[TRANSCRIPT BODY HERE][00:00:06.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success introducing your host, Matt Bodnar.
[0:00:11.8] 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 the proven strategies for building effective relationships, why it’s vital to understand that the results you get in the world come from working with other people, wow you can see the world from another person’s perspective, the tactics for building your credibility, how to get better feedback and much, much more with our guest, Todd Davis.
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In our previous episode, we discussed how our guest went from a childhood head injury to becoming an accelerated learning expert. We covered memory, speed reading, improving your focus, taking notes like an expert and went deep into the tactics of accelerated learning. We talked about the importance of mastering the fundamentals and got into tons of highly specific and actionable advice that you can use starting right now with our guest, Jim Quick. If you want to master your mind and your ability to learn, be sure to listen to that episode.
[0:02:42.0] MB: Today, we have another awesome guest on the show, Todd Davis. Todd is the Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at FranklinCovey and the author of the new book, Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work. He’s responsible for FranklinCovey’s global talent development in over 40 offices in a 160 countries and previously served as director of innovation, developing many of the company’s core offerings.
Todd, welcome to The Science of Success.
[0:03:10.3] TD: Thanks, Matt. Pleased to be here.
[0:03:12.1] MB: Well, we’re super excited to have you on. I’d love to start out, when – there’s so much knowledge in the book. When you talk about the idea of effective relationships, what does that mean?
[0:03:25.6] TD: Well, I think it’s a widely held belief and a true on that culture matters. The culture of a team, of an organization, of a company can make all the difference. It’s how we define culture. We say all the time that people are our greatest assets. That’s true. It’s actually the nature of the relationships between those people that I’ve seen become an organization or a team or a company’s ultimate competitive advantage, if you will.
It’s important to have the right people on the bus, as Jim Colin says. Then it takes it to a whole different level when you focus on and have really effective relationships between that talent.
[0:04:09.1] MB: I think that’s a great point. It really underscores, it’s not just about finding and sourcing great people, but the way that they work together is really essential to achieving any kind of results.
[0:04:20.4] TD: Exactly. The speed with which you can work, and the trust levels are high when the interactions, when there is no hidden agenda, all of those things play into really the bottom line of the company or organization when you can have effective relationships.
In my role, in my career really for the last 30 years, I’ve observed and coached leaders at all levels in organizations. From the literally hundreds of principles and tools and paradigms contained in FranklinCovey’s world-class solutions, I’ve seen because of the role I’m in, I’ve seen time and time again those specific behaviors or practices that really accelerate relationships. Therefore, people’s influenced, or you’ll trip them up, including myself. A lot of these came from my own mistakes and trial and error. That’s what I’ve honed down into this book you mentioned 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work.
[0:05:22.4] MB: I want to dig into a number of the practices, but before we start, I want to zoom out and talk more about this notion that you talk about the idea that you get most of your results with and through other people.
[0:05:39.4] TD: Right. In fact, I was just doing a keynote in Florida yesterday talking about a play that some people have heard of, is written by the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre called No Exit. The play begins with these three people in the afterlife. They find themselves, these three souls I guess we’ll call them, find themselves in this room with no door and where the windows are completely bricked up, thus the title No Exit.
Does it surprise us to learn that the structure really irritate each other. Because they irritate each other, they try to change or fix each other and that doesn’t go so well and it only serves to escalate their frustration.
While it’s only a play, think about it, how often do we find ourselves with other people who irritate or who annoy us? We try and change, or fix them in some sentimental way. Well in the play, these three characters start to realize that hell isn’t fire and brimstone, or the torture chamber they had imagined. But in fact, hell is other people, and people who won’t do what we want them to do.
Why is this important into your question? Well, while we’re all measured in a lot of different ways and we have different responsibilities, and so lots of different ways to measure us, the ultimate measure for every one of us regardless of your role, your job, is by the results we get.
How do you get your results? Unless you are a pro golfer, or maybe you run a company where you’re the only employee, the rest of us, you and I, all of us, we get our results with and through other people.
Relationships are critical to all the very important goals that we need to achieve. That’s the point is that we get our results not by ourselves, but within through others. It behooves us to really focus on how to make those relationships more effective.
[0:07:30.2] MB: Such a critical thing to understand. Unless you’re essentially a chess player, or pro poker player maybe, something where you’re solely competing just on individual ability, the vast majority of everything that you do in life, really one of the core competencies necessary to do that is to deeply understand and be able to interact with an influence to other people.
In many ways, that’s what we focus on in the show and why the show really – our podcast even began initially was the fascination of mine of like, how can I build a really robust toolkit for influencing and interacting with others?
[0:08:11.5] TD: Such great point. Every day and my role as chief people officer, I’m working with people. I just had an experience this morning incidentally with an e-mail that was sent to me by an irate account executive that works for us. This person is furious with this other person. Not that we shouldn’t be upset, not that we shouldn’t voice our concerns and try to help each other improve, but if we could just embrace the principle that you just shared, we get things done through others.
