362: Taking Control of Your Interactions with Maryann Karinch

By October 26, 2018Podcasts

 

 

Maryann Karinch shares how to give information-rich responses and make connections that will steer conversations and interactions in your favor.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The difference between answering vs. responding
  2. Three ways to use keywords for memorability
  3. Body language tips for forming a connection

About Maryann

Maryann Karinch has written numerous books on human behavior and health, including eight with Gregory Hartley that feature insights into reading and using body language. She uses this expertise in coaching business executives, law enforcement personnel, and other professionals in detecting deceit, defusing tense situations, and negotiating with both friendly and hostile sources.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Maryann Karinch Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Maryann, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Maryann Karinch
My pleasure, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’d like to get started by hearing a little bit about your history in the theater.

Maryann Karinch
Oh my, well, I was a shy child. I thought that I can’t go through life like this, so I took a summer theater class when I was 13 and I loved it.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t know until years later when I started studying human behavior and body language that that was my introduction to learning body language. I learned how to pretend to be an extrovert. I learned how to pretend to keep control of myself when I was really just sweating and falling apart. That was an interesting introduction. I ended up studying that in college and in graduate school and then managing a theater and then leaving it, so there you go.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s cool. Tell me, do any particular lessons you learned in the theater really kind of play out in your current work?

Maryann Karinch
Oh absolutely. What I realized much, much later was that studying theater it broadened my abilities to learn about people. I was much more observant about how people behaved, what they said, the meaning of things, the drama of a moment. This applies all the time in business of course.

I think I just got tuned into people a whole lot more. No matter what I ended up doing after that, I was drawing on lessons that I learned from the theater. I also really like theater people. They tend to be really fun to hang out with.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s been my experience as well, just a bit more expressive. You might say “out there,” if you will, but I think I might be a little out there in terms of just expressing what’s on my mind in a colorful way.

Maryann Karinch
Right, exactly. There’s everything right about that.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. Tell us a little bit more about your book, Controlling the Conversation, here.

Maryann Karinch
Well, that’s all about solutions because people tend to just answer questions and just kind of segueing into one thing I know you wanted to talk about was what’s wrong with just answering a question. What’s wrong is that you surrender control in the conversation, at least temporarily, to the person who’s asking the question. Then if you all do is address the topic that the questioner has proposed, then all you’re doing is ceding control.

Instead if you respond to the question, if you take that question and say maybe it’s a ‘what’ question and you say, “I really need to give more information than just what. I need to give a why. I need to give who. I need to give a timeline.” By responding to the question, by weaving in those other things, you take control. That was the impetus behind this book.

My co-author, Jim Pyle, has a daughter. His daughter, Meghan, wanted to do a commercial. She’s a young horse woman. She had an opportunity to do a commercial that involved riding her horse, except that the people who were doing the interview weren’t asking her to ride a horse, they were asking her questions.

She came home and she didn’t get it. She did not get the job. Her dad said, “Well, tell me what you said.” What he realized was she had missed opportunities to express her expertise, to talk about how long and hard she had worked for that expertise, things that would have made a difference.

He called me and he said, “Oh my gosh, now that we’ve done a book about asking questions, we need to do a book about giving answers,” so that was it.

Pete Mockaitis
We talk about ceding control, that’s an interesting concept. In what times and places is it okay to cede control versus when do you very much want to be remaining in control?

Maryann Karinch
I like to remain in control. How about you Pete?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m sure it’s helpful, but I mean I guess there are times where if you’re always in control, then you can sort of rankle the feathers of your collaborators.

Maryann Karinch
I know. It’s not as if you’re in control of every situation or every conversation, but it’s a matter of not letting go of control when you really need to have it. That’s the point.

There are a lot of times when we just want to sit back and listen and let somebody else do all the talking. That’s fine. That’s great. But there are other times when it’s really important for us to know that we are steering the conversation towards certain information, towards certain revelations, and making sure that whatever is most relevant in terms of us accomplishing a goal, that we get there.

Pete Mockaitis
You draw a bit of a distinction here when it comes to the questions when you respond with you can give either an answer or a response. Can you unpack a little bit, what’s the difference here?

