216: Transforming Conflict Into Breakthroughs with Dr. Nate Regier

By October 13, 2017Podcasts

 

 

Nate Regier shows how to tap into the positive powers of conflict and openness to effectively deal with drama.

You’ll Learn:

  1. A useful, low-intensity definition of conflict
  2. The four-step ORPO formula for productive conflicts
  3. How upfront openness about motives can change  everything

About Nate

Nate Regier, Ph.D., is CEO and cofounding owner of Next Element, a global leadership training and certification firm specializing in communication and conflict skills. He’s an expert in social-emotional intelligence and leadership, positive conflict, neuropsychology, group dynamics, interpersonal and leadership communication, executive assessment, and coaching. Regier is a co developer of Next Element’s Leading Out of Drama® training and coaching system, an LOD® master trainer, and Process Communication Model® certifying master trainer. He is co-author of Beyond Drama: Transcending Energy Vampires. He’s an enthusiastic dad and husband.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Nate Regier Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Nate, thanks so much for joining us here on the How To Be Awesome At Your Job podcast.

Nate Regier
Oh, it’s great to be here. Thank you for the opportunity.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, my pleasure. And I’m excited to hear a little bit, first of all, about your competitive barbeque team. What’s your story, your name and your origins?

Nate Regier
Well, I suppose it had not that much difference than most competitive barbequers where friends started to like the barbeque and said, “Hey, you should go do this competitively.” So my brother-in law and I and my nephew got together and formed a team. And our team name is called Three Men and a Butt. And if you’ve ever eaten good barbeque you know pork butt, or pulled pork, is one of the most popular categories. And so our team was based on that, and we never know who’s going to be the butt. It’s kind of the one person who’s at the bottom of the totem pole and has to do all the grunt work while the pit boss gets all of the glory.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I see. So, now, just to be clear, there are three people on the team and the butt rotates or is there like a fourth butt who just sort of shows up and gets the grunt work?

Nate Regier
Yes, three of us are the core team and the butt is whoever is coming along for the ride that year or who’s maybe in an apprentice role or just wants to sneak in and get a free pass and eats lots of barbeque.

Pete Mockaitis
Fantastic. Well, I’d love your professional opinion. If I am in Chicago, or less concerned major cities, what options do we have to have a delicious sauce just good to go? Like either on the shelf or what we can make in that hours?

Nate Regier
You know, sauce is a big thing and it’s all regional. There are some national companies that like KC Masterpiece I know make sauces that you can get anywhere in the country. But I would say go for something that’s regional in that way you get the flavors of that area because it’s fun to taste lots of different sauces.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Noted. Thank you. I’m all set. Well, now, talk to us about your other company or organization team Next Element. What are you all about there?

Nate Regier
Well, yeah, thank you. Next Element, we are formed in 2008. We are a training and coaching and certification company. And we focus on helping companies and individuals build their own culture of compassion and accountability. We specialize, from the beginning, in two skillsets. One of them is the skill for positive conflict that we’ll talk some about today, and also adaptive communication to communicate effectively with different kinds of people.

And so we started our company as a direct service provider doing consulting and training for companies and executive teams, and more recently we moved into certifying and supporting a network, a global network of trainers that are using our IP and our training and assessment products.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Excellent. Well, interesting stuff. And so your book, then, Conflict Without Casualties falls into one of those key skills there. What’s the book all about and sort of why now and why this topic?

Nate Regier
Well, we’re really excited about the book, it’s the second book I’ve written and the first one was about drama and this notion of how we get sideways with each other during conflict. But this one, Conflict Without Casualties is really kind of the… it’s the bible, it’s the reference guide, the field guide for all of the work that we do around positive conflict.

A lot of writers, authors or companies will write a book and then they’ll develop kind of some spinoff training materials that goes with it or the training programs. For us it’s the other way around. We’ve been refining and testing and practicing good curriculum and good tools and good assessments for this methodology for about six or seven years.

