[00:00:06.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success introducing your host, Matt Bodnar.
[0:00:12.7] MB: Welcome to The Science Of Success, the number one evidence based growth podcast on the internet with more than a million downloads and listeners in over a hundred countries.
In this episode, we discuss how this FBI spy recruiter hacked evolutionary psychology to learn to change anyone’s behavior. We look at the five steps for strategizing trust. Talk about how to get someone’s brain to reward them for engaging with you. The vital importance of self-awareness, the power of not keeping score and much more with Robin Dreeke.
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In our previous episode, we asked, do you have to be ruthless in order to succeed? We examined how compassion is powerfully linked with success. We discuss the essential task of challenging your own world view and seeking evidence that you disagree with.
We talked about learning how to ask great questions and much more with Dr. Chris Cook. If you want to learn more about the power of compassion and how it can make you successful, listen to that episode. Now for the interview.
[0:02:27.4] MB: Today, we have another awesome guest on the show. Robin Dreeke. Robin began his career in law enforcement after serving in the United States Marine Corps. He has directed the Behavior Analysis Program of a federal law enforcement agency and received training and operational experience in social psychology and the science of relationship management.
Robin is currently an agent at the FBI and the author of It’s Not All About Me and the upcoming book The Code Of Trust. Robin, welcome to The Science Of Success.
[0:02:55.7] RD: Hey, thanks Matt. Excited to be here, excited to be sharing with you and your audience, all the great things I’ve learned in my life and I’m sure everything that you all learn in your life as well.
[0:03:05.0] MB: Well, you have an incredible background and story and some of the work you’ve done at the FBI is fascinating. Would you share kind of your journey with the listeners?
[0:03:14.3] RD: Yeah, sure Matt. It’s actually pretty funny and remarkable. Not in the things I’ve achieved but because in what I’ve done with my life and career, completely opposite of what my biological and genetic coding is for and what I mean is this.
You’ve read part of it, you know, my bio and background, yes, I’m a naval academy graduate, Marine Corps officer. I came into law enforcement and the FBI 1997, I served in New York City Norfolk, FBI headquarters, Quantico, I ran our behavioral team, all those things.
You know, they sound pretty neat on paper and they kind of scream at you, “Hard charging, type A.” But in reality, which I am, there’s no doubt. In reality, when you work in the world of counterintelligence like I do. It’s completely backwards from the behavior you really need for success.
What I mean by that is what I learned, when I first got assigned to New York City, working counterintelligence, I was very fortunate that I got on a squad of individuals that had probably 20, 25 years in the FBI all doing that job and working counterintelligence is different than anything else in the FBI really in the world.
It is related mostly anywhere else, to sales. I basically sell a concept that protecting America is a great idea and the way I’m going to compensate you for that is through a great relationship with me mostly, not much else, you know, government funded me, is what it is.
It really comes down to this feeling of patriotism and having a great relationship that’s going to be the inspiration behind why people are going to want to cooperate with you.
Also, working in counterintelligence, it’s all leadership because the people that I interact with, day in and day out, they don’t commit crimes. I mean, it’s very rare that my main job in New York was to recruit spies. 99.99% of the time, they’re just getting regular information.
Open source information and sourcing it to an individual so it has value. Most of the information like I said, is open source. Who it comes from, makes it valuable. The people I interact with are great American citizens as well.
The challenge is alright, if you’re a hard charging type A that’s used to trying to convince and coerce and manipulate people into giving you things it doesn’t work, it just does not work because you know, as soon as someone walks away from any engagement with you, think to themselves, “Wow, I really wonder what he really wanted?” You’ve totally failed.
Because there’s doubt, there’s subterfuge and people are very keen to pick up on these things because what generally happens and we’ve all experienced it whether it’s been a shady car salesman or any other kind of salesman, that is actually there for profit and gain, to take advantage of you. People pickup on that because there’s incongruence between people’s words and the things they say.
Which they might be saying all the slick lines, everything really great but their body language becomes very incongruent with what they’re saying and our inter mammalian brain really picks up on these things and it gives us that creepy feeling.
Well, when you’re actually genuinely make it about everyone else and that’s what The Code Of Trust Is About, how to make it about everyone else but yourself. But you have a lot of clarity, you know, the destination that you hope to move to but you’ve realized that you can only do that through being an available resource for the prosperity of others.
That’s what the whole thing is about. I did the three years on the street, I got on our behavioral team and again, I’m not a naturally born leader, not naturally born doing this but I was surrounded by greats that were showing me and modeling the way.
You learn these things through on the job training, osmosis and observation. But what really started happening was I started writing because I was asked to write about it and when I got down to Quantico, when they started asking me to teach about it.
You start making this artform as it is and a personal artform of a paint by number. You start getting labels and meaning of things so people can start recognizing the behaviors, they’ve already been doing.
I call it the “new car effect” and I always get a puzzled look when I say that. But really, what it comes down to, you know, the day you buy your new car or any car, all of a sudden you start seeing that vehicle everywhere.
I own a Tundra, the day I bought my Tundra, I swear, I think 300 people in my town bought the same darn truck because it has that label and meaning. That’s all I do is I give labels and meanings to all the behaviors that we do when we’re having a great relationship, so you can repeat that behavior. And understand also, the ones that you might have failed at or are more challenged at.
To understand exactly what you were and weren’t during those situations so you can stop doing those behaviors. That’s been the journey, probably The Code Of Trust came about around 2013. I was running our behavioral team and someone asked me to do an article again on counter intelligence and I said well, “I can’t really talk about hooky spooky spy stuff,” but I said, “Let me talk about what my team does.”
