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Brain science to improve your relationships - Harvard Health Blog

Emotional contagion

Our emotions can be easily transferred to another person without us even knowing about this. This can also happen through large-scale social networks without in-person interactions or nonverbal cues. Our negative emotions such as anger are transferred more easily than positive ones. 

What you can do: Be aware when your partner or colleague “makes” you angry. You may not actually be angry with them, but instead, mistaking their anger for yours when your brain reflects their feeling states.

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Brain science to improve your relationships - Harvard Health Blog

Brain science to improve your relationships - Harvard Health Blog

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/brain-science-to-improve-your-relationships-2018100414922

health.harvard.edu

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Key Ideas

Our relationships impact our brains

Your brain is the place that processes where you perceive, understand, remember, evaluate, desire, and respond to people.

How we perceive people are a mix of who they are and what we make of them in our brains.

We can likely change our brains to alter the ways in which we interact with others.

Transference

It is a psychological phenomenon in which conversational or relational partners activate earlier memories. As a result, we may unconsciously repeat conflicts from the past that have nothing to do with the current relationship.

What you can do: Ask yourself, “Am I responding to this person, or am I mixing them up with someone from the past?”

Emotional contagion

Our emotions can be easily transferred to another person without us even knowing about this. This can also happen through large-scale social networks without in-person interactions or nonverbal cues. Our negative emotions such as anger are transferred more easily than positive ones. 

What you can do: Be aware when your partner or colleague “makes” you angry. You may not actually be angry with them, but instead, mistaking their anger for yours when your brain reflects their feeling states.

Cognitive empathy

It activates a mentalizing network in the brain, which differs from the emotional mirroring mechanisms of emotional empathy.

What you can do: When trying to resolve a conflict, reflect on what they are saying, and then neutrally paraphrase what they are saying or intending.

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