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ByJoanne

Ep. 1: It's the Brain Stupid

 
 
Recorded on Recorded Wed 05.Feb.2020 -  Published on Published Sun 09.Feb.2020
Duration 1:01:50 duration - Downloads 109 downloads
 
 
 
 
Title: Ep.1 It's the Brain Stupid
Subtitle: A chat with Dr Lynda Shaw about how our brains are not as reliable as we think..!
 
Summary: For this episode, I am joined by Dr Lynda Shaw, who holds a doctorate in cognitive neuroscience, and specialises in unconscious processing of emotion and behavioural change. We discuss how our brains fool us, create biases through heuristics. We discover how some of our previously held beliefs are now being re-written by advances in our understanding of neuroscience. Nothing is out of bounds; gender identity, stereotyping, and how we create in and out groups which leads to discrimination and exclusion. Please join in the conversation and leave your comments below.
 
 
Joanne Lockwood
Hello everybody, and welcome to the very first podcast in my new show called inclusion bites. In this series I'll be interviewing a number of amazing people that simply having a conversation around the subject of inclusion, belonging, and generally making the world a better place for everyone to thrive in. If you'd like to join me in the future, then please do drop me a line to jo.lockwood@seechangehappen.co.uk you'll be able to catch up with all of the shows on iTunes, Spotify, and all the usual places. So plug in your headphones grab a decaf and let's get going. But today I have the absolute honour and privilege to be joined by Dr. Lynda Shaw. I first met Lynda at a meeting of the Professional Speaking Association, and was recently amused by her entertaining the audience in a musical comedy sketch playing the triangle in a dinner jacket no less and I asked Linda to describe her superpower. As she said her superpower is “always loving change while the rest of us try to resist change.” This is something Lynda does to great effect. And today we're going to tackle the topic entitled, it's the brain stupid. So Dr. Lynda Shaw. Good morning. How are you?
Dr Lynda Shaw
Good morning, Joanne. Really good. Thank you. How are you?
Joanne Lockwood
I'm Fantastic. Thank you really looking forward. We planned this a couple of months ago and I'm really, really excited to finally have the opportunity to catch up. So do you want tell me and the listeners a bit more about yourself. So who is Dr. Lynda Shaw.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah, I've got a doctorate in neuroscience. my speciality is unconscious processing of emotion and it's morphed into other things as well, basically, because I had three businesses before I went back to academia. And I've got a psychology in my background. So my biggest business I had to 20 staff and 2000 members of a health club. So I sort of get what it's like to manage people to understand how to motivate them how to how to create decent decision making processes, how judgments, all of those things that the cognitive brain does. So, my discipline is cognitive neuroscience. So I basically am a specialist in how the brain changes behaviour and behaviour changes the brain. And because of that, what people don't realise is just how much control they really have. And they can control their behaviour to a certain extent not completely, but to a certain extent more than they realise if they just were aware of it, and understood how to do it how to how to change willingly. So that's what I bang on about when I go around to companies and senior people in the city and such like.
Joanne Lockwood
So it's almost like saying to yourself, before some it comes out your mouth before thought becomes locked in. How can I change that thought, How can I reframe that? How can I nudge it into a different orbit, maybe
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah, I mean, as soon as you create a different way of thinking on a particular topic or a particular person or particular subject, you actually rewire the brain. You lay down new neural pathways and new connections, new synapses, new dendrites, new everything. So in then if you keep rolling that thought, you will strengthen it, and it will become your default thought instead of the more destructive one. So if we say, you know, we are we can do that. And we do it all the time. But what people don't realise is they can do it deliberately. And while doing it deliberately you have it, you're in more in control of your destiny, which is really cool.
Joanne Lockwood
So I heard recently that most of the biases we have and are learned. Okay, we do have some protection type biases, some subliminal reptilian type biases, but we do learn a lot of biases over the course of our lifetime, don't we?
Dr Lynda Shaw
Well, biases come from heuristics. heuristics is a method the brain uses to create shortcuts to lay down information, because we are bombarded with this cacophony of stimuli all the time and the brain can't cope with it. So it relegates everything to unconscious processing, automatic processing that does not take attention as quickly as possible. So we're locking away all of this huge amounts of data. Now, if I said to you, if this was this A4 sheet of paper here was the brain. And um, part of its conscious processing and part of it is unconscious processing. How much would you say that sheet of paper is conscious processing?
Joanne Lockwood
I'd have to say with I’d like to think I'm slightly educated. I just say that probably 80% was probably unconscious and 20% conscious.
Dr Lynda Shaw
20% conscious is what you're reckon yeah? when an actual fact, it's probably that much
Joanne Lockwood
A couple of percent
Dr Lynda Shaw
so that all the rest is unconscious processing. So what we do with heuristics is we think, okay, that person has, has a green skin with things sticking out of his head must be a Martian put them in the Martian box, that person has that that thing has four legs or tail and ears, it must be a dog in the dog box, that unconscious processing it gets it gets. So it's speed of efficiency for the brain to operate. But then we get these biases because they were thinking, well, that means that all green people are Martians, when it could be the Grinch. Or it could be you know, that dog is actually a cat. And so we start to get it wrong biases are are not very, very helpful in terms of being accurate because we stereotype people immediately into because they've got that accent, that must means they're ABC, in a box stereotypical. And so it's not helpful because we get that wrong. But equally, it's helpful because it enables us to process so much information so quickly. So the heuristics are great, but a side effect of the biases and the size of the biases of the things that we're trying to tackle so much in commerce now, which is a very difficult thing to tackle. And it's, it's, it's a conundrum is it is actually a really big problem.