And, finally, we decided we’re going to write the field guide to go with it in that way it can be either the first thing somebody reads or it could be the thing that goes along with an intensive training for an executive team. And so it’s important in that way that it has a real fundamental foundational spot in our suite of positive conflict tools but it’s also a great standalone read and a great resource for people that are wanting to leverage the positive power of conflict.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So the positive power of conflict sounds great. So could you maybe lay that out for us in terms of when it comes to conflict what is the potential, the positive power versus the, I guess, destructive power?

Nate Regier
Well, conflict is one of those words. When we say conflict, everybody has a reaction to it and most of them are negative. A lot of people have had pretty negative associations with conflict growing up or maybe in past relationships and jobs, and usually it’s because conflict has been associated with casualties – relationships broken, getting unfriended on Facebook, getting fired, drama, and so people have negative associations.

So I think the first thing we need to do is combat the myths. There’s a lot of myths around conflict, you know, like that it’s bad, or that it should be minimized, or that people always get hurt, and those aren’t necessarily true. And so to do conflict optimally is, first of all, to combat some of the negative associations and challenge those.

And then the second thing is to recognize that what we’re trying to promote in this book and in our methodology is that conflict is pure energy, and it is energy that can be leveraged for real breakthrough results. We know that it’s energy because we know how much energy we waste on it when there’s drama. So what if we could harness that energy and use it to create something amazing? And for us the key was when we really dug deep into this notion of what compassion is.

And most people think of compassion as kindness, empathy, “My heart goes out for you. I want to help you,” and that’s part of it. But if you look at the Latin root of the word compassion, it’s based on two words meaning to struggle with or to suffer with. And so compassion is about struggling with people not against them.

And so what if we could do conflict in the context of compassion where the energy of conflict is used to struggle with people instead of struggle against them, and that’s where we kind of really have this breakthrough moment about, “Okay, this is possible. We can do it.” And we started developing strategies and methods to make that happen.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So can you maybe give us an example, then, of maybe a transformation that you got to help witness or facilitate in which we have this energy of conflict that’s being destructive and then it is getting transformed or converted via compassion into something great?

Nate Regier
Yeah, maybe the most simple one is with the relationships that matter most. My daughter, my oldest daughter, when she was in high school, we had plenty of conflicts and struggles, power struggles around everything from when she came home from a date, to who’s going to pay for gas in her car, to how much she was on her phone. And it always seemed like we were struggling against each other.

And so when I started applying these principles with her, it really transformed the way we talked about conflict. And we defined conflict as simply the gap between what we want and what we’re experiencing. So it could be something as simple as the gap between when I want her to be home from a date and when she wants to be home from a date.

And so that conversation used to involved things like threats, like, “Hey, if you’re not home on time you’re grounded,” or the typical things we kind of do. So we started talking differently, and I started using some of these formulas and strategies with her and really transformed the way we used that conflict to co-create and struggle with each other to come up with outcomes that met both of our goals and was a win-win situation.

And we use these tools every day at work to negotiate very difficult and tight deadlines around strategies and conflicts, around when people are taking vacation, or how we’re going to meet a deadline in order to get the clients served in the best possible way.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So maybe can we zoom in a little bit? So with your daughter, maybe she wants to come home from a date at 2:00 a.m. and you say, “That’s ridiculous, you know, 3:00 p.m. no later.” And so then how do things… how is the dialogue? What are some kind of conversational snippets or excerpts that unfold when the compassion is present?

Nate Regier
Yeah, we’ll zoom right in. so let’s say it goes down just like you said, and I say, “You need to be home at 10:00,” and she says, “Come on, dad. Two o’clock. You’re being unreasonable.” So she would be playing the role of the persecutor which is going on the attack of someone else for being stupid and unreasonable and dumb. Well, I could have some options. I could rise to the occasion and also play the persecutor and say, “Over my dead body. If you’re one minute late you’re grounded and I’m going to sit here at home polishing my gun and listening to country songs the whole time.”

