When I interviewed Dr. Mimi Guarneri for Lead From The Heart, I asked if there were physiological reasons for why people who felt more cared for in the workplace were more productive. She responded without hesitation.
“There are only two human emotions, love and fear,” she told me. “Ultimately, you want your default mechanism to be love. But we have to really work on having love as our default mechanism. It’s very easy for us to give love to a puppy, our grandbaby and our kids. But it’s very hard in the workplace.”
“What leaders need to know is that there are many incentives for choosing love over fear,” she said. “A natural reason is that fear is a negative emotion which frequently releases stress hormones – adrenaline, aldosterone and cortisol – all which make us sick.”
As a real life example of how fear can wield lethal power, Dr. Guarneri related the story of one of her patients, a very wealthy man whose cancer had been in remission.
“When the financial crisis hit, he was, of course, affected and went through a very, very stressful period of time – a period mostly marked by fear. And his cancer came back.” Looking for some ideas as to what may have resuscitated his illness, Dr. Guarneri asked her patient “what’s different in your life today?”