I had never really sat down and contemplated. You know, when I sit down and strategize any kind of operation I’m doing, “What am I actually doing?” Then I reflected on every instance in my entire life, my career, in the Marine Corps, in the naval academy and with my friends, family, kids.
I started realizing that “Wow, in ever encounter, all I’m ever doing is strategizing trust.” I came out with The Five Steps Of Trust and all of a sudden, when I gave myself that “Green Tundra effect,” as I call it or the “New car effect.”
I started seeing the code of trust everywhere. It’s become my guiding light in my life, I live it every day and it creates amazing prosperity as a byproduct but if you – the core thing of the code of trust is, if you focus on yourself, it undermines the entire process so it really comes down to first and foremost, good, healthy relationships, open eyes communication and being an available resource for the prosperity of others.
When you want those things first, everything else falls into place. That’s kind of a brief overview of almost 49 years of my life.
[0:08:59.0] MB: You know, the funny thing about and there’s so much to unpack there, there’s a number of things I want to ask you about. One of the most fascinating things to me about fields like counterintelligence is that there’s no room for error, right?
These tactics have to work and in many cases, literally life and death situations and so, I think it’s such a beautiful format for really – it’s almost a crucible for cultivating the absolute, most effective strategies for doing something. You know, you talked about how your old sort of perception of what leadership meant isn’t necessarily what actually works and actually changes behavior.
Can you tell me about how that transformation took place and how the old conception of kind of the hard charging, manipulating, pressuring, bullying, framework of leadership doesn’t really work?
[0:09:44.9] RD: Yeah, absolutely. You know, my form of leadership is what I witnessed. You know, the things that we witnessed between ages of nine and 19, you know, really form our generational outlook on the world because our prefrontal lobes are not fully developed yet. The emotional impresses we have really form how we see the world.
You know, during those years, you know, I wanted to go to naval academy. I want to be navy pilot, aerospace engineer, an astronaut, you know, my form of leadership is what I watched in the movies and TV.
The first movie I saw in leadership that I thought was strong leadership was you know, was Patton and you know, screaming at people, yelling, kick him in the butt, poke them in the eye. I figured leadership was getting people to do what you want and so that’s what I –
That’s the behaviorized modeling and at a young age, you know, many people get rewarded for that kind of behavior because just think of sports teams you’ve been on or clubs or any other kind of position where you know, an adult or a superior asked you to accomplish something with a group of people and you ask politely all the group of people to do what was asked.
No one goes along with what it is you want them to do and so, you now get chastised for being a weak leader, now, next thing you do is you yell and scream and these people do what you want them to do and now you’re rewarded for being a good leader.
The negative behavior on convincing and condoling gets rewarded. So you start at a young age thinking that’s the way in order to get things done. In reality, what you just did is, you manipulated people through fear and reprisal to take action and the action they’re giving you is probably about five, maybe five to 10% effort.
Just to get you to shut up and go away and that can work fine in situations where there is a position of reprisal that people can take against you but again, you’re not going to get the best out of anyone because you know, loathing starts seeping in against you and people are just going to stop performing.
That makes the now leader, you know, look extremely bad and can’t be productive and that leader now thinks, “Well, what’s happened, why am I not being productive, why am I no longer getting promoted?”
Well, they now think they’ve gotten soft and so the way to undo getting soft, they think they have to get harder. This is where the bully in the workplace starts and that kind of leadership.
In reality, what I found, both in the Marine Corps and coming in the FBI, especially working like you said, counterintelligence where you know, I get up every day open, I don’t make a mistake and cause myself a humbling moment because every relationship is potentially you know, helping our national security protect our country, protect my community.
I don’t have the luxury of making mistakes. I mean, I’m extremely hyper critical of myself and all my conversation dialogues. I care passionately about not making a mistake and what I found is especially when you work in the world as I described to you.
There are no criminals, very few are criminals and even if someone is manipulated, good naturedly, by accident by someone trying to take advantage of them. They’re very unwitting that they’ve even done anything wrong. So, in my entire life and career, the last 20 years, I’ve never made an arrest in the area I’ve done.
I’ve only done things that you know, hopefully build relationship strong enough so we can garner the information we need to protect our country. When people don’t have to talk to you and you can’t rely on your title and position.
You better know what to do and that’s – the only thing I really found out too is that people do not care about your title and position whatsoever. I mean, being an FBI in New York City, knock on their front door and see what people think about you if you start showing a badge and everything.
Really comes down to your title and position but how you treat them. If you treat them and talk in terms of their priorities, you validate them, you validate their context, you don’t argue their point of view on things and you genuinely and this is the real key, you got to be genuine and sincere about your desire to understand them as a human being. Their motivations and priorities in life.
[0:13:37.5] MB: Before we get in too deep into that because I really want to go deep down that track. Tell me about, you mentioned the importance of kind of really honest, self-awareness and self-assessment.
[0:13:49.8] RD: Yeah. I was in Marine Corps, there was a 14th leadership principle I learned was “Know yourself and seek self-improvement.” One of my more humbling “Aha! Moments” in life was I remember I was stationed at Cherry Point.
I was in the air wing but on the ground side and so weren’t really bottom, we had a lot of junior officers and I think we had about 14 or 15 of my rank, the second lieutenant. I remember my first assessment, I was ranked last of them all.
