Sensory intelligence® is a revolutionary concept designed and coined by thought leader, Dr Annemarie Lombard in 2002, to help people be more self-aware, happy and successful in life and work.
“Sensory” refers to the 7 human senses through which all environmental stimuli are absorbed, processed and decoded for use. “Intelligence” is the human brain making sense, understanding and using information to its fullest potential. It forms part of a wider knowledge base around intelligence (IQ, emotional intelligence, spiritual intelligence, positive intelligence, social intelligence, and some more).
Sensory intelligence® measures your sensory thresholds which form part of your basic genetic code and blueprint. You cannot and should not try to improve your scores. There is no right or wrong, just knowing how they work, what they do and how we can use it to the best of our abilities. Your sensory thresholds describe Intelligence in our world and the quest is for you to understand and use this information to make life and work easier. Through self-assessments, training and coaching we help people to be more successful in life and work.
You have 7 senses, not just 5. The more familiar senses are; 1) visual, 2) hearing, 3) touch, 4) smell and 5) taste. You further have 2 “hidden” senses which most people don’t know about. They are the movement system and consists of two interlinking senses: 6) vestibular – consisting of 5 little receptors located in your inner ear to detect head movement in relation to gravity, it is a bit like your body’s GPS and 7) proprioception – receptors located in your muscles and joints which provide constant feedback about your body, muscles and where you are in space.
These 7 senses are constantly at work connecting us with our world through processing millions of bits of information from the environment every day. It gets filtered, decoded and processed and becomes the initial trigger point for our daily actions, behaviors, habits and emotions. Measuring and understanding your 7 senses response to your environment is critical as it is the start point of most actions and behaviors.
The human brain is complex and fascinating. The brain consists of two parts; the top half and the bottom half. While the right-left brain is another way to describe human brain function, we focus on the top-bottom synergy of the brain. The top, upper brain (called the cortex) is conscious, controlled and calculated and produces our daily performance and output, it is the executive, thinking brain. The lower part of the brain (called the brainstem) is unconscious, uncontrolled and reflexive, and the more primitive brain that controls our survival, basic needs and comfort.
The upper, cortical brain is all about IQ and how “clever” we are, the lower, primitive brain is what sensory intelligence® focuses on. In the middle, in between is emotional intelligence. Information enters at the bottom of the brain through the brainstem before sending information toward the upper brain. In essence, the brain first senses (sensory intelligence) then feels (emotional intelligence) and then thinks (IQ). This happens in milliseconds but is basic science and physiology as a human brain operating system.
The well-known 80/20 principle also applies to the human brain in a bit of a different way. The amount of allocation for energy is split and about ±80% of daily energy expenditure involves the primitive brain (it works fast and has no thinking capacity) to keep us alive, safe and comfortable. The remaining ±20% is allocated to the higher-thinking brain for executive function. Daniel Kahneman calls this system 1 (executive brain and slower), versus system 2 (primitive brain and faster). Your brain will usually go for the route of least resistance and operate fast from the primitive functions unconsciously before sending energy up to the executive brain which processes slower. This is normal, happens daily, yet totally unconscious.
If you don’t believe me, try the bat-ball question: A bat and a ball cost R1.10. The bat costs R1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? …. What is your first response? Think again, is it right? Credit to Daniel Kahneman for this question… Read the answer at the end of the article….
Your sensory thresholds are what makes us different and unique. Everyone experiences their world slightly differently based on how this sensory information is coded through your brain. What feels, smells or tastes amazing for one person could be totally off-putting for another.
The problem is because this is so hard-wired into our being, we often don’t know that other people literally experience the same sensory stimuli different to us. This makes us all unique and amazing, however, it is a big point of conflict and disagreement. This is also where work environments play a role. While one work environment (i.e. busy, open plan) can be energizing for one person, the exact same environment can be detrimental for someone else. A familiar example is one person switching the music up (they probably have high thresholds and like louder sounds) will be energized by this, while someone right next to them who wants to turn the volume down (they probably have low thresholds and want more quiet) will be annoyed and irritated. Such differences exist between people in all of the 7 senses.
There are millions of examples but these really simple and fundamental differences have the potential to create havoc in relationships at home and at work. It also can be a huge contributor to unnecessary distractions and irritations. We strive for performance, success and harmony – and so often – the solutions to this are unlocked by understanding and managing sensory thresholds for yourself, your colleagues and your family.
Sensory intelligence® is rooted in the science of sensory processing in occupational therapy but also studied in various other industries (psychology, food sciences, sensory marketing and branding, environmental psychology). It takes people on a journey of self-assessment, self-learning, self-discovery and ultimately self-mastery to understand how the senses influence our daily attention, emotion and behavior. This forms the fundamental premise of working with individuals and teams to improve workplace wellbeing, performance and relationships.
*The bat does not cost 10c but 5c….