Our last article touched a little on what exactly it means to have either a “we” or “me” mindset. To go a little more in depth, it might help to first nerd out on how our brains generally work. Usually it is in one of those two mindsets. Our brain’s amygdala controls our instinctual responses to fear. It helps us to view the world in a way that keeps us safe. In this sense, it fuels the “me” mindset because we are mainly thinking about how we will operate to survive in the world around us. Our frontal cortex on the other hand, being the last part of the human brain to evolve, gives us a power like no other. This is the decision-making center, the part of the brain that allows us to delve into complex thought and really put ourselves into other people’s shoes. In this sense, it allows us to choose what we’ve labeled a “we” mindset. While it sounds like the use of the frontal cortex is much more appreciated, it is important to note that each mindset is neither good nor bad. We can operate in either mindset, yet when dealing with groups, leadership, and communication, it is incredibly helpful to be aware of where we stand.
Without further adieu, let’s talk about the idea of being connected versus being alone, and how that relates to what we talked about before. The Alone mindset is one of lacking, of being in want. A person might be experiencing a shortage of something necessary in their life: not enough food, water, shelter, or love. Their basic survival needs are threatened, and they feel that they are the only one experiencing these circumstances. They might be convinced that no one else could ever understand their thoughts feelings, or situation. Being alone can make someone feel alone, as if they don’t belong, their ideas aren’t valued, and the world is not on board.
The Connected mindset occurs when someone experiences being seen, heard, understood, and valued by another person, without judgement. It happens when someone is accepted for just who they are — and who they are not. This is what we mean by a “we” mindset. We are able to take time away from ourselves and fully commit our attention to others in order to create an environment of trust and understanding. For example, organizations tend to be interconnected because they need to feel like they can take the positive social risks to push their company forward. Our cofounder, Chad Littlefield, talks a little about these positive social risks in his TEDx talk here.
It’s important to remember that these two words are mindsets. We won’t be using this language to describe what is actually happening in the physical world. Alone in this context does not mean someone being by themselves.
- You can be by yourself and be connected.
- You can be by yourself and be alone.
- You can be in a group and be connected.
- You can be in a group and be alone.
To hear our co-founders speak a little more about what it means to be connected versus alone, check out their quick video below!
Say you are reading this article and realize that your company has been valuing the “me” mindset lately and everyone is feeling relatively alone. How do you make the shift to a more collaborative, connected, “we” mindset? Well, as we have mentioned before, it takes a little work to build trust between coworkers, but we have tools and activities that make things easier for everyone! We! Connect Cards™ are amazingly versatile and allow the most basic forms of communication to turn into lifelong connections. For ways to use these in your team, the Pocket Guide to Facilitating Human Connections is also extremely useful. It has several activities to choose from, and detailed instructions to get you started.