If we can embrace that and work with that and not fight against it, and not have this – it’s not intentional, but think, “Oh, I’m on my own in this. I got to drive this whole thing. I am the super starter, whatever.” But no, we embrace the fact that we all work together. Those people that do that are much happier, much healthier and most importantly are more effective, not just in their professional live, but in their entire life and their personal lives as well.
[0:09:06.2] MB: What is that conclusion that we get our results within through others. How does that impact our behavior?
[0:09:14.9] TD: Well, it’s a mindset really. It all starts out with a mindset. Of the 15 practices, you could – if you pick up the book, you can go to any one of the practices that resonate with you and hopefully be all will, except for start with practice one. Because practice one, which I call wear glasses that work, is all about the way we see the world. What we see determines everything we do.
Of course, we all know what we do gives us the results we get. But it all starts with the glasses that we’re wearing. In fact, I remember as a young child receiving my first actual pair of glasses, real glasses, I was in the 2nd grade. This might sound silly, but I put those on and for the first time, I could see the leaves, the detail of the leaves upon the trees.
I thought honestly before that situation with the real glasses, I thought that that green blurry mass is what you and everybody else saw when they looked up on the trees. That’s the challenge is that we see things and believe that the way we’re seeing them is accurate. Sometimes it is. I’m not saying straw out all of your strongly held opinions, but consider stepping back and understanding that there might be a different way to do things.
It starts with relationships, realizing that we’re part of a much bigger piece of the picture here. When we can have that mindset and that paradigm, if you will, then we’re in a position to look at everything that we do differently, our behaviors. In fact, this person I was just referring to this morning with this e-mail, stepping back – I’m not saying don’t be frustrated and saying, “Hmm. I wonder why this person gets frustrated. But I wonder why her response was that way. I wonder why she’s choosing to do things this way.”
Well, we can start to ask ourselves those questions working in what we call our circle of influence would become much more effective and get to a solution much quicker than those people who just want to stew and rant and rave.
[0:11:09.2] MB: How do we start to put ourselves in other’s shoes, or see the world from other people’s perspectives?
[0:11:17.5] TD: Yeah, great question. I was doing an interview a week or so ago and I was asked the question. This person said, “If people were waiting to talk to you –” it’s not like I have a doctor’s office or anything, and nor am I a psychiatrist. But they said, “If people were waiting to talk to you and you had a sign out in your waiting area, what would that sign read?” That really got me thinking.
I came to the conclusion that the sign I would put there would read, “Have you considered the other person’s perspective? Have you considered the other person’s perspective?” So that’s the — [inaudible 0:11:49.5], but that’s the point is that taking time to consider a different way to look at things. So the practical application of that, when I coach people and I’ve used this for myself many times, coach people to do is look at a situation or a relationship that’s not going as well as you like to, a circumstance or a person.
Let’s say I’m really odd with this person. I’m frustrated for how many reasons. I have them go ahead and list the reasons. Write it down. You don’t need to be with somebody to do this, but write down all of the reasons that make this situation frustrating, or this person frustrated to you.
Then what I ask them to do is go through that list of reasons, those words or descriptors, encircle those that are facts. They say, “Well, how do I know if they’re facts?” Well, for my activity here I say if they’re facts, you could share this with five other people, know the situation, know the people and they would agree with you that those things you circled are facts.
Now we’d have to back up a little bit. “Okay, well maybe I circled 10 of them. But maybe seven of them would fall into that.” Okay, great. Even if nine out of 10 fall into that, look at the one, or those that aren’t circled. Those are your opinions. Now they’re strongly held opinions and they may be accurate, but nevertheless, they’re opinions.
Take the time now to consider, “What if I were to look at this opinion in a different way?” It sounds really basic and elementary. I tell you, it’s magic when you do this. You all of a sudden realize, “Boy, I’ve been saying all along and believing that Marietta is really lazy.” I made that name up. Marietta is really lazy.
We’re never going to give her anything that we got to have that on timer, because she’s really lazy. If I go to the activity I just shared with you and I think, “Well, I don’t know that everybody else would agree with that.” Then I start to ask myself, “Why am I so convinced Marietta is lazy? Maybe she’s not lazy. I think there’s something else going on that I haven’t taken time to consider. Maybe she’s not engaged in this project for a different – or maybe there is –
You see all the considerations that I can start to give that now. Again, sounds really elementary. It works wonders to help us start to see maybe a different set of lenses we might want to put on regarding a person or a situation.
[0:14:00.6] MB: I think that exercise really underscores the importance more broadly of self-reflection in this whole process and the idea of taking responsibility for your own results and outcomes. Putting the burden on yourself to be the person who pushes yourself, who takes that banner and tries to create the change you want to see.
[0:14:25.5] TD: Yeah. You’re exactly right, Matt. In fact, practice number nine – By the way, in the book each of the chapters and practices, they end with an application, a practical application like the one I just shared with you. But practice number nine to your point is called examine your real motives.
