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651: How to Defuse Verbal Conflict and Prevent Toxicity from Ruining Your Day with Sam Horn

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Sam Horn says: "No one can make us angry without our consent."

Sam Horn explains how to deal with difficult people more effectively by shifting the language we use.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Words to lose and words to use in a conflict
  2. The mindset shift that makes us feel like less like a victim
  3. Two strategies for dealing with workplace bullies 

About Sam

Sam Horn, is the CEO of the Intrigue Agency and the Tongue Fu! Training Institute. Her 3 TEDx talks and 9 books – including Tongue Fu!POP!Got Your Attention? and SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week – have been featured in NY Times, on NPR, and presented to hundreds of organizations worldwide including Intel, Cisco, Boeing, U.S. Navy, Nationwide, and Fidelity.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Sam Horn Interview Transcript

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

Sam Horn
You’re welcome, Pete. I’m looking forward to sharing some ideas with your listeners.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I’m excited to hear your wisdom. You’ve written a couple books which are helping resolve an issue that our listeners have been asking with regard to difficult bosses and coworkers, how to deal with them well. And you’ve got a wealth of expertise. Maybe you can start us off by telling any particularly noteworthy stories about a bad boss or bad collaborators that might make our jaws drop and captivate us? No pressure, Sam.

Sam Horn
Aha. Well, you know what, the origin story for Tongue Fu, actually does that, is that Dr. Ray Oshiro out of University of Hawaii had asked me to do a program on dealing with difficult people without becoming one ourselves. And in our first break, there was a gentleman, he didn’t even get up to get a cup of coffee, some fresh air. He just sat there gazing off into space.

And I was curious, I went over, I said, “What are you thinking?” And he said, “Sam, I’m a realtor.” He said, “I would deal with some really demanding people, and they seem to think they can treat me any way they want to. I’m tired of it.” He said, “I thought you were going to teach us some zingers to fire back at people and put them in their place.” I said, “That’s not what this is about.”

And he was the one who said, “I’m a student of martial arts.” He said, “I’ve studied karate, taekwondo, judo.” He said, “What you’re talking about is not about putting people in their place, right? It’s about putting ourselves in their place so we can respond with compassion instead of contempt.” And he said, “It’s kind of like a verbal form of kung fu, isn’t it?” Eureka! The perfect title, that’s what it is – Tongue Fu; martial arts for the mind and mouth.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, that’s a great summary right there. Like, it’s not about zingers, it’s not about sticking it to them, but you put yourself in their place and are able to respond with compassion. Can you give us an example of how that could play out conversationally?

Sam Horn
Oh, boy, can I give you an example. Now, Pete, unless people are driving and listening to this, I hope they grab a paper, and I hope they put a vertical line right down the center, and put words to lose on the left and words to use on the right because we’re going to go right into what we face every day on the job.

So, on the left, put complain, because we hear complaints. Customers complain, coworkers complain, so put complain over on the left. Guess what we don’t do when people complain? Explain. Put explain on the left because explanations come across as excuses. If someone says, “Hey, the Zoom call was supposed to start at 9:00 o’clock,” “Oh, I know, it’s just some people are late.” Nope, explanations make people angry because they feel we’re not being accountable.

Over on the right, put A train. When people complain, don’t explain, take the A train. A for agree, “You’re right, the Zoom call was supposed to start at 9:00 o’clock.” Apologize, “And I’m sorry we’re running a few minutes late.” Act, “And I’ve got that information you requested. Let’s jump right into it. Rock and roll.” Do you see how the A train expedites complaints and explanations aggravate them?

Pete Mockaitis
I do. And, Sam, it is just a joy to hear the way you explain things, that your keynote background is just shining through, words to lose, words to use, the A train, and it’s memorable so I appreciate it. Keep it coming. So, agree, apologize, and act, and not to get too into the weeds here, but when something is late, you suggest the act there is just “And we’re going to just get started now.” Any alternatives coming to mind?

Sam Horn
Absolutely. Here’s another one. Say, people are arguing, right? Say, something has gone wrong, and people are finger pointing, blaming, shaming. Over on the left, put find fault, “Well, hey, it wasn’t my fault. So-and-so was in charge of it. Well, I never saw that memo.” Back and forth we go. Finding fault serves no good purpose. Over on the right, put find solutions.

And when people are arguing and it is this blaming, shaming, interrupt them and then say these magic words, “Hey, we could argue for the rest of the day, and that’s not, again, get this done. Instead, let’s figure how we’re going to prevent this from happening again. Or, instead, let’s put a system in place.” And you see how when we switch the attention to finding solutions instead of fault, now that conversation is serving a good purpose instead of a waste of everyone’s time.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. That’s good. Do we have some more?

Sam Horn
Do you want more?

Pete Mockaitis
I do. I do.

Sam Horn
Oh, do I have more.

Pete Mockaitis
Lose some words, words to use. Let’s hear them.

Sam Horn
All right. Now, over on the left, put negative accusation. Say, somebody says, “You women are so emotional.” If we deny a negative accusation, if we say, “We’re not emotional,” uh-oh, we just proved their point. If someone says, “You don’t care about your customers,” and we say, “We do, too, care about our customers.” Now, we’re proving their point, right? So, on the left, instead of denying an accusation, over on the right, redirect an accusation. I’ll give you two quick examples.

I was speaking at a conference, and a woman put her hand up in the Q&A, and she said, “Sam, why are women so catty to each other?” I decided to Don Draper that, Pete. Don Draper, in Mad Men, said, “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” So, I said, “Ladies, let’s agree to never ask or answer that question again because every time we do, we perpetuate that stereotype. Instead, don’t repeat a negative accusation because it reinforces it. Instead, redirect it, say, ‘You know what I found, women are real champions of each other. In fact, I wouldn’t have this job if someone hadn’t stepped up and recommended me.’”

Or, here’s another thing you can do on the right, instead of repeating it, which reinforces it, say, “What do you mean?” or, “Why do you say that?” Because if someone says, “You don’t care about your customers,” and we say, “We do, too,” we’re in a debate. If you say, “Well, why do you say that?” they may say, “Well, I left three messages and no one’s called back.” “Oh.” “What do you mean?” or “Why do you say that?” gets to the root of the accusation, and we can solve that instead of reacting to the attack.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s great. Okay. Well, so, hey, if you’ve got some more, I’ll take them.

Sam Horn
I do. Okay, let’s talk about when something goes wrong, shall we?

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Sam Horn
Okay. Someone has made a mistake, someone has dropped the ball, right? Isn’t it true that that word should is right there on the tip of our tongue, “You should’ve been more careful,” “You should’ve brought that up in the staff meeting,” “You should’ve asked George; he’s handled that before,” and yet the word should comes across as a critique. People will resent us even if what we’re saying is right. So, over on the left, put mistake. The word should punishes the past. No one can undo the past. They will resent us even if what we’re saying is right.

Over on the right, we’re going to shape behavior instead of should it. And with these words, “Next time…” “From now on…” “In the future…” Because if we say “From now on, if you have questions, please bring them up in the staff meeting because other people are probably wondering the same thing.” “In the future, if that happens, if you could…” Do you see how we’re being a coach instead of a critic? We’re shaping behavior instead of shaming it, and people are learning from their mistakes instead of losing face over their mistakes.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, absolutely. Okay.

Sam Horn
Want more? Want more?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s good. Well, so I guess I’m thinking about, so these are great best practices in terms of when you’re just engaging, you’re collaborating, you’re talking to folks, and you’ve got your communication flowing, so great choices in terms of words to lose and words to use. I’m thinking now, let’s say the listener finds themselves in the victim seat, or they are the ones being blamed, they are the ones people are finding fault with, they’re getting some criticism that might even seem undue bully-esque, just some meanies. How do you recommend we deal with the emotional stuff there and just sort of find our way forward effectively?

Sam Horn
Well, a lot of people find themselves in this situation these days, Pete, with COVID, there’s a lot of things happening. We have to enforce policies we don’t agree with, or we need to tell someone there’s nothing we can do, or we’re thinking, “Hey, it’s not my fault.” Guess what? Over on the left, put the words “There’s nothing…” or “It’s not my fault.” Because if something goes wrong, and people are blaming us and we’re saying, “Hey, not my fault. Nothing I can do. No way I can change it,” do you feel that people are concluding we don’t care?

So, over on the right, put “There’s something…” instead of “There’s nothing…” and I’m really going to give you one of my favorite examples of this. My Aunt Kaye is 80 years old and she still volunteers five days a week to go to our local hospital and to work from the 4:00 to 8:00 shift. So, I’ve said, “What has it been like these last few months with COVID?” And she said, “Sam, it’s so stressful because we have a policy with only one visitor per patient, and you can imagine these people, I’m the point of contact, they’re taking all their anger out on me.” And I said, “Well, what’s a specific example?” And she said, “Last week, a woman came rushing in. She held up her phone and she said, ‘My daughter just texted. She’s in ER. I need to see her.’”

And so, Aunt Kaye called the ER and the nurse said somebody’s already with the daughter. The mom could not get in to see her. So, the mother, understandably, goes ballistic and is taking all that anger out at Aunt Kaye. Now, she could’ve said, “Hey, I’m not the one who did the policy. Don’t blame me.” Instead, she said, “Let me see if there’s something…” instead of “There’s nothing…” “…that we can do.” She called and she asked the ER nurse, “Who is with the daughter?” It was the Uber driver who had brought her in from the accident. Well, they explained the situation to the Uber driver, thanked him, he left, the mom got in to see the daughter, and that is a shift in mentality.

You use that word victim, and if we’re being blamed for something that’s not our fault, the more we think, “Hey, this isn’t fair. Don’t blame me,” the angrier we get at them and we perpetuate that. Instead, if we say, “This won’t help. Let’s focus on what we can do. There’s something we can figure out,” it shifts the whole situation.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. And that’s a great point in terms of like even if it is you are absolutely the victim, no joke, an injustice has occurred, you are suffering unjustly due to the hostile aggression of another, like a full-blown victim-work situation in which someone has said something wildly inappropriate at you, it’s true that if you continue to reflect on the fact that you have suffered an injustice, it’s going to make you angrier.

And by shifting your attention elsewhere, you can make some things happen. And, I guess, of course, there’s traumas and there’s crimes and there’s gradations here that kind of require some different responses but, yeah, that’s a good thought in terms of I felt that as well. If I fixate on the fact that I am experiencing injustice, I just get really mad and it usually doesn’t propel me into a helpful place, in my own experience.

Sam Horn
You know, Pete, what you’re referring to is “Why should we? Why should we take responsibility to try and be the one to solve this, or to try and make this better?” And let’s use another real-life example. I was interviewing a principal recently who…and you can imagine, a principal these days, faculties are upset, students are upset, parents are upset, the school board is on them, right? It’s a really hard job these days.

And I asked her a situation where she was able, when someone was piling on her unfairly, how she had the presence of mind, in pressure like that, to be resourceful instead of resentful? And so, she has a situation where there is a young man with a spinal injury, and his grandmother is taking care of him, and yet they had a classroom on the third floor for third grade, and this young man, and she had to tell the grandmother that he could not come to school because the elevator wasn’t working and there wasn’t an escape plan for him.

She spent three months dealing with the fire department, trying to figure out how to hack this. The grandmother is calling her almost on a daily basis, saying, “I’m exhausted. I can’t take care of this young man 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” Now, her heart is going out to this grandmother. Her heart is going out to this young man. She’s trying everything she can to resolve this and, finally, she had this epiphany. Do you know what she did, Pete?

Pete Mockaitis
Tell me.

Sam Horn
She moved the third-grade classroom on the third floor down to the bottom floor, and fixed the whole situation. Now, by the way, I’m not being a Pollyanna because I’m not saying, “Everything was perfect. Everything went well.” The teacher of that third-grade class said, “Now, I’m not going to be with my peers,” and that is true. It was not a perfect solution. And she asked the teacher, “Who do we serve? We serve the students, right?”

And it served the students to be able to have their third-grade classroom on the first floor so that this young man could attend, so that they also served the parent, and it was something that was, in the circumstances, the best decision. And, once again, it came from this mentality of “If I put my mind to it, if I keep being proactive instead of reactive, I will come up with a rising-tide solution, and it doesn’t just serve me. It’s going to serve the people I’m serving. And it may not be perfect, it’s better than what we’ve got.”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, absolutely. And those sorts of creative ideas, I’ve discovered and I think there’s some good neuroscience behind this as well, don’t tend to come when you’re angry and riled up and ready to fight. They more so tend to come when I feel kind of relaxed, I’ve got some space to chew on things, to let my brain kind of dance and play around and land somewhere because it’s natural to say, “Well, hey, the third-grade classroom, this is just where it is. That’s how it’s always been. That’s how the school is set up,” and then it does take a little bit of a shift to say, “Oh, but I suppose we could swap it because why not?” I think that’s a great example right there.

Sam Horn
So, let’s go to something you’re talking about, this anger we have. And, by the way, Pete, this is why I juxtapose things, that’s why we put a column on the left of something has gone wrong, and Elvis Presly, of all people, has a great quote about this. Do you know what he said?

Pete Mockaitis
“I’m all shook up.”

Sam Horn
He said that, too. He said, “When things go wrong, don’t go with them.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Sam Horn
Just see, on the left, when things go wrong, we can find fault, we can tell them it’s not our fault, and it will not help. So, we shift over to the right, to these responses instead of reactions. Here’s one of my favorite examples. You were talking about angry. I often close my Tongue Fu programs with this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt. She said, “No one can make us feel inferior without our consent.” And I’ve adapted that, with credit to her, to say no one can make us angry without our consent.

And there was a gruff construction boss, and he stood up, and he said, “Sam, you’re pulling a Pollyanna with this one.” He said, “You have no idea of the kind of people I deal with.” He said, “Do you mean if someone’s yelling in my face, that’s not supposed to make me mad?” And there was a woman who stood up and she said, “I’m a surgical nurse.” She said, “I agree with this because I’ve lived through it.” She said, “I deal with a neurosurgeon who’s the most abrasive individual I have ever met.” She said, “He is a brilliant physician, he has zip people skills.” She said, “Last year, I was a fraction of a second late handing him an instrument in surgery, he berated me in front of my peers. He humiliated me in front of that team.” She said, “It took all my professionalism just to continue with the operation and not walk out.”

She said, “When I was driving home, I got so mad at him. I sat down at the dinner table, I told my husband what happened, I said, ‘Oh, that doctor makes me mad.’” She said, “My husband had heard this before. He said, ‘Judy, what time is it?’” She said, “It’s 7:00 o’clock.” He said, “What time did this happen?” And she said, “9:00 o’clock this morning.” He said, “Judy, is it the doctor who’s making you mad?” And he got up and left the table. And she said, “I sat there and I thought about it, and I realized it wasn’t the doctor who was making me mad. The doctor wasn’t even in the room.”

She said, “I was the one who had given him a ride home in my car.” She said, “I was the one who set him a place at my dinner table.” She said, “I decided right there and then that never again was that doctor welcome in my home or in my head. And when I left the hospital, I was leaving him there, and never again was I giving him the power to poison my personal life.”

And so, I’m asking all our listeners, Pete, who do we take home with us? Who do we give a ride to in our car? Who do set a place for at our dinner table? And can we promise ourselves that we will leave that person at work? We will no longer give them the power to poison that precious personal time with our loved ones at home.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, Sam, that is inspiring and wise, and you’re really like, “Well, heck, yeah, I should not allow that person to co-op my brain for that length of time. That’s just silliness.” So, I think that that really installs some conviction in our hearts, like, “Yeah, I’m not going to let that happen anymore.” That being said, when the rubber meets the road and you’re in the heat of battle, it can be sometimes easier said than done when ruminations start to crop up. How do you recommend we put the kibosh on them?

Sam Horn
Oh, Pete, I love that question. That’s the perfect follow-up question, as I agree with you in theory, “How do I do it in practice?” I wrote a book called ConZentrate. Stephen Covey said it was the best book he ever saw on focus. And what you just brought up, we cannot not think about something, right? If we tell our kids, “Don’t run around the pool,” what are they going to do? If I say I’m not going to get mad, what are we going to do? If we’re an athlete, and we say don’t double-fault or don’t drop the ball, what are we going to do?

You are right. Instead of saying, “I’m not going to let that person make me mad. I’m not going to take that person home with me.” Over on the left is what we don’t want. Over on the right is what we do want, so it’s called catch and correct. As soon as we become aware, whether we are telling ourselves what we don’t want, “You better not be late again,” “Don’t forget,” “Stop hitting your sister,” “Don’t get angry,” that’s over on the left.

No, switch over to the right. What do you want? Well, you want to stay calm. You want to focus on what’s right in your world. You want to look at this person across the table as if, for the first or last time, so that you see them and you are present to them instead of preoccupied with what happened ten years before.

We want to tell our kids, “Give your sister space, a hula hoop of space,” which is something to do instead of stop hitting your sister. We want to say, “Be five minutes early,” instead of, “Don’t be late.” It’s, “Remember to tell your boss this when you walk in in the morning,” instead of, “Don’t forget.” So, you are right, is that we fill our mind with words and language and images of what we do want instead of telling ourselves what we don’t.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s handy. And so then, I imagine in the nasty surgeon example, you have an intentionality associated with, “This is how I’m going to be, do, feel, conduct myself.”

And by visualizing that and prepping it in advance, you’re more likely to remember, “Oh, that jerk, I want to kill him. Oh, wait a sec, okay, okay. I’m going to be like calm or joyful or curious,” fill in the blank, and that’s how we’re going to roll as opposed to fixating on, “Oh, don’t imagine stabbing him with a scalpel. Don’t imagine cutting his finger off,” whatever. Getting really violent here in the surgery room.

Sam Horn
And, Pete, see, I’m a pragmatist as well. So, if people are thinking, “Oh, this is just woo-woo Pollyanna stuff. What if this person is really egregious? What if what they’re doing, I’m just supposed to ignore it?” So, here is the bottom-line action we can take as well. There’s the mindset and there’s also then the mechanics of a pragmatic action.