So, now, we have – by the way I love country music so I’m not dogging on it, but there’s some great songs about dads waiting for their daughters to come home from dates. So we’re now both playing the persecutor role. Or I could give in. I could go to the victim role in what we call the drama triangle, and I could say, “Okay, just this once. But, please, don’t do anything unsafe.” And so now I’m giving in and I’m telling her I don’t really have standards and boundaries.

So, now, what I would say to her is, I would start at openness and I would say, I would get open and declare   my vulnerability, and say, “Look, I’m worried and I’m concerned about you, and I want you to be safe. And so what are some ways we could problem-solve this so that I could feel safe and feel confident that you’re okay? Because, for me, ultimately it’s not so much when you get home. It’s about, ‘Are you upholding these principles and are you safe, and are you going to be rested tomorrow for your responsibilities?’”

And so then I turn it back over to her, and say, “Where are you out with that?” And that completely changes the conversation because, then, she might say something like, “Okay. Totally, Dad, I get it. So here’s some things I could do. What if I called you here? What if I was home at… what if I would guarantee that I got eight hours of sleep and I was ready and up by this amount of time and these kinds of things? Or what if I were sure to get these duties done before I went out?”

And so now we’re actually negotiating and problem-solving together not around an arbitrary timeline but around how do we really achieve our emotional motives around respect and integrity and principles and safety?

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, what I really like about that is now it’s sort of like you are on the same team. It’s like you are attempting. It’s interesting, even if she doesn’t care or didn’t care about those things originally, like being well-rested or whatever, it feels like, as you’re having that give and take, it would seem like it would just naturally follow that now she actually cares more about the things you care about.

Nate Regier
Yeah, and it works. What you said about being on the same team is so right dead on because instead of me trying to say, “Well, you need to have your rest, and you need to do this and you need to do that,” I’m simply declaring my vulnerability and saying, “This is what I care about. This is what matters to me. And would you be willing to partner with me around some problem-solving?

Because, then, that eliminates me playing the third role in the drama triangle, which is the role of the rescuer where I’m trying to solve problems that I should not be solving. My daughter is 16, she should very much be able to participate in the decision-making and the problem-solving around issues of safety and character and discipline.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, that’s great. So thank you for zooming in there. So, then, a few kind of key steps then. You mentioned the phrase declaring your vulnerabilities, and then collaboratively problem-solving. So let’s say you’re in the midst of a conflict in work, and one group really wants there to be, I don’t know, a new product launch, and then the other group says, “Oh, no, no, no, that’s far too risky. We have to see all these things first.” And the first group says, “No, we got to go now. We’re going to miss our chance, our window and the market.” And then we’re feeling all kinds of fired up. So what would you do there?

Nate Regier
Well, first of all, I invite you to leave our staff meeting from last week because I don’t know how you got in there. No, that’s typical in our team. Every team is going to have those people, they want to go fast and seize opportunity, those people that want to be plan-ful and make sure we have a good strategy, we’re not doing anything reckless, and so that’s a typical conflict.

If I was facilitating healthy conflict in that situation, this is what we normally we do, is we recognize first that we’re in drama and we’re playing one of these roles, and we’re focusing so much on the outcome that we forgot about the process. And so what I’ll probably say is, “Look, could we all take a timeout and let’s talk about how we’re feeling. Or what is going on emotionally? Are we excited? Are we anxious? Are we afraid? Because there’s definitely a gap here that we need to talk about, and that gap produces emotional energy. So let’s identify that energy. How is it manifesting itself?”

One person in the room might say, “Well, I’m excited. I’m feeling really antsy.” And one person might say, “Well, I’m afraid because I had an experience recently where I jumped the gun and then ended up having to do a whole bunch of backpedalling with a customer, so I’m feeling a little gun shy right now.” And so people just kept those out there and we create this safe place for people to be honest about their feelings and about their motives.