You just hit on it. It’s stepping back, only you know what your real motives are. No one can tell you what they are. You are the only one that knows what your real motives are. If I’m in a meeting and I feel like I need to talk or share an opinion is because I believe that that thought that I want to share is really going to contribute to the subject, or the problem we’re addressing.
Or am I feeling a need to talk, because everybody else is talking. Gosh, I want my boss to know that I’m a smart person too, because I’m trying to get up with something intelligent to say. That’s again a reflection point of saying, “What is my real motive here?”
Well, to the earlier point with lazy Marietta, and if your name is Marietta and you’re listening, I’m not talking about you. What is my real motive? Examine your real motive. Is my motive to help if I’m a leader, to help grow and develop people, including Marietta has on my team? Or is my motive to be the superstar that brings this on time. I don’t care what I think of others, if my motive to maybe label people, because like wasn’t doing that intentionally, I realize that’s making me feel better about myself.” All of those things are absolutely what you say just a reflection, stepping back and deciding what are my real motives here?
[0:16:00.2] MB: I think that’s critical. One of the things that we talk about on the show and I think probably one of the core lessons that really if you listen to a lot of episodes will show itself again and again is this idea that self-awareness is really one of the cornerstones of improvement and achieving the results that you want to achieve.
To me, a lot of times when especially someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience examining their own motives and ideas, I think they can easily fall into the trap of self-deception. How do you avoid that pitfall when you’re trying to understand what your motives are?
[0:16:38.1] TD: Well, the application for that on examining your own motives is just that – so look at a high-stake situation and write out – I really caution people and coach people too to write these things out. At least type them out and I find it to be more effective to write it out. It’s the change, or the magic really happens when you actually write the words out, not just think about them.
Write out a high-stake situation and then write out the outcome that you want. Then ask yourself why you want that outcome. When I say at least five times, you may have heard of the five Whys that came to light in the Toyota production era, where they were trying to get the root cause on the assembly of a different problem back in the 80s.
It’s called the five whys. There’s no magic about the number five, but it might be three, it might be 10. But you keep drilling down into and why am I feeling that? Why is that? You get down to a root cause. Once you know your real motives then you can say, “Which motives serve only me and which motives serve the whole? Me and others. What happens if I act on just self-serving motives?”
We had a situation several years ago where we were going through a restructure and we met as a leadership team. One of the leaders over a particular part of the business is going to be impacted and several of his people were going to be displaced.
We all agreed this was the right thing to do, this restructure. I talked, and we’ll call him Steven. I said, “Okay. So Steve, so you’re going to get with your, say 10 people and talk about what’s going on.” He said, “Yup.” He had eight weeks about go for this change when it happened.” About two weeks later, I called him and say, “Hey Steve. How’s it going?” He’s, “You know, Todd. I want to revisit this.” I said, “Well, what are the people saying?” “Well, I haven’t talked to them yet.”
I was shocked. I said, “Steve. We’ve eaten into two of the eight weeks for these people to be able to network and start looking for other activities. Help me understand why.” He said, “Well, I’m not sure if I agree with it.” “Well, you agreed with it two weeks ago.” Anyway, long story short, we started drilling down and I said, “Well, Steve why do you discreet?” “Well, I don’t discreet it, but these are hard conversations.” “Why are they hard conversations, Steve?” “Well, because it’s going to disrupt people’s lives.”
What do you and it sounds obvious, what are you concerned about disrupting people’s lives? Well, we drilled down to Steve saying, “It’s the right decision. I’ve always had a difficult time with hard conversations. I’ve always avoided them.” At that point it’s, “Steve, would you like me to join you in these calls? I’d be happy to do that.” He just breathed a sigh of relief. That’s a quick example of try to help someone or we can use the same process just helping ourselves. Get to what is the real thing that’s driving why I’m feeling a certain way, or why I’m acting a certain way. You got to be honest with yourself and drill down in what I call, in what we call the five whys.
[0:19:30.9] MB: I think that’s awesome. I’m a huge proponent of just continually asking why, peeling back the layers until you really get to that core understanding. Because in almost every case, the initial reason that maybe you’re telling yourself you’re doing something, or you think you’re doing something is almost always underpinned by a number of deeper and deeper layers of things and what’s really going on.
[0:19:54.4] TD: Exactly.
[0:19:55.1] MB: I want to circle back and talk a little bit more about this idea of taking responsibility for your own results in the world, and the sense that – I think you’ve talked about this and write about this in the book, but the idea that it’s not just enough to hope that other people embrace these philosophies, but you have to be the one to say, “I’m going to make these changes in the way I interact with people and be the first person to take that step forward.”
[0:20:27.1] TD: Yeah. Back to the play that I begin the book with, and these folks that are so busy in this – in hell, so to speak, this room that’s all bricked up. They’re so busy trying to change each other, and that only is making things worse.
One other important element in this play, for those of you who have seen it, there are no mirrors in this room. The others doors are bricked up, or the windows are bricked up, no doors, and there are no mirrors. The point that’s being made is you don’t take the time to look at in the mirror and start with ourselves.
