring? Is it thunder? Is it a gunshot? Depending on what caused that bang your brain would do different things to keep you alive and well. But your brain doesn’t know what caused the sound. It only know it’s receiving the outcome of some change, but it doesn’t know what the change is. Similarly, when your brain receives sense data from your body and there’s a tug in your chest, is it hum, anxiety? Is it heartburn from having eaten too much? Is it the beginnings of a heart attack?

 

“This is what philosophers call a reverse inference problem. You get the answers, but you don’t know the question. You have to figure out what caused these changes. And so that’s what your brain is always doing. It’s asking itself. “The last time I was in a situation like this, where I had these internal sensations and this feeling, what caused it? What did I do about it?” – Dr. Lisa Feldman  · [06:50] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

What is it? Your brain doesn’t know what it is. It’s only receiving the outcome of some cause. This is what philosophers call a reverse inference problem. You get the answers, but you don’t know the question. You have to figure out what caused these changes. And so that’s what your brain is always doing. It’s asking itself. “The last time I was in a situation like this, where I had these internal sensations and this feeling, what caused it? What did I do about it?” It’s asking what is similar to the present moment in my past and things which are similar in some way are a category.

 

“Happiness for you is not the same thing each time you feel it or regret each time you feel it is not the same thing because your brain is constructing each moment on the fly in a particular situation. So, in some situations, when you’re happy, you smile, in some situations when you’re happy you cry, in some situations when you’re happy you might you pound fists with someone. You do different things, your body does different things.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman  · [07:43] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

So your brain is basically forming categories to guide your action and create your extended emotional experience out of the sense data. So the question you’re asking me, does everyone in the world feel the same thing? The answer is no, but happiness for you is not the same thing each time you feel it or regret each time you feel it is not the same thing because your brain is constructing each moment on the fly in a particular situation. So in some situations, when you’re happy, you smile, in some situations when you’re happy you cry, in some situations when you’re happy you might you pound fists with someone, you do different things, your body does different things. You feel different things. When you’re happy, depending on the situation that you’re in. So it’s not the same, even for you from moment to moment.

 

The Brain’s Unconscious Reactions to Different Types of Emotions  · [08:38]

 

Will Barron:

This is fascinating because we’ve never ponded on the idea before. And just you bringing that back to me adds different frames of references of what emotions are, which is amazing. And how much of this then is conscious versus subconscious or unconscious in this?

 

“Everything that you experience right now, your brain is able to use in the future to help construct another experience. So in a sense, we’re always cultivating our past as a way of controlling our future.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman  · [09:18] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Mostly unconscious. So your brain is all of this meaning-making is occurring under the hood really automatically. In fact, it takes me much longer to describe it to you than it actually takes for it to occur. So when you asked me before, how controllable are your emotions? Well, the meaning making part is easier to control if you think about control over the long-term, meaning everything that you experience right now, your brain is able to use in the future to help construct another experience. So in a sense, we’re always cultivating our past as a way of controlling our future. So the best way to control your emotions is to give your brain a good, flexible set of options that it can use to construct your emotions with. And then your brain will be very flexible in how it does this on the fly with very little effort from you.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

So can you think of it a little bit like exercising, you invest a lot of energy and then you replenish that energy because it’s a really good investment in having a healthy brain in the future. And similarly, you can construct new experiences for yourself, cultivate new situations, curate new feelings. And that is effortful. But what it does is it’s an investment in having a flexible brain that will control your emotions in a way that’s more tailored to the situation.

 

Chemical and Neural Activities in The Brain and How They Affect How We React to Emotions  · [10:39]

 

Will Barron:

What is or I’ll put this a different way. How much of this is brain activity and feedback from the body versus a chemical a cascade in the brain where once it starts literal chemical reactions are happening. And so it’s difficult to put a stop to it in that moment.

