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There are several studies on group cooperation that showed that people can be twice as likely to be helpful to another when they’ve experienced some level of behavioral synchrony.

Behavioral synchrony simply means that our behaviors match or mirror one another. These synchronies help reduce negative attitudes in the brain and cause us to see commonalities instead of differences.

Examples of this behavioral synchrony include:

  • Walking in step with another versus being out-of-step
  • Singing a song in unison
  • Tapping the same beat to a song together.

In one study, strangers were partnered together to listen to the same piece of music via headphones and then tap the beat together; another group were partnered together but listened to different music via headphones and tap out different beats.

The ones who tapped in synchrony were 49% more likely to volunteer to stay after the experiment and help their partner with a set of difficult math problems; whereas, with the ones who tapped different beats to different music, only 18% volunteered to stay to help.

So the behavioral synchrony partners were twice as likely to cooperate and self-sacrifice.

The Practical Application

So how can we apply this concept of behavioral synchrony in our work worlds today? Especially when many of us are operating from a Zoom platform all day long and can’t go out and march in step together.

Here are a couple of ideas—some will work for groups and some will work for one-on-one meetings:

  • Encourage everyone to do hand movements together – in some of the classes I lead, I invite people to “join me and offer some kudos” and wave fingers together. You can also do that with emoticons on Zoom. And, I shared a few weeks ago about how showing your hands on zoom can create a sense of safety.
  • Look for opportunities to sing in unison. If it’s someone’s birthday, have everyone in the session sing together.
  • Ask the person to join you in a stretch break – that has the added benefit of re-oxygenating your body’s organs.
  • Watch something short together – I just showed one of my favorite Sinek Sinek 90-second video clips in our leadership coaching class in the past hour, so that’s another way to have people experience something together.
  • Ask people to come to the call with, say, their favorite hat, or to wear a color shirt that represents their mood. That way, whether just two of you or a larger group, are all doing something together, which increases social bonding.

You get the idea! Expand on the list, have some fun with it, and see what you notice about cooperation in the process!

Love and light,