Honestly, the most effective and successful and how you define success and influential people in the world start with themselves. Gandhi said it best, “Be the change we seek in others.” It doesn’t meant that others don’t need coaching. It doesn’t mean that others don’t need to be put on a performance plan, or need help in certain areas, but we start with ourselves. We start modeling that very behavior that we’re looking for in others.
I’ve seen it in my many years of life. It happens every time if I could start to model, or make sure I’m modeling the behavior that I want in others. It makes the difficulty of the dive much easier. That’s the premise there in starting with ourselves.
I talk in the book about what we’ve used a lot for a long time at FranklinCovey, being within your circle of influence versus your circle of concern. You picture these two circles, the influence circle is inside the circle of concern. The circle of concern is much broader, because as human beings we’re concerned about a lot of things.
What can we actually do something about? Where do we have influence? Now we often have more influence than we think, but – sometimes we throw on the talent, “Why can’t we just change that?” That’s not good. On the other hand, most of us, many of us spend our time, our efforts, our energy, our resources on things that we can’t influence or control.
Those people who start with themselves, even again referring back to this e-mail I saw and swearing from this irate account executive. I’ll be talking to him later today and we’ll have a great pleasant conversation about what can you influence? I understand the frustration. I can appreciate why you’d be frustrated. Let’s think about what she, the person who is upset with, what might be her reasoning for that. Let’s start to analyze that. What are some things you could influence?
I can appreciate you’re mad. What could you actually influence here and what would be the best way to influence that? Instead of going over and yelling at her or sending her an e-mail, what if the conversation started with, and I’ll call her Sarah. “Sarah, could you help me understand something?” That’s a great way to begin any conversation when you’re odd with someone.
Instead of saying, “I want you to know I’m really upset. Or I want you to know I see this really differently and I’m bugged, or whatever.” One of the best phrases to use is, “I wonder if you can help me understand why we’re seeing this so differently or why you’re choosing [inaudible 0:23:24.7]. I’m sure there are pieces of information I’m missing.” This is language that I use naturally and I coach others to use all the time.
I’m sure, and this is practice 15. I’m jumping around here, but practice 15 just start with humility. Boy, you got to have a big dose of humility if you’re really going to step back and try to understand the situation. I begin conversations like this with, “I wonder if you can help me understand why you chose to handle this situation this certain way. I’m sure I’m missing something here. We worked together a long time. You’re a really talented person. I’ve heard a lot from you, so I’m not – this isn’t making sense. I’m wondering if you could help me understand that.” Boy, you just lowered everybody’s defense mechanism and you can now start to get to a root cause.
[0:24:07.2] MB: What a fantastic question. It’s funny, I was dealing with a situation yesterday that I think that would’ve been the perfect question to just create a really open dialogue about what is the issue, why is this not happening and can we all collectively without people getting defensive, etc., get down to the root cause of the issue. I think it’s a fantastic and really simple tool that immediately takes down the defensive barriers and opens up just a much more meaningful dialogue.
[0:24:38.2]TD: Thank you. I’d love to tell you it’s because I was just born a genius, but it’s really, you know, you’re excellent at it to doing podcast and everything else you do. I just have years of repetition in this. Again, I want to make sure that the listeners don’t think, “Oh, this guy thinks he’s so smart.” I don’t, other than this has been my world for the last 20, 30 years of helping shape conversations so that we can actually move things forward. I’ve just learned from trial and error and lots of experience. It’s my one claim to expertise, if you will.
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[0:26:21.5] MB: I want to dig into another practice that I find really interesting is talking about and focusing on the truth and making it safe to tell the truth. Can you tell me a little bit about that practice?
[0:26:32.4] TD: Yeah. Practice 13 is make it safe to tell the truth. The whole premise of the book is getting better, for us to get better. Somebody asked you today, is this a book I buy for people that I have got challenges? Well, you could do that. But again, only if you’ll look in the mirror first.
The whole premise is for us to – where can I get better? Where can I improve? How we do that if we don’t know in which areas we do need to improve. Practice 13, make it safe to tell the truth. The meaning behind this is make it easy for other to tell you the truth. Matt in fact, let me ask you, when was the last time you received some feedback? More importantly, when was the last time you asked someone for feedback?
[0:27:14.5] MB: I mean, this is – I’m a huge fan of seeking the truth and always looking for the truth and trying constantly to get feedback. I’m constantly asking people for a candid feedback and trying to develop relationships with the people that I work with to really have very clear lines of communication.
I was just going to say, it’s something for me that I’m really obsessed with, because I think that feedback can only help you. I don’t get defensive about negative feedback. All I want is all the information that I can gather, so that I can make the most effective decisions and choices possible.
[0:27:51.0] TD: I need to take you out on the road with me on all of these keynote speeches I’m giving, because you are the poster child for someone who sounds like makes it safe to tell the truth. That is not the norm, and it’s great. I really admire and respect you why you do so well in what you do.
We tend in general to be hesitant to ask for feedback, and it’s because we’re vulnerable. We don’t want to hear what we’re not doing so well. In general, we’re vulnerable. We don’t like to give ourselves feedback. I stood on the bathroom scale this morning. That was some feedback that I didn’t want to give myself. Raises it more when we seek it from others.
