Think of a typical day in the office. Everyone steps into the lift. Maybe someone dares to smile or make a comment. But, most people are probably silent, lost in their own thoughts, or simply afraid to break elevator etiquette.



It might make you uncomfortable at first. You might wonder why you should even bother. A Brazilian study found that people suffering from social anxiety disorder were more likely to perceive certain situations (such as being in a lift) as dangerous, compared to the healthy controls. The study was small, but the results supported the hypothesis that anxiety disorders may affect parts of the brain that drive defensive behaviors (Mesquita, 2011).

You may be nodding your head, saying that you are the type of person who prefers not to talk in some situations, and the lift is one of those situations. You may not feel that you have an anxiety disorder, you just don’t talk in the lift. You keep your head down and stay quiet. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can greet people. It doesn’t cost anything if you start with a smile, or a quick hello. If you feel anxious about speaking to others, start small. The little changes can add up to big rewards.


An innovation leader will be adaptable. If you have a hard time saying hi to strangers in the lift, how are you going to lead new teams of diverse people to new heights?

By embracing change, even in small ways like smiling and greeting others, your attitude will change and so will your leadership skills.

Smile at strangers, and you just might change a life.

Steve Maraboli

In this Imagination Age, leadership and neuroscience are blending to give us a better understanding of how our brains operate when we make decisions. Having an attitude that embraces positivity, and being able to step out of your comfort zone gives your brain a chance to make real changes that will affect your personal and professional lives.


Innovation will stagnate without the right attitude. Small changes, like smiling and talking to people around you in the office and the lift, can have profound impacts.

You don’t know where the next big idea might be. Creating the right atmosphere for innovation starts with you, and in return, you can expect a progressive environment and outside the box thinking.

Give yourself the confidence and knowledge that you need. Things that you deem unimportant can mean so much to the people around you. Be the positive change that can spur your organisation to more discoveries, more innovation, and better leadership styles.

Neurobiology of Coaching, Wellbeing & Brain-Friendly Practices Diploma

Mesquita, S.C.V., Shuhama, R., Osório, F.L., Crippa, J.A.S., Loureiro, S.R., Landeira-Fernandez, J., Graeff, F.G., & Del-Ben, C.M.. (2011). The response of social anxiety disorder patients to threat scenarios differs from that of healthy controls. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, 44(12), 1261-1268. Epub October 22, 2011.

Published on:
9 November 2017

You May Also Like

These Stories on Attitude

Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.

Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.

Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership

In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.

Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think