Joanne Lockwood
I had somewhere that the if you like this unconscious brain is really fast, whereas the conscious brain is quite slow and expensive in terms of brain cycles. It costs more to process things consciously than unconsciously. Is that a truism? Or is that just
Dr Lynda Shaw
it's fairly true. Gotta be careful of these grand statements in neuroscience, the popular press get hold of this stuff. I mean, may I give you an example of what it's like to be a neuroscientist to give you give you a context. Okay, so we have an idea. And we've got our little idea. And we think, Okay, this is a really good idea. I want to research this. I wonder if anybody else has researched it and what's been said before. So our little idea becomes this great big piece of work where we're doing a massive literature review, and we're reading up on it. We realised I'm good, okay, my dear sound, I can do that. So we break it right the way down to our hypotheses. And then we think, right, I'm going to design my experiment now. So we open it up, we design the experiment, we run the experiment, we get the results, and then we finally take off quite finally they will, what gets down to those tiny results in about half a page. And then we open it up again, in our discussion, looking back at the literature review. So we now look so we've now got our discussion. We've opened it up, and we're trying to make sense of the results and then we close it down again, down and down and down and to our conclusion, nice and neat, saying what needs to be done next. And then with a bit of luck and affair wind, we are published in a peer review paper. And it goes out there to the, to the enlightened ones, and then the popular press get hold of it. And then all hell breaks loose, because it goes wrong. So, so you get this lovely neuroscientific explanations and ideas and what is going on in the brain, then popular press get hold of it, then somebody says, All that's going to fit my business model. I'm going to say I can make that fit because of what I'm selling, or what my products or my services and then it goes really wrong. So my, I'm, I'm on a mission to stop this and it's not i'm not going to stop it, but I will enlighten everybody I possibly can. So we have to be very careful of grand statements when it comes to neuroscience is a very serious science but it's an embryonic science is brand new in science speak So we're learning new stuff all the time. So I believe that when we get the next generation of neuro imaging equipment, we will probably unlearn and discover things, again that we have no idea about. That's what's exciting about neuroscience.
Joanne Lockwood
Okay, so so we've been living in a world of kind of fake news, is it in terms of what we believe about the brain and we've had all these? Yeah. You hear that Myers Briggs is as interesting as horoscopes and you hear the introvert extrovert aren’t the binary parallels that we thought they were before and that the brain is far more complex. So I mean, even now saying that men aren't from Mars and women are from Venus any more, is there no male brain female brain or is that another myth?
I worry about this. This this labelling like this brain isn't that simple. We're simplifying it too much. And we are products of our of our chemicals in our biology, but we're Also
Dr Lynda Shaw
products of our environmental and social upbringing. So therefore, we can't just say a male I mean, I, I know little girls who are little tomboy is in the playground, and other boys who would rather play with a pram or a pushchair you know, or dolls, it's how do we talk about the so called male and female brain like that, especially when you consider how we treat our boys and girls differently. And there's been some really good documentaries on mainstream television here in the UK, about this and how, you know, boys we push a little bit to be more physical, because we're a little bit more protected with we don't mean to be but it's the way we're programmed as parents and as teachers and carers. And so I think to talk about a male and female brain is really misleading.
Joanne Lockwood
It's almost I think it's quite demeaning often to women to say, well actually, the female brain is different to the male brain, therefore you can't be as effective as a man It's almost like creating a second class citizen by by using this male female brain thing and man are strong, women are weak. men, men don't cry women do cry. And then that's the kind of the label we're given as women that we have to perform to our stereotype.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, we have this, this idea of the masculine, you know, engineers are men, mathematicians are men, what nonsense. There's plenty of female mathematicians and plenty of female engineers out there, but it's this, you know, and one of my kids so when they were at university, one of their friends was on an engineering course she was the only girl in the auditorium. In the lecture theatre, everyone else was a guy and I just feel so sad. You know, that's it. And I did some covert research in a senior school not far from here, and I was looking at year nine, so they were 14 to 15 year olds. And I said, Okay, let's look at the jobs of Nurse, Doctor, Secretary, la, la, la, and she was a nurse, he was a doctor. And I'm thinking really, still, we're doing this. And it still goes on it perpetuates it.
Joanne Lockwood
I think I remember one of the BBC TV programmes where they talked about boys and girls. And they kind of identified around about the age of six and seven is where we start locking in these identities within us. And a lot that is socialised. And those been great examples about if you dressed a baby in girl clothes at the age of six months to 18 months, people treated them in a different way than if you dress them in boy clothes, regardless of their actual sex/gender. And yeah, I was talking to some people the other day, so I work in the recruitment HR space. And one of the challenges is trying to attract more young girls, women into STEM subjects into into subjects where traditionally has been dominated by men. I think I was actually speaking it to a an organisation and the said, well, it's not our problem so much, it's society's problems. I said, well hang on a minute. If you're running a business, you've got to take some responsibility to invest in the future and go out into schools go out into the, into the workplace, beyond your workplace, to make your subjects aspirational, and to try and overcome those biases. But having great female role models have great role models from underprivileged or underrepresented communities. Not just sit back and go, Well, we can't do anything in society. And that's a challenge I see. And I, I want most of the mind where we have to start maybe into antenatal classes. We start trying to educate parents on how to de bias and how to de gender a lot of the stuff that and the message of the children, the schools are now doing a fantastic job. I see a lot of parents and the schools are putting a lot of effort into making sure that boys and girls feel equally aspirational. Of course you come home, you then get socialised back into the boy/girl and then the friends and all of your peers kick in, and they just reinforces the sterotypes. All the great work that schools are doing is being deprogrammed by the parents and society around them. And that's, that's I think we've got to tackle pre parents and change the generation always we're never gonna make a difference.
