|Frequently Asked Questions|
Do I have a sensory intelligence score that needs to improve?
No, your sensory intelligence is not a set score that needs to improve but rather your level of insight into this powerful process by which the brain are fundamentally driven.
What is sensory intelligence?
Sensory intelligence is the insight and knowledge we derive from our own individual sensory profiles and how we can use the information to be more productive and healthy within our context of work, home, living and learning.
Is there a right or wrong with sensory profiles?
There is no right or wrong with sensory profiles!! The sensory profile shows a continuum of responses. We have at the one end people with severe sensitivity to their environment (low thresholds) and at the other end people with severe sensory seeking behaviours (high thresholds). And then there is a lot of middle ground. It is a matter of understanding and identifying your thresholds, as this is a genetic driver to a lot of what we do and how we behave.
What does a neurological threshold mean?
A neurological threshold refers to the amount of stimuli your brain needs in order to start firing, or sending messages on. Some of us have a low neurological threshold; this means the brain gets “switched on” quickly and intensely and responds accordingly. For instance, that would be someone noticing all the sounds around them. On the other hand, some have high neurological thresholds, which mean the brain takes long to get “switched on” and often misses stimuli in the environment. For example that would be someone missing or not registering the sounds around them.
Are our neurological thresholds genetic?
Yes, our neurological thresholds (or tolerance for sensory input) are inborn and basically part of our genetic wiring. However, the way that we are brought up, our culture or exposure as children will obviously “mould” our thresholds to a degree. For instance, if you grew up in a household or community where people were living on top of each other, you will probably have a smaller “body space”. This means that you have potential to tolerate people within your immediate body space easier, thus finding crowded spaces manageable.
Can I change my thresholds?
Can we change something that is part of our genetic coding? Although the neuroplasticity theories do suggest that we can continue to “train” the brain, with adults it is often a matter of understanding our thresholds and making changes accordingly. We can “challenge” our thresholds and give the brain the things that it dislikes or avoids, but the key is motivation of the individual and knowing the impact that our thresholds are having on our lives. So with adults the question is asked: How much is this affecting your life? And would you like to change it?
How did Sensory Intelligence™ develop?
Annemarie Lombard trademarked Sensory Intelligence as a result of her 15 years of working with children in clinical practice. It was a natural development out of this work into the adult field. The sensory integration theory was developed in the 1960s by A. Jean Ayres, and mostly applied in paediatrics. The Adult/Adolescent Sensory Profile (our first standardised instrument) was developed in 2002 by Winnie Dunn and Catana Brown. Sensory Intelligence is knowing your sensory profile and its impact on your world. Annemarie used her background, knowledge, experience and research results to position a tool for adult learning and development on these principles.
I heard that one has 7 senses; is that true?
That is correct. We have 5 “visible” senses: we can hear, see, touch, smell and taste. We also have 2 “hidden” senses, which relate to movement of the body. We have firstly the vestibular sense, complicated little organs that are located in both ears and give us feedback on where we are in space. They can be seen as the “GPS” of our body. Secondly, we have the proprioceptive sense, which gives feedback to the body via the muscles and joints. It is a bit like the “body sense” and orients us to move without having to rely on other senses. These 7 senses are continually passing information received from the environment to the brain. This information gets filtered along the way as the brain cannot attend to all of it; if it tried, it would fry! It is designed to tune out the irrelevant stuff while responding or attending to that which is relevant. This fine tune balance relies on your neurological thresholds and then decides how much reaches the brain (for action) and how much gets filtered (ignored) along the way.
In terms of the workplace, is it better to have teams comprising members with similar or contrasting profiles?
Definitely with contrasting profiles! Contrasting profiles have opposite working methods, approaches and responses, and therefore lend a crucial diversity to any team dynamic. However, they will at the same time be more prone to have conflict. When this conflict is understood from a primitive genetic driver perspective, it usually diffuses the situation and creates renewed understanding and insight.
Does it mean that my profile is a determiner of only certain type of skills?
No, your sensory profile is fundamentally part of how the primitive brain drives your actions, attention, emotions and behaviour. It does not directly linked into skills and performance, but indirectly based on how these messages are being send from the primitive, bottom part of the brain to the higher, more executive part of the brain. When we consider this neuroscience hierarchical structure, we know that performance outcomes have their starting points within the primitive brain. Your sensory profile is an indication of your comfort zone and a strong reflection on how the environment impacts on your responses. In sensory intelligence we assist individuals to align their work environments and job roles to their primitive, fundamental sensory profile in order to create a effortless and easy productivity outputs.
Why did you do your research in call centres?
I sometimes asked myself that question too...considering this to be such a driven, profit margin orientated industry with not always enough emphasis on the people solutions. Sorry for those who feel offended, but it unfortunately is true for many organisations, (but obviously not all of them). When I started working with adult sensory patterns in 2003 I continuously was hearing that people confirmed the impact of their sensory profiles on their work output, stress and general wellbeing. I then set myself the task to find the most busy, overloaded, crazy, stressful type of work environment to proof what I was hearing scientifically. Voila, those of you in this industry will have a chuckle here, because it most certainly is the craziest space to work in. Imagining 1000 people in one space all making or receiving calls at the same time...
What are your research results showing?
I did a correlation study in 4 different types of call centres within South Africa. There is a significant correlation between sensory profiles and performance, absenteeism and attrition. This proofs that consideration for sensory intelligence is an important factor for call centre efficiencies. As a result I designed Senses on Call – a recruitment tool to establish sensory suitability for the call centre industry. While assisting the industry to choose the best-fit agents, it saves them money and time. More importantly, it also assists individuals who are not suited to work in this industry to avoid it and choose alternative employment options. There is a high incidence of health issues, stress related illnesses and substance abuse within this industry and therefore crucial to assist individuals towards optimal self development in their career choices. Sensory intelligence is hidden – because the primitive brain interactions are highlighted people will not know whether they are suited for this industry or not. If agents are wrongly place, having to identify this through trial and error cause individuals to experience a huge sense of repetitive failure, lack in confidence and unnecessary stress. This should be avoided to grant individuals the opportunity to start or progress within their career development with as much success as possible.
How can we obtain a copy of your research results?
Why should call centre executive leaders be exposed to this?
Well, isn’t this industry interested in improving the bottom line? If you are a call centre executive and want to optimise your environment, people development and process, you should think innovatively and consider adding this as a crucial and critical factor within your call centre operation.