Dr. Carole Robin | How to Build World Class Connections and Lead With Vulnerability

In today’s episode, we cover building stronger connections with Dr. Carole Robin. Carole Robin, Ph.D. was the Dorothy J. King Lecturer in Leadership at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business where she helped to further develop the Interpersonal Dynamics Course, and is now the author of the best selling book, Connect: Building Exceptional Relationships with Family, Friends, and Colleagues.

Technology and the pandemic have changed the landscape of human connection, but how bad is it, what simple tips can you use to improve your ability to connect, and what is the correct way to show vulnerability in the workplace?

What to Listen For

  • The damage technology is having on our ability to connect – 0:00 
  • What experience do we all need as humans and what can you do to give people that experience?
  • Why are we losing close connections in our lives and what can we do about it?
  • How does social media trap you into a state where you can’t connect with the people around you and what can you do about it?
  • What simple tip can you use to deepen any connection?
  • Why you need to get comfortable talking about feelings – 9:56 
  • Why is it detrimental to your relationships to avoid talking about your emotions and feelings?
  • What are the benefits of expressing your feelings and how does it help strengthen your relationships?
  • Why are “why” questions so challenging when it comes to connecting with someone, and what questions should you ask instead?
  • What type of questions can lead to the other person feeling judged?
  • What is the signature trait of a successful relationship?
  • What does a successful relationship look like? – 31:38
  • What are the characteristics of a successful relationship and what can you do to cultivate them in your relationships?
  • How has the pandemic affected the way we interact with coworkers and build relationships?
  • What 90 second exercise can you implement to strengthen your personal and professional relationships over Zoom?
  • How can you be vulnerable without letting your disclosure be used against you?
  • What can women do to become better leaders while staying true to themselves?

Technology is changing the landscape of human connection and it’s hard to know what will happen next. What you can do now, however, is learn to be vulnerable so that those around you also feel comfortable being open with one another. Without this openness we’ll always have a lack of trust which does not bode well for our society at large where social connections are essential.

A Word From Our Sponsors

Share your vulnerabilities, victories, and questions in our 17,000-member private Facebook group at theartofcharm.com/challenge. This is a unique opportunity where everyone — both men and women — celebrate your accountability on the way to becoming the best version of yourself. Register today here!

Resources from this Episode

Speaker 1: Welcome back to the art of charm podcast, a show designed to help driven entrepreneurs and professionals. Like you skyrocket your sales, maximize your relationships and own any room. Every week we share with you interviews and strategies to guide you to your goals, by unlocking your ax factor and giving you the edge you need in a hyper competitive world. The latest in science, psychology and self development tools will help unlock your X-Factor, whatever it may be by giving you that edge in any situation.

Speaker 2: So whether it's sales, client relationships, or even just deepening bonds between friends, we've got what you need. You shouldn't have to settle for anything less than external.

Speaker 1: I'm a J and I'm Johnny. Thank you everyone for tuning into this week's episode, let's kick off the show today. We're talking to Dr. Carol Robin, her new book, which she co-authored with her colleague. David Bradford is titled connect, building exceptional relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. One of our absolute favorite topics, Dr. Robin and Dr. Bradford have taught interpersonal skills for a combined 75 years in their legendary course, interpersonal dynamics or affectionately known to generations of students at Stanford's graduate school of business touchy feely. Their book connect is all about taking relationships from shallow to exceptional by cultivating authenticity, vulnerability, and honesty. And at the same time, being willing to ask for and offer help, share a commitment to growth and deal productively with conflict at Stanford, Dr. Robyn was known as the queen of touchy feely. And when she retired in 2017, there was even a scholarship established in her name. She's since then, co-founded the leaders in tech platform. And we're so excited to have her with us today. Welcome to the show Dr. Robin.

Speaker 2: So Carol and reading your book, a word stood out to me that we don't use anymore. I don't hear it much, but it is so fitting to what it means, and perhaps we should get back to it. And it is this word confidant, meaning that you have confidence in the person you're speaking to it to acknowledge respect, and be able to empathize with them. And you were book discusses this. So what are your thoughts on that word and the meaning of it?

Speaker 3: Well, of course it connects directly to this whole idea of why we need to learn how to create stronger, more robust relationships and connect with people, which of course is the name of the book. Because I think as human beings, we need the experience of feeling known and seen. And it's reciprocal. If in fact the relationship is functional, nevermind, exceptional, which the book talks about, but just let's just get to functional. So you're right, that a confidant is a person that you trust that you can be honest with and that you're not afraid is going to use whatever you tell them against you. All of which are hallmarks of relationships that are moving on this continuum from mere contact to actual connection, and then exceptional.

Speaker 1: Now in the last 10 years, there's been a lot of studies coming out about Americans losing this connection. And in fact, over 25% of Americans report zero confidence in their life. Another 50 only have one which tends to be a spouse. Why do you think we're losing confidence in our life? It's such a drastic

Speaker 3: And by the way, so core to why we decided this book needed to be written. And of course, you know, it's tied to this legendary course where the students at the Stanford business school learned all the skills and competencies that you need in order to create these kinds of relationships. What's happened over the last 20 years. First of all, let's just think about what's happened over the last year. I mean, we've become so polarized. So tribal so quick to judge, we've lost curiosity about each other. And all we do is look for people that think and see the world and want to affirm that the way we see the world the same way. So, you know, the course of the business school was called interpersonal dynamics, the co the students of courses, you know, called it touchy, feely, which we can come back to. But I always used to say, the course really should have been called connecting across differences because when you learn these skills and competencies, it's probably easier to create a confidant with somebody that's just like you it's that much more rewarding and richer. If you learn to do that with somebody that initially you think in a million years, I'd never spend time with that person. We'd never be friends.