Dr Lynda Shaw
I'm looking forward to the day when we do not discuss gender at all.
Joanne Lockwood
Yes, amen.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah, I'm really I'm looking forward to that day, I'm looking forward to the day when somebody gets a job on their merit, on their capability and their experiences so far. I'm looking forward to that they've got I'm a mother of a son and a daughter. I don't want to either of them to have a problem because of their gender. So I worry about us saying we need more women in on the board or we need more women somewhere. Yes, we do. But surely, we are doing the same as we did with the with the opposite gender, but just change the label. It's a labelling thing. I would rather just say let's ignore gender. Did you know I did a documentary with Karen Brady on Channel 5 news, you know, We sorry I'm crap tell me if you want me to be quiet Jo.
Joanne Lockwood
15 minutes of fame, an hour of fame go for it, yeah.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Okay, what we did this we did this programme I set up an experiment we got in some recruiters from different employment agencies, half are guys, half are girls, we split them into two groups and we hid them away in a side room. We had CVs stuck up on the wall, half the CVs had the name of the applicant and the photograph, half of the CVs had no name and no photograph. So you would think that was not you couldn't tell what gender they were because of that. with them, the first group of applicants and the first group of recruiters came in and they saw with photo first and without and we swapped it around for the second group, so we mixed it up a bit, so there wasn't any kind of order problem. And the brief was they didn't know why they were there. But the brief was they had to decide on one applicant for a first interview in an engineering firm as an IT expert, traditionally, so called a male role engineering firm IT and that was it. I think it was 95% of the result. 95% of them chose men, even with the CVs without a photograph or a name. And when we told them that there was a bias going on, they were mortified because they recruiters they understand what bias means. And they just say, No, no, no, no, no. What was it? Well, why did you choose that person? Well, because they've got a better degree, it was more suitable. No, they've all got suitable degrees, every one of them and but it turned out that it was the language In the CVs, that gave them the idea of what gender it was. So the female CVs, these were words like team building, and things like that. But the more cohesive type of words, whereas the guy words were all about ambition and those those, and that, that gave a clue as to what the recruiters were looking at, and it was quite enlightening that and they were really upset with themselves and argued big time. pushback. Yeah. But it was true, you know, but people will have biases, you know, the only people that don't have biases are dead people. So, you know, so it's not a bad thing. We just need to be aware of them and work with them sensibly.
Joanne Lockwood
Yes. The whole meritocracy in recruitment and opportunity is a whole new topic, which I'm, I'm planning on tackling another day, but I often find many, pushing meritocracy forward is an excuse to keep the status quo, because what we're saying is based on based on the merits, we've decided this is the best person. But we often don't include in that meritocracy scoring, other skills that are maybe more appropriate to the workplace, about collaboration, about teamwork, about empathy about building relationships. So often we're building the meritocracy with male bias in mind and that that's that's the challenge I have with meritocracy. And yes, we'd all love to be equal, but I think some people need equity which means give them a leg up give them equality, if you like. equal chance so yeah, yeah, so that yeah, I think currently, meritocracy is almost an excuse to keep the status quo and sometimes I feel that a diversity hire, whether that's gender, ethnicity, is somehow somehow seems the second best. I'm hiring for diversity, not for the best person by have to hire someone who's different. They won't be as good. You are almost pre-biasing this person to be not as good as the obvious candidate. Anyway, that's a that's a topic for a whole future, unless you've got something to add.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Sorry Jo, you've just really touched on something that's really interesting there. And if we are feeding the status quo, we're actually going to become dinosaurs. because things are changing so rapidly, we really have got to think in, in a much more creatively with with much more innovation. So in actual fact, if we've got a job spec, we're looking for a certain type of person and we're trying not to be gender biassed or any bias whatsoever. Maybe we're looking at the wrong maybe the job specs not correct
Joanne Lockwood
oh completely, completely. It the whole the whole recruitment industry is shaking itself up is based on a CV, which is an historical document. And that was only invented in the 80s when we start having fax machines, we can start writing CVs on computers. Before that was to fill an application form. So we constructed the CV as the official document. People looking at video interviews, again, video interviews can have their own bias, you know, you see somebody and the way they talk, the way they sound with it and all these other factors kicking. Yeah, it's I think the more forward looking companies now are the more objective in their approach where they would set defined criteria, you would rate yourself someone else would rate you on the answer to a question, and so by the time you get round to say that the second round, there's always there's always that affinity bias, you already know that person has capability. So you're more likely you want to welcome everybody. Where as that first sift of CV is down to how good you are at creating a CV, whether you've paid someone or whatever it is all of the factors that CV is often a written by professionals to get people jobs, not actually to do the job. And often the interview process is is two people lying to each other about the demo mode of the game, if you like, rather than the actual actual game footage. So yeah, it's it. I think the forward looking companies are starting to address the way they recruit, the way they attract, the whole candidate experience, and also understand that this affects about their brand, and about their, what they're offering people in terms of flexibility and the skills they need. Because they don't want the hierarchical businesses of the past they want more neural networks, and that requires different skill sets, which you can't always pick up in a CV.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Absolutely, there's a lot you can't pick up in a CV. But of course, as soon as you get somebody in front of a panel, but the perceptions of each panellist will be unique to only them. So they'll be looking with their with their biassed views as well. You know, and they wanted to be different. To be honest with you. When I go into companies. One of the things I talk about is if you have got an interview panel or a board Or whatever is that you come to a point of agreement that you are, if you display a bias, which you're bound to do, the others pointed out to you. Yes, I just say, hang on a minute little "Jiminy Cricket" here, we're all watching on your shoulder, you just did "x, y, z". The problem with that is that somebody might feel they are being got at by their peers. So it has to be really a place of where everybody consents to the same thing. And, you know, you actually are looking after one another. So you are not demonstrating or using bias because you're being pulled up on it. So raises awareness of of, you know, what, what is your default button?
