When faced with a stimulus, the amygdala turns our emotions on. It does so instantaneously, without our having to think about it. We find ourselves responding to a threat even before we’re consciously aware of it. Think of jumping back when we see a sudden movement in front of us, or being startled by the sound of a loud bang. We also respond instantaneously to positive stimulus without thinking about it: Note how we tend to smile back when someone smiles at us; how we are immediately distracted when something we consider beautiful enters our line of sight.
Why should we care about the amygdala? According to the author, it is the key to gaining someone's attention:
The amygdala is the key to understanding an audience’s emotional response, and to connecting with an audience. It plays an important role in salience, what grabs and keeps our attention. In other words, attention is an emotion-driven phenomenon. If we want to get and hold an audience’s attention, we need to trigger the amygdala to our advantage. Only when we have an audience’s attention can we then move them to rational argument.
I thought this was interesting. One of my work colleagues was lamenting that her competitor gets ahead by saying such inane platitudes as "change or die" that appeal to people's fear and make him sound like a strong leader. The reader wondered whether the connection between emotions and attention "could be a potential explanation for the sociopath's famed attention deficit."
Why it is so easy to manipulate empaths:
The default to emotion is part of the human condition. The amygdala governs the fight-or-flight impulse, the triggering of powerful emotions, and the release of chemicals that put humans in a heightened state of arousal. Humans are not thinking machines. We’re feeling machines who also think. We feel first, and then we think. As a result, leaders need to meet emotion with emotion before they can move audiences with reason.