When we’re not happy with a situation, there’s three things we can do. We change the other person, we can change the situation, we can change ourselves. So, we jump to number three – changing ourselves. Let’s look at the first two.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah, how do you do that?

Sam Horn
Okay. Here is the good news. There is strength in numbers. And so, changing the other person, in many industries these days, it used to be that if this neurosurgeon was a rainmaker, even if the nurses were complaining, administrators didn’t care because this neurosurgeon was famous and a rainmaker. Now, there’s strength in numbers. And if you document the behavior, if you have witnesses to the behavior, if you report objectively with the Ws: what was said, when was this said, what was the impact of what was said; and is reported to HR, they are required to act on documented reports of egregious behavior that is not subjective, “I didn’t like what this person said.”

Pete Mockaitis
“He was rude. I was bullied.” That’s a little bit subject to interpretation as oppose to, “He said, ‘You are a moron and I hate you.’” Okay, that’s a direct quote.

Sam Horn
Remember action is it. And that’s why what you just said, Pete, about it needs to be the dialogue. Not like, “He was really offensive.” HR can’t do anything with that or a business owner can’t do anything with that. When you quote what someone has said, when you put the time that it happened, not yesterday, “No, it happened at 9:17 right in the middle of this,” the more objective evidence of this unacceptable behavior, the more actionable it is.

So, we can maybe change the other person, we can change a situation. Now, you maybe think, “Well, I don’t want to switch to another department,” or, “I’ve got three more years in this government job. I’m not going to retire or something like that.” So, sometimes though we can change the situation and the good news is, even if we can’t change the person or can’t change a situation, even if you decide, “That person is a jerk. I’ve done everything I can. No one’s taking responsibility and I don’t want to quit. I don’t want to leave. I need this,” then that third act is always an option and we change ourselves.

We could almost put like a plastic bubble around this. And whatever that person says just bounces harmlessly off us. It just bounces off it. It never gets under our skin. It never invades us so that we’re still thinking about it a day or a week or a month later.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. And we talked about changing the other person, and one pathway is the, okay, documentation, building a case, HR, a business owner, senior executive, kind of direct challenge in that way. Do you have any suggestions in terms of how one might do this delicate, diplomatic dance associated with, “Hey, boss, you know, when you did this, I didn’t like that”? Any thoughts for how to have that conversation like when and how and if?

Sam Horn
Okay. See, now, we’re going to move into bully territory here because I believe 95% of people care what’s fair. I believe 95% of people have a conscience. They actually want to cooperate. They want a win-win. Guess what? Five percenters, they don’t want a win-win; they want to win. They don’t want to cooperate; they want to control. They don’t follow the rules; they break the rules because they know that it’s going to get them what they want.

So, if we are dealing with someone at work and this person is a five percenter, and that means they have a pattern of violating people’s rights, of not playing by the rules, it’s not a one-time they’re now having a bad day. It’s like they do it all the time on purpose. I’m going to say something that flies in the face of everything you’ve heard. Ready?

Pete Mockaitis
I’m ready.

Sam Horn
Do not use the word “I” because haven’t we been taught, Pete, that we’re supposed to say, “I don’t think that’s fair,” “I don’t like to be spoken to in that tone of voice”? Guess what? Bullies don’t care what’s fair. They don’t have a conscience. They’re actually going to think, “Good. I’m glad it’s bothering you. It was supposed to bother you.”

I am going to suggest we use the word “you,” “You back off,” “You! Enough!” “You, speak to me with respect.” So, here are just a variety of ways to do that. Say, there’s somebody that’s handsy on the job, and this person is in your space. And now, Pete, this isn’t an abstract concept. We have a hula hoop of space. Right now, people, put your hand out, stretch out in front of you, stretch out the side of you, stretch out behind you. That’s three feet.

We have our physical space, and animals know, “You don’t get in my space,” right? It’s like you get in my face or in my space, we have the right to back someone off, which is why if someone has a habit of getting in your face or in your space, number one, stand up. Because, often, they do that when we’re sitting down because they’re in the dominant position, we’re in the submissive position, right?

When we stand up, what we are letting them know is not only are we leveling the playing ground, we are saying, “I won’t take this sitting down. I will stand up for myself.” We haven’t said a word. We’ve changed the power dynamic of, “I am dominating you. I am towering over you. You are sitting and cowering and submissive.”

So, you stand up, number one. Like, someone puts their hand on you or something like that. You look at their hand, you look at them. You look at your hand, you look at them. Often you don’t have to say a word. Do you see how though you are calling them on their behavior? You are keeping the attention where it deserves, which is what they’re doing that is out of line. They have crossed the line and you are drawing the line.

And another part of that, once again, is the word “you.” It’s just to say, “You. Keep that to yourself,” “You. That’s enough. That’s the last time you say that to me.” And when we say it standing tall with our shoulders up and back, instead of our shoulders crunched up like this, which is the weak submissive position, then essentially what we’re saying is that we are letting that person know, “That doesn’t work here anymore.”

Pete Mockaitis
All right, intriguing. So, if we diagnose that we’ve got a 5% straight up bully without a conscience, and I guess we’d assessed that, as you mentioned, by seeing a track record of violating people’s rights and just not giving a hoot about it repeatedly, then we completely flip the script and change the rulebook that we’re following instead of that sharing how it made you feel and your concerns and why that’s important because they don’t care about any of that, but rather, just straight up, establishing, “This is the boundary.”

Sam Horn
And if you would like, Pete, I’ve got a quiz, it’s a bully quiz, and there are ten behaviors. And many people, they don’t even use the word bully, and they don’t understand that an 8-year old can be a bully, an 80-year old can be a bully. And the lights that go on when you say, “Yes, this person, I talk on eggshells around this person because they’re so volatile, I never know what he’s going to say,” “Yes, they’re Jekyll and Hyde. They’re charming one moment, they’re cruel the next,” “Yes, they have to control every decision and anyone who dares to say something else, they’re going to railroad that person.”

So, if you would like, I’ll send that to you, you can make it available to your listeners, and if you take that quiz, and this person you’re dealing with does many of these behaviors most of the time, then it requires a whole different set of skills because, once again, appealing to their sense of fair play, appealing to their good nature or their conscience, they will never think, “Oh, that wasn’t fair. That wasn’t right. I am so sorry.” They will never self-reflect or self-correct. It will always be someone else’s fault, and that’s how we need to set up and keep the attention on what they’re doing instead of our reaction to it.

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

Sam Horn
How about ask another question? I love your get-real, “If I’m in this situation, say something that I actually can do. It’s just not sounding good.” So, one more question from you and I’ll give you a response.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure thing. Is there ever a time in which we should consider just exiting that situation entirely? Like, the bubble isn’t going to cut it. How do we know that that’s just where we are in terms of the hopeless situation?

Sam Horn
I’m just so glad you brought that up. Tennessee Williams said, “Sometimes it is time to leave even when there is no particular place to go.” And in the bully book, toward the end, after all of these pragmatic things that you can do to improve the situation, to stand up and speak up for yourself, etc., if none of that works, then it’s time for us to remove ourselves from the situation and to make sure to not see it as a failure.

One of the reasons I wrote the bully book is because, here I was, the queen of Tongue Fu, which, of course, is based on what Gandhi said about, “Be the change you wish to see,” it doesn’t work with bullies, Pete, because, once again, they’re not trying to act in good conscience. They’re trying to control. So, a good friend said, “You know, Sam, William Blake said that we are all born innocent, and at some point, we will encounter evil. And at that point, we either become embittered and we see the world as a dark place, and it defines and it defeats us, or we become…” Are you ready for two really fantastic words, Pete? “…informed innocence.”

And informed innocence are no longer naïve or idealistic. We understand that evil exists. We understand that there are people out there who will wreak havoc and they will not be responsible for the consequences. And that removing ourselves from the sphere of that individual is not defeat; it is us stepping up on behalf of what we believe, and that is that people treat each other with respect, people act with integrity. And if we have tried everything and this person is not going to change, and the situation isn’t going to change, then I’m going to remove myself from it, and align myself with people who do act in integrity and do behave responsibly because that’s how I believe life is supposed to be.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. Well, now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Sam Horn
One is from Arthur Rubinstein, he said, “I have found, if you love life, life will love you back.” Ain’t that wonderful though? And the other is from Katharine Graham of The Washington Post, and she said, “To do what you love and feel that it matters, how could anything be more fun?”

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Sam Horn
I love podcasts. I believe angels whisper to a woman when she walks, and so I walk and I listen to podcasts, and that’s my favorite research. And a quick example of that is…do you ever listen to Jonathan Fields, Good Life Project, by any chance?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I have, yeah.

Sam Horn
Sure. He had Adam Grant on yesterday, a Wharton organization development guy, just came out with a brand-new book called Think Again. And he said something counterintuitive and contrarian which is one of the reasons I try to listen to podcasts, to challenge my thinking. And he said, “We all talk about impostor syndrome and how doubts take us down.” And he said that he believes that impostor syndrome can actually serve us by instead of assuming that we know what is best or that this is the right action, that that questioning process of looking at it again and getting different input actually produces a better result. And I love the contrarian nature of taking something that we all think is bad and twisting and turning it and seeing that it actually can add value.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And a favorite book?

Sam Horn
I grew up in a small town in southern California, more horses than people, so I read The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. And I will always be grateful to Walter Farley because he gave me a window on the world, and we had a thousand people on our entire mountain valley, and reading about these international adventures and these exciting horse races, and this young boy who was adventurous and independent really helped me see beyond where I was. And so, The Black Stallion was really pivotal in my life.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Sam Horn
I juxtapose everything. People say, “Sam, how does your brain work?” And I believe the quickest way to make a complex idea crystal clear is to put a vertical line down the center of a piece of paper, and on the left is what doesn’t work, and on the right is what does. It’s what sabotages our success, what supports it, what compromises our effectiveness, what contributes, what hurts, what helps.

And if we want support for an idea, if we juxtapose problem and solution, issue and answer, and we make those words alliterative, then we are going to be able to get people on the same page because we will be able to show the shift with this crystal clear, clean, compelling language. And by the time people get to the end of the page, you’re going to say yes.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks; they quote it back to you frequently?

Sam Horn
You know, I gave a TEDx Talk, and I understood that if we want to make a difference over time, it’s got to rhyme. And so, I said if you want to succeed, you must intrigue. And I really believe that our career success depends on our communication skills, and it depends on saying something that is so memorable that people can repeat it and act on it, weeks or months even years after they first heard it.

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

Sam Horn
Well, they’re welcome to go to our website which is real easy to remember, it’s SamHorn.com. And we’ve got three TEDx Talks there. We really try and make it so that if you go there, it’s not just about my products and services, it’s about, “Boy, here’s a post on how I can be repeatable and re-tweetable. Here’s a post on that quiz on how I can deal with bullies. Boy, here’s those words to lose, words to use so that I can think on my feet and handle challenging people in the moment instead of thinking of the perfect response on the way home.”

Pete Mockaitis
Well, this has been a hoot. Sam, thank you for bringing the goods and best of luck in your continued communication adventures.

Sam Horn
Thanks so much. I enjoyed it. I hope people found this inspiring and insightful and useful, Pete.

643: The Overlooked Fundamentals of Inspiring and Managing Teams with 15Five’s Shane Metcalf

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Shane Metcalf reveals his top research-based do’s and don’ts for being a great manager.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The one meeting a manager should always make
  2. The teambuilding technique for great teams from the get-go
  3. How and why to keep an employee dossier 

About Shane

Shane Metcalf is a keynote speaker on building a world class workplace and one of the world’s leading pioneers in the space of cultural engineering and positive psychology. His insights have been featured in Inc, Fast Company, Business Insider, Washington Post, Tech Crunch, and Bloomberg. 

As the Co-founder of 15Five, Shane and his team support HR Executives with data-driven continuous performance management. 15Five has won numerous awards for their company culture, including the prestigious Inc Best Workplaces award, and is ranked #3 in the U.S. on GlassDoor. 

Follow Shane on Twitter and LinkedIn, and listen to him co-host the Best-Self Management Podcast.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Thank you, sponsors!

Shane Metcalf Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Shane, welcome to the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Shane Metcalf
Pete, it’s good to be here and I’m hoping that I’m qualified. I’m, like, asking myself, “Am I being awesome at my job today?” And, you know what, I think I am actually.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, the website says you’re a visionary, so.

Shane Metcalf
Oh, hey, man.

Pete Mockaitis
So, that’s a lot to live up to.

Shane Metcalf
That’s all, you know, websites are amazing. It’s like, “Shane Metcalf. Visionary.” Yeah, one of the many illusions of the digital world, that I’m a visionary.

Pete Mockaitis
Totally. Well, I don’t think you envisioned getting a job after spilling orange juice on a customer but you’ve got a fun story there. I’ve got to hear it.

Shane Metcalf
Yeah. So, I was, God, I was probably about 19, 18 or 19 and I was working in a restaurant called The Western Sky Café in the town where I grew up called Taos, New Mexico. And I’ve been in the restaurant industry for four or five years or something, kind of worked my way through high school. And one day I was waiting, I was serving tables, and I go to deliver a glass of orange juice to this gentleman wearing a white shirt. And, lo and behold, something happens and I spilled the glass of orange juice all over this poor gentleman. And he’s pretty gracious, and I made the most of it and I handled it however I do.

And then about 20 minutes later, somebody comes up to me and approaches me, and he’s actually the guy who was washing the windows. We’d hired a professional window washer to wash the windows of our restaurant. And he comes up to me and he says, “I was so impressed by how you handled spilling that glass of orange juice on that poor dude. I’m wondering, do you want a job? Do you want a different job?” and he offered me a job to join his window-washing company.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Shane Metcalf
And so, I still don’t really understand what I did that was so impressive other than like being apologetic and probably comping his meal and not being an a-hole after spilling orange juice on him, but, yes, so it got me a job. I think the lesson there is that we never see the big picture. We don’t understand how things that seem catastrophic and bad news are actually the drivers of creative evolution.

And zooming out a little bit, I mean, this is a very small example of that, but one of my favorite quotes is from this cosmologist named Brian Swimme, and he said that the driver of life’s creative evolution…” remember, this is a cosmologist so he’s thinking on this massive time scales, “…is always bad news, breakdowns, and chaos.” It was the extinction of the dinosaurs that paved the way for small mammals to proliferate and become humans. It’s just part of the recipe of evolution is that the things that look horrible are actually moving the storyline forward.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, boy, I could chew on that for a good while. And so, you move the storyline forward in terms of the experience of work and management and culture at your client organizations. Your company is called 15Five. First of all, what is that and what do you do?

Shane Metcalf
Yeah, sure. So, 15Five, we are a people and performance platform. And so, what does that mean? So, we build software education and services that helps to create highly-engaged and high-performing teams by helping people become their best selves. We believe that human development, like careers, are an opportunity for incubating human potential.

So, if we stop looking at our company as, “Hey, I’m going to hire a bunch of human resources to then kind of extract value from them and generate profit and then kind of throw out the used resources.” If we stop thinking of our people like that and actually looking at them as potential to be unlocked, we think that’s really where the best performance, the most creativity, the most engagement, the most retention, and, ultimately, the most rewarding experience we can create for not only our people but also for ourselves.

So, our software does everything from performance reviews and engagement surveys, to more manager-focused tools like check-ins, one-on-ones, peer recognition, real-time feedback. Creating more of these opportunities to communicate and have the right and most important high-leveraged conversations to improve everything inside of a company.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, if those conversations are high-leverage, it sure sounds like we should be having them. Can you give us a picture for just how high that leverage is? Like, what kind of results or lift or value do you see generated for your clients? Do you have any cool case stories or numbers to share here?

Shane Metcalf
Yeah, sure. You can go to our website. We have over 2500 companies using us and there’s a lot of really interesting stories. No two companies are alike and so no two applications are going to be the same. But one of the things that I love hearing one of our customers, I had people like Credit Karma. She says loves 15Five because it instantly gives her X-ray vision into, “Which are the managers that are actually engaging their teams and giving feedback? And which managers are just not doing the basics of what foundational management principles really are actually being kind of required of us as managers, as people leaders, as people that are organizing other humans and helping to untap their creativity in problem-solving and the ability to move the needle forward?”

Pete Mockaitis
So, they can just see straight up, “Are the managers doing it? Are they in the platform having the conversations? Are they not?”

Shane Metcalf
Yeah, and what’s the quality of their conversations, what’s the quality of the feedback. Gallup says, I mean, there’s a pretty damning statistic from Gallup. Gallup says only one out of 10 managers should actually be managers.

Pete Mockaitis
Based on their competence.

Shane Metcalf
Based on their competencies

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Shane Metcalf
And competencies, strengths. It’s a bit of black box when you try to figure out, “Well, what are they determining that from?” But, bottom line, managing people is actually a pretty tough job. Giving proper feedback, getting people aligned with their strengths in their right roles is not always a simple thing and it does require a bit of attention and intention.

And so, what we try to do with our software is provide the scaffolding of what great management really looks like and make it easy, automate that. Automate the asking of the right questions on a regular basis. It’s a bit of a reinvention of the annual performance review. It’s slightly more frequent, less of a heavy lift, more future-focused than just looking at the past.

Also, not only tied to comp because there’s a big mistake in only tying performance conversations to compensation conversations because people are just trying to game the system to try to make more money, and they don’t go into the conversations as much around, “How can I actually improve performance? And what are the blind spots? What are the areas for me to improve upon?”

But then you have manager tools like the check-in, and that allows you to automate the asking of questions around, “Where are you stuck? Where do you need help with? What’s an idea you have to improve your role?” And you can front load your one-on-ones with getting this check-in so that you can sit down and actually have a coaching conversation versus a check-in conversation and waste that 30 minutes in person on just during what the latest is.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, so much of what you’re saying is resonating big. I just want to make sure we’ve got the why nicely installed here. So, have you seen some rocking things in terms of the, I don’t know, Gallup engagement number, or the attrition rate, or sales performance? Or, can you give us a couple hot numbers?

