If your home or work environment is not outfit with the proper architectural acoustics, any excess noise could be inhibiting your ability to connect with others.
Think, trying to communicate something important to your boss while your coworker is playing heavy metal music so loud with their headphones you can hear it one cubical away interrupting your thought process.
Often times we simply try to “tune out” and put up with what we think are just annoying environmental distractions, but science shows that excess ambient noise can actually alter our brains and inhibit our ability to communicate positively and connect deeply with others.
Let’s look at how this works: excess environmental noise strains the nervous system, which is responsible for dealing with all the inputs it receives throughout the day. Excess or loud noise sends the body into high-stress, cortisol-pumping reactivity mode. When we’re stressed, a more ancient, cave-man like part of our brain becomes dominant. This is the part of the brain that makes us reactive, hypersensitive, and more aggressive.
When this part of the brain is active, it also decreases the function of the cortex, or newer part of the human brain. The cortex is responsible for many functions, one of them is generating the feelings of empathy and compassion for others.
Basically, excess noise leads to stress, which leads to increased aggression and less empathy. This increases the chances of conflict with another, and decreases our ability to feel compassion: a perfect recipe for an interpersonal disaster.
So, next time you’re looking to have a romantic evening out, consider choosing a quiet environment (like a restaurant outfit with proper acoustics) over a noisy one.
If you have an important work call or conversation to have, consider waiting until any noise around you dies down or locate yourself in a sound absorbing environment. If you manage a team, recognize that they're more likely to collaborate effectively in an environment without a lot of noise induced stress.
The bottom line: humans interact more positively with each other in quieter environments.