Speaker 1: One of the anecdotes in the book related to this exact phenomenon with students of Stanford. So diverse background of student body would come in to school, but the wealthy tended to group together. And then everyone else felt like outsiders and would hide their religion, their background, and try to become someone they're not until they actually discovered that course and had an opportunity to finally connect across those differences. Why are we hiding who we really are, whether it's on social media or in these opportunities for connection. When we know deep down being seen, heard, and understood our core desires of us as humans,

Speaker 3: We hide because we're scared. So let's talk a little bit about that fear by the way, fear sometimes is an acronym for false expectations, appearing real. It's risky. If I'm going to show you a little bit more of me, if I'm going to share a little bit more of me, it feels vulnerable and vulnerability feels a little risky. And that's why we talk about the 15% rule in the course. And in the, we can come back to that. And to your question, the reason that it feels risky is that we've never tested. If I show you this part of me, I'm imagining you're going to like me less, but it actually, what the students discover is you like me more when I say that I feel insecure and I'm not sure if I was the admission error, then it turns out that 80% of my classmates feel the same way.

Speaker 3: Oh my gosh, look at that. We have so much more in common than we thought we did. And so part of the reason, the course is so transformational is that as students take the risk of allowing themselves to be a little more known and discovered that the parts of themselves, they usually keep hidden, or the parts that other people feel drawn toward and more connected to, they like, it's like, Oh my God, I've discovered America. But of course, you know, the course is set up. So, and the reason that the model in the book around 15% is so important is you don't just walk in and bet, let me tell you everything and overwhelm the other person and then freak yourself out. So you have to learn how to do it incrementally. And you have to understand that the process of disclosure is reciprocal. If I take the first step and tell you a little bit, then you might take a reciprocal step. Tell me a little bit, and then I'll tell you a little bit more. And that's how we expand what we call our comfort zone. Our comfort zone is where we talk about, we don't think twice about what we talk about, but we don't build relationships unless we step outside.

Speaker 2: I want to come back to that 15% in venturing out in that comfort zone. But I want to set that up with, we have all this technology around us and it's advancing all the time and it has made our lives easier in so many aspects, except the personal things that it can't make easier. For instance, even though the technology has evolved, we haven't evolved as fast as the technology, our relationships haven't evolved or become easier for this technology. Yes. It's easier for us to reach out and chat with you after reading a book or send a message to somebody that we admire that, but their work. However, in building a relationship, there is work and effort that needs to be put in, even in cells, if you want a product, it is up to the sales team and the marketing team to take out any hurdles between you and the purchase button.

Speaker 2: And if we find any hurdles, us purchasing that the percentage of that, the likelihood goes down. And so in our friendships and our relationships, if we see that there's any friction or there's any hurdle in working with somebody or to connecting, we just opt for an easier option. And so I think you are 15% of here's the fun of this. And here is a simple formula for you to be able to not see this as a hurdle, but see that your, your efforts put in and the risk that you take will be worth something. And I love how this whole book is about learning about the other person, because that's what you get. If you put this effort and risk into this,

Speaker 3: And you don't just learn about the other person, you learn a ton about yourself in the process. So if you want to learn and grow good luck doing that all by yourself.

Speaker 1: Well, what this brings to mind is, you know, many of us are now engaging with everyone's online brand. So we go to their social media, we see them smiling, and we assume, Oh, things are going well for them. I have no reason to check in on them. It looks like the pandemic is treating them. Well, look, they're on this trip or they're out to dinner or they're enjoying their lives. And I think a lot of these are false signals that lead us to invest less in people and assume more. And the power and the book is listen to those assumptions that we're making are often faulty. We don't have enough information. We're putting our own story, our own spin on it instead of actually listening to the other person. So let's talk about this 15% rule, because it's so powerful for those in the audience who are worried about being vulnerable and don't know what's too much or too little and end up holding everything back

Speaker 3: To your point. Technology has actually hurt our ability to connect in the way that we talk about connection. So let's come back to this because we think to your point a day, that we're connecting. When we send each other a Facebook message, that's not the kind of connection that we're talking. And when, when we take the picture in front of the Eiffel tower, well in back in the day, right at smiling and yeah, the trip was miserable. So the way when we talk about disclosure, as one of the keys to creating more connection, and we talk about being more open and being more known, usually when you hear things like disclosure, people think, Oh, I'm going to tell you something that's illegal, immoral, or fattening actually about telling you more about how I'm feeling right now, right here in this moment, which is why the course is called by the students.

Speaker 3: Affectionately touchy, feely, because at the big emphasis on feelings, feelings are what gives meaning. To fact, if I tell you I went whitewater rafting, okay. If I tell you I went whitewater rafting and it was exhilarating, you've learned more about me. If I say I went whitewater rafting and felt terrified. You've learned something different about me. And if I tell you I went whitewater rafting, I felt terrified and coerced into doing it because people were going to think I was really, you know, a wimp. If I didn't, then you've learned even more about me. And then maybe I've taken a bit of a risk in letting you know that about me. Oh man, Carol, doesn't always have it together. So there's a cost to the spun image with that has become so prevalent, which is then I'm trapped. Like now I can't tell you that I was scared because by the way, Carol's never scared.