Shane Metcalf
Yeah. So, some of these things are hard to measure an ROI on. And so, the thing that I go back to is retention. We can go into an organization and through increasing recognition, increasing feedback channels, we keep people at companies longer, we keep the right people at companies longer. Engagement, we’re just starting to play in the engagement game, and so what I’m really excited about is, not too far from now, we’ll be able to run the assessment of engagement, get a score, and then, through the deployment of 15Five, of the check-ins and better one-one-ones, see the impact of that.

And it’s so customizable, so depending on what you’re struggling with as a company, you can then custom-tailor the questions to direct those conversations. So, say, you’re struggling with meaning, say, you’re getting low-meaning scores in your engagement surveys. You can then start asking questions and lead the trainings around, “What actually gives you meaning in your role? Where do you find meaning and inspiration inside the company? And maybe you aren’t finding it. Okay, cool. Well, let’s have a conversation around what that actually look like. Are you just separating your job from meaning and inspiration? Or is there an opportunity to merge those two? And, potentially, also, maybe change roles. Start bringing more of your strengths to the table when you’re actually doing that same role.”

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, let’s dig into, so we talked about the basic foundational scaffolding management stuff. Like, we had Bruce Tulgan on the show, and we talked about what he called the crisis of undermanagement and it still haunts me to this day, how I’m guilty of some of that, and how insightful it is in terms of, like, yeah, you actually don’t have a clue unless you’re doing some of these very basic stuff on a regular basis.

So, lay it out for us, what are the basic things that managers need to be doing? And what are the basic questions that need to be asked and how often? Like, give us the one-on-one. Like, what should a manager who’s like doing his or her basic job be doing in terms of conversations?

Shane Metcalf
Yeah, okay. Well, look, and some of this stuff is so obvious that I like to think that, “Oh, well, everybody is doing…every manager is doing a one-on-one with their people at least twice a month.” And so many times that’s not actually happening. So, let’s just start there. Let’s just start with one-on-ones because one-on-ones are a container to be having a conversation. It doesn’t mean you’re having a really high-quality conversation but that’s the foundation, so regular one-on-ones. And then how do you actually design those one-one-ones?

So, first of all, the one-on-one isn’t for you as a manager. It’s not for you to be holding your people accountable and making sure that they’ve done the tasks of their role. This is actually your employees one-on-one. This is the chance for them to actually have a direct channel to you to talk about the things that are either going well, the things they want, career development conversations, blockers, places they’re stuck in solving a problem.

And so, if you can orient the one-on-one as more of a coaching conversation, and, again, this is really kind of starting to shift out of the mindset as a manager, of a task manager, which is we want to be leaving behind, and more into as a coach, “I’m here to help you get your next job.” That’s how I think managers should be thinking about this, is, “I want to help you be successful so that you can go and get whatever job you want. Once successful, you’re going to get a promotion, you can move careers, you can move industries. And so, that’s part of the context here I have as your manager is to help you get your next job.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Shane Metcalf
And I think from an unhealthy perspective, it’s like, “My job as a manager is to keep you in your place so that you don’t try to take my job,” and that’s an unhealthy approach to management.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. So, there we go, some foundational pieces in terms of the right mindset, helping them succeed, and get whatever job they want, as well as having one-on-ones just occurring on a regular basis, at least twice a month, as you say. All right. And then those one-on-ones is not about, “Do this or this or this or this,” not about accountability on the task checklist but rather about serving them and their needs. And then what are some key questions that are important to cover there?

Shane Metcalf
Sure. Okay. So, other pieces of this that I think are going to be useful in terms of, “How do you then actually maximize your one-on-ones?” is, “Are you setting the right goals? Are you helping your people get clear on what they’re trying to accomplish in their role?” Honestly, we actually should go back to the beginning and really go back to role clarity.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Let’s do it.

Shane Metcalf
So, kind of surprising but one of the key things to psychological safety that we’ve discovered, not 15Five but Amy Edmondson and all the research being done on psychological safety, is that role clarity is a massive factor of whether people feel safe at work, whether people feel like they actually know what they’re supposed to be working on and what are the expectations, and the actual agreements of what they’re supposed to be doing in their job.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that resonates.

Shane Metcalf
And very few people have.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s like when I don’t know, it’s so like, “What’s important here and what should I be doing? And am I doing it? Am I not doing it? I hope I’m doing it but I can’t be sure.” And, thusly, there’s always a lingering possibility that somebody be like, “Pete, you know what, you’re just not crushing it the way we want you to.” It’s like, “What does crushing really mean in this role, in this organization?” So, role clarity is huge. Most people don’t have it.

Shane Metcalf
And, look, that starts at the beginning. Like, you should be able to take your job description that you’re posting for that job to hire that person. You should be able to. That should be so well thought out and detailed that basically you take that, copy and paste it from the website, and that is that person’s role description. It should actually hold true.

If you want some examples of this, if you go to our careers page at 15five at 15Five.com/careers, you can see what a really well-thought-out job description actually looks like. Because, ultimately, the job description, we call them actual role and performance agreements. It’s the role, this is exactly what we want in this role, and this is exactly the performance expectations. This is what okay looks like, this is what great looks like, and this is what exceptional looks like in this role. So, that right there is something that the manager and the employee should be crystal clear. And it takes a little bit of work upfront but it’s frontloading the work in the beginning to avoid pain down the line.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. And so, give us an example there in terms of on your careers page you’ve done the work of showing them before they even apply for the role, “This is what’s up and what we consider great versus okay on those dimensions.” That’s pretty cool.

Shane Metcalf
So, you have that clarity, and then people are coming into that position with that clarity. And then the beginning of that relationship, your first week with your new manager is super important. Lots of research has shown the first 90 days of somebody’s role experience at a job is going to be kind of a determinant of how long they stay. Onboarding is super important.

And, again, another thing that a lot of companies get wrong about onboarding is they make the onboarding all about the company, “Look at our values, and look at what we’re doing, and this is where we’re going. We’re going to be a rocket ship and we’re going to do all these things. Aren’t you excited to join our club?” That definitely has a place but you want to balance it with a lot of attention on the individual that’s actually joining.

Help them discover new things about themselves. Ask them what their personal values are. Discover what their strengths are. What does success for them look like in this role? Because, then, it’s actually, “Oh, wow, this company is curious about me and they’re helping me learn and grow and evolve on my own path.” And that’s going to win every single time. If you help your people learn, evolve, and grow, walk their own hero’s journey, you’re going to get better performance. They’ll either leave your company sooner if they’re not the right fit or they’re going to stay longer if they are the right fit.

So, in the onboarding process, we do what we call a best-self kickoff. This is generally about a two-hour meeting, and so you get assigned a new employee and it prompts you to do a best-self kickoff, which is going through a set of questions designed to really actually build rapport and have the manager and employee get to know each other.

And, again, it’s about frontloading some of the work here so you can build a better relationship. I mean, business is all relationship. Every single thing we do in business actually is about relationship. All collaboration is relationship. So, if you have more rapport, you can have more truth. If you have more truth, you can be more efficient with how quickly bad news gets communicated, how fast you learn about what’s really going on with your people and what the real problems of your company are.

And so, the best-self kickoff is just a series of questions to go through and understand things like, “How do you like to receive feedback? What’s your preferred method of communicating? Which channels do you like to be on? Should I text you? Should I Slack you? Should I email you? Where are your work boundaries? Do you have obligations at home that really have you not be available at certain hours?”

Those are the kinds of questions that so rarely get answered and agreed upon and established in the beginning of a management relationship, and so without those things, there’s a bunch of expectations which are always going to lead to disappointment and people being, like, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe that they didn’t give me a public recognition and just gave me a private high-five.” And maybe they really love public recognition and you would’ve found that out if you’d only done the best-self kickoff.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, that’s so good and I’m reminded of one of our guests, Mary Abbajay, wrote a book about “Managing Up,” and she said exactly this, like, “Here’s something that make all the difference in the world with your manager relationships is to have the conversation about, ‘Hey, what are your expectations and preferences on all these dimensions?’” And so, just get that understanding from each other. And she says that in her experience, like less than 1% of people have had this conversation.

Shane Metcalf
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
But it makes all the difference in the world in terms of having a great relationship. And so, if you’re not as fortunate to be a 15Five client organization, you can still engage in these conversations and get some of that clarity and expectation setting to proactively diffuse/preempt just a billion kerfuffles and moments of irritation down the road.

Shane Metcalf
Absolutely. And, like, if you can keep kind of an employee dossier where it’s like, “Okay, cool. This person on my team, their family is this. Their strength, their top-five strengths are these. Their preferred method of communication, the way they like to receive appreciation is this way.” You have an incredible resource to have that person feel deeply seen and appreciated.

And that’s how you’re actually going to get the best out of that person. You can give them all the perks and rewards, but if they don’t actually feel seen and appreciated by their manager, it dramatically shortens the life cycle of them at your company as well as it just kind of limits the amount of success and joy they’re going to have in their role at your company.

Pete Mockaitis
And let’s hit the dossier and some of the big points. So, top five strengths, I mean, that’s easy to get a StrengthsFinder or whatnot as well as maybe some reflections.

Shane Metcalf
And it is. So, like, the two evidence-based strengths profiles are Gallup and VIA Character Strengths. At least that’s what my head of people science tells me. And the strengths are really interesting because strengths, I like to say the first time I did strengths, I did my top five from Gallup and I got them and I read the thing, and it kind of felt like a bad horoscope. It’s kind of like, “Meh, okay, kind of resonates. Whatever.” It didn’t really make an impact.

It wasn’t until later that I actually worked with a facilitator and a coach on strengths that the lightbulb really went on. And I think most people are in that kind of bad horoscope relationship to strengths. And strength is unbelievably powerful but it takes a little bit of digging. It takes a little bit more contemplation to really unlock them.

And so, I would highly recommend, if you’re a manager, make a study of strengths. Help your people not just take the strengths assessment but then really be in a months-long conversation, and really you should be in conversations about your strengths your entire career because the more you look into it, the more it opens up, and the more you realize, “Wow, okay, I really could develop these strengths into my superpowers as a professional.”

You want to talk about how to be awesome at your job, it’s strengths. Use your strengths. That’s the secret. It’s that simple and it’s that complex.

Pete Mockaitis
So, a big part of the game is really digging in beyond, “Oh, Activator. Okay,” “Ideation, all right.” It’s like, “No, no, seriously. What are the kinds of places where I’m getting like all these ideas? What’s the kinds of activities I’m doing as I’m getting those…?” To really dig deep such that it’s not just a, “Hey, good for you, Shane. Here’s a star for this strength you’ve got,” but to really zoom in on, “How do I cultivate that into a superpower?” and I guess what I’m finding personally as I do this sort of thing is that a lot of the gain is getting all the stuff that needs doing that are not my strengths done in different ways without me.

Shane Metcalf
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
And it’s hard. It’s hard to let go of things, whether trusting people, developing processes and systems and talent in others, just like, “This is yours. You own this now. I’m saying goodbye because I’m okay at this and you’re great at it, and it just makes more sense for it to be here,” but it takes a lot of doing to make that handoff.

Shane Metcalf
Yeah. And I think as managers, essentially, we’re orchestrators. We are the ones with the greater responsibility to make sure that we’re helping our people actually understand their strengths. And this is kind of a recent revelation that kind of blew my mind is that every strength has a need and a contribution. Like, “What does this strength want to contribute and what is the need of this strength?”

And you can go look up like Gallup strength needs. I think you’ll find a chart on this. But it kind of opened my eyes of like, “Wow, right.” Like, part of what’s so difficult about designing cultures and designing really thriving companies and cultures is that, fundamentally, I think culture is about meeting human needs. And so, we have universal ones around belonging, and connection, and esteem, and growth, and autonomy, and mastery, and all these things. But then there’s the nuance ways that it shows up.

And, okay, Pete, you have a different top five strengths than me, I’m assuming. And maybe we have the exact same ones. It would be interesting to compare but those are all going to have their own unique combination of needs to feel truly fulfilled. And so, designing a culture where you can meet a broader range of human needs is how you win the culture game.

Business, traditionally, was like, “Hey, we only care about you as a professional. You’re a cog in the machine. We don’t even really care about your thoughts about things, let alone your feelings about things.” And, now, we’re just broadening the scope of this. We’re saying, “Actually, we want to support you in having a great life as well as a great career, because we’re in personal development as also professional development. And so, we’re going to support/nourish the whole being, the whole human.”

And I think there’s distinctions there because we’re not actually supporting the whole human. There are parts of us that truly are better off to not be addressing in the professional context. But there’s a much broader range of the whole human that we can address as business leaders than we’ve traditionally been led to believe.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Okay. Well, so I love it, Shane, how you walked us back a little bit and we zoomed out and we say, “Let’s just get the fundamentals in terms of role clarity, understanding expectations associated with the role and how we cared to interact with each other, having that deeper sense of person knowledge that builds out the dossier with the top strengths and such.”

So, then now that we’ve established some of the fundamentals that almost no one establishes, let’s hear about some of these one-on-ones. What are some of the questions and content that we should be covering over and over again?

Shane Metcalf
So, again, it’s not only because it’s part of one of the main products in our platform but because I think it’s actually good practice and the science backs us up on this, is asynchronous check-ins that lead into your one-one-one. And so, what I mean by that is take a few minutes to write down the answers to some basic questions in advance of your one-on-one.

And those, “Where are you stuck? What do you need help with?” there’s a great quote, “A problem well stated is half-solved.” Get your people to state their problems and articulate exactly where they’re stuck, and they’re already half-solved. They’ve already done part of the work.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, this reminds me of just, I don’t know, junior high, high school, maybe middle school, I know, learning ages. Some folks would ask a question of the teacher and it was just, “I don’t get it.” And you can even see the teacher is frustrated, like, “I guess I could repeat what I just said. I mean, I don’t know,” versus, I noticed that the good students would ask the more specific questions, like, “Okay, wait. So, what’s RNA polymerase’s role in this whole DNA process that’s going down here? Because I see what these things did but what’s the RNA polymerase?”

So, yeah, I think that that’s well-said in terms of we have a little bit of precision and clarity and specificity associated with, “This is where I need help. This software platform makes no sense to me and I’ve asked four different people, like, how the heck to do this thing and none of them seem to have a clue. So, I need to know how to do this function in this software platform,” which is way more specific than, like, I don’t know, “Expenses suck,”

Shane Metcalf
Yeah, of course, but I also know that we have heard. Anyone who’ve been in business has heard ridiculous complaints that are only complaining and aren’t actually addressing the problem. Instead of saying…and so instead of like getting into your one-on-one, and then the person just bitching about expenses, you’ve already asked the question, “What are you struggling with? Where are you stuck?” and they say, “I’m really struggling with my expense report. I just don’t understand how to classify the lunches that I’m supposed to expense, and it just really confuses me and it just hurts my brain.”

The beautiful thing is that does not belong in a one-on-one. That is something that you can then go and answer ahead of the one-on-one, and say, “Oh, you categorize it as a benefit, a company benefit, category 12.” Boom. Done. Handled. Cleared. And then you can get into the deeper meatier issue of maybe like they also bring up that, and maybe they put this in private comment, “I’m really having a hard time with Sally, and we’re having a lot of conflict, and I’m pulling away on that team.” That’s the kind of meaty stuff that that one-on-one can be of use to coach this person on and to challenge them, and to actually challenge them through the values of the company, to challenge them to lean in and go direct with that person.

So, “Where are you stuck? What do you need help with?” phenomenal question. “What’s going well? What are you proud of? What are you celebrating?” The power of small wins cannot be underestimated. There’s a great book, a woman Teresa Amabile wrote The Progress Principle, and it’s all this research they did on what actually makes the biggest difference in improving somebody’s inner work life. And so, they had a bunch of professionals keep these journals of tracking their inner work life, how actually they were feeling at work.

And the number one determinant they found was an experience of making progress on meaningful work. And one of the easiest hacks that create a sense of progress was they actually record the small wins. And so, those are kind of just preliminary basic questions that you’d be asking ahead of one-on-ones so that you can then go in and actually have that time to get into the heart of what this person really wants.

And sometimes that’s problem-solving with issues at work, and sometimes those are actually career conversations of “What do you really want?” Like, okay, like you’re pretty happy in this role, but you know that sales isn’t actually what you want long term, and you want to start thinking about maybe actually products is calling your name, or maybe customer success is that.

And so, that’s where we get to put on the coach hat and really start thinking about, “How do I help this person get clear about what they want? And then once they know what they want, how do I help them get it?” In my experience, it’s that even when that person…even when that conversation leads to helping that person get clear that they don’t want to work at my company, it’s a good thing because they’re obviously not going to be fully engaged if they don’t want to be there.

And if you help them pursue their career as a DJ and quit, we actually had somebody do that. They were like, “Yeah,” because we hold these annual in-person company retreat, and I had an aspiring DJ and he loved DJ’ing the retreat so much he was really inspired. And through a lot of support from us, actually went to pursue his career to produce electronic music.

And, for me, that’s just the coolest. As an entrepreneur, as a founder, those are the stories that fill me up because when people actually come into alignment with doing what they actually want to be doing in life, that’s how we’re awesome at our job. That’s when we’re not wasting our time doing something we don’t want for a paycheck. It’s like doing a job we don’t like to make money for a house that we don’t ever spend any time in, and that’s just a miserable cycle. And I think we can do better in the business world on that.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s great. Thank you. Well, Shane, we hit some big ideas and I’d love it if maybe you could just give me a couple just like, hey, top do’s and don’ts. You’ve looked at a lot of research, seen a lot of correlations across a lot of things as people are checking in and have the exchanges and answering questions. Can we wrap it, before we hear some about your favorite things, just a couple top do’s and don’ts based on what you’ve learned on management from your unique vantage point?