 

“There’s a whole system in your brain of neurons. Their only job is to control other neurons. That’s what we call attention. You experience attention from a subjective perspective. “Am I looking at this thing? Am I concentrating on this thing?” But attention from a neurons perspective is anything which makes it fire more or less.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman · [11:30] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Well, here’s the thing, all chemical, all neural activity in the brain is both chemical and electrical. Neurons communicate by chemicals. I mean, if you didn’t have those chemicals, the neurons could not possibly talk to each other. There’s a whole system in your brain of neurons. Their only job is to control other neurons. That’s what we call attention. You experience attention from a subjective perspective. “Am I looking at this thing? Am I concentrating on this thing?” But attention from a neurons perspective is anything which makes it fire more or less. So you put a stop to the firing of some neurons by other neurons basically. And it’s always possible to turn the dial up or turn the dial down on an assembly of neurons, it’s just that your body takes longer to adjust to the neural signals. 

 

“You have these moments where you know nothing is wrong, but you’re still worked up anyways. And you really would really, really like that worked up feeling to go away. But it won’t it’s because your body is just slower to listen to those signals from your brain.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman  · [12:00]

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

So it can feel like, you have these moments where you know nothing is wrong, but you’re still worked up anyways. And you really would really, really like that worked up feeling to go away. But it won’t it’s because your body is just slower to listen to those signals from your brain.

 

How Salespeople Can Make Their Customers Happier By Helping Regulate Their Nevours Systems  · [12:40] 

 

Will Barron:

Amazing. Okay. So that’s the baseline there. How do we, and we can very quickly move into the world of manipulation I’m not interested in that. I’m more interested in creating a better buying experiences. And I’m sure some of this works better in person than it does over a Skype call or over a phone call. But is there anything we can do as salespeople, as business leaders to make our customers happier, where we engage with them over the perhaps obvious stuff like, perhaps I’m assuming this is the case, but smiling seems to be somewhat contagious. And that hopefully affects the emotions of the people that are engaged with. Is there anything like that, that we can do to I guess, get people to mirror our own emotions?

 

“When people smile for the purpose of trying to get me to smile, really what I want to do is give them the finger. Honestly, I don’t like being manipulated that way. And I don’t think people like being manipulated actually.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman  · [13:20] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Yeah. So I have to tell you that the more I learn about this, the more I think that smiling is… One day I’m going to write a book called the tyranny of happiness, I think. When people smile for the purpose of trying to get me to smile, really what I want to do is give them the finger. Honestly, I don’t like being manipulated that way. And I don’t think people like being manipulated actually. So here’s what I would say. 

 

“The best thing for a human nervous system is another human. The worst thing for a human nervous system is also another human. So if you want to make your customers more comfortable and able to engage in the kind of thoughtful weighing of pros and cons, so that they’ll be satisfied with a purchase that they make, your job is to help regulate their nervous systems.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman  · [13:45] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

We are social animals. We regulate each other’s nervous systems, in a way you could think about the best thing for a human nervous system is another human. The worst thing for a human nervous system is also another human. So if you want to make your customers more comfortable and able to engage in the kind of thoughtful weighing of pros and cons, so that they’ll be satisfied with a purchase that they make, your job is to help regulate their nervous systems. 

 

“The way I describe this is body budgeting. Your brain is running a budget for your body. It’s not budgeting money, it’s budgeting salt and glucose and water and oxygen, and all the things your body needs to run.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman  · [14:17]

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

The way I describe this is body budgeting. Your brain is running a budget for your body. It’s not budgeting money, it’s budgeting salt and glucose and water and oxygen, and all the things your body needs to run. And we make deposits into that body budget by sleeping and eating, and we make withdrawals. 

 

“When you’re giving a client a lot of information and they have to process that information and make a decision, that is expensive, metabolically speaking, and you can make that process more expensive or less expensive for them, depending on how responsive you are to them.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman  · [14:47] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

The two biggest most expensive things your brain can do is move your body like when you’re walking or getting out of bed in the morning or exercising and learning. So when you’re giving a client a lot information and they have to process that information and make a decision, that is expensive, metabolically speaking, and you can make that process more expensive or less expensive for them, depending on how responsive you are to them. We can make metaphorical deposits and withdrawals in other people’s body budgets. So rather than smiling, I would suggest, first of all, breathing at a good, slow pace because we mirror each other’s breathing patterns.