I remember you know, walking up to my major that rated me and said, “Alright, I get it, I’m doing something wrong. What am I doing?” And all he could say was, “You just need to be a better leader.”
It was very subjective and so, I didn’t understand what that meant but it bothered me, I was like “Alright, I am doing something wrong.” And what I started discovering was, and everyone has this ,that what I thought I was projecting to the world was not what the rest of the world is seeing.
Taking an honest self-assessment is actually hearing the word people say about you and to you but really, ideally about you where you can be a fly on the wall and hear people’s honest impression of you. This is not a self-loathing or “Woe as me,” if you hear something you don’t like.
It’s an assessment of what people see when they see you. It’s funny, I often – anytime I bump into someone I knew 25 years ago, I usually give them a big hug and thank them for tolerating me 25 years ago in their lives.
The one thing that I’ve heard when I apologize for being a self-centered jerk years ago, they said, “No Robin, you were just intense.” When I hear something twice, I do an assessment of it and so I analyze what intense looked like to other people.
Intense look like just me being a good guy to me because very rarely do people get up in the morning and say, “Alright, today, I’m going to treat people really horribly and be a jerk.”
Ultimately, that happens sometimes, not because we want to but because there’s this incongruence again between what we feel and what almost get hijacked out of our mouth because of ego, vanity and insecurities.
I define that, I looked at that intentionally and actually saw what that meant. It’s a typical type A response and it’s, you know, “You have something you’re trying to achieve, a goal of some sort, a very tangible means goal…” I call them instead of an ends goal. Ends goals are states of mind and I’ll tell you more about that later maybe.
But a means goal is you know, “I want a promotion, I’m trying to do well on this project. I want to better salary, I want to move.” All those things are very specific and we become so focused on them that we totally disregard, not by intent, but by our genetic design that anyone else around us is doing anything.
We’ve gone wholly focused on what we’re trying to do and again, we’re not regarding really people around us that are actually might be working on other things, that you’re not making yourself available to. Or pretty much ignoring. And you combine that with a tempo that is out of sync with the others around you because again, you have that higher tempo of activity.
It really becomes off-putting to other people. It looks like a narcissistic maniac jerk. Was that in the heart and soul of the individual, the type A? No, they are totally clueless about this until you actually have those “Aha! Moments,” and listen to the people around you. Take feedback and ask yourself, “Is that the behavior I want to be exhibiting or not?”
If it’s not, what can I add to myself to have that behavior stop being that way. Again, especially when you’re working in areas and fields where whether you’re in sales and doing cold calls or, or people who are already dealing with individuals and companies that give them products and services. So why should they want to go with you, why should they even listen to you?
You come across with that kind of intensity, people are just going to shut down. Because you’re not really regarding them, you’re more focused on what you’re trying to do, rather than being a resource for all those to reach prosperity.
That was probably the first time where I had the, I’ve had multiple – you know, I think everyone does, you know, multiple moments in your life where you create yourself a humbling moment. You know, every day I wake up and I hope I don’t cause another one that day.
I haven’t had one in a while and it’s important to get that ego and vanity in check because when you don’t, the mouth will run up and away and you become self-centered and unfocused and there’s no reason why anyone, any individual should want to listen to you, if you’re not talking in terms of what’s important to them.
[0:17:55.4] MB: I think that segways into one of the other really important things that you mentioned and you write and talk a lot about; which is all of these strategies and influences that – sorry, not influence because we talked about this before the show. But all of these strategies have a root in not focusing on yourself and focusing really deeply on the other person. Can you tell me about the importance of that?
[0:18:18.1] RD: You know, the influence. Influence is important to understand how to influence and what influence is but what I found is, this is part of where all these things came from, focusing on others. Influence still has a connotation in my mind when I use the word.
Again, this is purely me, there is no right or wrong, it’s just definitions. It’s not a connotation of influencing another individual to do something that’s in my mind. When you understand, you know, how that works and what’s going on there and you want to be more effective at influence, what happens is, you start realizing that “Wow, I just need to move beyond influence because I need to focus on other people in what their priorities are and the resources for them,” because then what you do is you start moving into a realm of inspiration.
When you’re in the realm of inspiration, it’s completely about the other person. So here’s how this process works and why it’s important. Individuals you know, you go back to ancient tribal man where tribes of 30, 40 or 50. It was the first form of social welfare, healthcare and survival, if you were not part of the tribe, the likelihood of your genetic coding being passed on was extremely low.
Our brain rewards us for being valued and part of a collective and a group and a tribe and so, if we use language that demonstrates value and demonstrates that we are vested in you and your prosperity, however the individual defines prosperity, they are naturally going to keep listening to you and keep regarding you and want to collaborate. Because it’s in their best nature, because it’s in their best interest to do so.
You know, anytime I have a project or something, again, this isn’t, you know, you can make it all about someone else and many people in life do but they then get accused of being a carpet and being walked over. That’s where The Code Of Trust comes in and make sure that doesn’t happen and in the sense that the first step in The Code Of Trust is, understanding what your goals and priorities are, what it is you’re trying to accomplish?
The second part of that first question of what your goal is, is reversing it now and think in terms of, “Why should someone want to?” Here’s the difference between that influencing and manipulating or anything like that, people then start thinking, “How can I make them want to do that or how can I influence them to do that?”
