Saturday, June 8, 2013
No, Yes, and the Brain Hemispheres
Heard, spoken, and written language is a left-hemisphere function for most brains. The left hemisphere hears, reads, and spells the word “no” along understanding what it signifies. The right hemisphere, on the other hand, is all about possibilities. For it, the word “no” is a limitation of possibilities and the right brain tends to miss or ignore the word. The right hemisphere is interested in getting a “yes” and can be creative and tenacious in an attempt to do so. When presented it with a “no,” the right hemisphere may immediately begin sifting through options that can get the “no” turned into the desired “yes.” When it hears a “yes,” however, even if there is a qualifier, its goal has been achieved and there is less of an immediate attempt to launch into argumentative options designed to obtain a reversal. For example, a parent chooses to avoid providing cookies as a between-meal snack for the child(ren) in favor of healthier options. Picture this at 4:30 pm one afternoon.
Child: “Can I have a cookie?”
Adult: “Yes, at dinner.”
Child: “Do I have to wait until dinner ‘cause I’m hungry now!”
Adult. "Yes, you may have cookies at dinner. Right now you may have an apple or a banana.”
Child: “If I eat an apple now can I have two cookies at dinner?”
Child: “Can I have three cookies?”
Adult: “Yes, you may have two cookies a dinner and a third cookie tomorrow.” And just repeat it again if there continue to be questions.
Over time, as the child’s brain begins to hear “yes” instead of “no,” the exchanges rarely escalate into an argument because it’s difficult to argue with a “yes,” even when there is a qualifier. More tomorrow about language and internal mental picturing.