Shane Metcalf
Do get personal. There’s obviously nuance to this. But care about the whole person. Care about what they really want. Get curious about what they want out of life, what they want to experience, how they want to grow, and what they want to contribute. Go back to those three questions and dig deep and really understand who this person is and what are their intrinsic motivations in life. That’s going to build a better relationship. It’s going to establish more trust. And it’s, ultimately, I think going to produce a more productive working relationship.

Don’t. Don’t neglect your people. Don’t skip your one-on-ones. Don’t always cancel them because something more urgent came up. That’s going to communicate that you don’t care, that that person is not really important, and that you aren’t invested in their growth and development.

Do study strengths. Go deep into StrengthsFinder. Understand your own strengths and be really honest with yourself whether you like managing and whether managing other people is something that you want to do and you’re intrinsically motivated by. Or, is it did you get into management because it was the only way up the career ladder but, really, you’d love to actually still be coding and doing IC work?

That’s a really interesting one because most companies have it setup as a trap. Why do we have so many crappy managers that shouldn’t be managers in the first place? Because it’s the only way to gain social status and make more money. So, as company builders, as HR professionals, we need to design career progression tracks that accommodate for other ways of progressing in the company other than just being a manager.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, thank you. Well, now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Shane Metcalf
This is a poem by this guy Jed McKenna that wrote books on spiritual awakening. It’s pretty short. It’s called Open Sky.

“If you are not amazed by how naïve you were yesterday, you are standing still. If you’re not terrified of the next step, your eyes are closed. If you’re standing still and your eyes are closed, then you are only dreaming that you are awake. A caged bird and an open sky.”

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you.

Shane Metcalf
And so, stay on that own bleeding edge of your development, your own evolution. We need to be on a continual journey of examining our own beliefs, reexamining what we hold as true. Adam Grant just came out with a really cool new book called Think Again which is about questioning our underlying assumptions about things and rethinking how we approach the world. And we need to be doing that. The world is changing, our jobs are changing. If we don’t reexamine them, we will be left in the dust.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And a favorite book?

Shane Metcalf
An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization. Phenomenal book about, “How do we actually create cultures that focus on developing all the humans inside of them rather than just our high potentials?” And that learning and development is something that needs to be baked into our daily process rather than to some retreat or an offsite.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite habit, something you do that makes you awesome at your job?

Shane Metcalf
Oh, hanging upside down.

Pete Mockaitis
No kidding?

Shane Metcalf
Phenomenal habit. Can’t recommend it enough. Various ways of doing it, everything from an inversion table to like a yoga swing. And so, every morning I do my Morning Pages, I write out three pages, handwritten, of stream of consciousness, and then I hang upside down for five to ten minutes. And then the other one inside of that is Wim Hof breathwork to alkalize the body, oxygenate the whole system. That’s kind of like my trifecta right now is Wim Hof breathwork, Morning Pages, hanging upside down.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And is there a particular nugget you share that connects, resonates with folks; they quote it back to you frequently?

Shane Metcalf
The journey of helping somebody become their best self is a long-term commitment. It’s not something that just happens once where you have a momentary commitment to somebody. It really is a long-term journey, and we need a long-term commitment.

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

Shane Metcalf
Yeah, so you can sign up for our content at 15Five. You can just go to our blog. I think it’s at 15Five.com/blog. You can find me on LinkedIn, Shane Metcalf. You can also follow our podcast HR Superstars where we’re interviewing kind of the leading experts in HR, people operations, culture, management, leadership. And that is you can find that at HR Superstars if you just search in any of the major platforms.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Shane Metcalf
Yeah. Really understand if that’s the job you want. If you fell into your life kind of by accident, and now are just in the habit of inertia, and feel like you can’t actually break out, and that’s a really dangerous place to be. Because if you’re just staying in your job because, “Well, what else would I do? Or, I don’t know how to do anything else,” it probably means you haven’t really examined the rest of the options.

And we’re always free. We can always make new choices even if it means some sacrifices and to kind of shake things up in a pretty radical way, but life is short. Let’s really actually live the life that we want to live and connect with our deeper sense of purpose and passions and be aligned with what we truly are meant to be doing here.

Pete Mockaitis
Shane, this has been a treat. Thank you. I wish you and 15Five all the best.

Shane Metcalf
Pete, thanks so much for having us.

642: How to Identify Your Career Season and Land Your Dream Job with Ramit Sethi

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Ramit Sethi shares how to find your career season and jobhunting insights for landing your dream job.

You’ll Learn:

  1. What makes a job the dream job
  2. The question you should ask your career role model
  3. How the briefcase technique can get you the job or raise

About Ramit

Ramit Sethi, author of the New York Times bestseller I Will Teach You To Be Rich, has become a personal development expert to millions of readers in their twenties, thirties, and forties. He started his website, iwillteachyoutoberich.com, as a Stanford undergraduate in 2004, and he now hosts over a million readers per month on his blog, newsletter, and social media. 

Ramit grew up in Sacramento, the son of Indian immigrant parents who taught him the art of negotiating. Ramit went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in technology and psychology from Stanford University and has used this understanding of human behavior to create innovative solutions in self development. Ramit and his team build premium digital products about careers, personal finance, entrepreneurship, psychology, and personal development for top performers. The IWT community includes over 1 million monthly readers, 300,000 newsletter subscribers, and 35,000 premium customers. Follow Ramit on Twitter and Instagram.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Thank you, sponsors!

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Ramit Sethi Interview Transcript

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

Ramit Sethi
Thanks for having me.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, Ramit, I’m excited to chat with you for several reasons. And one thing, you wouldn’t know it, but the very name of this podcast was inspired by you, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. I was chatting with my roommate in the bath, not the bathroom, in the kitchen, and we were thinking about different options, and he said, “You know what, I really think How to be Awesome at Your Job is where it’s at. It’s like ‘I Will Teach You To Be Rich.’” I was like, “Yes, exactly. It’s so clear this is what you’re going to get here. If some guys can teach you to be rich, I’m going to show you how to be awesome at your job. That’s what’s up.” So, thank you for that.

Ramit Sethi
Very straightforward. I love it.

Pete Mockaitis
Word. Well, straightforward is one of your specialties and you’ve got a whole lot of straightforward wisdom in your course Find Your Dream Job 2.0. Tell us, kind of what’s the big idea or thesis behind the whole thing here?

Ramit Sethi
When people talk about a rich life, it’s funny, you ask them, “What is your rich life?” and they almost always say one of three things. They say, “I want to do what I want when I want.” And I go, “Well, what do you want to do?” And then they just stare at me blank because they’ve never actually thought beyond that answer. So, that’s one.

The second one is they say, “I want to have a million bucks,” which is fine, but a million bucks, if you’re 60 versus 30 or if you live in Manhattan versus Topeka, Kansas is completely different. And the third and most haunting answer they give me is, “I just want to pay off my debt.” So, to them, their rich life is simply getting to zero.

Well, one of the things that’s been happening more recently, especially online, is people talking about freedom and looking down on jobs, basically saying, “If you have to work at a job, you’re a loser because only entrepreneurs are successful, etc., etc.” Now, first of all, I’m an entrepreneur but I’m personally offended when people say this because that’s just not true.

The majority of people make their wealth through a full-time job. There’s also lots of good reasons to work at a job. You can create something together that’s bigger than you can ever create alone. You can learn skills that you could never learn alone. You can have an impact, and on and on and on. And I happen to know this first hand because I have coworkers, employees who work with me to create an amazing business and help millions of readers.

So, I just want to first start off by saying let’s get rid of this misconception that a lot of people on Twitter are talking about, which is that if you have to get a job, you’re a loser. That’s BS. A job is a perfectly valid way towards a rich life, being an entrepreneur is a perfectly valid way towards a rich life. We choose.

So, with that said, I wanted to help people find a dream job, not just a normal job, not just a job where you’re like, “Oh, God, it’s Sunday evening. Ah, I have to take a deep sigh thinking about what I’m going to do tomorrow.” But, really, the tactics that top performers use to find jobs that pay them well, that challenge them, so that was the origin behind the Dream Job program.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, so finding dream jobs, sounds like a great thing to do. Tell us, there are a lot of career coaches and voices out there in the world, what’s kind of distinctive about your approach?

Ramit Sethi
Well, when I started out in college, I had an odd hobby which was I love to interview. And so, I got a small group of my friends together. This was our hobby, we love to interview, so we’d get together, we’d compare notes, “What did they ask you? What did you say?” And we started landing job after job. So, I received job offers at top-tier companies like Google, Intuit, a multi billion dollar hedge fund, and one of the key differences with many career options out there is there’s lots of people who can give you on a resume, you know, 1.25-inch for margins. Irrelevant when you’re looking at top-tier jobs.

So, I always have a philosophy which is study the best. And if I want to find a job, I want to find people who have gotten jobs at top companies because they understand the game at a completely different level than everybody else. So, after I graduated and I had these job offers, I wondered if it was just me. Sometimes you can just be very good at something, and I decided I wanted to help some of my friends to see if I could teach this to them.

So, I remember one of my early friends, she had dropped out of law school and she was feeling very despondent because her parents and family expected her to become a lawyer. She’s like, “What am I supposed to do? I have all this debt.” I said, “I’ll help you find a job but you have to do everything I tell you.” And she was like, “Okay.” And she didn’t think she had any transferable skills. Of course, we all do. We just don’t know how to position them. So, I helped her get a job at a top tier Wall Street company. And then two and a half, three years later, she came to me, and said, “Can you help me again?” She switched to technology and got another top-tier job there.

So, over the course of the last 10 years, I’ve helped thousands of people find their dream jobs, switch industries, get substantial raises from $10,000 to $80,000, and that’s really what separates the material that we teach from the average career coach out there.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So, one distinction you assured is, “Hey, we got some results. Shebam! That’s what it’s about.” That’s awesome. Well done. And so then, how was the approach towards those results different than maybe the mainstream?

Ramit Sethi
Let’s take the most common advice in the career space when you’re looking for a job. What do you it is? If people look for a job, what’s the most common advice that they run into?

Pete Mockaitis
I don’t know, follow your passion, see a bunch of things online.

Ramit Sethi
Yes. Oh, my God, both of them. It’s just drives everybody nuts, right? As if you’re supposed to go outside in the rain, open your mouth and lift it up towards the sky, and passion just rains down into your mouth. That’s not how it works, my friends. And then, “Oh, let me see. I don’t like my marketing manager job. Hmm, one day my boss finally says something disrespectful to me and I decide to leave, what am I going to do? I’m going to go to some random job search website. I’m going to type in ‘marketing manager’ the very job title that I don’t like and then I’m going to delegate my job search to an algorithm and upload my resume and wait.” What a passive approach to life. What a passive approach to the eight plus hours a day you spend in your job which turns into a career.

I want to propose a totally different approach. So, first off, if you are going for a $250,000 a year executive position, the way that you approach your job search, the companies, your informational interviews, is going to be completely different than if you are a lawyer transitioning to being a social worker. Completely different. So, I want to start by introducing this concept which you will not have heard anywhere else called career seasons.

Just like in life we have different seasons, we dress differently, we travel differently, we have the same in our own lives for our careers. So, let me give myself as an example. When I was in my 20s, I loved working hard, I was willing to work weekends, 60, 70 hours a week, no problem because why? I wanted to grow and more money, more responsibility, more skills. That was the growth season. And some of you listening right now, you’re in growth season. You’re like, “Yeah, pay me $15,000 more I’ll put in all the time you want.”

Okay, what happens as we get a little older in life? Some of us have families, elderly parents, hobbies, and we decide, “You know what, I think I want to focus on my lifestyle. Yes, I want to perform at work but I’m going to prioritize a job that lets me have a lifestyle outside of work, maybe pick up my kids at 3:00 p.m.” And then, for some of us, for example, the lawyer who decides they want to be a beekeeper, “I’m sick of being a lawyer. Okay, I’m out of here.” They want to completely reinvent themselves. They are in the reinvention season.

So, if you are going to a career coach or a random website, how can you expect to find your dream job if you’re getting the same advice as a lawyer reinventing themselves or a senior executive gunning for a half a million dollar a year job? You first start, as we teach in our dream job program, how to find your career season. And you can only choose one, not two. That’s the most common mistake. You choose one and then we show you exactly how to filter and find the right jobs for you.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And that was a handy framework right there in terms of those are three very different flavors. And so, let’s talk about growth then. Yeah, I got to pick one. That’s what I want to go for as the best fit for most of us listening, although, personally, I think I’ve recently emerged from growth into lifestyle.

Ramit Sethi
Wait, wait, before we go on. Can you just tell us, how did you know you switched because there are always telltale clues? How did you know you switched to lifestyle?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I suppose it’s like, I guess, I think about it financially in terms of I don’t see any reason for me to work more to earn more. I could work less and earn less, but, fortunately, the way my business is working, I work less and earn about the same. So, it seems like I can do that and I’d like to do that and, you know, got two kids and a wife, and they’re toddlers. How did I know? I think it’s just more and more times bumping up against something, it’s like, “Why am I trading more hours of which are scarce for more dollars which are, hey, fortunately, these days, not as scarce? This doesn’t seem to make much sense to me.” And so, yeah, those kinds of things.

Ramit Sethi
Well, that’s awesome and I hope everyone listening really think about if that resonates with you because, for example, when I was 22, everything you just said would’ve made zero sense to me. I’d be like, “What are you talking about trading? I have infinite time. Get out of my way. I want to grow my career. I want to get promoted,” all that stuff.

But you’re completely right. When you have toddlers, when you’re married, when you have the financial stability to really think about, “What do I want with my limited time every day?” Then, suddenly, you may recalculate, or you may say, “You know what, I love growth. I’m going to double-down on this.” So, anyway, thanks for sharing that. It’s very insightful.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure. My pleasure. So, let’s say folks are in the growth season and they’re thinking, “Let’s do it up. Let’s find a new opportunity that’s going to mean more fun, more impact, more money, more responsibility, more learning, more, more, more,” how do they go about it?

Ramit Sethi
The typical way, as we know, is go update your resume and then put it on a website. That’s fine if you want to compete with five other million people who are doing the same thing. I prefer to narrow down my job search, and this is what we teach our dream job students, so that you can answer this question, “What is your dream job?” When I ask people that, they say things like, “I want to help people.” Okay, I do too. But what I really want you to be able to do is to answer that question with something like this, “I want to work at a B2C technology company in the Bay Area which has between 15 to 50 people, as a marketing manager or senior marketing manager.”

That is extremely focused. And when you have a crisp answer like that, suddenly, you can identify the 10 to 20 companies that match, and, like a shark, you can start circling it. And I’ll talk about what do you do when you circle those companies. But remember, you are a shark. You’re going after your target versus, “Let me throw my resume up in the wind and see where it lands.”

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. And how does one arrive at that level of specificity?

Ramit Sethi
Well, you want to start off by saying, “What is my dream role? And what is my dream company?” So, dream role, a lot of people, again, they sort of just fell into the current job title they have. They graduated college, they became whatever title, and then maybe they got promoted or they just kind of got bumped along. And so, here they wake up, they blink their eyes, and they say, “Okay, I guess I’m a blank, blank, blank.” And then when they search, they search for the same title they have.

We want to start off by saying, “What skills do I have? And what do I want to be doing?” So, I’m a marketing coordinator, marketing manager, insurance salesperson, etc., and you can start by doing the research, which we show you how to find other people who have that title or had that title, and say, “Do I like what they do? Do I like their career trajectory?”

The best part about doing this research is you have a crystal ball into other people like you. So, if you are, I’m just using marketing manager, it could be any job title. If you are a marketing manager, you can look in the future and see what other people, who used to be a marketing, are three years from now. Senior marketing manager, maybe eventually CMO. Is that what you want? What does a CMO do? Okay, great. Now I’ve turned a job into a career and I’m looking forward. Awesome. That’s part one.

You walk out of there saying, “Great. I know my job title. Now, company.” Most of us sort of look around at the companies around us geographically and we go, “Okay, I’ll apply to a few companies and wait.” Again, that’s the approach that everybody takes. Nowadays, particularly if you want to work remotely, there are lots of opportunities and ways to do it. So, when we do our research and we show our dream jobs students, they start off with the companies they know I’ll just give you an example. We had a woman who worked at Guitar Center, you know, those places where you go and buy a guitar.

Ramit Sethi
She’s in some kind of marketing role. And then she got promoted, she ended up working at Disney, and then she went and got promoted and worked at some other entertainment company in L.A. And as I was following her career on LinkedIn, it occurred to me, “Wow! This lady, first of all, she’s a top performer. She’s gotten promoted every two to three years. Second, let me look at her trajectory.” For example, if I was starting out, I would’ve never thought of working at Guitar Center. It’s just not in my purview. But guess what? Someone who worked at Guitar Center then went to work at a world-class company like Disney.

And, suddenly, I’m saying, “Wait a minute. Can I work at Guitar Center? What other companies are similar to Guitar Center?” So, you can piece the puzzle together, as we show you how to do this research, and you end up with a spreadsheet of roughly five or so job titles and 20 or so companies, dream companies, and now you start putting them together and going out and circling your targets. That’s how you do it.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, now with Guitar Center, that turned up in LinkedIn sort of, I think about that Wayback Machine, you know, sort of like back in time at a previous phase. So, is the method by which we surface those Guitar Center opportunities thinking, “Well, what’s the super dream in terms of like long term?” and then say, “Well, who’s got it? And what did I do before?” Is that kind of the strategy?

Ramit Sethi
Yeah, that’s absolutely one part of the strategy. Yes, you want to look at where people are today. Everyone has got two or three dream companies in their head, and Disney tops the list for a lot of people. Great. Let’s look at what marketing managers or senior marketing managers at Disney do and what did they used to do. Now, we can start to trace it back. So, that becomes a very powerful reverse-engineering technique.

But there’s also more to it, right? We can sit at our computers and Google around LinkedIn. But what if we actually talked to this person who now works at Disney or the next company? We’ll say, “Hey, can you give me 15 minutes of your time? I’ve studied your career. It’s fascinating to me. I dreamed of one day working at Disney.” And this is a classic informational interview.