But The Code Of Trust is what I’m talking about in order to make it about the other person is, I don’t think about that at all, I start reversing. I think in terms of, “How can I inspire them to want to?” That’s the key. If I’m thinking in terms of inspiring someone to take action – because I know what my goals are. I give myself my own new car effect by naming and stating the things I’m hoping to achieve. Now I completely let go of those because I reverse it, just like you don’t have to try to see the car once you bought it.
You just see it. That’s why giving labels and meanings to things that are important to you, that’s all you have to do. You don’t have to try to make an effort because if you make an effort on your own behalf, you’re now manipulating or influencing anything because it’s all about you and you’re only slightly regarding the other person.
I let go of it, it’s got label and meaning, now you reverse it, I think in terms of, “How can I inspire someone to maybe align with me?” In order to inspire someone, I have to know what their priorities are, long term, short term, personal, professional.
I have to talk in terms of those priorities. I have to demonstrate their value and I demonstrate value by four really simple statements, I always include in conversations, emails, I’m going to seek thoughts and opinions because when I demonstrate that I’m seeking your thoughts and opinions, I’m demonstrating you have value.
Human beings do not ask other human beings what they think unless there’s – they have value. When you do that, people’s brains are rewarded with dopamine because you’re demonstrating their affiliation when they’re affiliated, that means it’s good for their survival, dopamine’s released in the brain, oxytocin, catenin, all the pleasure centers are far in because you’re demonstrating value and you’re demonstrating affiliation.
Next, I’m also going to talk in terms of their priorities. If I don’t know what their priorities are, I’m going to ask them what are their priorities. Next, I’m going to validate them and validation, it’s a beautiful, very broad term that demonstrates that you’re trying to understand without judgment the human being you’re engaging with.
It doesn’t mean you necessarily agree, because this isn’t about agreeing with them, just play cadence, it’s about validation. It means understanding. And finally I empower you with choice. Again, we do not give people choice unless we value them and there’s affiliation.
Now, here’s the fun part. If I know what your priorities are and I make myself an available resource to your priorities and your prosperity and I already know what mine are because I’ve already labeled them before I’ve engaged.
When I empower someone with choice, I’m empowering them a choice with naturally overlapping priorities, mine and theirs. Then it’s up to them whether they accept it or not and if they don’t, that’s fine too.
Because it’s all about them, their timing, their perspective and here’s what I can guarantee, I can absolutely guarantee you if I know exactly what your priorities are, as I said, again, long term, short term, personal, professional and I’m making resources available for you, your success and prosperity in those areas.
I guarantee you’re going to take that action. There hasn’t been a time yet when it hasn’t. Now, what happens is, most time triggers is the need to reciprocate by other individuals that you’re a resource for their prosperity. You can’t keep a scorecard, one of my things I love to say is “Leaders don’t keep score cards,” because then there’s an expectation on process and then you really did it for you and not them.
I don’t keep a scorecard, I give, I let go and I just wait and it’s really been pretty ridiculous when you honor the core of the code which is that healthy professional or happy relationship and you’re an open, honest communications, everything falls into place. It just – it flows very easily and the more you create these healthy relationships with more and more people.
They actually have – it’s also very common effect on your own mind because you can’t really engage people successfully if you’re emotionally hijacked all the time. You know, stress, anger, discontentment, resentment, frustration, all those things cloud our judgment. The code of trust clears the cloud and you can actually objectively see exactly path to where you're trying to go. More importantly, where others are trying to go.
[0:24:02.0] MB: One of the things you touched on, again, there’s so many things I want to get into from that, but one of the things you touched on was this idea that in the counterintelligence world, in many cases, people either don’t want to reach out to you or explicitly are trying to avoid contacting you.
You have to almost reverse engineer them wanting to reach out to you. Can you talk about that strategy and more broadly, about the strategy of getting someone’s brain to reward them for engaging with you?
[0:24:32.0] RD: I’ll start with your last question first because it will be easier to answer the first and if I lose track of it because as you can tell man, I can talk forever about this. I get sidetracked in my own brain on it, so I apologize if I do.
The goal for me at every engagement with everyone, is to get their brain to reward them chemically for engaging with you and we’ve already covered how that works, you know?
If you demonstrate value and you demonstrate affiliation and you understand someone’s priorities and you talk in terms of their priorities and even more importantly, if you have resources for them to move forward on those priorities and their own prosperities they define, their brain’s going to reward them, guaranteed.
I guarantee you, shields will be down, there will be no resistance and there will be a great dialogue in conversation. Where it goes from there is really up to them and their tempo. It’s a very simple concept that I just keep my mind is that you know, what does every human being I’m engaging with, what do they need, want and dream of.
Just make sure that I’m talking in terms of those things. Honesty is really the key of this too because if you’re making stuff up, do people pick up on that, absolutely. You know, that’s where you start to get that incongruence of you know, the mind and the heart and the mouth of what’s going on.
When I do validation, I only start out conversations, especially if they’re going to be a little more challenging than others or it’s a brand new person I’m meeting. I always start out with a specific, non-judgmental validation of a strength attribute or action that I’ve witnessed in their life.
Or in that immediate time or anything. If I have nothing to validate in that opening statement, the biggest thing I’m going to do is I’m going to validate their time because people’s time is very valuable and to have them share it with me, I am beyond grateful for it. So if I have nothing that I can validate at the start, I’m going to validate the time because again, I’m just very grateful for it.
Now, translating that into you know, working in counterintelligence, to me it’s really working anywhere that sometimes you’re going to deal with people on that might not want to have a relationship with you. That’s completely okay. Matter of fact, one of the most challenging…
You know, every now and then, you hit this situations where you got to cold call to try to get a piece of information or just a question and answer on something and people do not want to engage with you.
