You know the feeling. You meet someone new—at a party or at work—and you just hit it off. There is an instant sense of camaraderie.
In a word, you “click.”
From the bestselling authors of Sway, Click is a fascinating psychological investigation of the forces behind what makes us click with certain people, or become fully immersed in whatever activity or situation we’re involved in.
From two co-workers who fall head over heels for each other while out to dinner and are married a month later (and fifteen years later remain just as in love), to a team of scientists who changed the world with the magic of their invention, these kinds of peak experiences, when our senses are completely focused on the moment, are something that individuals—and companies—strive to achieve. After all, when you’re in the “zone,” you’re happier and more productive. Why is it that we click in certain situations and with certain people, but not with others? Can this kind of magical connection be consciously encouraged? Is there a way to create such peak experiences, whether on a date or in your job?
According to Ori and Rom Brafman, there is.
In a powerful, story-driven narrative that weaves together cutting-edge research in psychology and sociology, the Brafmans explore what it means to “click”: the common factors present when our brain and senses are fully engaged. They identify five “accelerators” that increase the likelihood of these kinds of magic connections in our work and relationships.
From actors vying for a role on a popular TV series to police officers negotiating with hostage takers, we learn how one can foster an environment where we can click with another person and shape our thinking, behavior, and emotions.
A fascinating journey into how we engage with the world around us, Click will transform our thinking about those moments when we are in the zone and everything seems to fall into place.
Acclaim for Sway:
“A provocative new book about the psychological forces that lead us to disregard facts or logic and behave in surprisingly irrational ways.” –New York Times
“A unique and compulsively readable look at unseen behavioral trends.” –Fortune
"A breathtaking book that will challenge your every thought, Sway hovers above the intersection of Blink and Freakonomics."--Tom Rath, coauthor of the New York Times #1 bestseller How Full Is Your Bucket?
“[An] engaging journey through the workings—and failings—of the mind...Their stories of senselessness...are as fascinating as the lessons we learn from them.” –Fast Company
"Count me swayed--but in this instance by the pull of entirely rational forces. Ori and Rom Brafman have done a terrific job of illuminating deep-seated tendencies that skew our behavior in ways that can range from silly to deadly. We'd be fools not to learn what they have to teach us."--Robert B. Cialdini, author of New York Times bestseller Influence
"If you think you know how you think, you'd better think again! Take this insightful, delightful trip to the sweet spot where economics, psychology, and sociology converge, and you'll discover how our all-too-human minds actually work."--Alan M. Webber, founding editor of Fast Company
From the Hardcover edition.
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ORI BRAFMAN is an organizational business consultant. ROM BRAFMAN is a psychologist with a private practice in Palo Alto, California. They are the coauthors of the New York Times bestseller Sway.
Sitting by the pool at a Pasadena hotel, Paul was about to do something impulsive, even by his standards.
The Southern California evening breeze was starting to pick up. Anyone within earshot of Paul and the woman sitting across from him at the poolside table would have thought they’d known each other for years, although the pair had met only two days prior. They talked about everything from world travel to the 1970s antiwar movement to Socratic philosophy; their conversation had a casual, easy flow to it. Watching the two of them— Nadia with her fine Mediterranean features and striking jet- black hair and Paul with his rugged, all- American looks— one had a sense that they fi t together. It was as if each was attuned to what the other was thinking. One moment they were laughing at embarrassing childhood stories and the next they were finishing each other’s sentences. If there’s such a thing as synergy between two people, it seemed almost palpable here.
One would never have suspected that the two were ostensibly meeting for work. At the time, Paul was in charge of the proposal for a $15 billion project to clean up a nuclear weapons facility in Colorado. To help put the proposal together, Paul had assembled experts from around the world. The team had taken over an office building in Pasadena; the work was so intense that the office remained open 24/7. It was Paul’s role to make sure all the countless moving parts worked together. But he was used to this level of intensity. A former officer in the army’s special forces, Paul was trained to make split- second decisions, and he has the kind of personality people instinctively respond to— he is a natural leader. In conversation, he focuses intently on the other person’s every word, making it clear he’s fully present and is listening carefully.
Every morning at exactly 8:15 a.m., Paul assembled the top executives from the team to brief them about the strategy for the day. The meeting several days ago, though, had been different. From the beginning, Paul was keenly aware of the new team member, Nadia. “I immediately thought, Who is that?” He found himself instantly attracted to her. Nadia’s initial reaction to Paul seemed to be very different, however. It was her first day on the job. Her vacation in Paris had been abruptly cut short so that she could fl y to Pasadena and take over as the project’s chief operating officer. If that hadn’t soured her mood enough, Paul made a comment during the meeting— seemingly out of left field— that soured it further.