 

“The one way to calm your body down is to breathe in a very paced way. And actually, Navy SEALs use this in order to calm themselves down.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman · [16:30] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

So if you and I were actually in a room together and we liked each other and we trusted each other, our physiological signals would would synchronise. If you’re really worked up, I would become really worked up, if you’re really calm and you’re breathing at a really good pace, then I would become calmer and pretty that a good pace. We’re not aware of doing these things, but it’s very, very possible to influence people that way. So, for example, when I was training to be a therapist, a million years ago in another life one of the things I learned to do was breathe at a pace of about six to eight seconds, because the one way to calm your body down is to breathe in a very paced way.

 

“If you want to have a successful selling episode, whatever that means to you, you probably want to do it in a way that leaves your client or customer feeling not happy but comfortable, comfortable, which means that you reflect back what they say, you pace your own breathing. So they pace their breathing, and you basically make it a less metabolically taxing event.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman  ·  [16:48] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

And actually Navy SEALs use this in order to calm themselves down. It’s really the only way that we know of that you can lower your heart rate, bring your body back down into a more comfortable range. So what I would suggest is if you want to have a successful selling episode, whatever that means to you, you probably want to do it in a way that leaves the person, leaves your client or customer feeling not happy but comfortable, comfortable, which means that you reflect back what they say, you pace your own breathing. So they pace their breathing, and you basically make it a less metabolically taxing event.

 

Will Barron:

So you’ll have experiences, I’m sure, but you may not be consciously aware of all the training that’s gone in the past with sales training. So perhaps 10 years ago, we would talk not way, I wasn’t involved in this. This is one of the reason I started the podcast, how people like yourself on to actually unwrap the science behind some of this. But last sales training was about mirroring the person that you’re engaging with and all these weird tricks and hacks and kind of things. Then he went to more of a discussion. I want to get your thoughts on this in a second on things like discussing newer neurons, but it would be a non-scientist talking about mirror neurons, trying to use anecdotes and metaphors to describe some of that. They don’t know what they’re talking about.

 

Lisa’s Shares Her Thoughts on the Effectiveness of Mirroring Other People’s Body Language · [18:20] 

 

Will Barron:

So this is why this is really interesting to me to talk about the actual science of why perhaps some of this may work, may not work. What are your thoughts on the likes of the African seal, the effectiveness of mirroring body language, things like this, and are mirror neurons relevant to any of this whatsoever?

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Mirror neurons don’t exist. There’s nothing in your brain called a mirror neuron. There are neurons in your brain that do what mirror neurons are supposed to do, but they are in many, many, many parts of your brain. There’s nothing special. So what I’m trying to say is the function is there, but there are no special neurons that perform this function. Okay? Your brain has the capacity to change the firing of its own neurons. If I ask you to imagine a McIntosh apple of the sort that you eat, so in your mind’s eye, can you imagine a red apple that you would eat? And can you imagine picking that apple up, fighting into the apple, hearing the crunch of the apple, maybe tasting maybe it’s some tart with a little sweetness. Can you imagine that in your mind’s eye?

 

Will Barron:

I can, and it’s probably happening what you’re trying to be capping of. I’m slightly salivating as you describe it.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Yeah. Why do you think you’re salivating? Because your brain has changed the firing of your neurons. Your brain is changing. If we had your head in a brain scanner, we would see that portions of the visual system in your brain would be very active even though there actually is no apple. Just by merely saying the word apple, this conjures an image in your head, your brain upon hearing me talk about the crunch and the taste, is actually changing the firing of neurons without the apple there to actually make you salivate, to prepare, to digest the apple when you eat it. Your brain is basically what we would call simulating. This is what scientists called simulating. It’s a fancy word for a bunch of things we do every day, but this is actually how it’s exactly the same process that your brain undergoes when it’s making sense of information from body in the world.