Speaker 3: And so the 15% rule says, there's three concentric circles. The one in the middle, your comfort zone, you don't think twice about what you say. The one on the outside is the danger zone in a million years. You'd never share that. And the one in the middle is your learning zone. You can't learn anything new unless you step outside your comfort zone. You. And that's why when you learn to ski, they don't take you to the double black diamond, but they also don't leave you on the bunny slope. So unless you step outside your comfort zone, then you're not going to learn and grow. So our students used to say, but Carol, the minute I stepped, 15% outside my comfort zone, how do I know I'm not in my danger zone? And I used to say, think 15%, a little bit outside your comfort zone. And it's probably small enough that you're not going to freak yourself or the other person out too badly. If things go right, it's probably small enough that you can still kind of regroup. And then what what's really interesting is that once you step 15% outside, your comfort zone gets redrawn with that person. And now you can step 15% beyond that, especially if they've then reciprocated by going 15% beyond their comfort zone. And that's how relationships deepen and grow.

Speaker 1: Now, you brought up two great points that I just want to touch on around emotions. Number one, they actually provide context to all of the information that we're sharing. And when you state a fact, if you don't add the emotion, people are going to paint whatever emotion they're feeling or they felt in the past around that event. And your great example in the book around someone losing their job well for one person that might be terrifying for another person that might open a door to a new challenge, that's exciting for them. But if all you say is I lost my job, the other person hearing that is going to fill in their own emotional context. The other important point is emotions also connect us because they're universal. I've never been whitewater rafting, but I've been terrified and coerced as Johnny could admit to going up on a zip line and to loom. So I've been in those situations where the emotion provides that connection between the two of us, even though I've not strapped on a helmet and gone whitewater rafting. But if we leave out the emotion from the conversation, we robbed that other person have all that opportunity for connection.

Speaker 3: That's such a wonderful point. And in fact, I'll add that emotion is the source of empathy. So you don't have to have ever been whitewater rafting, or you might think, God, I love whitewater rafting, but you know, the experience of terror and coercion. And so you can empathize with my feeling that even if you would never feel that way in this situation, that's where people really get confused as to thinking, well, I don't know why, why you're sad. You should be happy. I don't, you know, well, first of all, should, should be eliminated from the English language. But, uh, but the other thing I'd say is it doesn't matter if you understand why I'm sad or not, you understand the feeling of sadness. So you can probably connect to that. The other thing about emotions is that they also indicate the intensity of an experience. So if you tell me you're mildly annoyed, that's different than if you tell me you're upset or angry or furious. So feelings are like two thoughts are like treble and bass in music without feelings. You've only got half the story, but we've been socialized to leave feelings out of it, especially in business, but really, you know, think about little kid hurts himself in the playground and a mum runs over and says to him, you're fine. You're fine.

Speaker 3: You know, no, actually I'm hurt, but it's so important for mom to not be worried about kids being hurt, that she denies the kid, even the right to be feeling hurt. What's with that,

Speaker 1: I've noticed about the more you express emotions, the more you're able to pick up on emotions in others. And we've fallen into this terrible pattern where we dampen our emotions that we're sharing. And in turn, we're not in tune with others' emotions and we're losing that ETQ and that ability to really understand where the other person's coming from, we've all been in those boring surface level smalltalk conversations that are just an exchange of information. And for many of us it's led us to not want to network, to not put ourselves out there to think, you know what? I'm just going to sit quietly next to the student in class and not say a word for an entire semester, robbing ourselves of that connection.

Speaker 3: Yes. Yes. That's why we talk in the book about these two antenna that are important to be interpersonally skilled. One is the antenna that picks up signals on what might be going on for the other person. And the other one is what's going on for me. And that comes back to the point I made earlier about how much you learn about yourself when you engage and create relationships like we're talking about. Because boy, if I have a big reaction to something that you've done, there's probably something for me to learn about me in observing that. Plus if I learn to pick up on my own emotional reaction, I have more choice in what I decide to do with it. So that's the other thing, another reason the students say it's so transformational and, you know, I hear from my students 10 years later with not just, I got promoted to be a CEO because of what I learned, but you know, I'm pretty sure your class just saved my marriage. What I learned from you just help me reconcile my relationship with my brother, who I hadn't talked to for a year. So why, because they've learned that these a, that these two antenna even exist, but B that they've learned to tune them to pick up signals that are a little more muted. And they've got a bigger toolbox with which to make informed choices before they act.

Speaker 1: I think part of the book that was really interesting for both Johnny and I, and, and we've talked about this in our classes for the last decade, plus is the importance of questions to strike conversation, but also the balance that's required in your question asking, and we talk about always following any open-ended question of someone else with your own statement, where you are actually sharing and adding to the conversation, not just pulling information from the other person, the book pointed out that there is a trap we fall into with a certain type of open-ended question, a why that many in our audience might be using and not realizing how much pressure that puts on the other person. So why are why questions so challenging in conversation when we're trying to connect with someone?

Speaker 3: Well, let's go back to this whole idea that we were just exploring, which is that a lot of what we're talking about when we're connecting, the way we're talking about is from the heart to the heart, why questions tend to drive us up into our head? So why do you think that up into my head or even why do you feel that way into my head? Or why would you do that into my head? So not only into my head, but also it pushes me into needing to somehow justify myself or explain myself. It's much easier for me to feel judged when you ask a why question, by the way, judgment is anathema to connection. The first thing you've got to do, if you want to connect to somebody else is get curious and you can't get curious if you have already judged them. So why questions drive us up into our head and make us defensive? So instead of saying, why do you feel that way? I can say, so what's that feeling about? Or where's that feeling come from? Or when have you felt that way, or how often do you feel that way? Any of those versions will help us deepen the conversation and not drive you into your head? And by the way, when people are crying, why are you crying? Might be the very worst thing you can say. What are the tears about is an infinitely better question.