“I uttered something about there being nothing new in human relations since the time of Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates,” he recalled. “I don’t even remember why.”
A few minutes later, as Paul stood before the group, he noticed out of the corner of his eye a folded note being passed from person to person. As he continued speaking, the note eventually made its way to him. He unfolded it and read the first line: “I completely disagree with you.” The hand- scrawled note went on for an entire page. But it was unsigned. He looked up, searching for a nod from the note’s author. But all he got were blank stares. Only after the meeting had ended and the rest of his staff had fi led out of the room did Nadia walk up to Paul.
Remembers Nadia, “Here we haven’t met yet, and I just wrote him a note that said, ‘I don’t agree with you; what about the change in master- slave relations and relationships between men and women? There have been so many advances in society since then. How can you make such a comment? I’d like to discuss this with you.’ ”
Paul, instead of becoming defensive, was intrigued. “I’d like to continue the conversation with you,” he told her.
“Anytime,” she fired back.
Twelve hours later they were sitting by the pool.
They had told themselves that they intended to use the time not just to resolve the argument but also to delve into some important work issues. Work, however, never came up during their conversation together. Toward the end of the evening, the intensity of their interaction was difficult to ignore.
“Are we going to end up getting in trouble?” Paul asked Nadia, realizing that they were letting work get away from them.
“Yes,” she said simply. It was clear to her from the beginning that there was something special between them. “The moment he made that comment about Plato and Aristotle,” she told us, “I knew. What we valued in life was very much the same, as were the things we thought were trivial. Who’s outrageous enough to even bring up Plato and Aristotle in the middle of a strategy session? I mean, what does anybody who’s in there know about Plato and the Greeks, or care about them? He had that courage to be different.”
Having accomplished little of the work they had been planning to do, the pair decided to meet again the following night by the pool. And it was then that it happened. Paul looked at Nadia and asked, “What would you say if I told you that I loved you and wanted to marry you?”
Nadia retorted, “Is that a hypothetical or is that an offer?”
Paul said, “Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”
Let’s hit the pause button here. First, it’s worth noting that Paul and Nadia weren’t teenagers driven by hyperactive hormones. They were seasoned business executives. Like most of us, when they met a new person, they usually spent their first moments sizing each other up, searching for something to talk about: Where are you from? What kind of work do you do?
Occasionally, though, an introduction to someone new is more intense and intimate from the get- go. Maybe we share the same sense of humor or we admire the other individual’s personality or passion. Or we immediately sense that we can just be ourselves around that person. Things feel right; we hit it off. There is an immediate sense of familiarity and comfort. Conversation flows easily, without embarrassing pauses or self- consciousness. In essence, we click.
This book is about those mysterious moments— when we click in life. Those moments when we are fully engaged and feel a certain natural chemistry or connection with a person, place, or activity.
In its simplest terms, clicking can be defined as an immediate, deep, and meaningful connection with another person or with the world around us. Typically, it takes weeks or months before most of us feel truly comfortable with a new person. We have to gain the other person’s trust, and he or she needs to gain ours. We need to find a common language, understand each other’s quirks, and establish an emotional bond. But sometimes this process is greatly accelerated, and the connection seems to form almost magically and instantaneously.
But this type of immediate, deep connection isn’t limited to romantic love. Clicking can be equally deep and meaningful between future friends and can strike in the most unlikely of places.
For Jim West and Gerhard Sessler, a pair of physicists who first met at Bell Laboratories, the instant connection between them would permanently alter the course of their careers. But if you were to go back to 1959 and see the two when they first met, you’d be struck by their apparent differences.
Jim, a tall, slender African American who grew up in Virginia during the Great Depression, learned from an early age to make do with whatever resources were available to him. “As a black man,” he reflected, “I attended segregated schools. But I was lucky in that I had great teachers.”
These teachers— along with his family, friends, and neighbors— saw something special in the boy. As his brother tells it, Jim was the kind of kid who always had a screwdriver or tool of some sort in his hand. When he wasn’t taking apart his grandfather’s watch, he was rebuilding an old vacuum- tube radio. As a teenager, Jim decided to channel his love of tinkering into a career in physics. Concerned, his father introduced him to three black men who held Ph.D.’s in physics or chemistry. Recalls Jim, “The best jobs they could find were at the post office. [The point my father was making was that] I was taking the long road toward working at the post office.”
Jim persevered nonetheless, eventually landing a job at Bell Laboratories. It was the equivalent, for an engineer, of working at Disneyland. “It was the premier research institute in the country,” Jim explains. “People from all over the world wanted to work there.”