The first thing I do in those situations is I validate that “Yeah, I can honestly, I understand how you don’t want to deal with someone like me from the United States government. I completely understand.”
“If you want me to leave you alone, if you just respond to this and tell me to leave you alone, I’ll do it but if not, if you can provide this and here’s reason why I’d like that, it might be of a help to others, is that something that interest you? Let me know.”
“Again, just respond to me if you don’t want me to engage you and I’ll leave you alone.” That way, at least get a response and what did I just do? I talked in terms of them, their priorities because what’s their priority? “Leave me alone.”
Again, I don’t judge. I can’t judge whether that priority is aligned with yours or not, who cares, it’s all about them. Those are the ones that are resistant but in all honesty, the times that happens are exceptionally rare.
Because again, if you’re talking in terms and figuring out what someone’s needs, wants, dreams and aspirations are in their personal, professional. And you’re talking in terms of those, you seek and understand those, you’re validating those and you bring to bear resources to further those for them. Why wouldn’t they talk to you?
The only reason they wouldn’t is either they lied about their priorities, their subterfuge or some other thing that they didn’t make you aware of. Again, it’s not what you did or didn’t do, it’s all on them. It’s not going to be a very good relationship anyway because they don’t want one, so why force it? You know you can save a lot of time and just break contact. Then even in those instances you’ve got to leave them feeling better for having that with you and having engaged with you, those brain rewards and why? Branding is everything. You know I have no problem if someone tells me they don’t want to talk or they don’t want to share.
They don’t want to cooperate because you know what? It’s not you, it will be someone else and I will never get anyone else if you break contact with me and I ruined your day. I mean just think about this, say you met me and we had a conversation at 09:00 or 10:00 in the morning and it went horrible. I tried to convince you of things, I could try to cajole you, try to manipulate you and you just walked away feeling horrendous.
Whether we even talked about me or not for the rest of the day it put you in a bad mood. Now everyone you touch, in your entire sphere of influence that entire day, or even a couple of days, maybe a week, maybe a month who knows? They’re touching you and seeing stress, anxiety all the negative emotions you caused and it leaks out where it came from. It came from this engagement with this Robin guy. Now contrary to that, if I leave you feeling better for having met me and I made you feel great for the conversation.
Your brain is rewarding you, I demonstrated your value. I am talking in terms of your parties, even if you say no you don’t want to cooperate or have a relationship or if you’re in sales and buy what you are selling. If you are completely fine with that and you let it go now for the rest of the day, weeks and months again, someone is leaving the engagement with you with a very positive emotion in a great state of mind and people like to feel that way.
And so they are going to start seeing that. So in other words, you caused the common effect here. It is going to cause a common effect on the entire sphere of influence and again, that goes to branding. So I never think ever about just the one person I’m engaging with. I think about the entire sphere of influence from that point on. I always want good branding and again, if someone doesn’t want to engage that’s fine. It’s fine because when you empower people with choice with walking away and not dealing with you.
You know how many times I’ve actually had someone walk away and not want to deal with me? Zero so far since The Code Of Trust and why? Because I keep talking in terms of them. Think about this, on average think to yourself how many times a day do you hear words in every single statement that someone says they are completely about you? Meaning is someone asking your thoughts and opinions? Is someone talking in terms of your priorities?
Is someone empowering you with choice? Is someone validating your thoughts, ideas and context on how you see the world in every single statement you say? No, on average I think even our closest friends and family maybe do it 2% to 5% a day. You know when you actually do that 100% of the time when you’re engaging with someone. So every statement that comes out of your mouth, your brain, is rewarding them for you for being around you. Why wouldn’t they want to be around you?
[0:30:41.8] MB: And so what are the core principles of aspiring people, is the idea that you just talked about which is essentially this notion that if you focus really deeply on other people making your statements about them, speaking in terms of their priorities, seeking out their thoughts and opinions. In a very biological sense their brain is releasing hormones and chemicals that are making them like you, want to engage with you and want to be part of what you’re doing.
[0:31:06.7] RD: 100% and again it goes to evolutionary psychology. You know the ancient tribal brain it’s rooted in us. The best analogy I can give without going into I think it was April around 2012 at Harvard, did the study where they actually wired up people’s brains and saw that when people are talking about themselves and their priorities dopamine was released. But the easiest demonstration you can do with this is, I always ask this question with a crowd that I am engaging with and training.
I always ask how many of you have actually travelled overseas for pleasure. A lot of hands go up, I say, “Great. What happens when you bump into another American?” And without fail everyone starts smiling and laughing and yeah because what you initially do is you ask where are you from and if they’re from anywhere even near your state, you start collaborating and thinking about things that you’ve been doing in the same areas. You start thinking about places you might have travelled in the same time frame.
Then you actually start talking about do you know so and so, you keep trying to build linkages because your brain is saying, “Ah someone from my tribe and it brings comfort.” So we keep trying to build that comfort. That’s why when you go to a new place and you’ve taken training or you’ve given a conference or even in a crowd, we generally coalesce into our mini-tribes. When I give training to law enforcement or something, all the different apartments they sit together.
You don’t have to tell people where to sit. People clump together according to their comfort and their tribe. It is just a naturally human reaction and so knowing that, you can actually use your language to demonstrate that affiliation and that’s what people do all the time. I mean every one time someone shares a story or an anecdote, which is most of life when engaging, all you’re doing is demonstrating value and demonstrating affiliation.