And when we start talking about emotional motives it’s amazing what comes out. So, like, the person that’s always wanting to go, go, go, go, go, go, maybe when we actually reveal the motive, what they’re saying is, “I want to feel confident that I haven’t lost time. Or I want to feel like I’ve used my time well and that I am taking advantage of opportunity.”

Pete Mockaitis
“Or I’m just so bored. Can we do something?”

Nate Regier
“Yeah, I’m just bored and I just want to go, go, go because I don’t like staying, staying, staying.” So when we start talking about these things then we can move from openness to resourcefulness which is the second core competency. And resourcefulness is about saying, “Okay, now that we’ve shared our real motives, how we’re feeling, let’s start talking about potential solutions. How would we help you feel like you’re achieving something, help you feel safe that you’re not jumping the gun, help you feel less bored? And so what resources do we have to work with? Everything from time to information, to money, to people’s expertise.”

And, eventually, that process gets us to a point where we have choices and we have decisions to make. And that’s where the team comes together and says, “Okay, how are we going to make these decisions and what’s going to guide us?” And that’s where we go to persistence which is the third core competency where we start talking about things like, “What are our principles? What are our values? What does our mission say? What are our obligations and commitments to each other and our customers?”

“And we filter now our decisions through that to help us make the right one. And the result of that is we make new behavioral commitments to each other about how we’re going to pursue these emotional motives in adherence with our principles using the resources that we have at our disposal. And once we get to that point it’s very critical that we check back in and say, ‘How is everybody doing? How are you feeling now compared to how you were before?’”

And so that’s a process of going from open to resourceful to persistence and back to open which is what we call the formula for compassionate conflict, and it’s a very, very powerful formula, it’s a very powerful template to harnessing the positive power of this gap.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, so now, that sounds very beautiful as you sort of lay it out there. And I’m imagining a lot of people coming to a lot of understandings, and that’s great. I’m wondering, Nate, as you work with clients, do some of them just say, “Whoa, Nate, we don’t talk about this sort of touchy-feely emotional stuff here. This is business where cash is king and greed is good and data reigns”?

Nate Regier
Absolutely.

Pete Mockaitis
So how do you navigate those waters?

Nate Regier
Well, I’ll give you a hint. I’m going to use ORPO to answer your question.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Nate Regier
If somebody came to me with that, I would say, “Man, I can totally understand how foreign that feels and all of the experiences you may have had before about how that could go wrong. What do you know about the power of transparency? Or what information do you have that could help you get open in a way that feels safe, feels helpful, doesn’t feel like you’re disclosing company secrets? And why do you think it would be important? Where do you see that linking up with the values you aspire to? And what kind of a company do you want to be?”

And I would just leave it there and let them process that, and open, resourceful, persistent, and just let them acknowledge that, yeah, it is difficult. We’re asking you to do creates a big gap from what you want to do and what you’re used to. Another thing I might share is that the literature is overwhelming about the power of openness to create trust, increase productivity, increase authenticity and credibility of leaders, and it doesn’t make it any easier but the literature is clear that this is probably the biggest next frontier for great leadership is the ability to cultivate and practice openness.

Pete Mockaitis
It does resonate with things I’m seeing and hearing and reading whether it’s Google’s work on psychological safety and all that stuff. It seems like they’re – as one guest put it, “People see stuff that’s dumb all the time in the workplace,” and if you don’t have that openness, then you’re just never going to hear about it because like it’s better for me to keep my mouth shut for us to keep kind of milling along as we do rather than rock the boat and risk some unpleasant consequences for myself.

Nate Regier
Well, yeah, and people say, “Well, why would I disclose that? I’m not going to make myself vulnerable and I’m not going to tell you what’s really going on.” And I can say, “Well, you can choose to talk about it or not but you’re acting on it and you’re making decisions based on it even if people don’t know it, so it’s influencing your behavior whether you put it out in the open or not.”