Maryann Karinch
Sure, sure. A response is multi-dimensional. Answering a question is just providing data: who, what, when, where, why, how. But responding is kind of data plus. The response is energized with information. It’s energized with direction and management, so you pack more power with a response.

You’re generally a whole lot more colorful in responding rather than merely answering a question. Now there are exceptions, but we can get to those later.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, so let’s do some maybe examples or role play here to get that all the clearer here. Let’s say I were to ask you, “Hey, do you want to be on my podcast?” There’s a question. What would an answer sound like versus a response?

Maryann Karinch
Yes, Pete your podcast is fascinating because you have an audience that I love connecting with. It’s been a long process for me to get to the point where I felt I knew enough to share with them, but now I’m there and I’m with you and this is fun.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, so that sounds like a response. We got some extra – some layers there.

Maryann Karinch
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Versus the answer would just be yes.

Maryann Karinch
Yeah, the straight answer is yes. It’s a yes or no question, so yes, okay.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. Then let’s unpack, what are some of the advantages of providing that extra detail?

Maryann Karinch
The extra detail gives some more about the other subject areas. We call them areas of discovery. They are people, places, things, and time. The more that you can weave in all four elements when you respond to a question, the more richness there is in the answer. You add more layers to the conversation.

Instead of having a mono-dimensional just focus on data, you have a sense of person, you have a sense of place, you just have more of a richness of the information that you’re exchanging.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Then I’m curious about so if you’re dealing with a person who’s asking questions and wants to move fast, fast, fast, how do you sort of navigate those waters in terms of thinking about the tradeoffs of extra detail versus time?

Maryann Karinch
Right, well that’s the model with a lot of the drive time radio that I do. You just have to be aware of the model that they have to do that. Responding in those situations means adhering to the rules of that game, that exchange, not game, but the exchange of two people who are crimped in terms of time. You just give as much as you can in a few – much, much fewer words. You do have to honor the moment.

Pete Mockaitis
Got you. Then any other tips in terms of giving answers that are all the more compelling and helpful?

Maryann Karinch
Right. Well, pay attention to who’s asking. It was fun spending a few minutes before the podcast getting to know you. I had a sense of your rhythm. I think that helps a great deal. I try not to do any interviews or have any exchanges with somebody that I don’t know anything about. You lack the ability to have a real meaningful conversation.

Pete Mockaitis
Understood. Okay, cool. That’s one tip is to get some of that extra background and context for who’s the person and what’s going on there. What else?

Maryann Karinch
Well, the other thing is make sure that you don’t make up anything. That’s a really, really big deal. You never know in conversations like this if somebody’s going to throw something from left field. If I don’t know something, I need to tell you that because your audience trusts you and therefore they trust me, so that’s important. Don’t make stuff up. Be square.

If you have limited information, say, “I only know a little bit about this. I only know a tiny, tiny bit about heart surgery, so please don’t ask any more questions about it.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, very good. You also recommend incorporating some key words into your responses.

Maryann Karinch
Absolutely. In your head, you know when you go into a situation, we’ll just use job interview as an example, you know what people want – you want people to think of you, that you want that interviewer to come away with maybe five concepts that that person would describe you as capturing. Throw key words in there.

There’s certain words that are really sticky words. One of my favorites is rogue. If you call somebody or something rogue, that’s kind of a sticky word. You find the other person using it again and again, just because they heard you say it. Do you know what I mean?

Pete Mockaitis
I do know what you mean and it’s interesting in terms of it’s kind of a unique word, but we all know what it means. It’s short. But it kind of paints a bit of a picture and has some energy or momentum behind it.

Maryann Karinch
Right, right. If you go into a job interview with your personal story already in your head and that personal story is full of sticky words and you start answering questions and using those words, then somebody is likely at the end of that job interview to say, “Pete, you’re provocative. You have a fast rhythm. You get me going.” things like that. You walk away saying, “Yeah, okay, I did it. Me and my sticky words. I did it.”

Pete Mockaitis
I’d love it please, just lay them on us in terms of many, many sticky words that come to mind.

