This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

It’s not new to any of us that decision-making—others’ or our own—isn’t the rational, logical process we all so desperately wish. “People buy with their hearts and rationalize with their heads” is an age-old sales adage.

What’s interesting, though, is that now findings in neuroscience back it up.

Did you know that people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated can’t make decisions? This is the revelation of a groundbreaking study by Antonio Damasio, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Southern California. (The study is several years old, although new to me.) The people Dr. Damasio studied could describe what they should be doing in logical terms, yet they found it very difficult to make even simple decisions, such as what to eat.


Most people buy the idea that people aren’t purely rational decision-makers because it feels right, and because it validates the experience we all have. Now we’ve got a little more data to help make sense of it, along with an important reminder to make an emotional connection with the people for whom we want to make a difference.

Make It Real

This week, make a conscious effort to connect with others on an emotional level—at work, at home, or both. Listen to them. Acknowledge them. Validate their experience. What’s different when you do?

Learn More


Find out why the point of listening is not what you hear but the listening itself, from our friends at Trusted Advisor Associates, or read about how a marketing firm found a compelling way to connect with its target audience in Chapter 6 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).