Joanne Lockwood
Yeah, I think, again, look, it's on the forward looking companies, there are a lot more effort into training their recruiters. They're also trying to avoid groupthink or dominance within an interview board, where each person has to rate and review against a set of objective criteria before they discuss, and only then do consolidate the results, and try and average out those biases as you can. And some of those are done blindly. And some of those are done as a just using objective based questions, if you find the error in this code, write me five lines of code that will do this. So, really testing in job experience, and some are even saying come in a workforce where they do the job and see how it goes. And those are kind of a better, better ways of evaluating someone's fit, performance, capability, than a five minute interview, which really, I think people are saying now is that an interview, a CV, an application video and it gets you a month or twos headstart, it's the actual the person's going to thrive. After the three or four months when they've picked up the job. They picked up the opportunity and they're actually involved. I think what we tend to do is we tend to go for the person who's got the extrovert personality or the or the person more like us, they are more like the person that just left, or the other people in the team, and that's, that's when we are writing jobs specs that we often think of the person we want to hire, and then we match everybody against that person rather than the actual needs of the role. But yeah, that's, that's, that is the way the world is moving and it slowly in some areas, but people and organisations are really focused on that.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah, I think it's always all about group membership. You know, we identify with people like us, and it we need our group membership, and we will fight for our group. As you see everywhere, absolutely. Everywhere, you just listen to the news anytime and you will find people fighting for their group that they feel a member of, and anybody outside of that group is a threat. And that's, you know, that's evolutionary psychology going on here. You know, everybody outside and for very good reason. When we were in little villages and we were being invaded all the time and raided and stuff that, you know, raped and pillaged and all of those things going on. So but so our group membership is very, very important to us. So it's the, I think the way to get help to get over it is to, for people to appreciate the differences of other groups. So there needs to be a move forward to, to appreciate. So we raising awareness, and then we start to appreciate how those differences are valuable.
Joanne Lockwood
Celebrate uniqueness, celebrate differences. It makes the whole bigger by enriching it with different experiences, different thoughts, different different ideas. Yeah, I agree.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And then what you've got is but to be honest with you, you can raise awareness, but people will still ignore it if they feel threatened. So you won't actually change anybody's mind unless you can stimulate curiosity because with curiosity we learn you know, for sure we learned the times table by rote you know, just boring, boring, grab it in. But most of us learn by being curious and children especially like they're sponges. They're everything there in or in every wonder of everything that's going on. And they are learning huge amounts of data every single day. And just by being sponges and curious about what the heck, what's going on in the world. So if we can simulate that in adults, but raising awareness of what's going on, finding the curiosity to then appreciate the differences there are and then being curious about what that person contribute or those people can contribute or that group contribute, contribute to what you're doing. that's a good way forward. I think,
Joanne Lockwood
yeah, I'll be now living in society where people aren't being as curious as they once were with Moses. too much information too much strong opinion. I mean, just look at some of the the hot topics of the of the world in the UK. So we've got the the Brexit debate, we've got climate change, we've got some of these other debates going on where we have antivaxxers and people who are adamant that vaccines cause autism, etc, etc. So we've got all these really strong opinions. And people seem to set up camps on opposite sides of the opposite hills, and just start throwing grenades and box and stones at each other and art just end up with carnage of where the centre ground is almost like dangerous that where you have to have an opinion. And I think we saw it with Brexit. Once you get entrenched into a camp, it's very hard to get into the middle ground and have a conversation. And is that the media is that social media? Is that is that just the way societies evolve as a how do we how do we get curious again, how do we reverse what we've done?
Dr Lynda Shaw
I think I'm in If anybody is so ensconced in their in their group membership, they are not going to be curious unless their curiosity is stimulated, that can be stimulated by an outsider, or it could be stimulated by what another group has done. And, and, and it depends how, how much identity somebody has with their group, how deep that identity is. If somebody has more than one identity, then they are going to be more willing to bond to find out about others. But if people if somebody is got, you know, some religions were all religion, some people in them they become, they don't want to know about anything else. They are right and everybody else is wrong. And so black and white, it just can't possibly be true. It just can't be true. And of course, if we get that going, that curiosity going, then we communicate better and if we communicate better, they'll be far less anguish and anxiety.