I will have people share with me all the time, my leader neighbor tells me, “Give me any feedback.” Well, that’s a challenge. Proactive effective people don’t wait for someone to give them feedback. They do what you’re doing. They actively go out and seek it and their intent, their real motive is to get better.
What I found is that there are four – probably many more, but four common reasons why we don’t seek feedback more often and why we don’t make it safe to sell the truth; to tell the truth. The first is we assume bad intent when we should be doing just the opposite. You don’t assume bad intent if we’re at lunch and I say, “Hey, Matt. You got a spinach in your teeth.” You’re not thinking, “Why are you trying to be so critical of me?” That’s just feedback, because I care about you and don’t want you to be embarrassed with spinach in your teeth.
Yet, if I say to you, “Hey, I noticed that in meetings, you tend to dominate discussions and doesn’t give people a chance to share.” Well then, we start to feel defensive on this subjective feedback. Don’t assume bad intent. Assume good intent. 99% of the time, people just want to help. That’s one of the first things I see.
The second thing is what you’ve already talked about; ask for feedback. You need to ask for feedback, not wait for it. That sounds like an obvious, but it’s the way we ask for feedback. For example, if I’m giving a presentation and I noticed my friend Matt in the audience and I walk up to you right after the presentation, a thousand people are there and they say, “Hey, Matt. Good to see you. What did you think of my presentation?” What are you most likely going to say?
[0:30:04.3] MB: It was great.
[0:30:06.4] TD: Yeah. You better. Okay. That’s what most of us would do. But think about this, what if I – the day before the presentation I call my friend Matt and I say, “Hey, Matt. I know that you’re going to be in this presentation tomorrow. Could I ask you a favor? Would you mind taking down some notes of what you see that I could do better?”
I mean, sure I’d love to hear what you liked about it. But I’m really drilling down on where I could even improve better my presentation and delivery style. Would you mind doing that, and then maybe we could together later in the week and you would mind sharing those things with me.
Both scenarios I’m asking for feedback, but very different intent. You can see that one, I’m just seeking validation, what is so good about it. The other one, sounds like you do on a regular basis, I’m truly interested in getting better.
A third area or step that I find is critical is evaluating the feedback. One reason I found that people don’t ask for feedback is they think they have to implement all of it. That’s not true. Only you are the one that decides what you will and will implement.
Evaluating a feedback. Certainly listen respectfully. My gosh, you ask the person for the feedback, write it all down. Then you evaluate the side what resonates with you and the role that you’re in and what you’re trying to accomplish. Then the fourth step is just to act on it. Acting on it doesn’t mean implementing it, acting on it means you digest it, you consider it, you thank the person, you follow-up with them. It’s really the key in making it safe for them to continue to be telling you the truth by the way you follow-up.
I like to remind people it’s important to remember that as nervous as we might be, some of us in asking for feedback, they’re just as nervous in giving the feedback. Take that into consideration, if you’re truly interested in getting better and you want to have a huge group of people, like it sounds like you do, Matt; that will willingly give you honest, sincere feedback in an effort to help you get better at what you do.
[0:31:58.2] MB: I think that’s so critical. You touched on a really key point, which is this idea of knowing the source of the feedback and evaluating it, because I think it is important to understand that I think all feedback is relevant information, but it’s not necessarily true in all cases. Or maybe the source giving you the feedback isn’t qualified to be giving you certain types of feedback or information.
I think it’s really important to also understand truly what are the intentions of the person giving you feedback, what are their qualifications and their credibility to be able to give you meaningful input on whatever particular thing you’re sort of looking for feedback on.
[0:32:37.8] TD: That’s a really good point. Certainly, when people volunteer feedback, that’s really critical. It’s also critical when you ask people for feedback, but you need to be really careful here too. If you ask someone for feedback, you want to evaluate who you’re asking for this feedback. Do they know anything about creating podcast? Do they know anything about giving keynotes? You want to choose carefully.
Stephen M.R. Covey, he is the son of the late Dr. Stephen R. Covey of course is the bestselling author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His son, he wanted to certainly emulate and follow in his father’s footsteps, in his character and in his business sense and all that, but not in his public speaking.
Stephen M.R. Covey, the son, had no interest in that. He wasn’t very good at it. Well, many years ago, he came out with his own bestselling book, The Speed of Trust. He therefore found himself having to do keynotes. Sometimes alongside his world-renowned father.
He said by his own emission, he wasn’t good at it. He called in a couple of his trusted colleagues and asked them to go to his next speech and give him feedback. Well, he tells me the story. They gave him, it was like 42 pieces of feedback. 42 things he needed to do differently. His next keynote was like three days later.
Well, he tried to implement them all and he said it was a disaster. He said it was the worst speech of his life. He stepped back, and just to your point, he carefully evaluated what of those 42 things really resonated with what he was doing and trying to accomplish and what didn’t? While he heard it all and appreciated it all, he picked three or four things and really honed in, worked on those and picked a few more things, never attempting to do all 42 things.