And how often do we initiate change processes or we implement things? And we seem to be chasing our tails and we never really finish what we started because we’re never talking about what’s really going on. And then we seem mystified and confused why people don’t get on board. So, yeah, and that’s one of those things where there’s a lot of different angles we can take, and sometimes it’s just a matter of practicing in small little ways. And we offer people strategies, we do role-plays, there’s a lot of different ways where people can begin experimenting with how it works in safe ways.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Can you give us an example of a potential role-play or opening experiment or exercise to get it going a little bit?

Nate Regier
Yeah, a real basic one is we talk about these three skills of openness, resourcefulness and persistence, and how they’re in a cycle, and we start with openness. Always start with open. So we ask people, “How often do you go to a subordinate or a peer and you asked for something? Maybe you say, ‘Hey, would you email me those financials from last week?’ or, ‘Can I have the projections for next year’s whatever?’”

And the person on the other end is kind of thinking to himself, “Well, why do you want to know? Or what’s this for? Or what’s your agenda?” And, very often, people will give it to you but they’ll give it resentfully and you don’t know that. So what we do is we practice. Try, and before you ask for something, start at open and share with the person your actual motive. Like why are you asking? What’s it about? Why does it matter?

The most simple role-play that this is where it really broke open for me is one afternoon, it’s a Friday, a beautiful Friday afternoon here in Kansas, kind of like today, a beautiful day, and I thought I could get off work early. And my wife and I love to go for walks. She worked across the street at the Chamber of Commerce, and I thought, “Hey, maybe I’ll see, if she can get off work early we could go for a walk. And by the time the kids get out of school, we’re chilling on the deck with a glass of wine.”

So I texted her and I said, “Hey, honey, what time are you getting off work?” That would be called starting at resourcefulness. I’m trying to gather data, I’m trying to solve a problem. And her response was, “Why?” That’s what I got back in the text, and immediately I got defensive, and I felt myself saying, “What do you mean why? I asked you a simple question. Just give me the answer.”

And then I thought, “Oh, my goodness, I do this with my kids all the time. I do it with my employees all the time.” They seem defensive when I’m asking a simple question, and I thought, “Okay. What I have not done is disclose my motive.” So I backed up the bus, and I said, “Hey, sorry, honey. It’s a beautiful day. I’d love to go for a walk with you. Would you be able to get off early so we could walk?” And the next response was, “Oh, that’d be great. I’ll check.” And a few minutes later, “Hey, I got off early. See you whenever.”

And so I thought, “Well, what if we just role-play that with leaders? What if leaders made a practice and have it of simply disclosing their motive and their emotions and why it’s important to them before they ask for something?”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. That’s interesting how it evokes defensiveness and I guess it doesn’t always evoke defensiveness but there’s a real risk of it in terms of sometimes it’s like, “Okay, fine. I’m not going to sort of bother myself with a lot of details or the motivations, or the whys, underneath that as a simple request and I’ll do it.”

And other times, I guess if you’re just not in the mood or you feel like you’re being interrupted or you just have sort of bigger fish to fry and you sense that this other request is just sort of derailing you from those things, then you may naturally feel, ever so slightly, attacked or provoke and, thus, enter into the defensive posture.

Nate Regier
Absolutely. Let’s say I’m a supervisor and my employee, or maybe I’m a C-level executive, I’m going to a board meeting next week and my controller or my financial person, I need some numbers from them because I’m feeling like there’s a lot of scrutiny about my department and I need to have some numbers to describe what’s going on.

I could send an urgent email to my financial person, and say, “Hey, I need these numbers by Friday. Please get me blah, blah, blah, blah,” and then expect them to just send it to me. Or I could say, “I’m feeling anxious about this board meeting because I know I’m going to have scrutiny and I want the best possible numbers I can have to describe what we’re doing. Would you be willing to put together a blah, blah, blah?” Now, in which scenario do you think that that financial person is going to give you their best work?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure. Certainly the latter. I mean, it not only feels like I’m doing my job but it’s like I’m helping a person in need. It’s sort of like there’s a bit of a human-serving response getting triggered there.