And people are just so anxious to tell their side of the story, to tell the thing that they did on the weekend because they are seeking that validation and acceptance as well. They’re not even listening to anyone else. They are just waiting for people to shut up, so they can tell their story again because their brain is saying, “Go-go-go!”
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[0:34:45.8] MB: You also mentioned that you never lie to anybody. It’s funny because a previous guest, you may be familiar with this, a gentleman names Chris Voss.
[0:34:53.1] RD: I know Chris Voss, yeah.
[0:34:54.7] MB: Yeah, he’s a hostage negotiator for the FBI for a long time and he had the same principle. His was a little bit different, which is never lie to anyone that you’re not going to kill. But I find it fascinating that someone who we encountered, tells us that as a recruited spy essentially, you never lie to anyone.
[0:35:13.2] RD: Yes, now I don’t ever lie. So let me first describe, I define manipulation because understanding manipulation first – because I think people can agree if someone is discovered to have been attempting to manipulate you, it destroys trust, does it not? Yeah it does and so identifying what manipulation is, manipulation is attempt of control with use to sub-diffuse, lies and deception because some people do need to control certain situations.
But if you do so openly and honestly explaining why, if you do have time, but if you have trust established that’s no problem. But it is the use of deception that really can blow trust because as soon as it’s discovered you will never have it again and I have done a lot of undercover work especially when I was in New York. Undercover work is lying. I remember thinking to myself at the time, “Oh these are genuine relationships, these are real and true,” and to me they were.
But they were based on a lie and as soon as they were discovered, there was no trust. It never would have been again. So all the things that come to believe and I live now with The Code Of Trust, it’s an evolution that I have to do those types of things in the past, sure because it will help me understand the cause and effect of – if you actually are using deception anyway. You can have very short term gains if you need to and again, I am not judging the right or wrong on any of these things because there isn’t.
It is just a very, very causal effect in every single action. I can guarantee you if you’d lie and use manipulation, when discovered and it will be at some point whether it’s today, tomorrow or when you die. When it’s discovered, trust will be extinguished and the likelihood and improbability of ever coming back is slim to none. So that’s why I just don’t do it. It’s just a complete waste of your time because you know, Chris is so funny. He is such a good guy.
He’s got such mad skills doesn’t he? Another guy Robert Cialdini wrote a book Influence and one of the principles in his, that is so sound and so easy to follow, as well as The Code Of Trust is you’ve got to answer three things on the first engagement with anyone. Is who you are, what you want and when you’re leaving. If you are using deception or any of those things, you have no trust and it’s just I also remember sitting on consults as well when we’re talking with case agents trying to come up with strategies for them to engage people.
I remember, it’s great to come up with these great outlandish undercover operations and using all these different resources but in reality working and whether you were in a company or government or anywhere. The number of resources that you have allocated to are generally pretty slim. So as simple and easy as you can make it for another person to an act, a strategy for developing a relationship and trust the better. So that’s why, I am straight up honest with you from the get go.
And if I can’t tell you something, I’ll tell you exactly why I can’t tell you. Again, open and honest because anything else will just backfire on you. Whether it’s there tomorrow. And then it’s branding. You lied and deceived someone, you try to convince, cajole and manipulate in anyway, once that’s found out what does that do your branding? You’re done.
[0:38:07.7] MB: I think you made a really, really good point which is that you are not judging whether these strategies are right or wrong. It’s only a question of what are most effective strategies and these happen to be some of the most effective ways to change or impact people’s behavior.
[0:38:23.7] RD: Because one of the core principles of The Code Of Trust is to not judge, be non-judgmental because as soon as I start judging someone else’s behavior of the things they do, what goes up? Shields, they don’t want to engage and they start judging me because they think they are not affiliating or valuing their tribe and their input or anything like that. And that is counterproductive to The Code Of Trust. So it’s just understanding the cause and effect of how you’re going to engage with a human being.
Because again, I keep going back to what does every human being on the face of this planet –as long as you follow in the normal patterns of human behavior, you don’t have too many malformations or the brain chemical imbalances, and you start edging up towards the fringes –every human being seeks and craves non-judgmental validation and acceptance for who they are. Their thoughts and opinions, ideas in how they see the world.
If you don’t demonstrate that through your language their shields are going to be partially up. If you don’t demonstrate that at all, their shields are going to be completely up. They are not going to hear any word you are saying. If you dishonor their priorities, if you use deception, I guarantee you are going to blow trust and there isn’t any instance in life even driving down a highway where you’re trusting the other person in the opposite direction isn’t going to hit you.
Everything in life, where you’re dealing with another human being, you have to have some sentiment of trust. So why not maximize it the best you can for every situation because it costs you nothing to do. I mean talk in terms of someone else’s priorities, not arguing their context with them, not judging them, what does that actually cost you? It cost you nothing. So why not do that? One of the questions I love asking law enforcement when I do this training, I always start out with law first.
“Alright, how many of you in the audience are every gotten a criminal to confess,” and all the hands go up. I say, “Great, why do they confess to you? Is it because you sat across that table and judged what they did?” All heads start shaking no and I say, “Yeah that’s right and what did you do? You actually sat there? You help them rationalize what they did? You don’t project the blame if you can? You help them minimize the impact of what they did and then you talk in terms of priorities and options.”