Speaker 2: Well, as you were going over all the why questions, I had, uh, an emotional response of being 10 years old and being grilled of why did something terrible or stupid? Uh, my dad was trying to get to the bottom of this, but also trying to get me to think of like, what is it that made you think that this was a good idea? And of course those insists having an emotional response even to this day.

Speaker 3: Well, what made you think this was a good idea is actually not a productive question. It's a hypothesis hidden in a question or a statement hidden in question form. Don't you think you were just trying to discredit Jane when you did that is not a question. It's certainly not an inquiry. So what was going on for you when you did that? What was the process you went through as you were trying to think it, and by the way, the question also requires if it's going to work the way we're talking about to build relationship, I think it requires making sure the other person understands your intent in asking it. I want to know, because I want to know you better. I want to understand how you came to think this because I tend to think differently. And I think there may be something for me to learn. So there's lots of ways in which you can engage with people and ask questions that build relationship and a few that can make sure it doesn't build.

Speaker 2: Well. I love that you were able to pinpoint of the why and why that wasn't a great question to get somebody to open up. And, and soon as you mentioned that I was like, of course, that was brilliant. Now all, a lot of this was setting up for a lot of the conflict resolution and connection that is in this book. And to get to that piece, we have to understand and break reality and the three separate realities that everyone needs to understand and read, be respectful of because they are realities to several people that will play a role in that conflict resolution. So do you want to set this up for us with the three Audi's and the net?

Speaker 3: Yes. Uh, it is a core model in the course. And in fact, the language gets adopted is a part of the Stanford graduate school of business lexicon, which is you're over the net. So, and by the way, that creates a whole community that all speak the same language. And so now we've got CEOs who hire us and have us come in and teach all their people this, and now they all have it. So you're right to point out that no matter how great our relationship is, conflict is inevitable. And in fact, the closer you become and the deeper the relationship, the more likely there is to be at least what we call it, pinches, but certainly conflict. And one way to learn how to handle it productively, which is a hallmark of an exceptional relationship, no conflict handling it productively is this idea that in any exchange between two people, there are three realities, not two realities.

Speaker 3: There's what I say and do that's reality. Number two, it's the only one known to the two of us. There's my intent in saying and doing that, which is reality. Number one, which you don't until I tell you, and there's reality, number three, which is how, what I said and did landed on you, what your reaction was to it. Now we described this metaphorical net where between reality number one, which is my intent and reality number two, which is my behavior. So let me give you an example. Let's go back many, many years to when I was home with an infant than a two year old, and my husband was a big time executive in Silicon Valley. He would come home after a very long day and he plopped down on the couch and he'd pick up the newspaper because in those days, people still read newspapers.

Speaker 3: I'd hear him from the back of the house. I'd come zooming around the corner thinking, Oh my God, am I God, he's home. And I'd start in. Guess what happened today? You won't believe what happened today. I went to that new nursery school even open yet. It's already full, Oh my God. Why are we drinking please? And Palo Alto, this is crazy. I think we should. [inaudible] okay. And you know what he would do. He would say, he'd look, he would not look up from the newspaper. He'd make an eye contact. And he would just say, and then I would say, you're not listening. You're not listening is over the net. I am not in his head. I don't know whether he's listening or not. And by the way, it gets worse. And those of you out there listening, who've been taught. I messages. I feel that you're not listening is exactly the same statement.

Speaker 3: So don't fool yourself into thinking. You're making a nice statement. So after I would say, you're not listening. And he, then he'd say, yeah, you went to that new nursery school. It's all full. And you're all worked up about it. He still would make no eye contact. And that would be his response. Then it would escalate. How can you be so insensitive? I would say also over the net. Cause I don't know, you know, I'm, I'm attributing in sensitivity to him is that's neither the behavior nor my reaction to it. I feel that you don't care. He didn't say I don't care is over the net. So when I learned to say, honey, when I talk to you and you make no eye contact, and the only thing I get back from you is a grunt. I don't feel heard. That's called my side of the net behavior.

Speaker 3: All of us who watched the interaction would say, that's what happened. My reaction, I don't feel hurt. And when I don't feel heard, I feel hurt and I feel less important and I feel dismissed and I feel distanced and I don't want to feel distanced. And I'm telling you this because I don't, I think, I don't know if you know that that's the impact of your behavior on me. That's called staying on my side of the net, but now let's go to the purpose and giving feedback in a way that's productive. But that let's go to the purpose of feedback, purpose of feedback. Isn't to change somebody else. It's not the purpose of feedbacks to move into a problem solving conversation. So as long as I've made him defensive by being over the net, you don't care. Yes he does. You know, you're insensitive. He's one of the plants, most sensitive men, incredibly unfair.

Speaker 3: That's not going to move us into any kind of productive conversation, but the minute I'm able to stay on my side of the net, he then doesn't feel attacked or the need to justify himself or misrepresented anymore. He's like, Oh, well. So then he says, well, you know, honey, if you need eye contact and my undivided attention, then you've got to give me some time to unwind when I get home. And I said, okay, how much time did he? He said, I don't know, half an hour. I was like half an hour. I've been counting the minutes for you to get home five minutes. He's like five minutes. It's like nothing. So we settled on 15. But the point is, that's a great example. True story, great exam. I don't know if the whole story is in the book, but a little bit of it is, but it's a great example of how if we learn to give each other feedback in a way that stays on our side of the net conveys our intent.