First of all, people are terrified of doing this. They get all in their head, “Oh, why would anyone talk to me? I don’t know what to say.” Well, guess what, we just decided to show you the exact script for when you have these calls. This is exactly what you say. It turns a lot of people will take your call, especially if you approach them in the right way.

And so, you get on the call with this person, him or her, and you can do it through Zoom, and you say, “You know what, I wonder if you could just tell me how did you go from here to here? What was the thought process? Why this company not that?” And, suddenly, you’ve looked at their LinkedIn but now you’re going so much deeper. They’re going to actually tell you why they made those decisions.

And, of course, if you impress them, which you can in not too difficult of a way, those people often say, “Hey, if you decide to apply, let me know. Send me your resume. I’ll make sure it gets to the right person.” So, suddenly, we’re completely side-stepping everyone applying through the front door and just waiting for the black hole doom to reject them, and you’ve got someone who either works or used to work at the company who’s recommending you for an interview.

Pete Mockaitis
And that’s good. What I like about that informational interview approach is it’s a bit different in terms of we’re zooming into the thought process and decision-making of that person and modeling a potential career after them as oppose to merely gathering fundamentals about their current job, which I guess you could do at the same time, like, “What’s it like working there? What do you like about it? What do you not like about it?” It seems like there’s another level of richness there associated with, “How are you thinking about the career game in ways that can inform how I’m thinking about the career game?”

Ramit Sethi
Well, I love how you described those layers. You see, when people think about informational interviews, as I said, a lot of people are afraid to even pick up the phone. But when you really understand how to use all the layers of an informational interview, it’s almost a no-brainer that you need to be doing these in your job search.

I’ll give you an example. So, let’s say that I’m in the lifestyle season, okay? I need to pick up my kids at 3:00 p.m. every day. And so, I’ve narrowed it down to three dream companies and I call somebody who used to work at the company, I say, “You know what, I’ve followed your career. I’m thinking about applying to this company and I just wanted to understand what’s it like to work there?” And they say, “Well, first of all, nobody ever takes any vacation.” And I say, “Oh, really? Why is that?” He says, “Well, it’s a really hard-charging culture, and they bonus you heavily but nobody takes a vacation. And I would say I worked two Saturdays a month.”

Well, guess what. If I’m in lifestyle season, “Thank you so much. I really appreciate the feedback.” That’s an instant no on your spreadsheet. Think about it. So many of us never even get clear about what our career season is so we start off just arbitrarily applying to all these jobs and then our application doesn’t match up with the culture of the company. How could it, right? Because if this company is hard-charging, and you’re talking about, “Oh, I’m looking for work-life balance,” they’re just like, “Get out of here.” And, of course, you never hear back why you got rejected.

So, following the dream job approach lets you unpeel all these layers and, yes, you’re frontloading the work. You’re doing more work on the front-end and it’s going to take you a little bit longer. But I would rather spend two times the amount of time and get eight times the results, then arbitrarily send out my resume and just wait to get back a flood of rejections or arbitrary interviews.

Pete Mockaitis
Totally. Yeah, so that’s great stuff. Let’s just keep rolling through the process here. So, we’re getting some great clarity, and we’re doing the informational interviews, and in so doing, we’re zeroing in, getting a clearer and clearer picture of what’s up. And let’s just say our dreams have come true or partially true, and we’ve got an interview scheduled at a promising opportunity, what do we do?

Ramit Sethi
You need to have the perfect answers for the obvious questions you’re going to get. So, let’s start at the very beginning. Most people walk in with the mental model of, “I’m going in the interview to answer questions.” Wrong. If that is your mental model of walking in, you’ve already lost. Your job is to communicate your key messages in an interview. Now, yes, of course, you’re going to answer questions. Of course. But if you don’t communicate your key messages, then all you are is just a random person. You’re like a puppet answering questions.

Pete Mockaitis
That mindset shift is just like every political debate ever, “I don’t care what you’ve asked me. I’m going to convey my talking points.”

Ramit Sethi
That’s correct. And I have to say I hate using politicians as an example of effective communicators because sometimes I just want to strangle them. But they absolutely get their key messages across. And I’ll give you an example. So, this starts all the way back at your resume.

When you write your resume, again, people think that your resume, the job is designed to share your chronology. Nobody cares about your chronology. Your job is you’ve got 10 seconds of a hiring manager’s attention, “What is your narrative? What is the story that somebody gets after looking at your resume for 10 seconds and then they close their eyes?” For me, it was the technology and psychology guy who understands human behavior. Okay, so that started with my resume and it flowed from my cover letter. And then when I walked in the interview, that was one of my key messages on and on and on. It’s all consistent.

So, for everyone right now, if you’re listening, you’re like, “What the hell is this guy talking about?” Pull out your resume, close your eyes, and then open it for 10 seconds. Close your eyes again. What is the narrative or how would you describe this person whose resume you just looked at? If the answer is from 1986 to 1999, they worked at XYZ, you’re never going to get that job. So, you want to start off with your narrative. Then you walk in the interview. You have a narrative; you have your key messages.

Here are some questions that you’re going to get in your interview that you need to have the perfect answers for. “Why do you want to work here?” “Tell me about yourself.” “What did you do at your last job?” and “Do you have any questions for me?” Those are table stakes. You’re going to get them so you better have the perfect answer and you better be able to deliver in 30 seconds, 60 seconds, or 90-second-versions.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, so can you give us the framework then? How do we nail each of those four?

Ramit Sethi
Well, let’s start with “Tell me about yourself.” Well, let’s do a roleplay right now. All right. So, I’m going to ask you that question as if I’m interviewing you and then you just tell me about yourself. This is the best part. Okay, ready? Tell me about yourself.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m so not prepped, Ramit.

Ramit Sethi
You got 18 seconds left.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s so funny. I know, like some of the right answers but I haven’t worked it in years because I haven’t interviewed.

Ramit Sethi
Ten seconds left.

Pete Mockaitis
All right, Ramit. Well, I’m passionate about discovering, developing, and disseminating knowledge that transforms the experience of people, and through my podcast which reaches over 14 million people how to be awesome at your job, and become the first ever podcast to have courses adapted on LinkedIn Learning. I am thrilled at how I have transformed people’s experience of work away from drudgery into things that light them up, and hear about their victories. So, that’s what I’m into these days.

Ramit Sethi
That was pretty good. I mean, you got a slow start but that was very good. Okay, so, clearly, you’ve talked about yourself before, which I love. I think of interviews as the greatest gift we give ourselves. We get to dress up, we get to talk about ourselves for 45 minutes, and then we get to find out if we were effective communicators or not. It’s binary. Yes or no. I love it.

So, when somebody says, “Tell me about yourself,” most people are not prepared for that question, and they start off by saying something like this, “Well, I was born under a palm tree, and I really love peanut butter, but after I went to college, I was not sure what to do so I was listening to…” and it’s just like, “I don’t care. Nobody cares, okay?” These are questions where you know you’re going to get them so we want to prepare ahead of time and rehearse them so that we can actually be natural in the interview, and it’s a great opportunity for you to also build in your key messages.

So, you might say, “You know, there’s three real things that interest me. The first is technology, that’s why I studied STS when I went to college and that is why I’m really interested in building systems that scale from one-on-one to one-to-a-million. The second part is psychology. I’m really interested in human behavior. So, at my last job, I specifically took on a role of blank, blank, blank, and we focused on doing jobs to be done, research, and customer usability testing before we ever launched the product. And the third thing that I’m really interested in is XYZ.”

Al right, that’s just a very, very simple crisp approximately 20, 25-second answer. Notice that I didn’t go through the chronology because nobody cares. Notice that I focused on my key messages that I’ve already reinforced in my cover letter and resume. What’s the point there? The point is not to talk like me. You need to talk in your own style. But the point is, know what they are really asking. They’re not asking about a chronology. Please stop going through your resume point by point by point. They’ve already read it.

What they want to know are your key messages. What’s interesting? What drives you? Why are you here? So, we want to prepare for these questions ahead of time and have the perfect answers ready.

Pete Mockaitis
And what I really love about that approach there in terms of “There are three key things that interest me,” is you have complete control to hit what your talking points, your core message, and it’s flexible in terms of, surely, you can say something about how something you did in your career fit that interest.

Ramit Sethi
Oh, of course.

Pete Mockaitis
So, that’s very easy to do.

Ramit Sethi
So, in the program, we brought in people, and you can actually see them interviewing with me, and you can watch people’s before-and-after transformation. It’s quite magical. There are some advanced techniques you can use too. You can use something called verbal values. So, you can do things like this, you can say, “You know, in my last role, we focused on customer usability, did testing, and we were actually able to drive up conversions by 32%. Happy to talk about that if you’d like to. But moving forward, we then moved on to XYZ.”

Okay, notice what I just did. That thing called the verbal value where you dropped down and you say, “Oh, I’m happy to go into that in detail if you’d like,” but you keep moving forward. That gives the interviewer a sense of control and, if they are interested, they go say, “Hey, tell me about that.” And you’re like, “Oh, I’m so glad you asked. First, we start it off by doing ABC, and this produces massive insight.”

In the program, I did another thing which I really love. I brought in hiring managers. And when was the last time you actually had real hiring managers with a hiring budget who sat around a table and told you how they hire people and what they are looking for? Never, because they don’t do this, but we brought them in because I know these hiring managers.

So, they came in, and one of the managers said, “My favorite interviews and the people who always get an offer are the ones who teach me something.” I said, “What do you mean?” She said, “Well, we brought in somebody who was a performance marketer and they basically said, ‘Let me show you how I ran this campaign last time,’ they pulled up their laptop, and they started walking this person through.’” The interviewer was completely…like her questions were out the door. This interviewee started driving the interview, and that’s exactly what she wanted.

So, what’s the key takeaway there? It’s not, throw the interviewer’s questions out and pull up your laptop. That’s not the point. The point is you have control over your answers, and your hiring manager wants to learn something. They want to see someone who is assertive in the interview.

Pete Mockaitis
And, frankly, it can be kind of boring to have a full day of interviews.

Ramit Sethi
Who are saying the same things, “Oh, I’m really passionate; I love the synergy.” Oh, God, what makes you different than anyone else?

Pete Mockaitis
And so, if you learn something new, it’s like, well, one, you’re just sort of stimulated, they’re memorable, and that’s killer. And so, actually, I wanted to specifically ask you about the briefcase technique. And so, we’ve kind of hit that a smidge here. What is the briefcase technique?

Ramit Sethi
The briefcase technique is this powerful concept that we pioneered which is used to get substantial raises, land jobs, or lock in freelance contracts. So, I’ve used this many times and so have my own employees used this with me, and I hired them. So, it works like this.

You walk in whether it’s to get a raise or to land a job, and you say, “You know, from my understanding of speaking to several former coworkers and people who currently work here, I understand that the key strategy right now is to improve customer conversion. And based on that, I’ve actually laid out a 30-, 60-, 90-day plan of what I would do if I began this role on February 1. And would you like me to show it to you?”

What percentage of hiring managers do you think say yes to that question?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, all of them.

Ramit Sethi
One hundred percent, okay, they go, “Yes.” And this is where I made it a little fun. You theatrically pull out your presentation, you can pull it out of a briefcase, or you can turn your laptop around, it doesn’t really matter. But it’s kind of fun to pull it out of a briefcase and just let the silence fill the air, and you say, “Here you go. Here, I made a copy for you.”

You literally walk them through, whether it’s a 30-, 60-, 90-day plan, or a proposal for a strategic how you would drive some strategy that they’re working on, or whatever that your plan is, and you watch the hiring manager’s jaw drop. Why? Number one, no one has ever done this to them. Number two, you’ve actually done the research and come in with a plan.

Now, your plan doesn’t have to be completely right. How could it, especially if you’re working outside the company? But you’ve clearly done your research by using those informational interviews, by listening to what the CEO has said in the press and on recent podcasts, and you’ve put together, generally, a pretty thoughtful proposal. Maybe even you’ve included some metrics that you’ve driven before. When they look at this and they compare you to every other candidate who goes in there talking about passion and just living under a palm tree, the difference is clear.

Now, we’ve actually included briefcase technique examples in the program. One of them, for example, is a student of ours, Jesse, who used it to get an $80,000 raise, and you can see the actual document that he presented so you can see how it works. We’re showing you not just telling you, and it is very powerful when you go in there for your next raise or you’re switching jobs. You use the briefcase technique with great results.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m intrigued, when it comes to the raise, that’s a bit of a different context. Is it just sort of like, “Hey, I have a plan and a vision that’s going to create extraordinary value, here it is. Let me go run this.” Is that kind of like the vibe associated with how the raise happens?

Ramit Sethi
A little bit but people pay for performance not necessarily for potential. So, let me flip that and let me walk backwards a little bit. A lot of people have this thing to ask for raises, and one of my charters, one of the things I’ve been talking about for over 15 years is how to negotiate your salary. It’s all over the internet.

And I think one of the big fears, first of all, our culture doesn’t encourage negotiation. We’re absolutely petrified of it. I love negotiating. It’s fun. We get to have a game. Let’s talk about it. And the other thing is a lot of us envision negotiating as, “I’m going to kick down my boss’ door, spin his or her chair around, and then put my hand on and say, “Give me some money.” Well, of course, you’re going to get a no if that’s your approach. Let’s take a slightly different approach.

Here’s what you do. Let’s say you know that your performance review is coming up in six months. You go in your boss’ office, first you set up a time, and you say, “You know what, I really like to make sure that I’m a top performer. Am I hitting all the metrics of my role to be a top performer? So, I’d really like clarity on what that takes.” And you work through this process and you come out with, let’s say, three KPIs, and you say, “Great. I’m going to send you an email just to remind you and I will update you every other Friday.” Great.

So, now, that’s part one. Part two is you got to do the work. You got to hit those numbers. You got to deliver on what you both committed to. And, of course, you say, “If I am able to achieve these goals, I’d love to discuss a compensation adjustment.” “Okay, whatever. We’ll talk about that later.” So, you hit the numbers, you’re documenting this every other Friday, sending an update, no surprises. And then, step three, when your review comes up, that is where you initiate the briefcase technique.

You walk in, you say, “Six months ago, we discussed becoming a top performer. These were the key metrics we laid out. As you know, I’ve been updating you every other Friday. I’d like to show you the final numbers. We hit it. I’d now like to discuss something else. I pulled research.” And we show you how to find out what you are actually worth. Many people are underpaid by $10,000 to $15,000. We find this routinely. “Here’s what I’m worth on the market. I’d like to discuss a compensation adjustment and here’s what I see in the marketplace.”

What have you done now? You’ve done a ton of work, you got micro commitments from your boss all along the way, you’ve, most importantly, delivered and you can also pull out what you plan to do for the next six to 12 months. At that point, you’ve given yourself an irresistible shot at a raise.

Pete Mockaitis
So, you deliver the goods and you show them what’s coming up next, and you show them the market compensation figures.

Ramit Sethi
That’s the most important part. Look, you can show them what’s coming up next. That’s optional and that’s nice to have, but you already committed to what it takes to be a top performer. Now you are a top performer, you should be compensated as a top performer.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, certainly. Well, we talked about Bob Cialdini a moment ago. Like, the reciprocity is just power is just so huge there. Like, if I were that hiring manager, I would feel like the world’s biggest jerk, if I was that boss, if I said anything but “Yes, of course. Thank you.” I would feel like the world’s biggest jerk. Now, you might still get some bureaucratic hierarchical corporate whatever, like, “Well, unfortunately, Ramit, the budget doesn’t really allow for…” If you get one of those meritocracy busters, hey, how do you respond?

Ramit Sethi
Well, we have counter arguments for all those. Here are the common ones you get, “We have a standard compensation policy,” “Times are tough right now,” “Maybe next year,” “The budget doesn’t allow it.” So, look, sometimes that is true and it is critical…we have a framework we suggest about how to know whether it’s an employee’s market or an employer’s market.

So, for example, if you’re going through a deep recession, and you walk in and say, “Give me $10,000 more,” that’s unlikely to happen. Your power is diminished at that point. However, just like seasons, things change and it can be an employee’s market. You need to know that because if you don’t, you walk in blind and you just don’t look very intelligent when you ask for something that just doesn’t fit the marketplace.

But let’s say you do and they give you the sort of standard thing. There are responses which we show you in our negotiating section. And here’s what I want you to know. I want you to know that your boss or your hiring manager has a budget, and their job is to try to get you to work, and they want to save as much as they can so they can deliver all the extra money to the top performer on their team. So, you will often find this is that the top performer on the team gets the lion’s share of the budget and everyone else fights over those 1% cost of living increases.

If you have demonstrated you are a top performer, if you have extracted micro commitments and you’ve delivered, then you need to make it really clear that you’re worth it. If not, you need to ask them what’s it going to take to change this. And if they have no clear answer, then you may need to start considering switching to find your dream job.

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

Ramit Sethi
Just a dream job is something that you can do once, twice, three times. It shifts over the course of your lifetime. So, I asked somebody on Twitter, I ask a lot of people on Twitter, “What is a dream job to you?” And one of the most common responses I got back was, “It doesn’t exist.” So, I reached out to a few of these people, I said, “Do you know anyone around you who has a dream job?” And they said, “No.”

Well, of course, if you and your friends all hate your jobs then, of course, you think a dream job doesn’t exist. The fact that they’re listening to this podcast means, of course, they do know that a dream job does exist. But I want to emphasize it because it’s so uncommon in our culture. You ask people, “How is work going?” And some of their common responses are, “Work is work,” or, “Just waiting until Friday,” I hate that. I want us to go to a place where we’re excited, where we’re challenged, where we’re compensated, where we can work remotely. So, that is why I’m so fired up about a dream job as a core part of your rich life.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. A favorite study or experiment or piece of research?

Ramit Sethi
Oh, I love the Asch experiments in conformity. I love so many of Elliot Aronson’s studies as described in his book The Social Animal, and Lee Ross on the Fundamental Attribution Error, who I studied under in college. It just blew my mind in social psychology.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite book?