Maryann Karinch
Right, exactly. There are all kinds. It depends on your situation and how you want to be perceived. But that’s one thing that you can do to just get people to feed back to you what you really want them to know about you.

Pete Mockaitis
Well could you rattle off some extra sticky words here?

Maryann Karinch
That’s the whole thing that there are certain words that have a sound, that have a picture associated with them that’s so specific.

If I said “magenta,” now you might think of the character from Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is fine because she’s sort of like the living embodiment of a color. That’s the kind of thing that you want to think of and you want to introduce into conversation if you want somebody to remember you, you want somebody to remember characteristics about you.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s funny. I was thinking of a toner cartridge first. I’ve got cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Maryann Karinch
Okay.

Pete Mockaitis
So that’s there. Okay, cool. What are some more?

Maryann Karinch
Oh, well, let’s just go for anything that has to do with shapes and colors. They’re generally sticky words, things that are more conceptual—like “confidence,” that’s not really a sticky word. “Empowerment,” nah, not so much. Grit, that’s a sticky word, words that have huge power.

This is why reading somebody like Shakespeare is so valuable. He was my major playwright in graduate school. The word choices are amazing. I say dagger, that’s a sticky word. There are all kinds of things like that when you think, “Okay, I can say something multi-syllabically and you will totally forget it or I can say single shot,” “Oh I get it.” Sniper, sticky word.

There are just certain things that when you say them, people remember that word and you find – now check this out. Throw a few things like that into a conversation with someone and darn if they won’t come back a little while later and they will say rogue, sniper. They will just – they will find a way to use that weird word in conversation, just because it’s stuck in their head.

Pete Mockaitis
What’s also interesting about that is it almost – well, I think it does – gives you a little bit extra oomph in terms of credibility or authority. Like if it’s in a meeting situation, you said this word first and then there’s eight people in the meeting – you said the word first, then two other people have utilized the word and you as the originator of the word are kind of almost like the guy who had the idea.

You’re the guy who brought up that word, so it confers a bit of status or authority associated with being the first to provide that there.

Maryann Karinch
Sure, you have at that point a little bit of edge in terms of leadership of that conversation in the meeting.

Pete Mockaitis
I like that notion, you said confidence – I think you might be able to come up with some synonyms that are better than confidence, like you might say swagger brings up a picture of someone swaggering.

It’s like “I’d like us to be able to have some swagger when we come to our customers with exactly all the features that they are most interested in.” That kind of implies confidence that “Yeah, you’re going to go with us versus the alternatives because this is exactly what you want.” That kind of sticks with you more so than confidence. That’s fun.

Maryann Karinch
Yeah, right. Exactly. You’re in a job interview and somebody says to you, “Well, now how would describe yourself in terms of your presence?” If you said, “Well, I have confidence,” oh yawn. What if you said, “I have spine. I have a backbone.” Those are the kind of concepts that gives you an image. You have spine, Pete. Confidence, eh, okay, lots of people have confidence, but you’ve got spine, man.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, okay. That’s cool. So sticky words is sort of one category of key word. Are there more in terms of one approach is to use sticky words? Are there kind of other categories of words that are useful?

Maryann Karinch
The other keywords would be things that you pick up perhaps from the question itself. This is how you can craft a response that really addresses what that person wants to know in addition to the things that you want to bring out.

If the person is asking about qualities, your qualities, well, clearly quality is a key word. Now, how do you take that and turn it into something like a memorable response? You can repeat it. “The quality of, and the quality of, and the quality of.” That’s one way to do it.

Other keywords would be – sometimes people will just because it’s not scripted, will throw things in, maybe something about a reference to time that isn’t really the critical element of the question. You go ahead and run with that and say – well, let’s see. I’m trying to think of an example.

Maybe, the person says, “In your last job,” something or other, you get really specific about that. There’s a timeline going. Make it specific. “Last year in my job, I did such and such.” Or just use that vague reference to time to make it really specific. Bring it home. Give them an answer that’s your answer – that’s your response that’s very time specific because clearly they were kind of toying with a timeline.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, very good. You also got some body language tips in terms of not just the words you use, but how you’re holding yourself and what are some of your tips on that one?