Joanne Lockwood
Yeah. We need to put this this this this podcast onto the onto the radio play in everyone's home and just get people to come on let's open our minds up but it's a really difficult thing to overcome when you're so entrenched you see everything in your life is saying you're right you're being bombarded with your in group stuff as you said and sometimes in order to break away from that you've got to be the brave one to step out of your in group and go and go visits visit the enemy you know it's it's I often talk about it is you either a Man United fan or a Man City fan you know you either a bright red or a light blue you can't there's no middle ground you can't be half half a Jedi you can't be half a Sith you know you're you have to make you have to know your colour sometimes and and that's where people really struggle to be open minded isn't that
Dr Lynda Shaw
it is and it's all again down to grip identity. They can't belong to more than one group and I've never understood why It doesn't I don't, I can understand it in terms of psychology, but I don't understand because you see everyone else is a threat. If somebody is that group has proven themselves not to be a threat, then you can lift yourself up and just start to ask questions and find out what it's like to be at that other group. Yeah,
Joanne Lockwood
yeah. That segues nicely into one of the things we were talking about the other week, which was around trans identities, and the way that trans identity and people who are trans can polarise people into two camps. There are some who are vehemently trans straight gender critical, who try and base their understanding of the world based on a fixed binary gender, binary sex, chromosomes, birth genes, etc. and other people who are more able to see gender as a freely sense of sense of identity sense of self. And we've evolved over our lifetime and there's no binary gender as such, there's a whole spectrum, which is fluid and it can evolve and not everyone has to be this gender box of expectation of a man or the gender box expectation of a woman and there are some people who seem to want to police people back into their box.
Dr Lynda Shaw
I know. I know we do. And it's, you know, what was quite interesting. Last week, I was I was speaking at a conference, and just before I had to go on stage, they they broke out in groups. And I was the one group stayed in the main room and other groups went to different areas of the building. So I stayed in the room because I knew I was I was wired up and with a mic and everything, so I stayed there. And I've watched this group. Honestly, Jo, it was the weirdest thing. There were about 20 of them and In my imagination, I could see, like particles all coming together and entwining and bouncing, bouncing and doing this and bouncing a bit more and doing stuff. And I just thought this is, I'm very interested in quantum physics, but I don't understand it. But it’s pretty hard, but, but it's like when you talked about when you have a period in our lives where we're more fluid, we can be, you know, whatever we wish to be in terms of gender or whatever. And it was like that it was I could see the particles if again, in my imagination, just coming mingling together very much influencing one another very much and leaving your template, your footprint, whatever. But equally, I then thought to myself, okay, in terms of neuroscience, what's going on here? And in neuroscience and psychology, we try to explain things in very, not fixed ways, but certain ways of logic. Whereas quantum physics is random. You know that you get these particles going on all of a sudden they're behaving certain way and they don't just just randomly do something else. And that's what people do.
Joanne Lockwood
Yeah,
Dr Lynda Shaw
you know, we have all these psychology theories and neuroscience stuff coming out and all these things going on about human brain and the human behaviour. But then, all of a sudden, they can do something really random, and you think where did that come from what why would you do that? And it's like we are intertwined in quantum theory, in that just for some reason, we do something random and it's a very fluid process. That's how I saw it. Sorry, I went off.
Joanne Lockwood
I'm, as you're talking, I'm going back to the intro. We had, you said you embrace change. And where you find that other people don't is, I completely get that because what I found since I, I embrace change myself, I've almost become a change, embraced it because I realised that I've had to go through an event in my life, where I changed significantly and I impacted those around me. So it's kind of reasonable for me to want respect for who I am, for me to be able to embrace other people's change, whether that or difference of opinion, because if I if I'm, if I say, Well, I'm okay, but I don't get you. That's almost like say, well hang on a minute. If I if I, if I want any modicum of respect, I have to be able to respect everybody has an opinion, everybody, everybody's identity, and you say in group out group, whatever that identity is, but it was football, gender, politics, you're allowed to have an opinion. And it's just a way of embracing that opinion and sharing it in a discussion, respectful way, rather than trying to force an opinion on somebody. Yeah, you're allowed to have it. But you don't have to necessarily share it. Sometimes you can. You can keep your mouth shut. And I know when it's, it's not mainstream. So,
Dr Lynda Shaw
but I did I don't think people realise how they come across sometimes. And I have I have this quirk in my behaviour in that I can actually stand outside of myself or watch me interact with others. I don't know if you do that. Do you do that?
Joanne Lockwood
I think I'm in space looking down. Yeah, watch the gameplay if you like.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah, yeah, I mean, I do it when I'm on stage. You know, I i can i can be telling a story and I am watching the me telling the story and the response of the audience and I'm not in the story. I'm more watching it at play out so that I can work the audience and to communicate with them better. So so so I think I just stand outside of ourselves, and watch the show and realise that we are not doing terribly well or we are doing very well and what we can then change our
Joanne Lockwood
Yes behaviour. The problem is when it gets really important is when we're in a high state of arousal when we are really, you know, the emotions are going and they're in charge, and people get really heated, and bring them and you see it on social media all the time. It's just ridiculous. And so people just are in that state of, of emotions ruling, ruling the brain ruling the way that you can't actually step outside of yourself and watch the show go on. And it just fuels everything to the negative. So yeah, for me, standing outside of myself is really helpful. That's a really good technique and I it's funny I I often say the same thing to people and not often do. I hear people go I know exactly what you mean, but to hear you say that I think, yes, I found somebody else's. And the analogy I often use is, is that the film The Matrix, at the point where when Neo dies, and he wakes up again, and when he wakes up, he sees the world the social construct, he sees his place in the world, how we can influence it, how it gets influenced, and then the end flies over the city looking down at the world or the construct of the world. And I kind of found that since I embrace my change that to be critical about what I'm what the information I'm feeding critical about the biases I'm hearing, we had a question so why did I think that why do I think that why do you think that and then almost like trying to come up with a little thought mindset that doesn't allow me to proceed until I until I've realised why I'm saying something? Or is that a fact is that opinion? Is that kind is it cruel? What, who taught me to believe that thing what's Media tell me I should believe, why do you want me to click that button? And it's almost like just having the that extra bit of circuitry in your head that says, just quickly check it and put it back in again before it gets processed before it gets locked in.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah, I mean, I've got a little thing when I hear information, when I see a situation or whatever, I check it by saying who says,
Joanne Lockwood
Yeah,
Dr Lynda Shaw
Who says, if somebody tries to lay it on, who says,
Joanne Lockwood
Yeah,
Dr Lynda Shaw
I go hmmm, and look it up because that you know, the stuff that people come out with, it's just a it is their perceptions based upon their experiences so far, and which is why it's so unique because we perceive the living based on experiences that have gone before so they are completely unique. It's this massive pyramid going on. So I do I double check I who says and it just stops people in their tracks because if you're going to quote some kind of research going on that are clearly the authors of the research are who said, but that's not what people are talking about. They're talking about an opinion or an idea or the perception that is based on something that is, as I say, unique, so pulling them up short. Who says some works.