Ramit Sethi
I got to say The Social Animal by Elliot Aronson.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And a favorite tool that you use to be awesome at your job?

Ramit Sethi
A favorite tool. My calendar. It’s simple.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And a favorite habit?

Ramit Sethi
My favorite habit is having a leisurely morning. That’s my favorite habit.

Pete Mockaitis
Let’s dig in. What’s going down in this leisurely morning?

Ramit Sethi
Well, I think the best mornings are decided the night before, the week before, the year before. So, when I wake up, everything, I know exactly what I’m going to do.

And, by the time I get to start working, this is my favorite part, I double-click into my calendar and I have all the links are perfectly placed in the same place every time so I can click it. The link takes me to the perfect place in the document to just begin typing. Now, I know I sound like a psycho to everyone listening, you’re like, “This guy is crazy. Why is he talking about this?” But I want everything to be in its perfect place. And so, it gives me a lot of joy to know that all these things have been properly arranged so I can just click one link and everything is just right in front of me.

Pete Mockaitis
It is a beautiful thing. I don’t think it’s crazy at all.

Ramit Sethi
Oh, really? Oh, my God, I found a kindred spirit here. Thank you.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. And tell me, is there a particular nugget you share, a Ramit quote that you’re known for, and people cite over and over again?

Ramit Sethi
Oh, I believe in spending extravagantly on the things you love as long as you cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.

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

Ramit Sethi
You can go to iwt.com/podcastdj or you can find me on Instagram @ramit.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And do you have a final challenge or call to action for those looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Ramit Sethi
Okay. Thank you for asking. I would love it for anyone listening, find me on Twitter, Instagram, my newsletter, and send me a note telling me you listened to this podcast, and tell me what your dream job is. That’s what I want to know. I’m going to leave it as broad as that but I want to hear your specifics. Get down to the details. What is your dream job?

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Ramit, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks. This is just best.

Ramit Sethi
Thanks. This was a blast.

641: How to Inspire Sustained Change with Richard Boyatzis

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Richard Boyatzis shares compelling research on how to open others up to change.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Why goals don’t motivate us to change—and what does
  2. The biological key that opens people up to change
  3. Four principles for making change stick

About Richard

Richard E. Boyatzis is Distinguished University Professor of Case Western Reserve University, Professor in the Departments of Organizational Behavior, Psychology, and Cognitive Science, and HR Horvitz Professor of Family Business. He has a BS in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT, a MS and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Harvard University. Using his Intentional Change Theory (ICT), he studies sustained, desired change of individuals, teams, organizations, communities and countries since 1967. 

He is the author of more than 200 articles and 9 books on leadership, competencies, emotional intelligence, competency development, coaching, neuroscience and management education, including the international best-seller, Primal Leadership with Daniel Goleman and Annie McKee and the recent Helping People Change with Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten. His Coursera MOOCs, including Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence has over a million enrolled from 215 countries. He is Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science, the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and the American Psychological Association.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Richard Boyatzis Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Richard, thanks for joining us on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Richard Boyatzis
Thank you.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m so excited to hear what you’ve got to say. You’ve got your doctorate on social psychology from Harvard and, in my personal opinion, social psychology experiments are among the most fascinating of them all. Could you share with us a particularly intriguing experiment that either you’ve run or just ran across?

Richard Boyatzis
Well, it’s worth it to know that I’m basically a scientist. My first career was designing control systems in interplanetary vehicles. It was after I did that for six and a half months, I found it boring so I left and turned to psychology. But I don’t mostly do experiments. Mostly what I do is help people change. So, I started out, when I turned to the light side of the force of psychology, I started working on how graduate students at MIT helped each other or didn’t, and then I expanded that to working with alcoholics and drug addicts, and training therapists. And then shifted back to something a little less depressing which was how to help people develop as leaders and managers.

And since ’87, most of my work has really focused on “How do you help 25- to 75-year-olds grow and develop?”

Pete Mockaitis
Well, we love doing just that here and most of us are in that age zone. So, tell us, what’s perhaps the most surprising discovery you’ve made along the way about how people change and can help others change?

Richard Boyatzis
Well, for the longest time, I thought that the real motivator for people was the discrepancy between where they wanted to be and where they were. And, in my theory, it’s called the real ideal self, and other people had started to write about it years afterwards. But what I discovered in the last 20 years, and part of that came about through a series of fMRI studies I did, you know, imaging studies and some hormonal studies, is that the real motivator for learning and change is not the discrepancy; it’s your dream. That, in fact, when you dream, not goals, but when you dream, when you think about, “What’s my deep purpose? What do I would love my life to be in 15 years?” and you start to let yourself go, you actually activate neural circuits that allow you to be open to new ideas and other people.

When you focus on goals at the beginning of a process like this, you actually close down that circuitry, that network, because you activate a different network, an analytic network, that suppresses your openness to new ideas and other people. So, I would say the power of a person’s dream, and a lot of people have talked about that, and, hell, Tony Robbins gets 20 million a day for talking about, but what happened to me was, as a scientist, I’m skeptical about all this stuff and I’m plotting away doing all my longitude and the research in the ’70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, and then, all of a sudden, I started to look at the psycho-physiological interactions.

We did some fMRI studies and found out that when you talk to people about their dreams, they light up, like I said, this network that allows you to be open. And when you talk to them about solving problems, they close that down. And that’s counterintuitive because a lot of people think, “Oh, give me another goal. Give me another metric. Add another thing to my dashboard,” and it turns out all of that stuff works the opposite way. It doesn’t motivate people to be open to change or adapt or innovate.

And now we have dozens and dozens of actual behavioral studies in organizations, public sector, private sector, nonprofit, showing that when you engage this, what I call a positive emotional attractor, it’s a certain neural network, a certain hormonal system, and feeling positive about things, you actually increase leadership effectiveness, professional effectiveness, engineering effectiveness, innovation, engagement, and organizational citizenship which is a variable that measures how much you do beyond your job.

Pete Mockaitis
Whew! Richard, this is exciting and that’s a big idea.

Richard Boyatzis
It’s huge.

Pete Mockaitis
Wow, that changes everything.

Richard Boyatzis
Well, look, how many people listening right now are kind of doing their job but kind of looking for the next thing? Which means that they’re not doing their job well. So, what happens is we have engagement numbers pre-COVID, it’s at 76% of the people in the United States with full-time jobs, pre-COVID, were not engaged in their work, 83% in Europe, 81% in Japan. That is a worldwide motivational crisis. That means four out of five people aren’t bringing their stuff to work and they’re not using their discretionary time to create new ways to serve their customers or create new ideas.

I ran into this decades ago when I’d be couch coaching as a part of leadership programs. The CFO of a Fortune 500 company, and I discovered that his eyes would light up when he talked about the body shop that he and a friend started that now has five outlets. I mean, he was the CFO of a Fortune 500 company, you’d think he’d be somewhat excited about that, and it turns out he wasn’t.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, boy.

Richard Boyatzis
So, the question that we all face is not just as a leader, as a manager, as a parent, as a teacher, “How do I motivate other people to be interested in learning and change?” but, “How do I keep myself motivated?”

Because we know from the neuroscience studies about this that our brains are hardwired to pick up on the emotions of others, literally. This is not kind of Betazoid empaths. This is real human adult brains. We actually pick up from the emotions of others around us in 8 to 40 thousandths of a second, milliseconds, deeply unconscious. And even if people are masking what they are feeling, we’re picking up the real feelings.

So, if you are kind of a bit bored or a bit humdrum, you might not say it at work because you got to show the bravado of performance and this and that, but if you’re really feeling that inside, guess what, everybody around you is getting infected with this thing.

So, one of the dilemmas is, boy, if you aren’t inspired about your life and work, there’s no way you’re going to be inspiring other people, and that’s what we have to do.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, thank you. Well, so let’s really drill into this distinction between a dream and a goal. Like, lay it out for us. Like, what are the fundamental differences between a dream and a goal?

Richard Boyatzis
Sure, here’s the question. The single question that we ask that we now know, if we spent 20 or 30 minutes talking about it, you’re lighting up. If your life were fantastic 10 to 15 years from now, if it was absolutely perfect, what would it be like? So, first, we say life not just work because work is a subset of life. Secondly, we go out 10 to 15 years because we don’t want to do three years because people forecast, and when they forecast, they put blinders on and say, “Well, I can’t get there.” And we have to emphasize absolutely perfect. So, you actually want people to break with reality.

And, very often, some people have trouble, especially if they come from economies or political entities or nations that are under a lot of repression, they can’t dream.

So, the dilemma is, “How do we break out of that?” And that’s where what we need to do is to not let ourselves have these blinders on that other people have imposed. It does not mean that it automatically can come true but it may be the pursuit of it that’s the most important because the one thing we know, neurologically and psychologically, is that when you dream, you actually feel hopeful about the future. It’s one of the reasons why I tell people, “Do not watch the news on TV today, these days. If you want to get news, read something. It’s less emotionally affective. The news is bound to make you either angry or throw you on an emotional rollercoaster.”

So, the key, I think, ends up, “How do you feel hope? How do you feel hopeful about the future?” And part of that is you start to dream. And, for many people, once you start to dream, things open up. And, literally, it seems like ideas come to people and they start to notice things. Goals are very useful when you want to focus and you want to get something very specific done.

I published a research study in 1970 showing that if you set specific goals, you’ll achieve your behavior changes two-thirds, three times more likely than if you don’t. The problem is, today if we set a goal, we actually stimulate a part of our psyche that says, “We should be working toward it.” I mean, why do you think most people can’t lose weight? Most people can’t lose weight because it’s a negatively framed goal and almost everybody who seeks to lose weight will lose and then will gain it back. Treatment adherence, that’s doing what your physician or nurse says you should do after surgery or a diagnosis. It’s about 50% in most cases. People do about half of what they’re supposed to do. And if it’s really serious, like coronary bypass surgery, it’s about 20%.

Pete Mockaitis
They do it less when it’s more serious, huh. Okay.

Richard Boyatzis
Yes. And the same thing, we could say, most of us, with regard to what we eat or what we drink. So, one of the things that you start to realize is that there’s something insidious about the way we get our messages about how we should change, not how we want to change but how we should change. And, in fact, that’s what a lot of my research has been focusing on, and mine and others, you know, other professors.

Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten, who co-authored a recent book with me, at Harvard Business Review Press, published a lot of other academic articles and things, so it’s not just me alone. But one of the things that’s very clear is most of the time when we want to help someone, we try to fix them, we give them a tip, “Okay, here’s what you should do. You want to stick to it. You want to get more drive. Do you want to make your podcast be listened to by millions not just a few hundred thousand? Here’s what you should do.” And as soon as people do that, even if it’s well-intended, even if it might be a good idea, you feel like you’re being bullied and you close down. And that’s the thing that goals do.

Now, there is a time in the change process when you want to focus and you want to close down, you want to eliminate extraneous noise because you want to keep your eyes really focused. And, quite literally, there was one study done in England where they used endocrines that are a part of stress, like epinephrine, and there are endocrines that are a part of renewal, which is where the body rebuilds itself, like oxytocin, and they sprayed, either epinephrine or oxytocin, in a person’s nostrils.

And what they were able to show was that peripheral vision, which for most of us is about 180 degrees.  If you’re not a pilot you wouldn’t know this. But if you want to measure your peripheral vision, look straight ahead at a dot on the wall and move your hands, start moving them about a hand’s length away from your shoulders, and keep moving them back until you just lose sight of them, while you’re just focusing forward. Mine is about there, a little less than yours, Pete, but you’re younger, so I’m like 175, 170 degrees. You’re closer to 180, you’re 200. Under epinephrine spray, which is the stress, mild stress, not acute, it goes down to 30 degrees.

Pete Mockaitis
No kidding?

Richard Boyatzis
No kidding. So, what happens is, when you set a goal, you focus. The benefit of setting a goal is to focus. And when you focus, you’re not paying attention to all that. You don’t know that your dog wants to go out, you don’t know that your spouse or partner wants you to go to the grocery store, you forget all that. But that’s also what allows you to get something done. So, goals are useful around the change process later on. Unfortunately, too many people today think by being specific early on or giving people negative feedback, you can get them motivated to change, and all you do is just make people feel like you’re a helping bully.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, so let’s talk about the helping side of this. So, individually, got it, dreaming activates hope, activates new possibilities, it gets things moving in some really cool directions, and it gets engagement and juice and energy flowing. And then later on, a goal will focus in our efforts. Whereas, if we jump the gun and get a goal too early, oops, we’re running into trouble, we feel some should, we feel some bullying, and we don’t get that motivation engaged.

Richard Boyatzis
You’ve got it. You should teach an MBA course.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, thank you. Well, so then tell us, if we’re in a role where we’re trying to help somebody, be it a friend or a peer or a colleague or a direct report that we manage, what are some of the tops do’s and don’ts using this knowledge?

Richard Boyatzis
Okay. Yeah, here’s one that’s counterintuitive. Constructive criticism is criticism. The receiver doesn’t really necessarily differentiate your intent. Ask any teenager about stuff their parents are saying. Ask any older mother or father when their in-laws are giving them tips on how to dress their kids.

So, the challenge that we have is that when we see how somebody else could do something better, we want to help them, and in helping them, we often do it by telling them what to do. And we now have the evidence that says, that tell us, that this closes people down, and it’s too early. So, if you see something that somebody is doing wrong, keep it to yourself because telling them that they’re doing wrong will not be better than nothing. In fact, it’s worse than nothing.

Pete Mockaitis
Worse than nothing. Speaking up, right?

Richard Boyatzis
Now, if you ask somebody how it’s going, and they start to critique it, and they get to a point where they say, “You know, this part of my interaction with these customers didn’t go the way I wanted to,” and you nod your head. And if they turn to you and say, “Can you see something that I might’ve done differently?” Now, at that point, the person is open. So, the key is actually it has a lot to do with listening to others. It sounds silly, it’s so simple but it isn’t simple. It’s hard to listen to others. We’re too busy pushing our own thoughts.

Pete Mockaitis
So, you keep your mouth shut until they ask for it.

Richard Boyatzis
Right.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Richard Boyatzis
And, like I said, it’s counterintuitive. Everybody thinks you can push people to change. You can’t. Now, look, just to be careful, with children or with people who suffer from various cognitive disorders or emotional disorders, they may need more structure so you don’t want to wait till a child burns themselves in a fire to try to get them to realize that they shouldn’t put their hands on a fire.

So, I’m not saying this for every situation. But as soon as we become sentient adults, now we have a built-in defensive reaction to somebody telling us what we should do. That’s why performance improvement plans are a waste of time. Performance reviews might be useful but usually they have to be done in a certain way if they’re going to be useful.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And so then, in our daily interactions, if we’re not, or even in the performance review, within our daily interactions, if we’re, most of the time, not being asked about how we can improve, which, by the way, there’s probably one tip right there is to, if professionally want to grow, dream, be open, and ask and you’ll get the goods and be open to actually working with the goods. So, there’s one implication.

Richard Boyatzis
That’s right. Well, that’s two. Two implications. Dream and then ask.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And so then, if we’re not the asker but rather the influencer, what are we doing? So, we’re listening. What else are we doing when we’re not asking and we’re trying to steer things in a direction?

Richard Boyatzis
One of the things you want to do is try to move people into this zone, this physiological psychological zone that I call the positive emotional attractor. And the question is, “How do you get people into that?” Because any degree of even mild stress, like your cellphone drops a call, or somebody cuts you off in traffic, impairs you cognitively. The data is very clear on this. Cognitively impairs you, perceptionally, emotionally.

So, how do you get into some of these positive spaces? Well, one idea is to periodically feel hopeful. This is one of the reasons why playing around with ideas, when the Powerball, what was it last week, hit a billion or something, it’s fun to say, okay, you’d get 736 million and you kiss off 300 million of that to taxes, but you’re left with $400 million, which, if you invest in a diversified portfolio is going to kick off 20, 30 million a year. I mean, you could buy a plane a year kind of with that if you wanted to. You could eliminate hunger in entire communities if you wanted to. So, the question ends up being fanciful about something like that is not the devil’s playground. It’s actually you being open.

Here’s another tip or another way to do it, I should say. Hope is one these core emotions that is very, very strong and helps us open up. Another one is compassion, gratitude. And one of the questions we often do, it’s an exercise. Let’s do it right now with your audience.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Richard Boyatzis
What I’d like you to do, and the audience, is I’d like you to think of the people in your life who have helped you the most, become who you are, or get to where you are. In your whole life, who would you say, “I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for X. I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for Y.” Just pause a minute, jot down a few names.

Now, go back to the first name you put down and remember a moment with them in which you learned something important, and just think about or write down a word or phrase that captures what they said or did in that moment. In other words, you’re replaying the YouTube video of that moment. I do this in all my speeches and lectures and courses. I usually give people more time. We’re a little time constrained so I’ll rush it.

Now, what I’m asking you now is how did it feel when you remembered these people and you remembered that moment? I’ve done this exercise in all seven continents, something like 50 countries, and people usually say, “Huh, I felt really grateful. I felt loved. I felt appreciated. I was really moved. I felt energized. I felt excited. I felt serene.” All of these, excuse me, each of these emotions are indicators, are biomarkers, of activating the parasympathetic nervous system which is the body’s only antidote to stress, mild or extreme.

And that is the physiological, hormonal thing that gets you into this more positive state. So, what ends up happening is feeling gratitude and caring for others is one of those things. So, being in a loving relationship is really good for you in this way. Spending time laughing with your children or close friends is really good. Helping people who are less fortunate is really good having a dog or cat, or in some places, a horse or a monkey, something you can stroke because when you pet them…I have two Golden Retrievers. When one of them comes out to me, I stop what I’m doing, I pet her for a while, she goes into a parasympathetic response. Because of the emotional contagion, I pick it up, I’m going into this good zone. She picks it up back. We’re having a moment here. But we’re both allowing our bodies, our minds, and our spirits, quite literally, to rebuild themselves.

