Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Appeal to the reptile

Your brain is comprised of three superimposed thought processing units.  While all three areas of the brain  work together, they are in charge of their own areas of thought.  

  • Reptilian Brain - The reptilian brain is in charge of fight or flight.  It is what helps make decisions because it only sees black and white; eat it or don't eat it.  This is where snap decisions come from.
  • Limbic System - The limbic system feels.  It is in charge of your emotions, behavior, motivation, long-term memory and smells.  This is where "gut" feelings come from.
  • Rational Brain - Your rational brain is what makes you human.  It thinks and reasons and is in charge of speech.  This is where "logic" comes from.

Not surprisingly, the brain(s) like to be in harmony.  When a decision is stressful, it is often because one of the brains doesn't agree with it.  It isn't the logical choice, it doesn't feel right, or it's frightening.  This is also why after you make a hard decision, you're not as anxious, you feel better, and you create reasons/excuses for why you made the decision you did.  The brain(s) need to be in harmony.

To get over fear or anger, you have to appeal to your reptilian brain.  The reptilian brain has evolved over time to keep us and those around us safe.  It is capable of making snap decisions and over-ruling the other brains.  

The reptilian brain is habitual.  It is what makes us change-averse.  This is also its kryptonite.  Because the reptilian brain clings to what it knows, if you force it to do something, even once, (and the outcome wasn't bad) it will begin to cling to this new item or experience.

For a decision to be made, it requires either the reptilian brain to agree (based on passed experiences) or for the other two brains to over-rule the reptile and force it to do something new.  This demonstrates why it is so hard and exhausting to try new things and support change.

If you are looking to launch a new product or service, it is important to have a strong rational argument, tie in feelings, and most importantly to appeal to the reptile by relating the experience to something we are already conditioned to do.  If it is similar to something that we are already use to, we won't be afraid, and our "gut" and "logic" can make a good decision.