Nate Regier
Yeah, and there’s so many reasons to start at open. One of them is you’re declaring transparency, you’re saying, “I’m not trying to control you by withholding information,” and that’s a way we’ve all been damaged so much is by having people trying to maintain power by controlling information, withholding stuff, keeping us on a need to know basis as a way of maintaining power instead of letting us play on their team towards a common goal.

And I think it demonstrates honesty and authenticity when you’re willing to simply be vulnerable, and say, “Here’s where I’m at. I need your help.” So that’s one of the really basic little role plays we do and it’s pretty amazing to have people start to challenge their own reasons for not wanting to be transparent when they’re doing that.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, it’s interesting, I’m thinking about that just today because we just bought a place. Yay, it’s exciting but there’s also…

Nate Regier
New house?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s right. First time homeowners now, so that’s cool.

Nate Regier
Congrats.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. But, boy, there’s a lot to learn and know all of a sudden that we’ve never had to deal with as renters. And so one thing is just that apparently we got to replace some windows. And so who knew that there’s so much to know about windows? Before they just sort of slide down, they slide down.

Nate Regier
Right.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. And then we have a number of sort of window potential vendors that we’re speaking to about this, and we’re just sort of trying to figure out what the heck we’re doing and knowing. And so I don’t know if this’ll work well or not well, but I just got really open when someone says, “Hey, where are you at with the windows? It’s one of the potential options.” And I say, “Well, what I’m trying to figure out is how this other bid is so darn low compared to yours. And is there something wrong with it? Is it going to break in a couple of years? Does it not include something that you include but I don’t really recognize?”

And so what’s interesting is here I’m thinking like from a negotiating perspective when it comes to like power and control. Part of me felt like, “You just tell people that?” It was like, “Well, hey, here’s their quote just for your reference. That might be helpful for you in your business as you’re doing your window thing.” And so I hear you because it seems like on the one hand, it’s like, “Ooh, in a negotiation, information is power and you don’t just give that away because you need to sort of hold onto it and willed it and have an advantage or an edge over your rival.” But on the other hand, it’s like, “I’m just sort of exhausted playing the game and I really am clueless so I just open up with it.” So, Nate, what’s your psychological perspective on this scenario?

Nate Regier
It’s so clear from our experience that when people feel like they’re working together towards a common goal, struggling with each other it’s amazing how much harder they work and how much better the solutions are. When people feel like they’re working in silos or struggling against each other, there’s this same amount of energy. It’s just being used in a billion different directions instead of in one direction. And it’s so simple.

This principle of ORP is great for great things like bad customer service. I was at a hotel last week and things weren’t working, the internet was slow, I wasn’t getting some things I needed, and I was really trying to be productive, and I could’ve just complained. I could’ve gone to the persecutor and said, “Look, your internet is slow, blah, blah, blah.”

And I went down the front desk and I said, “I’m worried about being able to get enough sleep tonight because here’s the things I have to do, and I’m curious if there’s any other options you have for me to get some faster internet and a few of these other things because it’s critical to me to get a good night’s sleep because I have a lot of work. I have a client engagement tomorrow. What options do you see?”

And you wouldn’t have believed it. They bent over backwards to help me because I was honest enough with them that they knew how to help me. But when people just come complain it’s like they don’t want to be helped, they want to feel justified. And so it made a huge difference.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. That’s good. So, now, Nate, I’m wondering, if you sort of share your tale with the hotel staff there, I’m wondering is there a risk of them thinking, “Oh, my gosh. Spare me the sob story, Nate. I don’t think I need all these details”? I don’t know. I think that I can see the reaction going positively as you described, like, “Oh, sweet. Here’s a guy that is in need of some things and I’m able to provide some of those things, and that’s cool. That feels good to help people,” versus, “I would prefer to receive this information, oh, so much more succinctly.” How do you navigate those waters?