Joanne Lockwood
Yeah. Based on what Yeah. Yeah. It's almost like a how we're taught at school in math, mathematics, to show you're workings out. It's, you may have been wrong at the end. But if someone understands how you got to that answer, they can they can then piece together your thought process and don't have to necessarily just disagree with you, but they can see what you're trying to think at the same time.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah, and even even though math is your right or you're wrong, you get marks for the way you worked it out.
Joanne Lockwood
Exactly.
Dr Lynda Shaw
So you know, it's Um, so yeah, absolutely agree with you really good analogy
Joanne Lockwood
People see the same data, the same evidence and draw a different conclusion based on their perspective, their biases, their groups. But then you'd have a discussion about where where they diverged based on this data. So you thought that at that point, I thought this at this point, so why do you think that? Do I need to adjust my thinking? Or should I help you adjust your thinking or do we just say, okay, that's a fundamental theology type disagreement. We can't we can't we can't rationalise that one but we can understand why we people think that
Dr Lynda Shaw
think also people take themselves too seriously. Yeah, I do. You know, I my work is serious. I love my work and I do good stuff with what the results I get with clients and so on, but I've to take myself seriously. It doesn't serve anyone. It doesn't serve
Joanne Lockwood
Yeah, I think we all need to have our off days and just chill out and be a be ourselves be relaxed and If we are not careful we just seen as this professional or someone without outside interest without
Dr Lynda Shaw
yeah and you know full well that you're not going to be liked by everybody but that's okay. It’s alright
Joanne Lockwood
yeah
Dr Lynda Shaw
you know it doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. And if we worry about stuff that we can't do anything about and that's just daft we will do it don't get me wrong I'm as guilty as the next person but I talked to I'm talking to myself here there's a mirror going on. So I you know, we we do we need to lighten up, be far more accepting and lighten up and not think that we are this we. The trouble is with our perceptions. We are always the central player. Whatever we see we are the central player. So we take ourselves too seriously.
Joanne Lockwood
There is this expression I heard was strong opinions lightly held. I can't remember who said that.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Nice.
Joanne Lockwood
It is nice to have a opinion, it's nice to know who you are what you stand for. But holding it lightly enough that you're willing to listen and adapt and improve your algorithm if you like.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah, I think that's actually where the schools can come in is to encourage more debating societies. Because we are losing the art of arguing sensibly our corner and then letting the audience decide which camp which foot they got in which camp, I can remember I was once at, consciousness is my favourite topic full time, right? Mostly, it is ever so hard. It's like the last frontier. And I was at in Tucson at the consciousness conference, and I was sitting in the, in the audience and there were two neuroscientists on the stage. One was arguing for Freud, the other was argue against. Now neuroscientists and Freud do not work together, okay? It's a bit like oil and water. But the way the guy talked about Freud and pursuaded the audience that we still needed to consider Freudian theory in our neuroscience work he won, because of the way he argued it and it was calm, it was logical. He got really good evidence. And he won. I think, if you're very good at debating you can say to somebody the sky is green. You know, so I'm sorry, there goes my phone in the background. So you can actually persuade somebody is sort of in agree with purple spot. So if you're really good at arguing that you will persuade people now that could be right or wrong, don't get me wrong, but then I'm talking right or wrong again. And that's wrong, if sort of a because it's not it's not black and white. Is this is lovely ambiguity about life. So yeah, so I think the schools could help us not be to be better at understanding one another if they taught debating skills.
Joanne Lockwood
I suppose the modern society young children, teenagers are kind of bought up in a world of wanting to be liked wanting to get self gratification or gratification, the selfies and Snapchat filter and there’s a lot of mental health issues, as we know about children who are bullied by not by people actively blocking or disliking them on social media and this is kind of the, the, the modern generation way of of social contact, isn't it in groups now groups are hyper magnified through these these social media outlets aren’t they.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah, absolutely. Right. And I mean that the social media is just I mean, the children and anybody just cannot get away from anybody who decides to be a bully. And, and I rarely use the word hate, but I hate bullies. Absolutely, categorically hate bullies. There is never, ever, ever any excuse ever to bully someone, never. And of course the kids now are in their rooms, you know, up far too late on various social media networks or whatever they're doing, and they can't get away from the bullies, they can't get away. And those are those who are feeding them with self doubt and low self worth. And it's seriously dangerous. And I think horrific.