 

“So when you see someone smile or you see the raise of an eyebrow, or you see someone move, what your brain is doing is simulating to prepare to deal with that person’s action.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman · [20:49] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

So when you see someone smile or you see the raise of an eyebrow, or you see someone move, what your brain is doing is simulating to prepare to deal with that person’s action. That’s what so-called motor neurons do. But every neuron in your brain, you can think of acting in that way. It’s not something specific to the neurons that are in that little spot. And I guess the thing to say is this, that it is true that if you stick two people in a room who don’t know each other, but through the course of conversation, they trust each other, they like each other.

 

“That kind of mirroring if you actually deliberately try to do it, people notice and they think it’s weird.” – Lisa Feldman · [22:02] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

It’s true that they will spontaneously mirror each other’s actions. Let’s say, well, you put your hand up to your face. I might put my hand up to flick my hair and then let’s say, I flicked my hair, I flick my hair and I look to the right. You might also slightly turn your body to the right. I mean, people don’t mirror in an exact way, but there is probabilistically speaking some… But that kind of mirroring if you actually deliberately try to do it, people notice and they think it’s weird.

 

Will Barron:

Of course, it’s super weird, isn’t it?

 

“When you lose someone that you love, when that person leaves you, you break up or they die, you feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself because you have, you’ve lost someone who was tending to your body budget, and now you have to do it on your own.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman · [23:03] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Of course it’s really weird. But however, I can assure you that when you’re trying to calm someone down and help them, we’ll put it this way. I worked out with a coach for 15 years. Monday, Wednesday, Friday morning. Okay. I am much more efficient in my workout when he’s there, than when he isn’t there. It’s not just because he’s telling me what to do. I’m actually stronger when he’s there and I can do more when he’s there. And it’s because he’s providing body budgeting support for me in a way that I’m not consciously tracking. When you lose someone that you love, when that person leaves you, you break up or they die. You feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself because you have, you’ve lost someone who was tending to your body budget, and now you have to do it on your own.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

And it feels painful because it is, it’s harder. The kind of mirroring that you want to do with someone you don’t know very well would be more like staying calm, modulating your voice, modulate your breathing. And that will make it easier for them to do the same if they get worked up and you follow them, that just leads to a cycle of everybody getting worked up as opposed to taking a step back and taking a deep breath.

 

“If you keep your nervous system calm, you’re basically providing support for the other person’s nervous system.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman · [24:40] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

With little kids like with babies, actually, even with my daughter, sometimes I don’t depend on mirroring. I get her to come to me. I give her a hug and I actually breathe slowly. And I get her to pace my breathing, which when she was a baby, all I needed to do was put her on my chest and breathe. And she would calm down just by my breathing. Now that she’s 22, I can just say to her, “Do you want to hug?” And then we stand there and we breathe together for a minute. And then she feels she’s calmer. And then you can’t obviously you can’t do that with a customer. But what you can do is if you keep your nervous system calm, you’re basically providing support for the other person’s nervous system.

 

How to Leverage The Power of Storytelling to Influence Your Customer’s Emotions · [24:58]

 

Will Barron:

Okay. The weird manipulative used car sales techniques of the past are a no go which is approved, that message is approved on this podcast. Is there novel way to perhaps influence a person’s emotional state, which you just did to me. Should we be using perhaps stories and storytelling to do that?

 

“Stories, convince people. So what you’re trying to do is get someone to be immersed in a narrative that you’ve created, and that immersion must involve simulation.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman · [25:28] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Yes. Storytelling that allows simulation. That allows the person to… I mean, if you notice in both books, I’ve written, I use stories. I could throw data up on a screen, but that’s not going to convince anybody except maybe another scientist. And even then I would say stories, convince people. So what you’re trying to do is get someone to be immersed in a narrative that you’ve created, and that immersion must involve simulation. A person won’t feel part of the story unless they’re simulating it in the way that I just showed you with the apple.

