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The world would be a better place if more people were better communicators.
We can either complain that they’re not or work to improve ourselves and our own communication. I choose the latter!
Here’s the problem: other people aren’t hearing you. You don’t feel heard, you’re not getting what you want in life, and you think it’s other people’s fault.
You want something. You think you’ve told someone. They don’t understand (or worse: they think you never told them), and you’re left disappointed.
How do we fix this?
The first thing to acknowledge is that communication is both the sending and receipt of a message.
If you’re broadcasting and nobody’s picking up the signal, you’re not communicating.
We talk about how you can take ownership and responsibility for communication to ensure you’re heard.
You’ll be able to resolve a lot of relationship problems and avoid arguments if you learn how to communicate.
Highlights, Takeaways, & Quick Wins:
- Communication is both the sending and receipt of a message.
- The responsibility of communication lies on the sender, not the receiver.
- You have to confirm receipt of a transmission to know that it was successful.
- The only way to know you’ve communicated effectively is when you hear your message out of the other person’s mouth.
- Take responsibility for all communication.
- Ensuring you’ve been heard by getting the other person to repeat back something important you’ve said is the most efficient way to communicate.
- Everything you communicate is intended to elicit a response.
- Communicate about communication with the people you care about.
- Communication starts with you investing in the other person, however long that takes, until they’re on board.
- 01:11 Sean: I just finished recording the final chapter of the Overlap audio book, just last night. I’m very excited. I had written the whole book. It was edited. I sent it off to the type setter. We worked through a number of revisions. It went off to the proof reader. However, I did not write the conclusion chapter. I was kind of procrastinating on it. I kind of had important things to do.
- 01:36 I just didn’t get it done. It was kind of late, but I finally wrote that. After I wrote it, I had to get it edited. Once he edited it, he needed to send it back to me and I needed to finalize it. Once it was finalized, I could finally record the final conclusion chapter of the book. That’s done. It’s done done. We’re sending it back to the type setter so they can send me the final proof so it can be done done done. The proof reader will get it and say, “Okay, it’s totally good.” If there were any mistakes in it, it will be done done done done.
- 02:07 Then, we send it to the printer. They’re going to send us a proof that will be done done done done done. Then the book will be ready for launching!
Fixing the Communication Problem
- 06:08 Sean: The world would be a better place if more people were better communicators. We can complain that they’re not, or we can work to improve ourselves and our own communication. I choose the latter. I hope the listener is on board. If we improve our communication, the world will be a better place. Other people will improve their communication as well, because when they interact with you, they’ll think, “That was refreshing. We’re on the same page. I feel like we really communicated here.”
- 06:43 The problem is, other people aren’t really hearing you. They’re not hearing what you have to say. You end up not feeling heard or you don’t get what you want in life, and you think that it’s other people’s fault. You want something. Maybe you think you’ve told someone that you want something. Either they don’t understand, or they think you never told them. You’re left feeling disappointed. How do we fix this? That’s what I want to talk about in this episode. How do we fix this problem with communication?
- 07:26 A lot of people think it’s just the broadcast. It’s just the sending of the signal. If you’re just broadcasting and no one is picking up the signal, you’re not actually communicating with someone. It’s the whole, “If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?” thing.
- 07:49 Ben: Maybe another good example is a dog whistle. We don’t have the physical ability to hear those tones, so you are making sound with a dog whistle—there is noise coming from that—but we don’t have the receptors to hear those tones, whereas dogs do. You use a dog whistle, you’re communicating with dogs, but you’re not communicating with people.
- 08:21 Sean: Yeah, there you go. What are you communicating to the dog?
- 08:29 Ben: I don’t know. I’m not a dog. I’ve never heard a dog whistle.
- 08:49 Sean: We’re going to talk about what communication means. This is going to improve your relationships. This is going to prevent and help you avoid arguments. There are so many benefits to this. People will feel refreshed after talking to you. It’s so great. The reason I’m talking about this is because it’s one of the very big things I’m passionate about and I talk about in the Overlap book.