Joanne Lockwood
there's an oxymoron which sounds like an oxymoron is it you should be intolerant of intolerance. That's an oxymoron its own way but basically trying to say is that anybody who steps out of what is considered polite, normal society, whatever normal is or the social construct of the rules we've created and almost it's outside of that should not be tolerated but their intolerance, which is where we talk about religious fanaticalism, some of the the terror attacks, we can't be tolerant of that even though that person you have to almost allow them to express their religious freedom or their views, but we can't be tolerant of that person in this society. And at that point, we need to decide they a bully. It's it's that they're setting out to harm the many. And they're not the one that's being harmed if you like
Dr Lynda Shaw
actually have a problem with the word tolerate,
Joanne Lockwood
sort of I hate it, hate it. Yeah,
Dr Lynda Shaw
I do I tolerate sounds arrogant. It sounds like I'm okay. I will put up with the fact that you're not as good as me. And I just really have a strong problem with that. I don't I think we should be talking about tolerating in society. No, we show compassion and understanding. We do not tolerate and we appreciate we appreciate differences. So I think this is not just a place of semantics because the words we use have a subliminal effect on our minds. So um, if you're going to if you're going to feed people with this with we have got to be more of a tolerant society. I'm sorry, that makes you an arrogant society. And I don't like Yeah, it's very condescending.
Joanne Lockwood
Judging people against our rule set is tolerance to me, saying my rule set is this ou don't quite meet my rule set therefore I'm gonna allow you in a bit. Yeah still on the outside you are still in the out group but I tolerate you as an outgrouper. Yeah, no, I hate the word.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah. it's we've got to come from a place of being curious to understand one another and to appreciate our differences and appreciate that we've all got a place in this world to contribute to society. That's how I see it
Joanne Lockwood
Yes, you're talking to the converted so yeah no completely and this exactly how I see the world. Whilst I have got you on the line one thing I wanted to talk to you about was about. So I often get misgendered by people. And what I figured out in my limited research is that it's only certain people to do it. So that I break it up into kind of three categories. There's people who've known me most of my life. So they've known both sides of me. And therefore there's going to be a lot of legacy, a lot of history behind how they know me what we've done together the lived experience, a shared environment we have, so I have an understanding that they're going to get it wrong from time to time because it is difficult. And I'm not saying it isn't difficult. There's another group of people who have only known me as me today. And that group is huge. And within that group of people have only known me as Joanne Joanne the woman Joanne, the female Joanne speaker, business owner. There were people in that group who still misgendered me from time to time. And it's random is occasional, often when they're referring to me. So they'll, they'll say, they'll look to somebody else and say, he's fantastic. Oh, sorry. I meant she's fantastic. But there are people who never get it wrong. And then there's the third grouping, the main grouping is people I see in a service providing position so that there is a steward at Hotel check in serving me in a restaurant there. Now the cabin service crew checking people were those the kind of people that sometimes from time to time through either subliminal messages in their brain, they're saying, Oh, Hello, sir or just misgendering in that casual way. So it's trying to understand. So I’ve come round to thinking that it's not always just about the person being ignorant I hate the word ignorant, or is it laziness? Is it their brain just has some pathways in it, they can't override. I mean, what's your thought on that?
Dr Lynda Shaw
I don't think it's laziness. I think it just preconditioning according to their own perceptions, their own upbringing, their own environment, and they just slip into default. If it was laziness. I think they would know that they are doing it and can't be bothered, but I don't think they do. I think it's something just comes out. It's like that unconscious processing. It's just, you know, the default comes out of their mouths without without thinking it through. I mean, especially with the third group and might not even be aware they've done it. And then all of a sudden calling you he that thank you he you. Thank you for your for your passport Sir, have a good flight. Whatever, they might not even realise they've said it. They've just gone on and they're on automatic. So I don't I don't I don't think it's at all deliberate unless the occasional person is being horrid, but I don't think its at all deliberate, but I think it's just the unconscious brain going into default. And they they just not been exposed to enough people who are transgender. I think it depends on you know, what they've been exposed to to that date.
Joanne Lockwood
I fully appreciate it. It's a very complex thing because that millisecond perception of who you are that that you know how we deal with that processing very quickly. And it's made up of so many different dynamics, its fame and stature, the way you move just from the way you stand or just the voice, let alone the face. The facial dimensions, the ratios, the hair, size of hand size of feet, there's a whole lot of dynamics going on where someone just makes a snap decision. And it's what you do with that data that varies, I think between people, some people, some people kind of look at me and go, No, they don't interpret it or they just they just say, sir, some people say I see a woman, you are a woman. And some people it's a bit more complicated where they're sort of they don't want to do this evaluation and go clearly Jo is trans. Jo was born this way. And then their brain was like flips over to they think too much. Almost
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah, I think that's right. And I do think I mean, I do believe that society is getting better. Our society is getting better, because we're being we're talking about it more, we're understanding more. I think it's very hard for people who are not exposed to anything like that at all. They're going to come across as more stuck. But the more we talk about it, the more we become open, the more we realise there are many, many categories of human beings. If we want to talk about categories at all, and then I think that it will become less of an issue. I think, maybe we're in a place of transition in our society at the moment.
Joanne Lockwood
Yeah, not Yeah, I think we all we all, we all transition in life. And as I say, every day but we evolve we go from being an infant to a child to a young adult or a teenager to all these various things. We have responsibilities as a as a parent as an employer, employee. Boss a Yeah. So we all have these different hats, different identities, and
Dr Lynda Shaw
that's a generation thing as well.
Joanne Lockwood
And we all think we are different, but we’re all the same
Dr Lynda Shaw
do, I do think there's a generation thing I think, you know, if you've got an older generation who has not, their society has not openly talked about transgender, transsexual, trans, lesbian, gay, whatever they, so therefore, they're not going to be sure how to handle it. Whereas the next generation down, it's more open it is talked about a lot more it's become the norm and the youngest generation probably won't even think about it. You know, it's just like, for Yes, so what's your point? And which will be great.