“And you talked in terms of what their choices were and you made yourself you were the available resource for them to be able to facilitate those options and priorities and so you didn’t judge.” So all the heads are nodding they say, “Yeah that’s what I was doing.” I say, “Alright so why do we do anything else with anyone else in our lives?” It really is that simple. If you just know how to make it about everyone else, again with those four statements that I build in.
Carry everything I say as right, why not? It caused nothing to make it about other people and it’s really the simplest thing in the world. The last thing I would say about this is people ask me all the time, “So Robin if your dopamine is released,” again I have mentioned this before, roughly 40% of every day we spend talking about our own thoughts, ideas and priorities. They find out through that same research about the dopamine flow.
If you take your 40% and give it over to someone else, you are now doubling the potential for developing a relationship and trust and someone once asked me, “Well Robin if you take your 40% and give it over, when do you get your dopamine hit?” I say, “That’s really easy, what happens when you achieve goals?” And they say, “Yeah, dopamine hit.” I said, “What if your goal is to be an available resource at the prosperity of others?”
That’s where leadership – well they always say “Leaders make it about everyone else.” The very subjective thing to say unless you actually understand the steps to it, this is the steps to it. When you make it about everyone else and you’re an unavailable resource to their prosperity and again, don’t keep the score card. And you understand where your destination is as well, you sense that that ties them to your priorities. If they eventually want to reciprocate or not, it’s up to them, that’s what exactly happens.
[0:41:54.7] MB: So tell me a little bit about – you talked about non-judgmental awareness or non-judgmental validation. Tell me how can we cultivate that ability to be non-judgmental?
[0:42:06.9] RD: It’s hard, someone laughed at me once. They said, “Robin only you could write a book you know?” My first one, 10 Techniques To Equip Rapport and the next one the Code Of Trust. I say, “Why is that?” He said, “Because you are only one who could actually articulate how not to be you.” Because I started out life, especially at the naval canvass, as extremely judgmental. We’re taught at a very young age to judge everyone, you know our parents and rightly so.
You know our parents get us to be safe in life the first nine to 10 years of our lives, by teaching us morals, ethics and our moral code and our compass, personal compasses according to them and according to how they judge the world around you and everyone’s got a different one. The hard thing is to get beyond that. I mean it was forced on me because it worked. Every time something happens in the world and I am told to go out and interview a bunch of people from that country.
That region that belief system. If I go in pre-judging what I think of them and their point of view and their beliefs or anything else what’s the likelihood I can inspire them to want to share information? They won’t, I guarantee you they won’t and so my saying I use, “I will never take a side because once you take a side half the world is going to line up against you and that goes against The Code Of Trust.” The thing I do because it was a learned trait was to not judge but to seek to understand. And that is what validation is.
So everyone in this world has a very firm belief in things they believe in and there is a reason they do. Find out that reason because most of the time when you start digging deep, without judging, how they came across about feeling the way they feel, what you start getting is context and when you get context of how the other people sees the world through their optic – that’s when tolerance starts rising incredibly. So you start understanding different points of view.
Different visions of the way they think things should be and again, what are you doing when you are doing that? You are validating, what’s validating? You are demonstrating the value and you’re demonstrating the affiliation and again it has nothing to do with agreeing with someone. People aren’t necessarily looking to be agreed with. They are looking to be heard and when you are doing these things what are you doing? You are hearing their point of view without challenging it in any way.
[0:44:12.2] MB: And I think it goes hand and hand with this, but another one of the core principles that you write about and we talked about earlier in the conversation, is suspending your ego. As someone as you self-describe as somebody that’s very type A – hard charging, how are you able to suspend your ego put it on the back burner to be able to implement some of these strategies?
[0:44:34.2] RD: A few things. I got – like I think many people get is you get sick of being angry. You get sick of being frustrated, you get sick of all the negative emotions and then when I sat back and analyzed, “Well what is causing this emotion, why am I feeling this way?” You start understanding it was actually you that caused that situations because what causes stressful confrontation with someone else? Easy you are arguing a point of view. Someone wants you to do something you don’t think you could do it that way. “I want to do it this way.”
Well what are you actually doing? If you let vanity get in your way because you think you are better than someone else, you think you are more important, you think your opinion matters more, what a bunch of hog wash. So when I decided that I no longer wanted to be frustrated with life, combined with the fact that I started learning that the more you are talking about yourself and what’s important to you, most people do not care whatsoever.
So how was that working out for me? So you combine those two things together and you start realizing, “Wow, it was my ego and vanity. It was actually my hindrance all along not the people around me. It was completely a 100% me.” I called The Code Of Trust flawless because The Code Of Trust is completely flawless. Because when you honor those three things as I said open honest communication, having healthy relationships and being an available resource and prosperity of others – The Code Of Trust becomes flawless.
The only thing that causes it to derail itself is when your ego and vanity getting away. So here’s a trapping of the code, you will have and I have had amazing successes because of living The Code Of Trust and what happens is all of a sudden you say, “Hey look, I got this stuff down now. I can wield the power of the code for my benefit.” Well what did you just do? Your ego and vanity got in the way and you start using it for self-gain and I guarantee you, the code will derail immediately.
[0:46:25.6] MB: So what were you able to do to kind of coach your ego in check?
[0:46:30.6] RD: So it’s a checklist. So one you understand what you do when you get emotionally stressed and whatever emotion it is, negative emotion you have – recognize it. As soon as – what’s happening is when you get stressed, fight or flight kicks in and you go into survival mode. When you do that’s when the mouth starts running without cognating on what’s coming out of it. We get defensive, we get insecure, whatever it is the mouth starts running and usually the statements coming out are very, very egocentric statements.