Communication is both the sending and receipt of a message.
The Overlap Book
- 09:17 Sean: With this whole thing where people say, “Quit your job”—we have an episode coming up soon called Don’t Quit Your Day Job—the whole, “Quit your job, start a business, pursue your passion, do what your love,” thing contributes to a lot of well-meaning messages out there, but they lack practicality. People don’t actually know what to do next. They’re also experiencing these problems that people aren’t addressing.
- 09:46 They say, “Step one, figure out your business plan or your business model.” Really, step one is that your family doesn’t believe in you. They’re not on board. You don’t know those things. Most people don’t think about those things or talk about those things, but after all the conversations I’ve had with people, I realized that there are all these hurdles, like feeling like you don’t have time, focus, getting your family on board, feeling overwhelmed by too many possibilities, not being sure which thing to pick and what you want to be known for, what your passions are…
- 10:22 All of these things proceed actually doing the work. I only found that out after I had conversations with people over years. That’s why I dedicate time to them in the book. One of those things is getting people on board, supporting you, and investing in them. There’s a core piece in that, which is communication. I didn’t want that to be lost. I wanted to pull that out, highlight it, dissect it, and dive into it in this episode today.
- 11:02 Pre-orders for the Overlap book are closing on June 16th, 2017. That’s the last day to pre-order the book. You will not be able to buy the book until it comes out in September, and then we still have to ship it to you. If you pre-order it, a few things will happen. First, we have this pre-order bundle. It’s got all of the different formats of the book, the best price on that, which is going to go away. It has a limited edition letterpress print.
- 11:46 I’m going to send the book out early to these people. I’ve decided that the people who pre-order get it first. I’m going to send it early, before the launch. It’s very exciting.
- 11:58 Ben: I think people generally like getting things early.
- 12:02 Sean: Imagine, Cory, if you had pre-ordered the AirPods when they came out, and you got them first, before they showed up in the stores.
- 12:09 Cory: I’d feel pretty good.
- 12:10 Sean: Isn’t it so frustrating? You wait until midnight, 1am or 2am, you pre-order the iPhone, and then people go into the store that day and pick it up before it ships to you. You’re like, “Why don’t I get the best deal?”
- 12:32 Go to OverlapBook.com and pre-order the physical book. We poured so much into this. It’s going to be a work of art. You’re going to enjoy holding this in your hands. It also ensures that you get one, if you pre-order. It’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars, and depending on how pre-orders go will affect how many we can order. I’ve done some research, and I have a pretty good idea of what demand will be when it launches.
- 12:58 I want to order that many, but it’s going to be many tens of thousands of dollars. I’m willing to put my own money in, depending on cash flow, but we have to see how much we have to play with. If a lot of people don’t pre-order, I will have to get less, which means the book will be in short supply at the launch. If you pre-order, you’re for sure getting it. OverlapBook.com, again, pre-orders close June 16th, 2017.
If you find the topic of communication interesting, I go into it more in the Overlap book.
I want to give the best deal to the people who pre-order and believe in this book, and ship it to them first.
You Are Not Communicating
- 13:26 Sean: The first thing to understand is that, in many cases in life, you’re not really communicating. You think you’re communicating, but what’s happening is that two people are talking. We call that communication. We say that we had a conversation, but one person’s mouth is moving and the other person is waiting for their mouth to stop so they can say their message. They both say they had a conversation, but no one was listening. They were both waiting to talk. There’s a big difference between waiting to talk and listening.
- 14:14 Ben: This is the part that I sometimes have a hard time with. The way my brain works, if I’m not really focused and paying attention, sometimes I’ll miss things. I also have these automatic responses. That’s a pretty common thing. People are well-versed in the art of conversation enough that they can kind of go on auto-pilot and completely bypass the section of the conversation that comes after somebody has spoken where you communicate that the message was received and that you understood it.
- 14:59 That’s where communication tends to break down, often, for people. You’re building this uncertainty as the conversation goes on. There’s this growing uncertainty that any message was ever received. It may not even be a conscious thing, but it sucks walking away from a conversation thinking, “I’m not sure if the other person actually gets what I was saying.”