Joanne Lockwood
So do you think there is anything to say I as a trans person could do to help people who may be struggling with this what what what technique can I learn to make it easier for people to have a thought on that?
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah, do Um, I know some people who are younger people and they have gone through they've changed gender and they lack understanding for those who don't understand. They are they expect everybody to make allowances in inverted commas and use the correct words we don't say he she say it, we use that stuff which you know, you can't it's very hard to say a sentence like that it doesn't sound grammatically correct. That's hard itself. I think there are a lot of people out there who want to understand and, and got people and equally regardless of what they've chosen to do, but those people there are some people who are who are intolerant and they're expecting, expecting more of the society than society are able to give at this moment. So and this is this is a massive generalisation. Massive. So I think perhaps people who want to not be in the stereotypical norm to be a little bit understanding and help educate those people in what it's like, well why or whatever. And just so that they can, you can increase the level of understanding.
Joanne Lockwood
So, almost what I'm hearing is so you would say, people who have limited exposure to different identities, whether that's gender, race, whatever they need help, to learn, and to shut someone down, doesn't help learning it all it does is create conflict, so it’s finding a way to turn a potential accident or a potential oversight or just some unconscious slip up. into into a positive outcome through. I'm sorry, that that, hurt, that doesn't work for me. Can we have a conversation about it?
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah. I mean, you got to be very careful. You don't put people on like that they make people feel bad about themselves. Because everybody's trying to do the best they can. Most people are trying to do the best they can. So to make them feel bad about themselves, we'll just set up with more of them and us.
Joanne Lockwood
Yeah, I get that. And I think the struggle a lot of people have who are less typical, whatever that identity maybe is that it can become very, very exhausting, where you're having to do that time and time and time again. So for me to meet the chemist one day, that may be the fifth thing this week. It may be the third thing that morning. Yeah, it I may be feeling great about myself and I'm thinking about the day and then the airline steward makes a remark and then that's completely so for me to then be in the right frame of mind to say, actually, can we treat this learning exercise. Having had this experience many, many times here, the drips of water the microaggressions. So some at some point someone is the straw that breaks the camel's back that one person and that struggle where you are having to try to explain yourself all the time.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Yeah, absolutely agree. But, yeah, but I think there's an element of choosing your battles. Yeah. Um, so and I, the word battle is completely wrong. But it's like you've got to choose the times that it suits you. And be how you perceived the person to be receptive to take your message on board and just choose when it when it when it you think it's going to work at its best and you're in you're in the right frame of mind to do it. And then And hopefully enable that person to be an ambassador to be able to talk about this to others in a positive light. So you you're setting up little ambassadors to toddle off and spread the word in a positive way.
Joanne Lockwood
Yeah, I think I think the biggest struggle though, is the it's a one off to you. It's a 50 off to me. And yeah, eventually the the microaggression Oh, yeah, the drip, drip drip effect of it, it can become exhausting. And I think, yeah, I'm sure. In the same.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Maybe that's why you're, you're really at a disadvantage there, Jo, in that you'reprofessional speaker.
Joanne Lockwood
Yes. And that's what I do.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Say your thing to hundreds of people at one time, which is fantastic.
Joanne Lockwood
Yeah. And that's, I think as society evolves, and i’ll use Brexit As a as an example, if, if I can understand the other view, doesn't matter what my view if I can understand the other view, I can have more empathy. But in a way, it's incumbent on us all, to be educated about ourselves. Yeah. Because we're all unique. You are you and, I am me. And there is something that I don't understand about you. So you kind of got to explain it and that that feels different about you may not be as obvious as the thing that's different about me. So you may have to explain it more less often. But there's still times where you maybe have to justify some research your thoughts, you know, some of the conversation we've had today's challenged thinking that people have had about neuroscience and the brain for years and what people have known and I base my whole talk on left brain, right brain and Myers Briggs, all this stuff, and you're saying we're not actually that it's not as simple and so you're changing other people's beliefs. And it sometimes you you probably find the same you have to pick your battles. There is actually no point in arguing with you, it doesn’t help.
Dr Lynda Shaw
you know, you, you can do make a, an impression of somebody and you could just think you know what, it's just not worth me talking to them. I'm wasting my breath. And then you know your instinct, you instinctively know that somebody is actually receptive to learning. And that's the person to talk to, and maybe this other person will be more receptive in a month time. Who knows that that moment you know, full well that you are just wasting your breath. So I do think we need to choose who we talk to about what
Joanne Lockwood
Pick our engagements rather than battles or pick our conversations. Yeah, I agree. I agree. Thats been fantastic. And I thank you for your time this morning. Is there anything you'd like to just wrap up? So how do people contact you l, how can they find more about your work?
Dr Lynda Shaw
Okay, I'm, I say I'm a specialist in in the art of change and embracing change, which, which covers many behaviours, including habits and all sorts of things that I guide people through. And so I'm you can find me at lynda@drlyndashaw.com. That's l y n d a, d r l y n d a s h a w, it’s really, hard to say that, isn't it? And why can’t I just have a simple name? lynda@drlyndashaw.com or www.drlyndashaw.com That's me.
Joanne Lockwood
Brilliant. I'll put all those details in the in the podcast notes accompanying this. If If you've enjoyed this conversation, if you'd like to hear more, then please do subscribe. The links again will be in the comments, and I'd love to hear more. And of course, if you'd like to contribute to a future edition, and please contact me and I'd love to have you as a guest. So for now, Dr. Lynda Shaw. Thank you so much for your time, you've been an inspiration. Thank you very much.
Dr Lynda Shaw
Thank you Jo
 
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