So, what happens is moments of hope, moments of caring and compassion, moments of mindfulness or centeredness, all really help. So, I know folks who are coaching others during this COVID crisis so they’re doing it on Zoom or video, and they start, because of all the stress in our lives, they start their session, not talking about, “How are you feeling?” They start by doing about five minutes of deep breathing exercises, and it’s not woo-woo land. This is helping your body reset itself. It’s amazing how powerful it is.

Now, if somebody is a practiced, experienced, meditator, they meditate a lot, or do yoga or martial arts or prayer, these are things that allow somebody to learn the skill of how to reset your body’s internal processes, and that’s what you want do for yourself. But you asked me the question, “How do you help somebody else?” That’s how. You help them get into that zone.

Pete Mockaitis
So, we get them into that zone. And I guess, Richard, one of the implications of this is that we’re not necessarily going to steer someone else’s behavior in the direction that we want them to if it’s not in conformity with their dreams and it ain’t just going to happen.

Richard Boyatzis
Right. I used to have top executives ask me in the ‘90s, you know, “Well, wait a minute. If I start focusing on all these dreams and vision, what if the people’s dream isn’t to work in my company anymore?” And my response was, “Then they don’t now.”

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yeah.

Richard Boyatzis
So, yes, I think part of it is you’re being more trusting, and it involves risk, but that’s where people bring their juice, that’s where they bring their talent. Now, look, I’m not talking about rainbows, kittens, and unicorns here. I have a study, it’s coming out, I think, this month in an academic journal. Dan Goleman and I developed a new measure of personal sustainability about five years ago. And then Udi Andar and John O’Seery helped us to run a whole series of studies about it.

And one of the things that we finally have data on, which I’ve been saying since the ‘70s but I was saying it more clinically, but now we got the data, it’s really important for you to enter this positive emotional attractor zone, this renewal zone, in short bursts. Brief is better than long. Doing a number of 10- to 15-minute moments throughout the day is much better for you than to take a whole hour or an hour and a half. Why? Because you’re interrupting all the negative stuff, neural activations, hormones, etc., and, quite literally, you’re letting your body reset itself.

So, briefer moments help. That’s why when somebody started talking about a year, two years ago, about eliminating coffee breaks and eliminating lunch and letting people work three days and then be home four would be deadly, absolutely deadly, because we need the coffee breaks, we need the lunch, we need the chats, we need the going out for drinks or coffee with colleagues. We need them to help our bodies and minds reset themselves so we can perform.

So, more briefer moments during each day are key. And then, here’s the thing we also just proved, is that the variety of things you do to get yourself into that zone also is highly predictive of more engagement, more sense of wellbeing, more career satisfaction, more empathy, less tension and distress, all the good stuff and less of the bad stuff. And it works the same way when you help somebody else do it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. I love it. Well, so let’s hear, you’ve got five key components to an Intentional Change Theory model and we’ve gotten some of the goods already. But could you maybe just walk us through briefly that process from beginning to end?

Richard Boyatzis
I’ve been studying since 1967 how people change. And although I have been studying it, not just for individuals and dyads, pairs, couples, but also teams, organizations, communities, and countries, let me focus right now on individuals and pairs, dyadic interaction. First of all, sustained desired change is almost never continuous. It happens in fits and starts.

If you tried to stop smoking, you just don’t stop cold. Few people do and stay off it. Some days you don’t smoke anything, and some days you smoke two cigarettes. If you’re trying to lose weight, you don’t lose a pound a day. Some days you lose two pounds, some days you gain a pound. So, it’s discontinuous and it’s nonlinear. And if we accept that, we’re a little more patient with ourselves and other people, and this becomes important. Because if you feel tense about it, you’re sending out all this stuff, people are picking it up in their brains and it’s making them crazy.

Pete Mockaitis
This reminds me, BJ Fogg says, “People change better by feeling good not by feeling bad.” And it rings true, yeah.

Richard Boyatzis
Yup, that’s right. We have the data to prove that now. So, with that notion, what I started discovering decades ago, and, as I told you, it surprised me 20, 25 years ago when we really zeroed in on it is that the real motivator of this is the dream, is the personal vision, or sense of purpose, or sometimes people call it their calling.

If you have that, you’re eligible for the second discovery which is, “How do you come across to others?” And that’s where, if you don’t have part of the dream, it turns out you’re not open enough to notice. So, there’s like a 5% chance you’ll actually change in some sustained way. But if you are open to it, you start to pick up and you start to identify things that you do that are strengths and things that you do that are weaknesses.

You’re doing it like if the end result of the first discovery is a personal vision, and the end result of the second is a personal balance sheet, then you decide, “How do I get closer to my dream using my strengths and maybe work on a weakness? Nothing more, just one.” That’s where you identify an agenda or a plan. This is where the goals come in that’s helpful. Because, at this stage, you’re making choices as to how you’ll spend your time and you’re going to explore something, but it has to be joyful. If you do it because you should, it’s exhausting and you’ll atrophy.

Then you go into a thing where you experiment with some new thoughts or feelings or behavior and then pick the ones that work and practice it. And all of that happens in the context of trusting, caring relationships. And if any of those ingredients aren’t there, your process stops short. The majority, and this is really sad, but when I and others have done a lot of research on how much do people change in their abilities, their emotional, social, and cognitive intelligence after four years of college. And when we were doing these studies for various federal agencies in the ‘70s and ‘80s, we found that, on the whole, people statistically significantly changed on one, which means you could babysit for four years and you might learn more than going to college.

Now, not every college has such bad results and not every person has them because a lot of it has to do with intentionality. But then we started to realize that certain programs, certain schools, taught you in a way that upped that a lot, and those desired outcomes were powerful. But I remember reading a study in the ‘90s in an MBA program, 28-year-olds, and the question was, “How long did they remember what they had ‘learned’ put on the final exam in their required intro accounting course?” Six and a half weeks.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Richard Boyatzis
That was the half-life of knowledge. Now, there are things we can do that help us retain our learning, and that’s why I talk about the sustainability a lot. And part of it is this idea of helping people go into this positive more open state on a regular basis. It’s why when people think they’re going to do a lot and maybe even learn a lot by really knuckling down and working 80-hour weeks, what they’re doing, on the whole, is inelastic damage and they, literally, compromise their innovation and ability to see things in the environment for the sake of getting a task done. Most of us have to balance those things. And a lot of this is around the issue of balance of being able to go back and forth with a lot of these different things.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, Richard, I’m kind of curious, what approaches to learning delivered the goods? Apparently, they were pretty rare.

Richard Boyatzis
Okay. It turns out that one issue is where you somehow want to learn it.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Richard Boyatzis
Okay. And some people would say, “Well, I don’t know what I don’t know.” Of course, but the question is, “Why are you taking it?” And if you go back to any of your own courses, Pete, that you took in high school or college or graduate school, when you had to take Spanish, you might’ve taken two semesters, you might’ve taken four, and do you still remember any Spanish? Probably not. But if you did a semester in a Spanish country, Spanish-speaking country, if you started spending time going to South America regularly, like every few months, you actually might decide you want to learn Spanish and you might hold onto it. So, a lot of it has to do with desire.

Then the issue is, “How does the learning fit into your whole life experience?” There’s so much that we can just memorize but cognitive psychology has proven that we hold things in our mind when we attach them to a context or a structure. And the question is, “What’s that structure?” Well, when you involve people pedagogically in terms of the learning methods, in more projects, teamwork, field work, people hang onto stuff.

In medical school, they used to have people go through courses for several years before they saw a patient. And somebody started noticing that if they started working with patients, obviously, they’re not going to just prescribe them drugs or do anything that they don’t understand. But if they started seeing human beings in the first month, they hang onto things, they increase their learning durability or sustainability a lot because it’s an emotional experience.

So, we’re holistic beings, and if you learn something just with your head, it’s going to have a shorter half-life. If you learn it just with your feelings, it’s going to have a shorter half-life. You need both. And so, learning things with others. I was just on a call trying to help a group in Buenos Aires that has hundreds of thousands of 18- to 23-year-olds learn skills on how to get jobs. These are mostly unemployed people. And one of the things we talked about was if they don’t learn to develop peer coaching relationships, relationships where they help each other, they have a lot of recidivism.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. Well, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we hear about a few of your favorite things?

Richard Boyatzis
These are a few of my favorite things. But, anyway, okay. No, that’s okay.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. How about a favorite quote?

Richard Boyatzis
Maya Angelou, “I have observed that in the future, they will not remember what you did, they will not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.”

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite book?

Richard Boyatzis
Kind of splits into different genres. One of the books that absolutely blew me away early in my studying of about psychology was Erik Erikson’s Young Man Luther, and then later he wrote Gandhi’s Truth about their kind of psycho-analytic history. And then there was David McClelland’s The Achieving Society and Power: The inner experience because he took things from different things, from social psychology and experiments, to anthropology, to sociology, and even history, and blended it all together to come up with insights about how humans are motivated. Those, to me, are just absolutely phenomenal books.

Now, on the fiction side, I love some of the classics, you know, Crime and Punishment and The Great Gatsby. But these days, if I want to relax, there’s nothing like a Grisham book.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Richard Boyatzis
Listening. Listening.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Richard Boyatzis
Which means asking people questions. Now, my wife would say I don’t do that as much as I should.

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks; they quote it back to you frequently?

Richard Boyatzis
I would say, even today, a couple faculty at different universities around the world who I was on meetings with were quoting back some of the stuff that I used to say, and still say, about the fact that the most powerful thing we can do is to help people liberate their energy, their sense of freedom. Because, when we do that, when we help people open up, there is no limit to what people can do in helping others, in creating new products and ideas, and solving some of these seemingly intractable social problems that we have.

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

Richard Boyatzis
Well, let’s see. We have a set of books that are more practitioner-oriented, so, i.e., normal people can read them and enjoy them. The recent one is Helping People Change with Professors Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten, Harvard Business Review Press did it. An earlier one was Primal Leadership with Dan Goleman and then Resonant Leadership. So, those are a couple books and there are some Harvard Business Review articles that went along with each of the books.

Then there are several MOOCs, massive open online courses, I’ve done on Coursera. One I did on Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence has, two weeks ago I checked, I think, 1.25 million people have taken this course from over 215 countries.

And then there are all sorts of programs, whether it’s listening to podcasts and people interviewing me, or actually coming to Case Western Reserve where that’s my main job, my full-time job, and coming in to some of our programs, like our master’s in positive organization development that’s all of these were done as residencies even before COVID. So, people would fly in once every few months, the rest is online, executive MBA. We have an executive doctorate program that’s great for people who have a master’s and want to do something more.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Richard Boyatzis
Focus on others. Your job isn’t to manage a strategic plan or to manage money or to create a product. If you’re in a leadership or management role, your job is to inspire others who will inspire others, who will inspire others, who will actually do the work.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Richard, this has been a treat. Thank you and I wish you lots of luck in all your dreams.

Richard Boyatzis
Thanks, Pete.

610: How to Communicate with People Who Disagree with You with Dr. Tania Israel

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Dr. Tania Israel says: "If you actually listen... then they'll be more interested in what you have to say."

Dr. Tania Israel discusses the fundamental skills that help us have more empathic conversations.

You’ll Learn:

  1. One skill to make difficult conversations more manageable 
  2. How to stop seeing disagreement as a threat 
  3. The two fears that keep us from actively listening 

 

About Tania

Tania Israel is a Professor of Counseling Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Raised in Charlottesville, Virginia and educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Arizona State University, Dr. Israel is known for her work on dialogue across political lines, social justice, and LGBT psychology. 

Resources mentioned in the show:

Thank you, sponsors!

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Dr. Tania Israel Transcript

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

Tania Israel
Thanks. I’m delighted to be here.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m delighted to have you. And I think the first thing we need to hear about is your knack for writing, not just books, like Beyond Your Bubble, but also song lyrics. What’s the story here and could we hear a sample?

Tania Israel
Well, I have a quirky muse, and she writes lyrics but not the melody so I have to borrow the melodies from pop songs and showtunes and Christmas carols and all kinds of things. And I’m a lyricist but not a singer so I’m going to spare you. But if you want to hear my lyrics, I actually just started a podcast with a friend of mine who teaches about Buddhism, and then I write songs about the teachings, and a friend of mine who has the voice of an angel sings them, so that’s a much better way to hear my lyrics.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s fun. I remember, in college, taking a class about Buddhism and, man, sometimes there was head-scratching. There’d be a long Sanskrit word, like, Tathāgatagarbha is not a something but it’s also not not a something, it’s like, “Oh, man.” So, maybe bringing it to song will help clarify.

Tania Israel
It’s really something where the teachings can sometimes be murky but I can summarize it in a catchy tune, so there’s something for everyone.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s a gift. Well, there are some murky stuff that I want to talk about and get your insight into. So, you’ve got a fresh book Beyond Your Bubble. Can you tell us, first of all, what’s the big idea here?

Tania Israel
So, the big idea is that it’s possible to have dialogue across political lines, and there are some skills that you can cultivate that are going to help you do so effectively.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I love it. And we love skills here and dialoguing across difficult lines, be they political, or the silos in organizations, or just your boss or teammate who just has the complete opposite view of yours, I think it’s so important. But you know better than I. Tell me, what really do we have to gain if we really master this skill? And what do we have to lose if we don’t?

Tania Israel
Sure. Well, this book all started because, after the 2016 election, it was pretty clear that we have some divisions in our country and that we weren’t communicating effectively across this divide. And this has been affecting us in terms of our relationships, our family relationships, our relationships with people in our communities, but also in the workplace. And so, this is one way that it really can make a difference in terms of work.

Employers are actually losing people’s time and energy to tensions on the political divide and the stress about the divide. So, it turns out that people are more stressed now about politics than they have been in the past. And so, really, this book is something that I wrote to try to help to remedy this problem so that we can both reduce our stress and also have more effective conversations.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that sounds great. And well, I’d love to get your take on this. To what extent is the stress, the fear, real versus imaginary? My perception is that it’s kind of real. I saw some startling stats about, and I forgot who did it, like the percentage of folks who don’t feel comfortable voicing their views, which I think was the majority politically, as well as the percentage of folks who said they might fire someone if they donated to the other side, which I found alarming. It almost made me think, “Well, maybe the smart professional choice is to not talk about it.” What do you think?

Tania Israel
Well, I think it is some real and it is some overblown in our minds. So, there’s certainly evidence that the country is more polarized politically than ever in recent history, and there’s also a lot of evidence that our perceptions of people on, what we would consider, the other side are distorted so we see that divide as being larger than it is.

So, if we’re imagining somebody who’s on a different political party than we’re in, we’re imagining the most extreme example of that that we’ve seen arguing on TV, and that they’re the spokespeople for that, and they’re super angry, and that’s not most people. Most people are somewhere in between there and that they can also be humanized a little bit so that they’re not these stereotypes that we have in our minds.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I think that’s dead-on when you said distortion. I’ve got Jonathan Haidt in my ear because I’d listened to his book The Righteous Mind, and he said, “Morality binds and blinds. It binds us into ideological teams that fight each other as though the fate of the world depended on our side winning each battle. And it blinds us to the fact that each team is composed of good people who have something important to say.” And that powerfully resonated. So, if we are distorted, if we are blind, how do we get undistorted and unblind?

Tania Israel
Well, I think that there are a number of things that we can do. I think the first is just to be curious about people who have different views than we have. And so, if we recognize that we don’t necessarily already know everything about them and the way they understand things, then it’s going to lead us to want to know more.

And I ask people their motivations for…before the book, I had actually created a workshop, a two-hour workshop, that was building skills for dialogue, and I would ask people, “Why are you coming to the workshop?” And there were a couple of things that were the primary motivations. One is that, “I have somebody in my life who we have different views politically but I want to keep that person in my life,” and so that was a big one.

Some people are like, “I just don’t understand people who have a different view.” Some people want to persuade, some people want to find common ground, but these are sort of the most common things that I heard. That piece of, “I just can’t understand other people,” what I always say is, “Well, okay, you have somebody in front of you who could actually help you to understand. Wouldn’t you want to know? Like, wouldn’t you want to try to find out more from them rather than just sort of putting your framework on who you think they are and what you think they believe?”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s well-said to not sort of just ascribe things to people. And so then, can you sort of show us maybe how that works in action with that curiosity? I mean, what do you ask and what do you not ask?

Tania Israel
Absolutely. Sure. So, like I said, the book focuses on skills, the workshop focuses on skills, so I’ll just lay out the skills that seem most important. First of all, listening, and it’s what Stephen Covey calls “Listening to understand rather than listening to respond.” And in my field of psychology, we call it active listening. But it means that when somebody says something that rather than saying a thing that’s contrary to what they’ve said, instead we give them space to say it.

And then we do speak up, what we say is we reflect what they’ve just said to us so that we make sure that we understand and they feel heard, so we sort of summarize back what they said. So, that’s the key piece in listening. Also, managing our emotions is important. Just even imagining dialogue across political lines, people get so riled up. In fact, people have been telling me that, as they’re reading my book, it’s just decreasing their stress about the idea of having dialogue with somebody.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that sounds great.

Tania Israel
I know, which I’m delighted to hear that, so that’s fantastic. And then how do we try to take somebody else’s perspective and put ourselves in their shoes? And then when we are going to share our views, how do we do that most effectively? So, these are really the pieces that I think are important for the puzzle of making things work well.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, can we talk about each of those skills? How do we do each of those things well?

Tania Israel
Yes. So, I was thinking about this in terms of “What does this look like?” And in the book, I’ve got a bunch of examples, like, I’ve got a fictional set of cousins who are having conversations about a lot of different things. But let me just kind of bring an example to you. Right now, certainly, racial justice is in the cultural consciousness, and so this is something that people are really struggling with in terms of, “How do we have these conversations?”