Speaker 3: We are able to move into a problem solving conversation. And after that, I had to wait, but after 50 minutes I knew I'd have his attention. And by the way, that conflict let's go back to conflict. Instead of thinking of conflict as a bad thing, we can think of conflict as an opportunity to learn more about each other and ourselves. He learned more about what I needed and what was important to me. He learned that I was desperate for adult interaction at the end of the day, he might've sort of known that or assume that, but I got to, actually, we got to talk about that. It brought us closer.

Speaker 2: That's what I was just going to say. Not only are you learning about the other person, it just makes the relationship that much better and you feel that much more connected. And now you definitely have somebody that you can put confidence in because there have been there through times of trouble, rather than just throwing their hands up. The other thing that you brought up about being on your side of that versus over the net, and you alluded to this in that comment, but you will illustrate this in the book very well. Once that you feel what is okay to be over the net. It opens the doors to not only attributing behaviors and actions to build a whole entire wild narratives that don't even make sense. And it is incredibly important in our relationship. That that idea is understood because we're going to have massive problems. Soon as communication starts to break down and we're just allowed permission to make up whatever wild story we want, which by the way is another

Speaker 3: Case for why disclosure's important. The less I tell you, the more opportunity I give you to make up stories about me and you it's like a blank sheet. You can project anything you want on a blank sheets, a little harder when I filled it in for you. So embedded in feedback. Well, given his disclosure, when you did this, I felt this, and this is why I'm telling you. And this is what I'm hoping happens. As a result, people are scared to death of giving others feedback. Cause they think it's going to actually weaken a relationship or they're going to be seen as a bad person. It only strengthens relationships if done well.

Speaker 1: That's such an important myth to dispel that perfect exceptional relationships don't have conflict and it's just smooth sailing. So let's talk about this definition of an exceptional relationship because we've sort of alluded to it. There's the disclosure piece and there's the feedback and conflict piece, but many in our audience want to have exceptional relationships. Maybe don't know exactly what that means.

Speaker 3: Let's first underscore that relationships exist on a continuum. And at one end of the continuum is contact with no connection. And at the other end of the continuum is exceptional and we're not advocating. You turn every single relationship in your life into exceptional, because that would be exhausting and impossible, but you can move any relationship along the continuum to at least robust and functional. And then you can, in some cases, move it even farther. So the characteristics of an exceptional relationship are you can both be more fully yourselves and you don't have to hide behind these fun images. You are both willing to be vulnerable, and you're not afraid that what you say will be used against you. We already talked about that. You're both willing to be honest, and you have learned how to deal with conflict productively, and you're both committed to your own and each other's growth and development.

Speaker 3: When you have all of those present in sufficient intensity at the exceptional end of the continuum, you can have some of those present along the way. You can have some of them present in less intensity along the way, which is why the book is not just for people who want to learn how to build exceptional relationships. It's for anybody who wants to know how to deepen any relationship in any way towards that. I want to, for a moment, go back to the problem with technology. And especially these days in the last year, when everything's been Hollywood squares, is that we're driven, especially in business, into even more task and even into less relationship. And even socially that the chit chat is even more superficial because people somehow don't feel comfortable or don't see the need, or don't know how it's like everything we're talking about. You have to double down when you're on a screen together, not do less of it.

Speaker 1: Absolutely. And I think the big challenge right now is the screens have put us in a situation where we constantly feel pressed for time. In fact, there's new research, sewing that we don't even know when our Workday ends or begins any longer because we're working from home and the screen is always present. Whereas before we knew, when we would come into a shared office space, there would be work time. There would be conversation, connection time, and then there would be a ride home where maybe you catch a podcast like this and deep thought and collect yourself. Now it's 24 seven internet screen Slack expectation to respond instantly and less investment in each other in these moments where we're waiting for the zoom meeting to start, or, Oh no, I have another meeting I got to get to. I can't ask that question. I can't follow up on that emotion. I heard.

Speaker 3: So I have an example of something that a CEO that went through our leaders in tech program. Cause you know, I left Stanford and I, now I started this non-profit and we bring all of these lessons to CEO founders in the Valley. And one of them now starts his meetings with his team, his executive team, every other week, they meet for an hour and a half and their meetings start with each of them going around for 90 seconds. And they time it saying, if you really knew me right now, you know, and they have to use three feeling words and they take 90 seconds. And I don't know what that didn't do. The math, you know, I taught OB I didn't teach finance and in not very long, they've all dropped into really understanding what's going on for each other today. If you really knew me right now, you'd know that.

Speaker 3: And I'll, I'll, I'll be real for 90 seconds. If you really knew me right now, you'd know that right now I am crazed because my husband and I are moving to San Francisco when everyone else is moving out from Palo Alto, the burbs, uh, at the end of this month. And so I'm juggling the podcast interviews, post book, launch marketing, publicity, my own crazy obsessive compulsion about getting the word about the book out there into the world and moving both my office and my home to San Francisco took probably I didn't time myself, but I suspect that was about 90 seconds. And you just learned more about me didn't you?

Speaker 1: Absolutely. And that context is so important to how you're showing up for the rest of the meeting. Exactly. How many of us would take you being a little distracted, seeming frustrated with a furrowed brow, perhaps thinking about everything you have to pack. And what's going to go into that move and read into it and assume, Oh, she doesn't want to be here. She's not enjoying this conversation. I did something wrong.