He has become one of the really most sought-after speakers in the world particularly on this topic of trust. That is the importance as you mentioned, of really evaluating and analyzing the feedback that you’re given.
[0:34:22.2] MB: Yeah. I mean again, I think that one of the things – I do want to say, by no means am I a perfect receiver of feedback in all cases, and we all have our own cognitive biases and blind spots and everything else. But I think the quest to find and gather information that can help you improve, and the flipping the switch from trying to hide your mistakes and weaknesses to bringing them into the light and understanding that information about them is going to help you get better, or gap fill, or be able to overcome and improve on those weaknesses is a fundamental shift that I think really makes a huge difference between who gets stuck in the patters of self-sabotage and people who actually go out and achieve tremendous results.
[0:35:08.6] TD: Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more.
[0:35:11.3] MB: I’m curious – I mean, what are the other practices – that jumped out of me that I thought was really interesting was this idea of behaving your way to credibility. Can you tell me a little bit about what that means and how we can create credibility for ourselves?
[0:35:26.9] TD: You bet. In fact, all I ask you is think of someone in your life who just they jump to the top of the list when you think of someone who is really credible. Without sharing with me who – their name. It doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t know it anyway. But what are the reasons? Give me this three or four reasons why you’re thinking of someone right now who is really credible in your life.
[0:35:45.6] MB: They do what they say, they achieve a lot of results, they get stuff done, they don’t make a lot of excuses.
[0:35:54.7] TD: Yeah. Great reasons. Great reasons. Credibility, those are absolutely reasons that someone is credible. These reasons and more fall into two buckets, and you got to have both to be credible. It’s character and it’s competence. They do what they say they’re going to do, character; they get great results as you said, competence.
Plenty of one, or an overabundance of one does not make up for a lack of the other. You’ve got to have both for it. An example I like to use is we might be best friends and I remember your birthday every year and I know your – all of your favorite places to eat and you let me watch your dog when you’re out of town, but yet when I offered to pack your parachute for your first skydiving lesson, you might at least want to know how much parachute packing experience I have, would just done by the way Matt.
On the other hand, it would be interesting for you to learn the person who did pack your parachute had recently been acquitted of a manslaughter charge, because of a technicality. They might have all the parachute packing certifications in the world, but if something’s off about their character, it gives you cause for pause.
It’s a combination of character and of competence. Like I say, one doesn’t make up for the other. You got to have the character, the integrity and then the skillset. Then something that I really emphasize in this particular practice and chapter, because I’ve seen it time and time again, in fact I saw it with myself. I learned this lesson the hard way is you take the long view.
So often, I see people who want credibility overnight, or they want the credibility because, “I know I can do it, so gosh, you should know I can do it. You should just know that. You should trust me.” While there is another practice called extend trust, we don’t extend trust naively. Taking a long view means being comfortable with the fact that establishing or increasing our credibility with someone takes time, and it’s through a track record of both character and competence showing up time and time again. That’s the essence of behaving your way to credibility versus trying to talk yourself into or out of the situation you behave your way into.
[0:38:07.8] MB: I really like the tandem approach of you have to have both character and competence. I think that really clearly encapsulates what creates credibility as a great insight.
[0:38:20.7] TD: Thank you. For the practical application on this, which I like to use a lot with people is – in fact, I’m just working with someone last week on this and they’re – hadn’t lost credibility, but they really need you to increase their credibility in the role they’re in with some key stakeholders.
What I coach them to do, and this is in the book as well is look, identify at least three character qualities and competency qualities in this particular role that you believe are important to that person with whom you’re trying to increase credibility. Then write those down, then rate yourself on 1 to 10, 10 being high, how you would rate yourself in each of those.
Now take that list to the person with whom you’re trying to increase your credibility and just be openly transparent with them and say, “Hey, I know you like me and you trust me, but I really want to increase my credibility with you in this particular area or this particular project, whatever it is.”
Here are the things I have identified that I believe would be important to you. I may have missed some. Would you do me a favor? Would you look at these enemy that I’ve missed, looked how I’ve rated myself and would you please go ahead and rate me? Again, I’m trying to get better, so I don’t – don’t need to rank me 10 in all of them, especially if you don’t believe that.
On anything that she or he rate you lower than a nine, now you know where to start and you can say to the person, “Okay, I saw that you gave me a nine in timeliness, Debbie. Can you tell me what would you need to see – Do you mean, am I late to work? Tell me what you see there.” It opens up the dialogue. You actually have a roadmap now on where you need to focus to get better and increase your credibility in this case.
[0:39:52.9] MB: I like to dig into the other side of the coin now and talk a little bit about what do you see the biggest mistakes or pitfalls you see people making when they try to influence others, or even when they try to implement some of the practices that you’ve written about.
[0:40:08.7] TD: Well, the biggest and most obvious and this won’t be – shouldn’t be new news to anyone, it’s when I’m trying to influence you to do something differently than I am doing. In other words, I’m not walking my talk. Pretty tough to – it’s the do as I say and not as I do problem.