- 15:37 Sean: We know the signals we want to get from someone else when we’re talking, like nodding, smiling, or them saying, “Yeah, right.”
- 15:44 Ben: We do those things automatically.
- 15:46 Sean: You’re trying to give the other person what you would want yourself, but sometimes, you’re just going through the motions. Sometimes, you’re not really acknowledging.
- 16:10 Cory: Sean, when you’re communicating with someone and they’re giving you eye contact and they’re nodding, you’ve communicated.
- 16:19 Sean: This is what people think.
- 16:21 Cory: They’re looking at you in the face. I have full attention on their words.
- 16:27 Sean: The main thing is, as long as they’re looking at you. If they’re looking away, maybe they didn’t hear you. If they looked at you, you can assume with absolute certainty that they heard you. Message received.
- 16:39 Cory: How else could you know? They’re nodding, so obviously, they understand what you’re saying, right?
- 16:45 Sean: Cory’s giving me the big setup. Thanks for the softball.
You’re versed in making the other person feel heard but not necessarily listening yourself.
What Is Communication?
- 16:51 Sean: What does it mean to communicate? I looked it up. I did a little bit of research. To communicate is to:
- Pass on
- Impart—which means to:
- Make known
- Ensure knowledge
- Press upon
The responsibility of communication lies on the sender, not the receiver.
The One Way You Can Be Sure You’re Heard
- 18:58 Sean: There are cables at the bottom of the ocean, and tons of data goes across these. Unbeknownst to you, the deep sea cables are severed. You didn’t know it happened. Someone went down there and cut the cables. They’re no longer connected. Did you transmit anything? Going back to the definition of communication and communicating, it’s to transmit. We think of your hands being cold, it’s winter time, it’s around Christmas, and you put your hands near the fire. Heat was transferred. It was transmitted. Did you transmit something if the deep sea cables were severed?
- 19:44 Ben: This isn’t even getting into whether or not it was a message they could understand or interpret. This is just, did the signal even reach them?
- 19:53 Sean: There are so many layers to it. You didn’t transmit anything because the deep sea cables were severed. How can you know if the transmission was successful?
- 20:07 What if they say, “I received it”? Did you effectively communicate?
- 20:14 Cory: Clearly they received the message. No, you can’t assume that.
- 20:22 Sean: But they said they received it! Did you effectively communicate?
- 20:38 Cory: No, you can’t know.
- 20:40 Sean: Why not? How do you not know? They said they received it.
- 20:44 Cory: You might have communicated, but you don’t know that you’ve communicated. Until you hear what they think you’re saying, you won’t know.
- 20:56 Sean: What is “it”?
- 20:57 Cory: The message.
- 20:58 Sean: Yeah, but they said, “I received it.” What is “it”? Here’s the thing. They received what? Unbeknownst to you, your London counterpart actually received a message from Germany that read, “Hello!” They thought it was your message. It couldn’t be your message, because the deep sea cables were severed. It’s impossible, but they said, “I received it.”
- 21:27 You’re making an assumption here. The only way you can know they received your message is if you hear it out of the other person’s mouth. If they say, “I got your message that said, ‘Hello from New York City,'” awesome. Now you know it made it to them.
- 21:48 Sean: Anything less than that is an assumption. It’s a mistake.
- 22:02 Ben: My mind went to, “What if the cables weren’t severed?” You sent the message and they said, “I received it.” That may absolutely be true, but like Cory said, you don’t know whether or not you’ve communicated until they tell you what they received and it matches what you intended to send. Maybe it got garbled along the way. Something messed up. You never know what can happen to that message in transit. The only way you can verify that effective communication has happened is getting them to repeat back to you the message.
- 22:48 Cory: It’s like if your wife Rachel said, “Hey Ben, can you go to the store and get bread, milk, and butter,” and you’re like, “Got it.” She’s like, “Cool.” If she were to ask you, “What are you going to get?” and you said, “Bread and butter,” you missed one. Even though you said, “Got it,” you might have heard something else.