 

Will Barron:

Because I guess we’ve also then got to be careful not to be telling stories where we’re getting someone to simulate. For example, a lot of sales training is based around this idea of making the buyer feel loads of pain, and then giving them a solution. Now, my experience, having experimented with all kinds of different sales techniques training and all this is, if you make someone feel really bad, they feel really bad. And then you’ve got to try and shift their emotions from one place to another. It’s far easier to go into a conversation, being upbeat perhaps storytell and use positive case studies, as opposed to, again, this might be considered more manipulative of this is the worst thing that’s going to happen. This and this as this and this. And I find that that leads to then buyer’s remorse as opposed to a happy customer on the other end of it.

 

Things Salespeople Should Avoid Doing to Prevent Customers From Getting Into a Negative Emotional States · [26:44]

 

Will Barron:

So is there anything that we’ve definitely spoken about so far least there’s anything that we should avoid doing to stop people getting into a bad emotional state, as opposed to what we’ve talked about so far is trying to get people into a good one.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Yeah, well, I think there were a couple of things, well that come to mind and I’m going to talk to you as a scientist, but I’m also going to talk to you as a consumer. I’m a kind of person who has relationships with the people that I buy things from. And I’m very loyal actually. So I will always go back to the same shop, even if something’s a little more expensive there. Not like exceedingly expensive more, but just even if it’s a little more, I’ll go back to that place because I know that person is going to help me in the long run. If I trust that person, I’m much more likely to buy from that person, I’m much more likely to take a risk that I normally wouldn’t take with a purchase and so on. I think you have to understand what your goal is, what your goal is as a salesperson. Is your goal to make a sale in that moment?

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Is that the goal or is the goal to build a relationship with a customer where you will make sales over time to that person? I’m sure sometimes it’s one and sometimes it’s the other, but you have to think about what is your goal? Is it a short-term goal or a long-term goal? That’s the first thing that will help you. And the second thing is, remember that your brain, the brain of a person, your brain, my brain everybody’s brain is guessing what negative feelings mean. Those negative feelings aren’t emotions. When your body budget is flush, you feel good, when your body budget is taxed, you’re running a deficit because maybe you’re thinking really hard or you’re physically taxed in some way. What is stress? Stress is just your brain preparing for a big metabolic outlay. That’s it? Cortisol is not a stress hormone.

 

“Your brain doesn’t know what the negative feeling is about. It has to guess. That customer can guess it’s you. So you have to be really careful when you create a negative feeling in someone because they might attribute the cause to you as opposed to the scenario that you created.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman · [29:02] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

It’s a hormone that gets glucose into your bloodstream because your brain is predicting. You have a big metabolic outlay that can mean dragging your ass out of bed in the morning. That can mean going to the gym, or it can mean just learning something new and having to reason your way through a complicated purchase. Your brain doesn’t know what the negative feeling is about. It has to guess. That customer can guess it’s you. So you have to be really careful when you create a negative feeling in someone because they might attribute the cause to you as opposed to the scenario that you created. But let’s say you want someone to simulate negative consequences in order to avoid them. I would do that by inviting them to do it with you to say, if you really think that this is an important thing to, you say, “Can we do a thought experiment?”

 

“And one of the reasons why we have so much trouble staying in the present is that our brains are very, very good at mental time travel.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman · [30:29] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

I want us to imagine this kind of a future let’s imagine these things happen. So you’re basically inviting them to take a little imaginary journey with you. This is something that human brains do exceedingly well, we can simulate into the future, simulate into the past. That’s called memory. So imagination memory are both based in exactly the same computation, which is this simulation, ability to conjure experience independent of our immediate circumstances. And one of the reasons why we have so much trouble staying in the present is that our brains are very, very good at mental time travel.