Maryann Karinch
Right. Well this is mostly what I teach when I go out. I’ve worked with corporate people, Department of Homeland Security, people in law enforcement, you name it. There are different types – there are different requirements depending on what your job is and depending on the circumstances.

Generally speaking, if you want to bond with someone, you want invitational body language. That means that you don’t have barriers. Part of body language is not just where you place your arms or how you angle your body, but it’s also the stuff you have in front of you or aside of you.

If you’re behind a desk, you have a barrier between you and another person. If you have a wine glass in front of your face while you’re talking to somebody, that’s a barrier. If you hold your computer or your cellphone between you and another person, that’s a barrier. In order to get invitational body language, which means there’s an openness, there’s a sense of I trust you, you can trust me—remove those barriers.

I actually got a consulting job one time partly, I’m sure, because the person asked me to sit down at a small round desk behind a stack of books. I thought, what is this about. They were like four high. He said, “Let’s just sit over here.” I don’t think he was thinking about the fact that there were books between us.

What I did was, I just moved them. I simply stacked them up so that there was basically a tunnel between us, an open tunnel between us. You could see the demeanor change, like, oh, there’s an openness between us now that wasn’t there before. Those little things can make all the difference in the world.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s excellent. Okay, so removing barriers and being sort of welcoming, inviting. Anything else?

Maryann Karinch
Right. When you want to bond with somebody, it’s natural to mirror that person. We do that in our tone of voice, we do that in the pacing of our voice. Our conversation is a pretty fast conversation. We’re mirroring each other because we’re both kind of fast talkers for the most part.

If we were sitting in the same room, we would be perhaps tilting our heads to kind of match, we might be tilting our bodies to match. It’s natural for two people to do that. You can see it all the time when people are really connecting on a date, they’ll start mirroring each other.

Well, you can do that in a very, very subtle way you can think through it. It should happen naturally. If it doesn’t happen naturally, you can do little things that make you connect physically with the other person because you are doing a mirroring, not a mimicking, but a mirroring, a little angling of the body is sometimes all it takes.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, very good. All right, I want to kind of get your quick take on sort of the other side of things in terms of we talked about responding to questions. How about when you are asking those questions, how should I do it optimally?

Maryann Karinch
Right. Ask good questions. Good questions generally start with an interrogative. When – it’s a who, what, when, where, why, how, how come, that kind of thing. Those questions are not answered with a yes or no. Now, there are times for yes or no questions. That’s true.

But generally speaking if you want somebody to start talking and divulging information to you, ask a narrative. Use an interrogative so that you can ask what we call a narrative question, something that requires a narration in response.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, very good. What else?

Maryann Karinch
Well, if you ask a yes or no question, be prepared for a yes or no answer. Again, that means that if you don’t get it if you ask a yes or no question and you really want a yes or no answer and all of the sudden there’s an evasion, you can ask that question again. Make sure that if you require a yes or no answer, that you get it.

There’s an incident. I was part of a press conference recently and the very first question at the press conference was to the person who was on stage, “Is so-and-so a liar?” I had told the person on the stage – I had coached him and I said, “If you are asked that question, say yes, turn your back, walk away and go to the podium and just leave it. Don’t say anything else,” because it was a really, really important statement.

Now the questioner knew precisely that all he wanted was a yes or no answer. The answerer knew that precisely giving only a yes or no answer was the best – it was the most powerful thing he could do at that moment. That was an interesting exchange that made the evening news related to that press conference.

Know what your intent is when you’re asking questions as well as answering them.

Pete Mockaitis
So the yes alone in that situation is more powerful than elaboration just because it’s kind of like, “That’s all there is to say about that. The answer is yes and I will proceed over here now.”

Maryann Karinch
That’s exactly right. I wish more politicians would do that because I think that’s a vote getter. Go ahead and tell the politicians that they should do that more often. You can do that for me. Sometimes a good strong yes or no is amazing. It’s an amazing weapon for truth. It’s a sense of “Oh my gosh, that person actually – that politician actually gave a yes or no answer to a yes or no question. Holy moly, wow, that’s power.”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, and it’s sort of refreshing. It’s like, all right. It seems like everyone has to make a statement. This is my statement on this. As opposed to okay, yes or no. Cool.