I’ve got to be modeling, and not perfect. Nobody is perfect in any of these every, but I’ve got to be seriously attempting to model the various things that I’m trying to influence you. I think that’s the first thing. The second thing is to make sure the person understands your intent. I’ll tell you because of the role I’m in, I began a lot of conversations when there is a performance issue, or when there is a worry about someone, I begin a lot of conversations with, “I want you to know my only intent is to help resolve this situation, or to help you be successful in your role.”
I begin any performance conversation, we have a formal performance process here, if we get to that point, we’re still and really struggling in your particular role; good people. Always good people, but maybe a mismatch for the role, or maybe just haven’t had direct feedback that they need to have.
I will begin the conversation with, and it’s very sincere from the heart, “You know, Matt. I want you to know that my only intent in this conversation we’re having with you and your leader is to help you improve and be wildly successful in your role.” Now if you can say that it comes from the heart, boy does that start the conversation in the right place.
I think making sure that the other person understands your intent is to just help them, not to be critical, not to try and show them the door, not to make yourself look smarter than they are, but just to help. You just want to help.
[0:41:56.2] MB: This is something I think that I’ve dealt with personally in some instances. If someone’s in a defensive or emotional state, how can we try to effectively communicate our intent to them in a way that takes down those defensive barriers?
[0:42:13.4] TD: Well, I think when emotions are high, I don’t think I know, when emotions are high, that’s not the moment to start addressing the problem. The late Dr. Covey used to say, and I just love this because I’m reminded of it every day; with people, fast is slow and slow is fast.
When emotions are high, the first step is to take time to understand them. Practice 10 is talk less, listen more. That’s particularly relevant when emotions are high. Like this person I’ve been referring to, this accounting executive that’s upset. I’m going to spend probably the first 15 minutes of our conversations saying nothing other than, “Hey, help me understand the situation.”
We as human beings, we need what I like to call psychological error. We just need to feel understood. If we can feel understood, then we can get to a place where we can start to resolve a problem or address a situation. But we jump past that first part Matt, because we’re fixers. We want to help. We’re busy. We want to just get to the solution.
In the end, it ends up taking a ton more time when we jump to the solution, versus taking whatever time is necessary upfront to really just understand. Years ago, one of my teenage daughters was wanting to move out of our house. We’re good parents, so she had no reason to do that. I was concerned about her moving out. She’s just out of high school, but who she was moving in within the situation.
We would discuss it. Not really argue at that point. Then I was on a international business trip for 10 days, and I came home to find out she had moved out. Well, mom was gone. I was pretty upset. She come over for Sunday dinner with the rest of the family. We’d have dinner and then we’d start a discussion and we’d go back five minutes and then the argument starts, that why did she do this and can’t believe it, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
We just argued. End in tears. Week after week this is what happened. I’m embarrassed to tell you, I worked here at FranklinCovey at that time. I’m out teaching this stuff and pretending that time to live this stuff, I guess I have to say. Well, I still remember the Sunday afternoon when we were falling into the same pattern. After dinner, I just thought, “Todd, you got to do something different here. This is not working.”
Well, I admit it comes natural to me now, it didn’t at the time. It was forced. I remember it, my daughter her name is Sydney, we went out on the backswing. She said, “Okay, let’s have it.” I said, “What’s that?” She said, “Why I made this big mistake.” I said, “You know what, Sydney. You make your own decisions. I just love you and you seem really stressed.” “Well, I’m not stressed.” I said, “Okay, well that’s okay.”
Then we sat there and talked. She talked. I just bit my tongue. She started to share with me one of her roommates was irritating her. All I said was – Well, I wanted to say, “Well, I told you this would happen.” All I said was, “Boy, that must be really frustrating.”
It was like a light switch went on. Then she started to share more, and I had to keep biting my tongue and just say, “Wow, I bet that’s hard. Or I be that’s difficult.” This volume of information opened up. Believe it or not, it’s like out of a movie. At the end of her time sharing she said, “I don’t know what to do, dad.”
Well, those had been the words I’ve been longing to hear for I don’t know how long. But even then, I bit my tongue, and instead of jumping in and saying, “Well, here is what you do. You move out of that situation.” I said, “You know what, Sydney you’re a smart girl. I know you’re going to figure it out.” Then she started pushing, “How do you think I should do this?”
Again, sorry for the personal example. But boy, I’ve just seen it time and time again in my life, it will take the time to let someone share and really just try to understand and not agree, or disagree, not to suggest or fix, just to share. Then we open up a pathway to start resolving the situation.
[0:46:06.0] MB: It’s a really powerful example and thank you for sharing it. I think it really grounds a lot of these lessons for the listeners. You know, it’s funny. I sometimes call it the Socratic method of influencing people, which is one of the things I’ll do if I can’t – if I’m trying to influence someone subtly is just keep asking them questions, “Well, tell me why you’re doing it this way, and tell me why that’s the case, and tell me –” Eventually, you can – you start to pull out all the reasoning and the logic and all the thought process behind it.