 

“You want to create the context for the person to come to that realisation themselves, that yours is the best solution. If you try to just tell them that, they might believe you, but they might not. The thing is if they come to it themselves, they will be more satisfied with the purchase afterwards.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman · [31:00] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

So you can invite your customer to do mental time travel with you, and you can invite them, if you present, let’s just say for myself, if somebody presented their product to me as the only solution to a problematic outcome, I probably wouldn’t believe them because there’s always more than one. You want to create the context for the person to come to that realisation themselves, that yours is the best solution. If you try to just tell them that, they might believe you, but they might not. The thing is if they come to it themselves, they will be more satisfied with the purchase afterwards.

 

Why Consuming Glucose Tablets Before a Meeting Cannot Change The Outcomes of a Negotiation · [31:19]

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. Right. I’ve got two slightly more ridiculous questions that I’m intrigued to know the answers of Lisa. And then we’ll wrap up the show with these number one, it seems like this could be actually studied. I doubt it’s ever been studied. But with this idea of the metabolic deficit and the brain requiring so much energy to process thoughts and say, we’re going into a big negotiations, lots of learning and guessing and putting together numbers perhaps. Again, this is not practical, but I think it’s interesting to ponder on, perhaps. Could you give someone a glucose tablet or something like that before in negotiation? And would that change the outcome of a negotiation if we did it like 200, 500 times?

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Well, people have done those experiments and the answer is no. And the reason why is that circulating glucose in your blood, we don’t know exactly what that does to the glucose levels in your brain. And that’s actually really what’s important. What’s important is how your brain is metabolising as much as what your body is doing. So I would say if you want to be effective, the best thing that you can do, let’s say you want to be effective tomorrow. Like today, you and I, I knew we were having this conversation today, and I don’t really know that much about sales from a technical standpoint. I know about sales as a consumer. So I need to be sharp for this conversation. So the best thing that I could do is get a good night’s sleep last night, just what I did.

 

The Power of Proper Sleep, Hydration, Healthy Eating Habits, and Exercise In Preparing For Negotiation Meetings · [33:18] 

 

Will Barron:

Just about to ask you, perhaps a better way, a best that would be if someone had a power nap before a meeting, or we did a 9:00 AM meetings versus 10:00 PM meetings after some pizza margaritas, which would be probably more effective. So that’s common sense right. Although I guess common sense, isn’t always used as commonly as what it should be.

 

“If you want to be in control, as in control, as your nervous system will possibly allow, you have to make sure your body budget is solvent. And if you’re running a deficit and you say, drink coffee, what you’re doing is borrowing energy from tomorrow that you will spend today. And at some point, we all need to do that at times.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman · [33:44] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

True, but I would say, get enough sleep, be well-hydrated. Again, it sounds really crazy, but when people ask me, “What can I do to control my emotions, what’s the best thing that I can do.” I’m like, “Get enough sleep, keep yourself hydrated, eat healthily and exercise.” I know I sound like a mother and I’m a mother. But I’m speaking to you as a neuroscientist. If you want to be in control, as in control, as your nervous system will possibly allow, you have to make sure your body budget is solvent. And if you’re running a deficit and you say, drink coffee, what are you doing when you drink coffee? And I say this as a committed coffee lover and tea lover. I actually don’t drink coffee anymore, but tea, I still drink.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

But I love caffeine as much as the next person, but when you drink caffeine as you might be doing right now, well, as you pick up that cup. What you’re doing is borrowing energy from tomorrow that you will spend today. And at some point, we all need to do that at times. But at some point, you, the deficit will catch up with you and you will feel really unpleasant to the point of feeling distressed and maybe even getting sick. So the point is just having a glucose tablet is not really going to help you, but being hydrated, getting enough sleep, eating healthfully, those things actually will in the long run on average, be better for you.