I thought, “All right. What if you see a friend or a coworker wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt and that’s not the perspective you’re coming from?” So, you could see that and you could say, “Well, I think all lives matter,” so that’s one way of responding, or you can say, like, “Tell me a little bit about what you believe. Tell me a little bit about why you decided to wear that T-shirt.” And the same is also true the other way that if somebody is wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt and somebody comes up to them and says, “Well, I think all lives matter.” Then you can say, “Well, these are the reasons that I think Black Lives Matter,” or you can say, “Oh, tell me why you say that. Like, I’m curious about your perspective and I’d like to hear more.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. That sounds simple enough. And so…

Tania Israel
It’s not.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. Like, the words are not complex to formulate. But, I guess, it’s just sort of like, well, what happens next? Where do things get really interesting?

Tania Israel
So, I think that the first thing is even to have that initial conversation and ask those questions, it’s helpful to have a connection with somebody, that that relationship with another person if you already have that. And people often do have that with their neighbors, and with their coworkers, and with their friends and family members. They’ve got already some kind of connection. And so, if you have a sort of trusting relationship, it’s easier to delve into that.

One of the challenges right now is that there’s so much conflict about politics that it’s harder for people to feel trusting. So, sometimes you have to lay some groundwork in terms of having some positive interactions with somebody, finding some things that you have in common that maybe don’t have to do with the conflictual issues, and that makes it easier to start that conversation.

But the other thing that comes up is just the emotional level of it because the things we’re talking about are political but they’re really also very personal that they get to people’s experiences and also their deeply-held beliefs, and so that can obviously trigger us in terms of our emotions. So, knowing how to manage our emotions, knowing how to breathe deeply when you start to feel yourself getting riled up, to notice when you’re feeling flushed and your heart is racing, and to know how to actually reduce that stress, can be really important in terms of persisting through a difficult conversation.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Well, tell us, do you have any pro tips for how we do just that with the managing of emotions?

Tania Israel
Absolutely. Well, it turns out that breathing is something that we all do every day, and that is one of the most helpful things if you find yourself getting flushed and heart racing and shallow breathing. Taking some deep breaths can be very helpful to…basically, what happens when you feel a threat is that your body responds as if that threat is a saber-toothed tiger.

And so, even if that threat is somebody saying something that you disagree with, or that feels threatening to your beliefs, then your body is going to react in that same way. It’s the sympathetic nervous system. And so, what we can do to counteract that is we can breathe deeply. We can also do other things physically. We can pay attention to the feeling of the chair under us, of our feet on the ground. You can even touch your own hand to soothe yourself a little bit. And those things can actually help somebody to reduce that stress enough to continue on with the conversation.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, there’s much I want to dig into here. So, let’s talk about that breathing more deeply. Sometimes I worry that if I do that, it might come across as a sigh, like, “Oh, boy, here it is,” and I don’t want to make that impression. So, can we breathe deeply on the sly or how do we do that?

Tania Israel
It turns out that because you’re always breathing anyway, that you can still breathe, you can change a little bit of the pattern of your breathing, and nobody needs to know. Actually, the best thing to do is to practice all of these skills when you are not in the middle of one of these conversations. So, doing deep breathing, practicing listening just with somebody who you super-well get along with is a great thing to do before you practice some of these listening skills with somebody who you feel some conflict with.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, when it comes to the listening, you mentioned that we’re listening not to respond but to understand. Are there any particular kind of internal cues or prompts or questions, or how do you run your brain optimally so that you’re listening really well?

Tania Israel
That’s a great question. And when I do the workshop, I spend about half of the workshop on listening, and people tell me that one of the things that they get out of the workshop is realizing how hard listening is and sometimes what bad listeners they are because they notice how difficult it is for them to just stay attentive to what somebody else is saying rather than what they want to say.

So, that’s really part of it, is, “How do you keep focused on the other person?” And if you know that what you’re going to need to say, when you have a chance to speak, is summarizing what they just said, you’re going to pay a lot more attention to it. So, if you really think, “All right, my goal is to be able to listen so that I can say back to them a summary of what they’ve just said,” that’s going to help to keep you focused because you’re really going to want to try to understand it.

I think, also, if you know that you’re going to have a chance to speak later, then it can be helpful. So, recognizing that the conversation doesn’t have to be, “They say what they think, you say what you think, they say what they think, you say what you think,” that if it’s, “They say what they think, you summarize that back to them,” they maybe go a little bit more deeply into what they think, maybe you ask them open-ended questions, and you can stay with that for a little while to really make sure you’re developing a deeper understanding.

And then you can switch, so then you get to talk about your view. And what you would want is for them then to be focused on understanding more about your views. So, it’s doing the same thing for them that you would want them to do for you.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s a great perspective there. It’s like there’s no obligation, it’s not a courtroom for you to put forth your viewpoint. I mean, sometimes maybe you’re in the middle of a meeting and the decision is being made in that meeting, okay, yes, we got to hear all the viewpoints. But it’s like totally fine if we maybe have a full conversation about Black Lives Matter, and then we just don’t get to my view, that’s okay. And maybe we’ll get to it later, or maybe they ask, and it’s like, “Oh, shucks, I’ve only got two minutes so maybe we’ll do this over lunch tomorrow.” And I think, in a way, it’s almost like a paradigm shift to just sort of be okay putting that aside, like, nothing bad will happen if you hear them and they don’t hear you.

Tania Israel
Right. Absolutely. And I’m going to tell you the fears that people have about doing just that because people tell me these things.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Tania Israel
So, one of the fears is, “There’s a thing that will make all the difference if I just say it that…”

Pete Mockaitis
You think so.

Tania Israel
“…then they will understand things the way that I do, and that will change their minds, and they will come around to the right view.” And that is one of the things that I hear from people that they feel like they’ve just got to say this thing because it’s going to make all the difference. And so, here’s the thing I just want everyone to know – it’s not going to make a difference. That amazing thing that you think is going to change everything if you just can get it out of your mouth, it’s really not.

And so, I think take some of the pressure off of yourself to feel like, “Oh, I must say the brilliant, clever, smart, right thing, and it’ll change everything,” because it’ll probably won’t. And what has a better chance of changing things is if you actually listen and they feel like you care, and then they’ll actually be more interested in what you have to say. So, that’s one fear that if you don’t say that thing, then you’re missing that opportunity to change the world.

The other fear that I hear from people is actually, “What if I listened to their view, and what if it actually changes my mind?” and that’s a little scary for people because these are really deeply-held views. So, I came across this literature on something called intellectual humility, and there’s so much richness here because, really, what I think of it is how to be righteous without being self-righteous.

And so, being righteous is really about holding onto deeply-held values that feel in alignment for you. But you don’t have to then put down everybody else’s views, that’s when you get self-righteous when you feel like, “Mine are the only views that are worthy.” And so, if you have intellectual humility, you can actually have these deeply-held views and be curious about where somebody else is coming from, and help them feel humanized and valued even if you aren’t going to change your mind about that issue.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Well, there’s so much good stuff there. And I’m thinking about that listening in terms of your odds of persuading are better if you say very little or even nothing in that conversation because there will be another time in which your influence and receptivity has grown there by having done that listening. And I think that’s a powerful reframe as well just right there in terms of, “By saying less, I will achieve more in the influence that I seek, and it’s fine to have a breath there.”

I also want to dig into this notion that we perceive a threat like it’s a tiger coming at us when it’s really not. I mean, that’s kind of the human condition. But how can we establish more of a baseline level of chill when we go there so that this falsehood does not feel real to us, we’re not really under attack, it’s just another idea that we can try on for a second and see what happens?

Tania Israel
Absolutely. And I appreciate you’re sort of talking about the paradox there of listening versus talking, and what’s most powerful. And it does mean that we have to go into this in a particular emotional state to really be able to hear what somebody else has to say even if it does feel threatening to our beliefs. And I hear a lot from people saying, “Well, it’s not just my beliefs. Like, I feel like if that person holds certain views or attitudes about my group, about the type of person I am, then it feels threatening on a more existential level, on a more, ‘Am I going to be safe here?’ level too.”

So, I think, in addition to the physiological ways that we can ground ourselves that help to manage emotions, having a clear understanding of those people who are on the other side can be really helpful. And that’s where recognizing where we might have distortions and stereotypes of people, I think, can help. So, some of those things that we can do cognitively just to recognize that people are not necessarily the extreme that we would think that they are. So, I think just knowing that is useful.

I think the other piece is that the more we listen, the more we know that. The more we really hear somebody, the more we hear their humanity and the complexity of their perspectives, and the harder it is to stereotype them. So, I think that knowing some things before we go in, and then really just paying attention to somebody and being curious, can help to make that person less threatening.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, let’s talk about growing the empathy over time then so you get a better understanding of where they’re coming from and how they might feel that way or conclude those things. Do you have any additional tips on how we can just have the empathy skill be stronger always?

Tania Israel
So, people have a lot of different approaches to building that empathy skill, and a lot of people actually find things in their faith traditions or in the field of psychology. I would say that these are some of the places that people turn to for developing more empathy and more compassion.

And so, I think if you have a faith tradition that gives some practice for that then that’s helpful. We’re talking about Buddhism earlier, if you have a loving kindness meditation that you do; if you’re Christian there are some teachings based on the “Love thy neighbor” kind of perspective; Quakers talk about holding people in the light. There are different kinds of things that people do for that that can help them to keep their heart open to other folks. So, I think if you already have something, that’s a tool.

And the thing I would say with that, and with any of the skills, is that practice is really helpful. So, always coming back to that and not necessarily thinking that in the first interaction you’re going to have with somebody, you will understand them and feel that empathy completely.

Pete Mockaitis
Lovely. Well, I also want to zoom in, are there any particular phrases or scripts that you just love here? So, I don’t know, if it’s sort of, “Tell me more about that,” or, “I’m curious about this,” or, “When did you first believe this?” I’m just wondering, are there any things that you found, boy, again and again and again, they tend to open things up and be super helpful?

Tania Israel
Sure. One of the phrases that I like is “I’d love to hear more about that,” and just leave that open for somebody. One of the things that we don’t always do well is we don’t always allow a question to just be out there and then just for us to stop talking. Ask the question and then give them space to respond, because sometimes we’ll ask a question, like, “I’d like to hear more about that.” They don’t have a set response to that because it’s not what we usually do. We don’t usually sort of delve in more deeply. So, just putting that out there, “I’d love to hear more about that,” and then stop.

Pete Mockaitis
And maybe let’s back it up even before words start getting exchanged. So, use the example of a Black Lives Matter T-shirt, so maybe it’s that or a red Make America Great Again hat, it’s like a garment or a something gives you an indicator of what someone thinks about something, and you don’t care for that viewpoint. What do you recommend doing just like internally before we even start a conversation? Because I think it’s quite possible for the mind to leap to assumption, prejudice, judgment. It can be harsh, and it can be unfair, and it can be intense. How do you recommend we address that in ourselves if that’s there?

Tania Israel
Oh, that’s a great question. I think that it’s so important that we start with what’s going on internally for us. I think that the first thing is to notice that, to notice that that’s coming up for us, that we’re making these assumptions about that person, and maybe to start to get curious inside. Maybe you see somebody wearing a Make America Great Again hat, and you go, “Huh, I wonder why they made that choice? I wonder what their experiences are that led them to want to adopt that perspective?” And so, I think starting that curiosity internally, asking questions, rather than the sort of statements that we might be making to ourselves about that person can be a good start.

Pete Mockaitis
And what’s interesting, when you have that curiosity, and maybe this is a little bit too flippant or playful, but there could be any number of reasons that don’t even mean they love Donald Trump. Like they have lice and this is the hat they have available, it was a joke, it was a bet. They’re trying to develop these skills associated with having difficult conversations, they thought this would draw people to them. I mean, none of these are particularly likely but they’re all possible. And when you have that curiosity as opposed to assumption, it seems like it can take a lot of the intensity out of things from the get-go.

Tania Israel
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s true, like very likely someone is wearing that hat because they believe that, because there’s something about that that resonates for them, and don’t you want to know what it is? Don’t you want to know more about that? And I always think that that’s the most curious thing is that people say, “Well, I just can’t understand,” but when they’re given an opportunity to understand, they shy away from it, or not just shy, like forcefully push away from it.

And that’s actually probably the thing that I learned most from doing this work is that people have these motivations that bring them to it, that bring them to want to have dialogue but that’s not the only want that they have. They want to maintain this relationship but they also want to vent, and they want to feel validated in their own beliefs. And so, I think that having multiple wants is really important for us to really know about ourselves because if we think, “Oh, you know, I really want to have this dialogue but I can’t because the other side is not going to want to have this conversation.” I hear that from people a lot.

And what I know also is that, ah, people have a lot of reluctance to do it themselves because there’s another motivation that they have that either is stronger or, at least, is in conflict with that desire to do it.

Pete Mockaitis
And I’m thinking a little bit about defensiveness now. We talked about some of the work we can do internally in terms of being curious and watching yourself and checking the assumptions that you might be leaping to, and not sort of being really eager to ensure you put out your viewpoint. Do you have any other perspectives on how we can sort of preempt defensiveness? Because I think some people get defensive quickly, and some people are defensive only when they think you’re really coming after them. So, what’s the best way to minimize this impact?

Tania Israel
So, it’s really helpful to get to know people outside of the political conflict. Sometimes there are things we have in common. People can relate a lot to other people who are trying to raise children in the middle of a pandemic. Like, okay, maybe that’s something you have in common. Maybe you both coach soccer. Maybe there are things that you have in common that you can talk about. You don’t have to start with the thing that’s most conflictual. You can build some connection.

In other ways, I mean, if you just see a stranger who’s wearing a hat or a T-shirt, sure, you might not want to go up and have that conversation with them, and so you can or not do that. But there are people who might be closer into your life and into your community or your workplace, and then maybe you’ve got an opportunity because maybe you’ve already got some foundation with them, and then you can venture into these conversations.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, now let’s maybe shift gears a bit away from explicitly political stuff. So, let’s say you’re working with a boss or a manager of another department who’ve kind of inferred that, or they’ve explicitly said that they’d like you or your department to no longer exist, like downsizing or outsourcing, or something that also just kind of hits you where it counts in terms of “What I have to contribute does not seem valued.”

Now, that may be a fair or unfair characterization, but if you’re in that place, well, you still need to consider their viewpoint and collaborate and get to great decisions together. Are there any additional things that you’d highlight here?

Tania Israel
Sure. Well, there’s a lot wrapped up in that. One is that if there’s a power differential between yourself and somebody else, so you’re talking about like a manager, that can really affect things because that feels more threatening, and it feels like you may not be as comfortable expressing a view, or even asking more questions about it. So, I think that’s another piece that we have to take into consideration with these conversations is, “Are there power differentials that are affecting things?”

Okay, I’m going to get to your question in a moment, but I’ll just share that I was listening to one woman who was interested in dialogue and, partially, because she was trapped in a car with her supervisor driving somewhere, and her supervisor was just like going on and on about his political views, and not something that she agrees with, and she didn’t feel like she could get out of it. So, I want to speak to the managers for a minute.

This is something to know is that you’ve got a lot of power, and putting somebody in a situation where they’ve got to hear your perspective can feel really vulnerable for that employee. And so, I think really being aware of how that might be affecting people in the workplace is really important. So, that’s if you’re coming from the manager side, and that’s, again, about politics. So, let me move back to your scenario then.

Listening is still really helpful. Somebody says, “Wow, I don’t really know that we need the kind of work that your department is doing.” You can argue back and say, “Well, yes, you do.” But don’t you, first, want to know how they came to that conclusion because you’re not going to actually be able to make an effective argument to them if you don’t know how they got there. So, “Oh, why do you say that?” or, “I’d love to hear more about that. I’d love to hear more about what a bad job you think I’m doing.”

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

Tania Israel
But, really, just asking, “I’m really interested to know how you got to that conclusion,” and then you actually got to be really interested to know.

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

Tania Israel
The one other thing that I’ll add, because I talked about listening and reflecting and summarizing with somebody says, and I think that’s really important for people to know, is you don’t have to actually be able to create in your head a transcript of what somebody had said and say it all back to them. The way I would describe this is what you want to do is you want to nugget-ized what they said. You want to get the nugget of something really important. And so, just know that if you’re listening to somebody, that’s the key thing, it’s like, “What’s the nugget of what they’re saying that’s most meaningful and important to them?”

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. Now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Tania Israel
Sure. Lisa Slavid, who’s the fabulous cartoonist of Peadoodles and also did a drawing for my book, I first heard this from her, “With relationship comes grace.” So, in other words, the stronger our bond with somebody, the more forgiving they are when we stumble.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m going to chew on that for a while. Thank you. And how about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Tania Israel
I find myself referring a lot to the Hidden Tribes study that grouped people in terms of a lot of different factors related to political beliefs. And this actually helps with that, what we were talking about, which is that even though we think most people are at the extremes, they found that most people are in what they call the exhausted majority.

Pete Mockaitis
Exhausted majority. Yeah, that’s good. And how about a favorite book?

Tania Israel
Memoir is my favorite genre, and I just listened to Chanel Miller reading her own story in Know My Name, and it is absolutely stunning.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, thank you. And how about a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Tania Israel
I love the Pomodoro Method. And something that helped me to write the book was doing Pomodoro with colleagues on Zoom.

Pete Mockaitis
So, just like accountability there.

Tania Israel
Not just accountability but having company in it. So, yeah, that really helped me to stay on track and get the book written.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite habit?

Tania Israel
I will sometimes record myself talking about something, and then I’ve been using Temi to digitally transcribe that, and that also helps me with my writing.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, cool. And speaking of nugget-izing, do you have a particular resonant nugget that you share that seems to really connect and resonate and get quoted back to you often?

Tania Israel
Some people seem to love this thing that I created that I called the flowchart that will resolve all political conflict in our country.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s quite a claim. It sounds like there’s lots of love there.

Tania Israel
Yes, it’s sort of nugget-izing my book.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Where do we find that?

Tania Israel
You can find that, and all my other stuff, on TaniaIsrael.com.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, cool. And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Tania Israel
Be curious about people who are different from you.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Tania, this has been fun. I wish you much luck with your book Beyond Your Bubble and all your interesting conversations.

Tania Israel
Thank you so much. It’s been great to be here.