Nate Regier
It’s a great point and a lot of it comes in how you deliver it. If I deliver is as a “poor me,” if I come with a “poor me” attitude, I’m playing the role of the victim where my attitude is not that I want to be a participant in the solution but rather I just want you to fix it for me. And I think that attitude doesn’t engender a collaborative customer service relationship so it’s key that I don’t come in as the victim. I have to come willing to participate in the solution.

And I think the other thing too is being persistent. If I didn’t get resolution, and it was important to me, I would keep trying, I would keep working on this. And with another hotel, I actually did not get resolution and I got the opportunity to fill out a customer service thing online, and I did. And I was very clear and honest but I wasn’t attacking about what happened, and I finally got resolution. The hotel actually contacted me and said, “Here’s how we’re going to make it right next time you come.” So, yeah, be persistent and don’t come in as a victim. Be willing to participate in the solution.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. That’s good. And so, now, if you’re seeing drama around you from other parties, what is your best approach for confronting the drama? Is it just simply trying to stir the conversation into the openness territory to start?

Nate Regier
Great question. The first thing you have to do is take stock for yourself about how important is this. And whatever gap there is between what I want and what I’m getting, how important is it? Because the more critical it is to you, and the more invested you are in it, the more important it is to do it right and to engage conflict to create.

Some drama I’m happy to just walk away. I don’t care. It’s not that important to me. But there are relationships where we’ve got to work through this. And so I think if you decided it’s important enough, the first thing to do is name how you’re feeling, “I’m angry. I’m anxious. I’m really concerned about where this conversation is going.”

And the next thing is to name the gap, describe why, “What’s going on? I came to this meeting wanting these things, and I see we’re going in a different direction, and so I’m really concerned about this.” And then the third thing is to go to persistence and get crystal clear about one or two principles or non-negotiables that are at stake for you. Why are you willing to take the risk to have the courage to do conflict right now with me? And then, again, check back in at open. Get back to create a safe environment.

And so let’s say something as simple as one of our colleagues, we’re in a sales meeting. One of our colleagues said something inappropriate, and I feel embarrassed because it makes our company look bad in front of a customer. I’m not going to say something right there but as soon as we get a chance, I might say to them, “I feel really embarrassed right now because I wanted us to come in with a unified message, and I said this, and you said this, and here’s how I took it.”

And then I would go to persistence and say, “It’s very important to me that we, ba-bam, ba-bam, ba-bam, these are our principles. What ideas do you have for how we can get this lined up so next time it doesn’t happen?” And then I go back to open, and say, “I just want to check in with you about how you feel.” That’s hardcore conflict right there because I’m confronting the behavior, I’m being honest about how I feel, and I’m asking for us to step up to a higher level of accountability.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And so I would continue being difficult with you, Nate. So if they’re not willing to play ball, and they’re like, “Oh, Nate, chill out. It’s no big deal, you know. It was a hilarious joke I shared with that prospective customer and they loved it.” I don’t know. Just making stuff up here. You say persistence, how does that play out conversationally?

Nate Regier
Well, first of all, I might take two or three or four or five or six times around the compassion cycle to get resolution. So I might say, “I feel angry and surprised because I can tell there’s a big gap between how important I see it and how important you see it. This is very important to me and so I’m willing to continue to have this conversation until we can find a resolution.”

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Got it. Well, Nate, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Nate Regier
Oh, yeah. We’re getting great reviews about the book. It’s easy to read. It’s practical. It has some very specific things people can put into practice and tons of examples and case studies. And the other thing, please don’t forget, if people do choose to buy the book, you can get a free online assessment called The Drama Resilience Assessment where you can get your results on your drama potentials, your drama risk, and your compassion potentials.

