Have you ever met someone you felt completely in sync with? Entrainment is a term used to express how the human body assumes a sympathetic response to stimuli much the way scientists have discovered that two heart cells put together in the same room begin to beat as one. When two or more vibrating bodies or realities come into resonance, they create a process of harmony.

Much like those syncopated heart cells, we often physically, intellectually and emotionally entrain ourselves with people we like. We nod enthusiastically with them, finish each other’s sentences and even adopt mannerisms such as a laugh, phrases or gestures. Entrainment is entering into another person’s experience to seek greater understanding and connection. Generally, we avoid this process with people we don’t like. We resist them. In doing so, we trigger their resistance to us.

When you resist another person, they have no choice but to resist you. Resisting how others are is a form of protection. Your resistance to others says, “Who you are is wrong and dangerous” and this very protection causes attack. Approve of others without condition and give others your full attention. That’s when love and connection move from an idea to an experience.

I heard about intentional entrainment from Matthew Ferry, author and teacher. The concept caught my attention because it’s a practical tool for responding constructively to difficult people and, surprisingly, even to people I care deeply about when I resist or separate in reaction. The following are the steps to entertain with others.

  1. Notice and appreciate. For entrainment to be effective and authentic,
    first you must observe and notice the perfection of another. Choose to be totally curious about them in all ways; be absurdly fascinated with them.
  2. Blend with another’s physical reality. Stand, sit, move and speak as they do; synchronize and align your physical movements, pace, accent, tone and rhythm with theirs. You trigger your own body to send and receive their worldview.
  3. Blend with another’s emotions. Agree with and match their emotions, including the level of intensity or subtlety. If they’re sad or happy or raging, you do the same as closely and fully as possible. Choose to be on their side; get emotional about what they are emotional about.
  4. Blend with another’s opinions: Agree with their opinions. Think like they do. Don’t worry about whether you’re condoning something you don’t believe. If it helps, hunt with determination to find all possible ways you can agree and enter fully into their viewpoint and how they see the world.

Remember, entrainment is not about you; it’s about the other person. You’re offering the ultimate form of approval, acceptance and acknowledgement. A profound and deep connection occurs when you give up the notion your emotions and ideas are right, and theirs are wrong. When you entertain, you gain access to another’s tribal beliefs, rules and perspectives, what they experience as right and acceptable. Give up your view and control of how you think your interactions with others should unfold.

As I practice entrainment, I become more aware of relationships in which I hold myself separate from others, even those whom I love. All my relationships are growing deeper and more meaningful. Contrary to our unconscious fears that we may lose or be in danger, I have discovered the more I stop resisting others, especially those I find challenging, they stop resisting me; they soften and became appreciative of me. They also relax and become more peaceful. They move through issues more quickly because I’m not inspiring their resistance. I’m supporting their forward movement. And, practicing this increases my entrainment with myself. Nothing is lost; much is gained – joy, influence, union.

Our ego would have us believe we must protect and separate, and hold our opinions, feelings, wants and needs as more important and to be guarded at all costs. The truth is, we’re wired to connect and love. The cost for living from fear and resistance is high. Don’t take my word for it. Try entrainment for yourself and experience the truth and beauty of consciously relating through deeper appreciation and opening to others. At first, people may not know what to make of you and may even be suspicious of you. In time, they’ll soften and grow in the warmth of your fascination with them. Who wouldn’t love that? Open fully to entrainment, don’t hold anything back, and then watch the magic happen!

Why People Hire LifeWork Systems

Business owners, community leaders, and educators hire Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace and recognize a systems approach ensures consistency and sustainability in the transformation process. They know that conscientious employees grow your business and improve your reputation, giving you competitive advantages. We help organizations instill into every person a common language and toolset for how to participate in a responsibility-based workplace. Visit our website at www.lifeworksystems.com, and click the link at the bottom to complete a culture assessment and schedule your first consult to review a report on your feedback, all at no cost.

You can also contact Judy Ryan at 314.239.4727 or at judy@lifeworksystems.com.

As published nationally in Women’s Journals, February 2009