Many will see for themselves, “Oh, maybe that doesn’t really make a lot of sense the way that I’m doing it.” If they have the realization themselves, it’s infinitely more powerful than you trying to force it into their heads.
[0:46:48.5] TD: Someone said to me, and I wrote about this in the book. Someone said to me – they’re leaving my office once, they said, “Man, you just know – you come up with the answers for everything.” I just laughed. I said to this person, “I didn’t come up with anything. You came up with the answer. It’s just what you said. If you ask the right questions and not in a manipulative way, not because you’re trying to stir them, you’re just trying to help them, what you just said, uncover what the real issues are.
90% of the time, they’ll solve or at least get on the pathway to start solving the situation, or solving the problem. If they feel hurt, if they feel understood, if they feel like there was someone who really just wants to understand and not fix or change them.
[0:47:29.4] MB: I’m curious, what’s the most effective relationship that you’ve ever had and why?
[0:47:34.3] TD: Wow. I have not been asked that question before. If my wife listened, I better say with her. Yeah, the most effective relationship is a good friend of mine. We’ve known each other for 21 years now. Why is it most effective? It’s most effective, because through our friendship, we’ve really – we have very different personalities and that we’ve taken the time to understand each other.
Communication is very quick, because we know what each other is thinking. I want to be careful here to say, well does that just happen? I think so. I think it’s been developed over time, because of what we just finished talking about. Taking the time to really understand someone, what drives them, what motivates them, what are their hopes, what are their fears, what are their aspirations in life.
I think when we take time, I don’t want to make this to a referring, but in the end really, we’re all about relationships, I think, or we should be. I don’t know that much else matters when all set and done. I mean, yup results matter and work matters and all of those things. But in the end – in fact, someone asked me today what was one final thought I could give?
I was reminded of a bumper sticker I saw – quite a while ago I was following a motor home towing a boat, and I think I’m exaggerating this but I swear they have some ATVs up on top, all these toys piled on all these trailers, or all these trailer. The bumper sticker, and it’s a popular one, people have seen it. It said, he and I’ll political correct here and say, or she, but he or she who dies with the most toys wins.
Well, I would love to have every one of those toys that I was following. I honestly Matt, thought to myself, for me anyway, he or she who dies with the most meaningful relationships wins. That’s just my philosophy and it’s what makes me happy and it’s what makes me effective in my various roles that I play.
[0:49:35.9] MB: I think that’s a really important lesson. I mean, if you look at and study people who are in the last moments of their lives or talking about their regrets, etc., it seems like relationships are really recurrent again and again and again, kind of come back to end of life, people think that the most important things in their lives were there relationships.
[0:49:57.0] TD: I have yet to meet anybody who doesn’t feel that way.
[0:50:00.2] MB: That’s a pretty deep note, but I want to transition on a much more surface-level question, which is something we ask as we’re wrapping up many of our interviews. What’s one piece of actionable advice or homework you would give to the listeners as a starting point for implementing some of the practices we’ve talked about today?
[0:50:19.9] TD: Well, practice 15, the last practice in the book is ironically titled Start with Humility. I had an idea many years ago of writing a book on leadership about humility, because I had worked with or for so many great leaders, and some that weren’t so great. But the common thread among the great ones were many things that went in to their great leadership, but it was this foundation of humility.
I was putting together some material for this, just the beginnings of it. One day it came to me. I thought, “I know what the title is. The title is going to be Lead with Humility.” I Googled it to make sure there wasn’t a book already written on that. Well in fact, there was.
Not only was there a book titled Lead with Humility, but it was written by Pope Francis himself. It’s actually written by another author, but he uses Pope Francis as his example through all of the great leadership qualities, start with humility. I didn’t write that book. I decided not to go toe-to-toe with the pope.
It is the last chapter in the book, because we can look at all of these areas we think we need to improve, or we do need to improve. We can focus our energy and our efforts on all of these things. But if we’re lacking in humility – humility is not a weakness. Humility is a strength. It’s the greatest strength we can have. Humility is the thing that helps us forgive, it’s the thing that tells us no matter how successful we are, we didn’t do it on our own, it gives us the courage to be honest with co-workers, it reminds us to be patient with ourselves, to know that all of us are in this process of getting better.
That’s my parting thought on this is that we need to really ask ourselves, understand what our real intent is, what our real motives are and make sure that it’s based or grounded in humility that we don’t think of ourselves as all that and more, but that we’re all here to help each other continually be getting better.
[0:52:18.3] MB: Where can listeners can find you and the book and your work online?
[0:52:23.1] TD: If they will go to getbetterbook.com, that’s www.getbetterbook.com, they’ll have links to an information on everything that we’ve talked about and a lot more.
[0:52:34.6] MB: Well, Todd thank you so much for coming on the show, sharing not only some really impactful stories, but also some great and actionable advice. Really appreciate having you on here and you sharing all these wisdom.
[0:52:47.1] TD: Well, I appreciate being invited. It’s been great to get to know you better. Thank you so much.
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