The (simple) neuroscience of trust

Puzzle - Neuroscience of Trust.

Building trust in a team is a complex, yet exciting process that involves various factors that can make your team stronger and more connected. While neuroscience can offer some fascinating insights, it’s important to remember that trust is built through a combination of many things.

As I am passionate about neuroscience, here are a few aspects to consider from this perspective when it comes to building trust in your team.

Neuroscience elements to consider when building trust

  1. Mirror neurons: Our brains have these incredible cells called mirror neurons that fire up when we see someone doing something, almost as if we’re experiencing it ourselves. These neurons help us understand others’ emotions and intentions, creating a sense of connection and trust when we witness trustworthy behaviour in our teammates.
  2. Oxytocin: Ah, oxytocin! It’s often called the “bonding hormone.” When we have positive social interactions, like acts of kindness, cooperating with others, or even a warm hug, our brains release oxytocin. This hormone works its magic, making us feel closer to others and promoting trust among team members. So, spread those positive vibes and create a supportive environment! This doesn’t mean you have to hug everyone, especially at work :).
  3. Psychological safety: Our brains have a built-in alarm system called the amygdala, which affects trust. When we feel psychologically safe, meaning we can freely express ourselves, take risks, and make mistakes without fear of negative consequences, the amygdala doesn’t get triggered as easily. So, creating a safe space where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas should be a priority.
  4. Consistency and predictability: Our brains (more precisely, our Elephants) love routines and knowing what to expect. When team members consistently behave in reliable ways and respond predictably, it helps foster trust. Keep the communication channels open, set clear expectations, and show that you can be relied upon. This way, everyone knows they can count on each other.
  5. Building rapport: We humans are social creatures, and our brains thrive on personal connections. Engage in activities that promote team bonding, like sharing personal stories, team-building exercises, or simply having friendly conversations. These interactions activate our brain’s social circuits and create a sense of trust and friendship within the team.

One book I recommend on the subject

If you want to read more on the subject of the neuroscience of trust, one book that I can recommend, which explores the subject of trust from a neuroscience perspective is “The Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies” by Paul J. Zak. In this book, Zak delves into the role of trust in organizations and provides insights into how trust can be built, measured, and nurtured within teams and companies. While the book covers various aspects of trust, it also incorporates findings from neuroscience research to support its arguments. It offers a blend of scientific evidence, real-world examples, and practical advice for building trust in a business context.

Remember, building trust takes time and effort. So, while you put in the work to build it, do enjoy the journey of strengthening your team bonds, and don’t forget to have fun along the way!

Thank you for reading,


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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