And the results of that profile are fantastic to have while you’re reading the book because every chapter has guided questions for personal discovery and conversation with teammates and things. And so please take advantage of everything that this book has to offer if you do choose to get it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Perfect. Thanks, Nate. Now, can you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Nate Regier
Oh, my all-time favorite quote is Mike Tyson, he said, “Everyone has a plan until they get hit.”

Pete Mockaitis
That’s so good. Thank you.

Nate Regier
And, man, yeah, I love that one.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite book?

Nate Regier
My favorite book is… Arbinger Institute wrote a book called Leadership and Self-Deception, and I love that book. It has been a foundational book for us.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And how about a favorite tool?

Nate Regier
My favorite tool is my 12-volt Milwaukee cordless drill. I don’t know what category you are looking for but I cannot live without that tool. It is amazing. But in terms of tools for interpersonal, the kind of work we do, the formula for compassion and conflict that we’ve been talking about is probably the most powerful tool I’ve used, and I use it every single day many, many times a day.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And how about a favorite habit?

Nate Regier
My favorite habit is I have a morning routine. I get up about 5:45 a.m. and I have about 10 or 15 minutes where I do some stretches and some exercises to help me kind of get limber and get focused, and I’ve been doing them for probably 25 years, and I love it. And I have a hard time when I can’t do it. I really need it.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, now, I want to know, what are the exercises that make all the difference?

Nate Regier
It’s not that complicated. It’s more for agility. It’s not like the old-day calisthenics stuff. It’s really just stretches. As I get older, I think staying limber is important. And then I do quite a lot of abs so that I’m limber later when I go to the gym.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And is there a particular nugget that when you share with audiences or clients, they really seem to connect or resonate, nod their heads and vibe with what you’re saying?

Nate Regier
What I often share with people is that compassion without accountability will get you nowhere, because you can’t nicey-nice your way to good performance. Alternatively, accountability without compassion gets you alienated. If you just bring the hammer down on people all the time you’re going to create afraid employees who just hold out on you so you have to blend the two.

It’s one of these impossible things that when you accept that it could be possible it opens up a whole new world, that when you require your accountability to be compassionate it enables much, much higher levels of accountability than you ever thought possible. And when you require your compassion to be accountable, it opens up a whole new way to be authentic and real with people.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And, Nate, if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Nate Regier
Right off our website, it’s Next-Element.com or you could Google Next Element Consulting, and you’d find us in everything that you could want. It’s right on our website. Or you can look up Nate Regier on LinkedIn, @nextnate on Twitter, and of course I’m on Facebook as well. And I’m trying Instagram now. I’m working on Instagram, so I’m trying to get up with the times.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I still haven’t done that so well done. And do you have a final challenge or call to action for those seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Nate Regier
Yeah, try stuff. People like to read, and in this day and age it seems like we get our information in shorter and shorter and shorter microburst. One of my favorite bloggers, Dan Rockwell, he refuses to go over 300 words, and so it’s just bullet points. And so if that’s what we have available these days, go try the stuff. Don’t just read it. Go practice it and try it and be willing to fail and recover, and try it and try it and try it again because behavior does not change without reps.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Excellent.

Well, Nate, thanks so much for taking the time to share your wisdom and expertise here. It’s been a whole lot of fun, and I could already imagine how this openness stuff is going to be popping into mind again and again and again as I’m chatting with my wife and others. And so thank you, and I hope you and your teammates have great openness and cool results and accountability and compassion and all that good stuff with one another as you keep rocking and rolling with Next Element.

Nate Regier
Well, thank you, Pete. It’s been a pleasure to be here. And I’ve enjoyed having a conversation with you. You’re easy to talk to and I really hope that some of this will find some value with so many of your listeners. Thank you very much.

One Comment

  • Joe North says:

    Loved that episode. I’m a teacher so conflict is aleays an issue whether at the student level or administrative level. I can’t wait to share this episode with my colleagues! Thanks Pete? Love the show!

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