Speaker 3: He doesn't care about this, that you know, us or the business anymore. And then to your point, Johnny, make up a whole story. She's probably interviewing for another job. Maybe she's getting ready to leave. I don't know. Maybe she's going to quit. I mean, geez, fill in the blanks for people before they fill them in. And going back to the characteristics, this committed to your own and other people's learning. I think it's important for people to know that even in business that's important, it may be, especially in business. That's important because if it's only about transaction, it's only about me getting something from you that is not a long-term sustainable relationship.

Speaker 1: Not at all, not one that I want to be a part of. Now, obviously in listening to this and thinking about the examples of partners and friends, it seems to me like there is nuance to relationships at work and coworkers, especially, you know, I understand the 15% rule when I'm social and I'm trying to put myself out there, but there is this greater feeler that whatever I share may be used against me. And if my career is entirely important and driven by my success and accomplishment, I don't really feel comfortable getting into the fears, frustrations concerns that could hinder me from that promotion. What are those nuances and how do we balance them and forming these great relationships with our coworkers.

Speaker 3: So you're absolutely right. That context matters and how you use these tools and skills and competencies has to be adapted to the context. The 15% rule still applies by the way. But what my 50% might look like with my buddy might look very different than my 50% with my boss. Now I want to go back for a couple moments and talk about how, when there are power differentials, which are inevitable in a business context, it's incumbent on the person in the higher power position to take the risk first, because if you're going to expect somebody in a lower power position, whether it's because of the hierarchy or because of social status or any other reason to make themselves vulnerable and take the risk first, that's double unfair. So if you're a leader out there, think about whether or not you're making it in any way possible, easier for somebody to take a risk and allow themselves to get a little more known by you.

Speaker 3: If you haven't allowed yourself to get known by that. Now let's come back to the idea that in business we've been even more socialized to leave our feelings in the parking lot at a huge cost. And there's research that shows that leaders that are willing to be vulnerable as long as it's not about their core competency, create higher performing organizations. So if I'm the VP of marketing and that's the third month in a row that we've lost market share, and I don't know what the heck is going on. And I stand up in front of everybody and say, well, that's the third month in a row we've lost share. I don't have a clue why I don't know what to do about it. I'm feeling really insecure. I'm not sure I should be your VP of marketing. That's what we would call inappropriate authenticity and not the kind of disclosure that we are advocating or the kind of vulnerability that the research shows helps you become a stronger leader, but I could say so that's the third month in a row that we've lost market share. First of all, admitting a mistake. You know what? I don't fully understand it because I don't have all the answers admitting you don't know vulnerability. Number two. And I have some ideas that I'd love to run past. All of you. I've never needed all of you more than ever. And I hope I can count on you. That's a whole different message. It's still vulnerable. It doesn't say I've got it all figured out. I'm crushing it, which is what a lot of leaders think. It looks like to be leaderly and it's appropriate authenticity.

Speaker 1: It opens that door for the necessary feedback, conversation and ideas to actually be presented because the first version of that, you placed all of your fears on the other person or group, and now they can't help. But think about those fears. They're not going to be able to suggest solutions. They're not going to be able to get over that.

Speaker 3: I've got another really quick anecdote for you. This is from another CEO who was a fellow in our leaders in tech program was in the program several years ago, but he wrote to me recently and he said, so guess what happened? We missed the big deadline. You know, they're all in tech. They've got big milestones, Mr. Big deadline. And it was a Friday afternoon that I found out. I went home that weekend. I was furious and we have our Monday morning all hands meetings. And I was, I spent all weekend stewing and just ready to rip them a new one. And they said, and then late Sunday night, I remembered that. One of the things I learned from you is that anger is often a secondary emotion that underneath anger often there is fear or worry or sadness or hurt, but because we've been socialized not to feel anything, somehow anger is still okay for some people, especially if they're straight white men in business, somehow that's the catch-all.

Speaker 3: So he decided to go in Monday morning and say, so I spent all weekend furious over the fact that we missed this milestone. And then last night I remembered that in this program that I was in, I learned that anger is a secondary emotion. And I got to thinking, what was I really feeling under the anger? And what I was feeling was worried that I was the only person who felt as badly about the MIS as I did, and really embarrassed because of what I'm going to have to tell our stakeholders. And everybody in that room rallied around him. And they met that milestone faster than they have ever met anything because instead of blasting them and making them feel responsible, he was vulnerable. He shared what was going on for him. And also in the message was like, and you know, I believe that in this room, the answers are in this room. A leader's job is not to provide the answer. A leader's job is to ensure that the best answer is found in the team, in the organization. That's another mental model for the audience to consider.

Speaker 1: I would argue the leader's job is also not to embed doubt or see doubt in everyone in that room because to get people to perform, they can't be walking around on eggshells, doubting themselves their worth, their value, their performance. Now you bring up an interesting point and I did want to touch on this because the business context is gendered. And many women in our audience feel that they have to dial down their emotions, become more like men to become competent leaders, take on a different role that they're not with their friends and their family. What do you say to our women listeners who are striving to become better leaders around this communication dynamic that they're feeling in the workplace?

Speaker 3: So I'll share a short anecdote, which is also in the book to illustrate it. And first of all, I do think that in certain contexts that are very male dominated, initially women might need to be a little bit more cautious and prove themselves along some set of metrics. So here's the anecdote. In 1975, I went to work as the first woman hired into a non clerical job at a big industrial automation company, as a sales engineer. And I learned pretty quickly, boy, you leave those feelings at the door. And if I was going to succeed, I was going to be kick. I was going to be all task. There was no room for relationships. And there was certainly no room for feelings, hard as it may be for anybody who is listening to me or knows what I've done for the last 25 years to believe.

