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How to Make the Most of Being an Emotional Neanderthal
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Instinct #4: We want to protect ourselves from people who might harm us

Early people were motivated to protect themselves from people who could harm them. We have very effective systems for feeling and sensing danger, including mirror neurons that help us feel what others are feeling. So even if you couldn't see danger, if other members of your group made you feel nervous or you felt their fear, your mirror neurons helped you sort out fight or flight reactions. Today, we spend much of our day with people in the office, in the classroom, and in our homes. In these complex social settings, our radar for harm focuses on people we consider threats to our happiness or the pursuit of our goals. These threats are the people who say and do things that trigger us to feel disappointed, resentful, used, or criticized.

How do you protect yourself in your life? Ask yourself the following questions:
1. How much do you spend worrying about who or what could harm you?
2. How effectively do you spot when harm (political, social, or physical) headed your way?

Instinct #5: We want to form close relationships

Early humans were motivated to form close relationships with each other. They lived and moved together in small tribes of 20 or so individuals. The ability to form intimate relationships allowed families to form and generations to continue. A close relationship ensured the continuation of our species and a long-term place for an individual within a tribe. Even today, research shows that these instincts are alive and well. Gallup research finds turnover is lower and job satisfaction is higher when people form close friendships at work. Health research shows people cope better with stress and health problems when they have supportive, close relationships in their life.

How close are the relationships in your life? Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Have close relationships and friendships come easily for you?
2. If not, do you understand why?

Our caveman instincts offer a wonderful set of criteria for selecting leaders at the project or company level. Many people have expertise, but who can lead those experts? The one who understands how to identify and belong to the group being led (She's one of us!) will excel. The person accepted by them as their leader (We'll follow him!) who can influence them (We'll go where she says!) and protect their group from outside threats (He's watching out for us!) will take their performance to new heights. Perhaps most importantly, the leaders who can form close relationships with followers will cultivate the most satisfaction in their group.

Think about what your instincts are telling you to do and why. Your career and life goals are typically in service to getting these needs met. It's been a matter of survival since the dawn of man. April 2013




Jean Greaves, Ph.D.

Dr. Jean Greaves is the co-author of the bestselling Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the cofounder and CEO of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests, emotional intelligence training, and executive coaching. Her bestselling emotional intelligence books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Greaves leverages her twenty-five year track record of consulting, speaking and applied research. She has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, Fortune, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

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