 

Caffeine Consumption and How It’s Affecting Your Brain and Body Performance · [34:57] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. It’s funny you mentioned this. I actually did a podcast about caffeine consumption a few months ago, because it’s almost a stereotype that business people, leaders, salespeople drink a lot of caffeine to try and stay on their game and stay focused. And so we did a whole show on the science of it, and how is blocking different things. And does what you describe. And I guess in a layman’s term of is Robin tomorrow for today. So I’ve [inaudible 00:35:21] on caffeine in literary months now, and makes that initial kind of a weak period of headaches after the fact of giving it up, which was alarming to me, that it physically had an effect on my brain.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Yeah, do you know why you have those headaches? You had those headaches when your brain is controlling your body. It’s controlling your body by prediction, not by reactions. So when I talked to you about the apple and you start to salivate it’s because your brain was preparing you, it was predicting there would be an apple, and it was preparing you to digest it. When you drink water and what your thirst is quenched by water, you take a drink and you drink a glass of water. You have no more thirst. Actually it takes 20 minutes for the osmolarity of your blood to change for water, to get to your brain. So for 20 minutes, you’re not thirsty, but yet the information hasn’t made it to your brain yet that you’re hydrated. How come you stopped feeling thirsty? It’s because your brain predicted the consequences of drinking water, because it’s had gazillions of opportunities to learn that.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

And similarly your brain is really always, always predicting. So if you have coffee every morning at the same time, your brain knows it’s can predict, because you’ve had this coffee every day at the same time. Coffee has chemicals in it that will constrict the blood vessels in your brain, actually everywhere. So your brain in anticipation, dilates the blood vessels just before you’re about to drink the coffee. But if you don’t have the coffee to keep the blood vessels stable, they stay dilated and you have a headache.

 

How Emotions are Made, Both In People and in Animals · [37:40] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. I love it. The show is now powered by colour malty. Not quite as interesting or as nice. I quite like the routine of making a nice cup of coffee in the morning. That ritual is important to me. But I’m conscious of time at least, I’ve got one final question for you. It’s on topic of emotions, but it’s completely off topic with sales. It’s a selfish question. We’ve just caught a golden retriever puppy. Now he looks like he’s happy when he hangs out with me. What I want to ask you though, is, am I projecting an emotion that perhaps a dog does feel? Does it feel onto it? Because I see his tail wagging as is his face almost jumps up at the sides.

 

Will Barron:

And I know that there is kind of a science that shows that dogs, animals that have eyebrows that move in ways that humans can recognise. I’ve done better. We’ve been socialisation for humans as we kind of I was also a domesticated wolves over the years. So my question is Lisa, when my puppy comes over and when he’s not biting me at all moments, when he’s just chilling, is he happy? Or am I projecting these kind of feelings or thoughts that humans have onto this animal? That’s perhaps it doesn’t have a consciousness.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Yeah. I talk about this in my book, How Emotions Are Made and it’s, I think a widely misunderstood chapter. So here’s the thing. You don’t recognise anything in anybody. Your brain is guessing. When I raise my eyebrows or I widen my eyes or I frown, or I scowl, your brain is guessing what that means. You’re not recognising emotions in me. So 30% of the time when people are angry they scowl, which means 70% of the time when they’re angry, they’re doing something else with their face. They might be concentrating. You might’ve just told them about Joe, they might have gasp. There are all kinds of reasons why people scowl. So when you’re angry, you scowl 30% of the time. But sometimes when you’re angry, you cry, sometimes you frown, sometimes you smile. You might even laugh when you’re angry.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

And then you also scowled at other times. So your brain is guessing. It’s guessing what a movement means in a particular situation. And then it’s checking on its guesses to make sure that you’re right. So your brain is predicting, “What I’m going to do next?” And if you predicted well, then you probably means you guessed well. Same thing with your dog. Same thing with your dog. But I will say about the dog though, is that the dog’s brain is not the same as a human brain. The dog has these simple feelings of affect. The dog can feel calm. It can feel worked up. The dog can feel pleasant. It can feel unpleasant. I have a puppy too. I got it. I mean, one of the first things we did, like everybody else that we know of actually during COVID was we got a puppy.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

We thought we were being so clever. Everyone else thought they were being clever, too clever and unique. And we were very similar to everybody else. So we got this puppy and this puppy is she’s very affectionate. Does she love me? She’s attached to me because I regulate her body budget and she regulates mine. So she will come and lay on my feet. She likes to be close to me. I also know she is attached to me because I feed her. I feed her and she feels, and I make her comfortable. I pet her. So I am the source of body budgeting for her. And she is the source of body budgeting for me. That’s also true for your puppy. We experience that with each other as love. But the difference is that I have a concept for love and you have concept for love and all the humans in your life have a concept for love so they can feel love because they can take those simple feelings and transform them into something more. Your dog’s brain can’t do that.