Speaker 3: And it's served me. I'm not going to deny that it didn't serve me until it didn't until it costs me fast forward, 10 years later. Now I'm at an offsite with my team. I get all choked up because I'm really excited about something and I'm getting crickets and they're not responding and I'm getting more and more worked up. And I get a little choked up. And one of my guys leans in and says, and they were all still guys. I finally fixed that. But at this point they're still guys, he leans in and he says, Carol, wait, is that, is that like water in the corner of your eye? Are you going to cry? And then he said, are you human after all? And are you human after all? That's when I burst out cry. And I said, you don't think I'm effing human only.

Speaker 3: I did use the full expletive, but I don't know your audience. And I don't want to offend anybody. You don't think I'm human. And I tore up our agenda. I said, I don't think there's anything more important for us to talk about than that. And then we spent the next two days of our offsite talking about who we were, what our dreams and hopes were, how we could help each other, why we were there, what we wanted to accomplish. And that's when we became a team and that's the day I became a leader. So guess what I had, overlearned a cat. Doesn't sit on a hot stove twice, but it never sits on a cold stove again, either.

Speaker 2: So there's something very important there. And it goes back a bit to where you mentioned that there's going to be some initial emotions. And then underneath that it was going to be a much more substantial, why as to you're dealing with these emotions and what is laying there and to even get there. And this goes into the story you just illustrated is taking responsibility for yourself, how you're showing up and how you want to move through this. And rather than just dictating to everyone else, this is what you're going to have to do in order for me to do my job. Well, no, I have to do my own. And if we meet at some point where we cannot continue forward without a discussion, then there's going to have to be the compromise. And of course you were discussed because everything up until that point, that irks each, other's what you call a pinch. And if they're not dealt with, it's going to become more substantial and you'll get to a place where you can not move forward. If this continues and that taking responsibility allows you on your side of the net to go, here's my, here's the actions that I'm taking. Here's the emotions that I'm feeling. This is, uh, a table that is being set to where he can, we can have a, a discussion to work towards.

Speaker 3: Yeah. And that's a great example of how embedded in a piece of feedback is disclosure. And I do want to go back though for a moment J to the point about women, which is if I had burst out crying the first week on the job, I would have never become a regional manager running $50 million business. So probably especially in 1975,

Speaker 2: It would put a lot of other people on eggshells of, of how to interact with you, because let's be honest for men to see the waterworks that puts us in a emotional response that we don't want to have to deal with again, or be the reason of that. And I've, I've even been, we've done, I've done lectures where I may have said something and we, we were doing, it was one of our, our to classes, the, one of the, uh, we were doing a women's class and one of the ladies started to cry and I got so upset and I was so worried that I had done something wrong. And, and, and, and I'm going out of my way to fix the situation. But the reality was, it was just something that I said, put her in a spot of, of a situation that she was having with her husband. And she was working through it through mine and started crying. Of course, I've took it all personally and was all upset. And

Speaker 3: Yeah, and by the way, what a great moment at which you could have said. So what are the tears about before you started making up a whole story about what the tears were about? Of course you could have gotten curious and said, so what are the tears about? Well, the God, all this is reminding me of this really difficult situation I've got going on with my husband. Well, then you might've had a completely different reaction.

Speaker 2: Oh, of course we could have investigated it, discussed it and helped with that problem rather than running defensive.

Speaker 3: By the way, we pay a cost for telling people they can't express their feelings because human beings to your earlier point are leaky. So when you heard that I'm all stressed out because I'm moving in and all of that, and you make up stories about how I'm showing up. You make up stories about my tears too. You know, I think touchy feely was, was it still is legendary because of how transformational it was. And first day of class, I used to say students, okay. So there's a lot of myths around this class. So what have you heard? And, you know, I always got, Oh, I heard everybody cries. And then I said, well, first of all, everybody doesn't cry. But a number of tears are shed by a number of people, men, and women. And then I would ask the question to, what do you think the tears mean?

Speaker 3: What are, what are tears? Well, when you start to unpack that it means somebody is actually feeling something strongly, a lot of the tears and touchy-feely or tears of joy. Oh my God. I've never felt so known or seen. I've never felt this affirmed, Oh my God, you actually like me. I thought you hated me. You know, it's just an intense, it's just a way of showing intensity. I do think that I've seen a shift at least over the last couple of decades, that men are, tend to be a little bit more comfortable with tears, both in the presence of others and with, even with their own.

Speaker 1: It's great to know that you are human. I know many people in reading the book and knowing about the course may assume that you have exceptional relationships in every endeavor. The book ends with a conflict with the co-author, your mentor and person who built the program with you. Now, the question that I have around this, and you sort of alluded to this earlier is for those of us who want every relationship to be exceptional and every person to have an impact by us, or be impacted, how do we know when to accept that this relationship might not be exceptional? And I know you in that last story, we're starting to have doubts about what you had. Hell is a very exceptional relationship in your own life because of an impasse. How do we make that judgment call around the people that are in our lives and whether or not we can get on that continuum to exceptional.

Speaker 3: There's two different questions. There. One is Ian. I already had an exceptional relation and we had a huge fight. And I said, I'd never talked to him again. And the one question is when you're there, how do you decide whether it's worth it to try to repair and get back? It's a little different than when you're not there and I've never been there. And how do you decide whether you want to go there? So they're a little bit different in David's. In my case, it finally occurred to me one day after a lots of people in my life said, really, you're going to throw this relationship. One of the most important relationships in your life away, without at least giving it everything you've got, you're going to, you know, cause I refuse to talk to him and, and he was like, well, I could, you know, it takes two to tango.