Again which are not inspiring trust in anyone. So the way to overwrite that and not get into emotional high jacking, when you are hitting fight or flight is to immediate recognize when you’re getting emotionally high jacked, so understand what behaviors you do. For me, my assertiveness spikes when I get emotionally stressed and so as soon as I recognized it, I immediately go to The Code Of Trust. So what I do and I say to myself, then the core of the code is – happy healthy relationships, open house communication and available resource and prosperity of others.
So I then ask myself as soon as I recognize the emotional high jacking is, “What I’m about to say and do and coming out of my mouth going to help or hinder those core principles of The Code Of Trust?” And if they are going to hinder it, I shut up and again, that’s my regulatory way of maintaining cognitive thought and maintaining the statements and everything I am doing completely about them. What happens is, like anything in life, you do something where you keep repeating behaviors.
You build muscle memory for it. It just doesn’t happen anymore because I become so sensitive to negative emotions. I rapidly won’t do them and identify the cause of point of it and I eliminate it. Another reason why I do it and why ego is such an underminer of The Code, especially with leadership, is leaders are about everyone else and one of the things that leaders do is they are very empathetic. Great leaders are very empathetic and The Code Of Trust is very empathetic.
All the ways we’ve talked about interacting with another human being, is all about the other person which creates empathy. But if you get emotionally attached to other people’s decisions, you start riding the rollercoaster with them and leaders don’t. Leaders maintain objectivity and that’s what this little technique, I just told you does. When I can recognize emotional high jacking, it allows me to pull back and go back to The Code.
And when I pull back and go back to The Code, it allows me to maintain objectivity so I can see and be compassionate about the destination you are trying to go to but I am being objective about the questions I can ask you to help you discover your path. Because that’s another thing that’s really key in the code too, is I don’t get to give advice or guidance ever. I ask a lot of what I call discovery questions. Discovery questions are questions that naturally come to mind when you know someone’s destination; where they’re trying to go to and your objective about it.
I just ask questions simple, like I ask myself. “How is the action you’re going to take help or hinder where you are trying to go?” So it helps yourself and it helps others to maintain that objectivity because you have an ability, because of this technique, to keep yourself from getting emotionally high jacked and suspending your ego.
[0:49:37.6] MB: And just so listeners can get a sense one more time, would you share briefly the core principles of The Code Of Trust?
[0:49:44.8] RD: Sure I articulate them in different ways. I am going to give the five principles of trust and then I am going to tell you if you have a second, the three things I honor. The five principles is very easy: are suspend your ego and we talked about that. The second is be non-judgmental and we talked about that. Three is honoring reason and honoring reason is basically how you keep from your ego getting involved in things and being objective, that’s what that is.
Validation of others and we talked about that and finally five is being generous and that’s where you are making yourself an available resource of the prosperity of others, without keeping a score card. Those are the five principles of trust and how to make it about someone else. But the core of The Code that I live and honor are those three things: Happy healthy relationships. I do and say everything that’s congruent with those.
Open honest communication, is the honesty factor, and the third is available resource for the prosperity of others. Those are the three things I honor above all and if something gets in the way of it, a material thing in some way or anything else, I will never ever ruin a relationship over a thing with anyone. I will always let go of the thing and honor the relationship first.
[0:50:52.8] MB: What would be a piece of homework or starting point you would give to somebody listening that wants to concretely implement some of these ideas?
[0:51:01.4] RD: Great question. There’s two things I think will keep people on the path they are if they’re doing things really well in their lives and they can reflect on why their relationships going well and then think about the times when you’ve had some challenging ones and this is very simple. The first thing I like to do is I love discovering the greatness in others. In other words don’t focus your time on trying to figure out people are doing wrong and commenting on it and gossiping about it.
Just focus on their greatness. Every human being has greatness somewhere from their perspective, whether it’s work related or person related, find their greatness. Take time to discover it. And the second thing I would do is practice this with everyone and I guarantee you, relationships are going to start blooming with much greater trust. Find out what other people’s priorities are in their lives. Their challenges, their needs, wants, dreams and aspirations.
If you take time and do this without judging them either, take time to figure out what someone else’s priorities are. I am telling you, who doesn’t want to talk to someone who isn’t actually interested in the things that they are important to them? You do those two things and I guarantee you, you’re going to start inspiring trust around you.
[0:52:03.9] MB: And where can listeners find you and the books online?
[0:52:07.3] RD: My first book, It’s Not All About Me is on Amazon and a few other places. The one coming out, The Code Of Trust will absolutely be everywhere but you can get links to them as well as my Twitter feed as well as LinkedIn. My website which is www.peopleformula.com and my Twitter handles @rdreeke. Things I post, I don’t self-grandiose on these things. If I see great research and great ideas by others, those things I do.
I am not the guy who is going to wear you out with overwhelming amount of tweets or anything. Just a couple of them that are inspiring as life comes along but also I’d take any questions that anyone wants as well. That’s it.
[0:52:50.2] MB: Well Robin thank you so much for coming on here and sharing all of these wisdom. You have a fascinating background and story and I think it’s amazing what lessons have come out of your vast experience.
[0:53:01.6] RD: No, I can’t thank you enough. You have some really great deep questions and I thank for the time because yeah, it’s compiling an entire lifetime of learning into a couple of minutes is not all of that easy but you did a great job of getting it out of me. So I appreciate that and I appreciate you sharing with your listeners as well.
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