His first day at Bell Labs, Jim was assigned an office next door to another new recruit, Gerhard Sessler. Sporting short- cropped hair and a fastidious wardrobe, Gerhard had a natural, genteel warmth about him. While Jim had been raised in the American South, Gerhard had grown up in pre–World War II Germany. “I was only eight years old when the war started,” recalls Gerhard. “The air raids, the atmosphere— it was a very difficult time.”
It was very unusual in 1959 for an African American man from the South to be working side by side with a German immigrant. But the two immediately hit it off. Even though Gerhard’s thick German accent was difficult for Jim’s American ears to understand, from the beginning the pair launched into long discussions about physics and life. As Gerhard tells it, “From the start, I noticed Jim was intellectually curious and sharp— always exploring new things. I was immediately drawn to that.”
“We were both new,” recalls Jim, “and being a member of an underrepresented minority, it was unusually lonely. But with Gerhard, I knew I could always be myself. I think it’s fair to say that we clicked right off the bat.”
The two spent hours discussing science and theories of the natural world, and the more they talked, the more intense the interaction became. In the course of one of these impassioned conversations, the two came up with an ingenious idea, one that would lead to one of the greatest achievements in acoustics history: the invention of the modern microphone.
Comparing Jim and Gerhard’s story with Paul and Nadia’s, we see two very different types of relationships emerging. But if we take a close look at the two budding relationships, we see that they follow a similar trajectory. Both began with what we call quick- set intimacy. In other contexts, the words quick and instant don’t necessarily sound like positive descriptions (think instant coffee or quick TV dinners). But when it comes to human relationships, the bonds formed by quick- set intimacy can be surprisingly strong and create a tenor in the relationship that may be lifelong. In our exploration of clicking, we’ll investigate the different factors that go into forming quick- set intimacy. What happens in that moment when we first sense our interest in another person? Why do we click with some people and not with others? Why do those moments make us feel more fully connected not just to that individual but to everything around us? Is there a way to foster or proactively create that kind of instant intimacy?
When we click in a relationship— whether the relationship is a romantic one or involves meeting a new friend at a party or forging a special connection with a teammate or colleague— we are affected in several significant ways. First, clicking brings about a unique, almost euphoric state, one that we describe as “magical.” Second, it permanently alters the fundamental nature of the relationship. And last, it can serve to elevate our own personal abilities.
Let’s look at what actually happens when quick- set intimacy takes place. Paul remembers that the moment he met Nadia, he felt an overwhelming attraction to her. Nadia puts it slightly differently. She felt an instant sense of comfort and a surprising intensity of feeling: “The attraction was just magical.” And neither Paul nor Nadia uses words such as magical loosely— Paul was a former military officer, you’ll recall, and Nadia was a senior manager with a degree in nuclear engineering.
The two physicists at Bell Labs expressed a similar intensity. “Somehow, from the very, very start,” reflects Gerhard, “there was always sympathy for the other person. There was always an understanding. We had such an appreciation for each other.”
Most of us have had that feeling of magic at some time in our lives. But it can be difficult to articulate. The next time you encounter someone whom you instantly, magically hit it off with, pay attention to what you are experiencing in that moment. There’s a certain quality of infatuation; it is exciting, even thrilling. We often feel more alive, more engaged, more there. We’re more in touch with the other person, or with our surroundings, and with ourselves.
Neuroscientists decided to try to take a peek into the biology behind clicking in a romantic context. The researchers scoured the community for individuals who identified themselves as being “madly in love.” When they placed these people in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine to scan their brains, they observed that the parts of their brains responsible for dopamine absorption were extraordinarily active— so much so that the individuals almost looked like they were under the influence of narcotics. Dopamine is the chemical that fuels the brain’s pleasure center, producing the kind of euphoria we associate with feeling fully alive. This is a noticeable and significant high— and from a strictly biological perspective, it has an allure not unlike that of such drugs as cocaine, nicotine, and amphetamines.
Every time we feel that sense of being fully engaged and alive, whether as a result of a connection with another person, an activity such as sports— being “in the zone”—or simply feeling at one with the world around us, we experience a surge of dopamine through our brain. The magnitude of the chemical reward we get when we make these intimate connections stands in stark contrast to our complete lack of such a reward when we are feeling socially disconnected. To study this effect, a team of neuroscientists from UCLA and Australia placed participants in fMRI machines and asked them to play a virtual ball- tossing game. In the game, participants were under the impression that they were playing electronic catch with other participants in the room. But in reality they were just playing with a computer. After a few rounds, the computer deliberately ignored the participants by no longer tossing the ball to them. If being madly in love floods the brain with dopamine, feeling cut off and alone— even in the course of a simple game of virtual catch— lit up the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain associated with physical pain.
Why does the brain go to such extremes to reward us fo...
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