Speaker 3: He could only do so much. I wouldn't talk to him and no matter what he did. And so somebody had to break the log jam and that's a little different than you're at a point in a relationship that's good. And you think it could really be a whole lot more. Now I'm back to, it takes two to tango. First you have both have to think there could be a lot more because it's going to take work by both of you. There's going to be a big reward, but you know, that's why we use the analogy of climbing a mountain. And if the peak is exceptional, the upper meadow is already work and it's gorgeous and it's worth the, you know, windy route route and you're tired and you can, you can rest there and you can have a perfectly wonderful rest of your life on the upper meadow.

Speaker 3: And every relationship can get to the upper meadow, which by the way, a lot of people don't, even a lot of people would be pretty happy getting just more of their relationships to the upper meadow, never mind to the top of the mountain. And you can't get to the top of the mountain unless you get to the meadow. So first work on getting to the meadow. And the other thing, because getting to the meadow already helps you hone some of the skills and competencies you're going to need in order to climb the rest of the way, the rest of the climb is going to be steeper harder, but the basic skills and competencies you will have already learned, and you'll also understand what kind of work it takes both of you. And then it does take a commitment from both of you to climb together.

Speaker 3: You can't do it solo. And the thing I think that's really important to remember is that you always have a choice that making informed choices is one of the things that David and, and I feel really strongly about not disempowering yourself by thinking you can't, but rather empowering yourself by thinking in Carol Dweck's boards. I can't yet, or I choose not to that's okay. You can say, I choose not to, but don't say I can't, especially when it's depends on something that's, behaviorly specific that you can do. That's why their response to a piece of feedback being I can't is inaccurate for Andy to say, I can't, I can't give you my undivided attention is untrue. He could say, I choose not to, and I'd have to accept it, but he can put down his newspaper, make eye contact with me and have a longer conversation with me.

Speaker 1: And I can't gives away all of your power. Absolutely. I can't yet means, well, there's still work to be done. Exactly. We love asking every one of our guests, what their X factor is, what is that unique mindset or skillset that has helped you achieve great success in your life? What do you think your X factor is Carol?

Speaker 3: That assumes, I think I've achieved great success in my life, which I mildly uncomfortable with. Um,

Speaker 1: Well that could be your X factor right there. That there's more success to be had.

Speaker 3: Yeah. It's also a trap nothing's ever enough. So I probably have several X factors. I like to think that my ultimate X factor is that I'm a learner and that I believe I'm a work in progress as are all of us. And that makes me a better teacher.

Speaker 1: What I love about the book is it truly is all about learning and that's the power of connection. Thank you so much for joining us as a fantastic conversation and sharing all those great anecdotes. Thank you.

Speaker 3: Thank you. Really enjoyed meeting you guys.

Speaker 2: [inaudible] anytime that you can learn more about how interpersonal relationships work, th that gives you a direct edge in and personal relationships, and just think about it. Every job that you have, you have to be dealing with other people, whether it's sales, whether it's pitching, whether it's doing a presentation, how you deal with that room, and those people are going to lead to the opportunities that you create for yourself.

Speaker 1: I have to say she shared some thought provoking ideas and strategies with us, and it's actually changed the way I approached small talk and connecting with people. And our book is absolutely phenomenal. We're so thankful she joined us today.

Speaker 2: Today's shout out, goes the X-Factor accelerator member, Chris for his awesome Yelp testimonial about his success in the program.

Speaker 1: Chris writes I've been in the X-Factor accelerator course since late 2020, before signing up. I was a bit worried that it was just going to focus on things like dating. However, I was assured there were several other business professionals like myself looking to continue to build their network brand and skillset both in the workplace and outside. After about eight months, I've already seen the progress I've made and a clearer picture of where I want to be. As I continue to grow alongside the other members, the program has several ways that it's helped me grow as a person. The course material is set the foundation of skill sets. I know I've needed to improve on with communication and relationship building, but also identified areas I didn't realize are so important access to the group calls and specifically being able to draw on the expertise from Johnny and AIJ along with other coaches that they've introduced us to has been huge. Oftentimes listening to the podcast, I've thought, yeah, my situation is similar, but what about this? And now I'm able to ask those questions, work through those situations. And I've learned to hold myself accountable, to get things done, finding other members who started as accountability buddies, but have now become friends has been an added bonus here, a group that is willing to get better together in business and personal relationships and know that by helping others, it helps them too.

Speaker 2: If you want to have an Epic year like Chris, then the best thing that could happen is starting right now as a member of the X factor accelerator, we're ready for you. Don't wait another day, apply and join the X-Factor accelerator and unlock your potential for success in work love in life. Unlock your X-Factor dot com to apply today. That's unlock your X-Factor dot com.

Speaker 1: There we go. Can you do us and the entire team here, a huge favor, open up Apple podcasts and review this podcast. We love hearing how the show has helped you grow much like other members in our audience. And of course it allows us to bring on great guests like Dr. Robin, the art of charm podcast is produced by Michael Harold and Eric Montgomery. I'm a J and I'm Johnny have an Epic week.

Speaker 4: [inaudible] [inaudible].

Check in with AJ and Johnny!

AJ Harbinger - author of 1175 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.

Email · Google+ · Facebook


in Art of Personal Development, Building A Connection, Confidence, Empowerment, Finding Your Purpose, Life Hacks, Networking, Podcast, Productivity, Self Mastery

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.