Maryann Karinch
Yeah, exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, tell me Maryann, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Maryann Karinch
Sure, there is something I want to mention. Again, this is something that is in the book, but I kind of wish we would have explored it more because I’m paying attention to this more and more. That is reading between the lines. There is a phenomenon of language – we do language on two different levels. We do it literally and then we also read between the lines.

If I said something politically tinged and you’re on the other side of the aisle from me politically, you probably will read between the lines of what I say. Even if it sounds like I’m agreeing with you, you’re going to kind of separate the threads and say, “Wait a minute, I don’t think she really means that because I know she doesn’t agree with me.”

That is the kind of thing that is happening all the time today. We are observing this to the point of distraction when it comes to people who don’t agree supposedly having conversations about key issues. They’re each reading between the lines and getting absolutely nowhere.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. Thank you. That’s an important issue to highlight there. Cool. Now can you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Maryann Karinch
“A desire to succeed can strengthen you, but a fear of failure can immobilize you.”

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. How about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Maryann Karinch
That’s mine. That’s mine. That’s my quote. I wrote that.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s good.

Maryann Karinch
It’s my favorite quote. Is that like, so egotistical you can’t put that out there?

Pete Mockaitis
That’s fine. Well, how about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Maryann Karinch
Oh gosh, okay. I am fascinated by the work of Brene Brown. Do you know her work at all?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh yeah.

Maryann Karinch
Yes. Her work on vulnerability, that may be some of my favorite research and the most valuable in terms of human interaction and possibility for realizing our full humanity, for getting along in the world. I think in a sense Brene Brown found the answer to world peace. I’m going with Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. How about a favorite book?

Maryann Karinch
My favorite book is actually a play. That would be Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite tool?

Maryann Karinch
It’s a bunch of tools. It’s my Swiss army knife. My dad gave it to me.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh cool. How about a favorite habit?

Maryann Karinch
My favorite habit is drinking water. I’m a fanatic water drinker.

Pete Mockaitis
How much water do you drink?

Maryann Karinch
It’s good for you. Hm?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, how much water do you drink?

Maryann Karinch
Oh, I don’t know. I put fun things in it to flavor it. I put this stuff called DripDrop in it and Emergen-C and all these things to balance my electrolytes, so I don’t know. I drink water all day long, bottles and bottles.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Tell me, is there a particular nugget you share in your books, in your writing that really seems to connect and resonate with folks. It gets them retweeting and quoting you back to you?

Maryann Karinch
Yeah, yeah. Assume truth. Don’t automatically assume that someone is lying to you. I think that’s the worst thing that we can do. We should assume truth. Come with an open mind to everyone. Now I realize that you can’t sustain that once you realize that someone is not telling you the truth. But truth is a very, very important thing to me.

I have found that assuming that – if my first response is I assume you’re telling me the truth, then I’m much better off then in ascertaining who you are, what you’re all about, how we can get along, how we won’t get along. But if I close my mind to you, if because you’re a certain party or a certain color or a certain age or whatever, if I close my mind to you in the very beginning, then we get nowhere, absolutely nowhere.

Pete Mockaitis
If folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Maryann Karinch
Well, they could go to my website. Both of them are being updated at this point. It’s Karinch.com and RudyAgency.com. Rudy Agency is all about the literary agency stuff. Karinch.com is all about me personally and professionally.

Pete Mockaitis
Do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Maryann Karinch
Be absolutely true to your intent. If your intent is to live a life of fulfillment in your career, be really true to that. Be specific and honest with somebody who’s interviewing you for a job.

I know there were jobs that I interviewed for that I had no business interviewing for. It’s not about the money. It’s about whether or not you belong there as part of that team and whether you even like that team. Be true to your intent. Go where you should go. Look for opportunities where you really want to be and don’t just take some junky thing just because you can do the job. That’s work. That’s not a life.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Well, Maryann, thanks so much for taking this time and sharing your wisdom. I wish you tons of luck with the book, Control the Conversation, and all that you’re up to.

Maryann Karinch
Well, thank you so much Pete. It is such a fun thing talking with you. I’d do it anytime.

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