 

Will Barron:

You’re sure because that’s really disappointing, Lisa. It’s depressing me.

 

“Does happiness exist in a dog is an unanswerable question. The question is, do you experience your dog being happy? And the answer is yes. And if you ask the question, does your dog experience happiness the way you experience happiness, the answer is no.” – Lisa Feldman · [41:52] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

No, no, it’s not disappointing. The point is that if you make emotions, then the question of does X have an emotion? Let me say it differently. Does happiness exist in a dog is an unanswerable question. The question is, do you experience your dog is happy? And the answer is yes. And if you ask the question, does your dog experience happiness the way you experience happiness, the answer is no.

 

Will Barron:

Because he’s a dog.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Yeah, because he’s a dog. But he’s attached to you. He can feel pleasant in your company, he can feel unpleasant, he can feel worked up, he can feel calm. And his brain is trying to predict what you’re going to do. And mainly his whole job in life is to right, arrange things so that you’ll feed him or maybe take him on a walk.

 

Will Barron:

Love it, love it. I thought that was a slightly off topic question, but you’re right. Probably 80% of the audience has recently got a puppy. So maybe it’s more relevant than what I thought it would be.

 

“When you are interacting with a customer, you are not reading that person’s emotions, you are guessing, your brain is guessing. And it’s probably a good idea to be humble about the quality of your guesses. Even someone who feels like they are excellent at reading people, their brain is just guessing and you can be wrong.” – Dr. Lisa Feldman · [42:50] 

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Well, here’s the point though, to get back to the sales. When you are interacting with a customer, you are not reading that person’s emotions, you are guessing, your brain is guessing. And it’s probably a good idea to be humble about the quality of your guesses. Even someone who feels like they are excellent at reading people, their brain is just guessing and you can be wrong.

 

Parting Thoughts: Lisa’s Books and How to Reach Out to Her · [43:11]

 

Will Barron:

Love it. Okay. We’ll wrap up the show with that Lisa. I really appreciate your time and your insights on this. With that tell us about, well, we’ve covered one of the books, tell us about both of them and where we can find out more about you as well.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Okay. You can find out more about me at my public website, lisafeldmanbarrett.com as much just my name.com. There are two books that you can find out about on that website. The first is How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain. Which is available worldwide. The second book is just new in the U.S. and we’re coming out in the UK in March called Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain. So ow Emotions Are Made is a pretty standard popular science book. It’s about 300 pages long. It explains a lot about how emotions work, how you can control your emotions, some about how your brain works more generally.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain is a little book of essays. It’s really written for people who don’t think of themselves as that interested in science. But what it does is in seven and a half little essays, it communicates some really cool ideas and facts about how brains work. So you can talk to your friends and, or maybe your customers and kind of wow them with some cool neuroscience tidbits. But it also invites you to think about what kind of a person you are or want to be given that you have this kind of brain that you have. It’s a very quick read may husband calls it the first neuroscience beach read.

 

Will Barron:

Love it. Well, I’ll link to both books at your website, everything else that we talked about in this episode of the show over to salesman.org. I will give myself a quick plug, which not done for a while. Regularness will note, I host a novel podcast called Excited Science, where we try and get people excited about science. So maybe we can chat on there in the future Lisa. I’ve not plugged that on this show for a while, so I’ll plug it right there. And with that Lisa, I want to thank you again for your time, your insights on this. Absolutely fascinating. You’ve cleared up a bunch of old sales training nonsense as well. I think that’s really valuable for the audience and I want to thank you again for joining me on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett:

My pleasure, thank you.

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