- 23:06 Ben: There’s even more to it than that. In communication, I’ve noticed that my children are really good at repeating back things that I’ve said to them. I’ll give them some kind of direction. I’ll say, “Okay, what did I tell you to do?” Without even looking up from whatever they’re doing, they can repeat back to me word-for-word what I said. It’s a part of their brain that’s not actually going to retain or act upon that information.
- 23:36 Cory: If she said, “Hey, get these three things, and don’t forget the ice,” you can say, “Yeah, don’t forget the ice, got it.” What’s your point with that?
- 23:45 Ben: My point is, even if they can repeat it back to you, that just means that they received and interpreted the message. It doesn’t mean that they fully understand it and can act upon it.
You have to confirm receipt of a transmission to know that it was successful.
When you hear your message out of the other person’s mouth, you know you’ve been heard and that you’ve communicated.
Who’s Fault Is It When a Message Isn’t Received?
- 24:10 Sean: Jordan in the chat says, “100% responsible?” She means, you as the sender are 100% responsible for the receipt of your message, for communication? “Don’t some people simply refuse to listen?” Three people starred that. This is the challenging part. I want to challenge everyone here.
- 24:37 We’ve talked about taking responsibility in general (Related: e250 Own Your Life by Taking Responsibility for Everything). The thing is, if you aren’t responsible for everything in your life, you open yourself up to becoming a victim. You can only do something about that for which you are responsible. You have to take responsibility. When you shout at the back of someone’s head when they have headphones on, who’s fault is it that they didn’t hear?
- 25:10 Ben: It’s the person shouting, because obviously, they can’t hear you if they have headphones on.
- 25:19 Sean: If your husband is outside mowing and you shout something at him and he doesn’t hear it, is it his fault?
- 25:26 Ben: If you shout at your children and they’re in the same room with you and they don’t hear you, it’s still your fault.
- 25:31 Sean: Let’s take it a step further. When you shout at someone’s face, who’s fault is it if they didn’t hear? It’s your fault. This is where it starts getting uncomfortable for people. They’re like, “I don’t know about this.” It was the eye contact, Cory. They saw me. It was their face.
- 25:58 Cory: If they’re looking at you in the eyes, you know.
- 26:00 Sean: That’s what people want, but communication is your responsibility as the communicator. I’m going to back this up in a moment. I know it’s challenging.
- 26:13 Ensuring effective communication is the responsibility of the sender. Don’t make excuses. Take responsibility for communication. Don’t blame the other person for not remembering. Take responsibility for not confirming.
Take responsibility for all communication.
If you’re the one transmitting the message, you’re the one responsible for ensuring its receipt, always.
- 26:30 Ben: Can I use a different word here? I know we like the phrase, “Take responsibility,” but I was thinking about the word “assume.” Assume responsibility. It means a similar thing, but I like the word “assume” to mean that you should assume, in whatever situation or circumstance you’re in, that it’s your responsibility.
- 26:54 Sean: I guess the reason I don’t use that word is that I always say that assumptions are the mother of all mistakes. While in that context, I don’t necessarily think that’s wrong, but for super-clarity, I don’t want to muddy up the way I have used the word. I usually put “assume” in a negative light. Don’t assume. Confirm.
- 27:19 Ben: I love what you’re saying, though.
- 27:23 Sean: I’ve got a nice big example of this, for anyone who’s still not sure. I haven’t given you the meat of it.
- 27:32 Ben: Clearly, there are folks who can come up with examples of times when it was very difficult to communicate with somebody. Somebody said, “Some people have their headphones on all the time.” They just don’t take their headphones off. If you’re looking for reasons why you can’t be 100% responsible all of the time, that’s the problem. The problem is that you’re looking for that. If you’re looking for responsibility, you’re putting yourself in a better position.
- 28:09 Even if you’re not successful in communicating with another person but you’re seeking ways you can be responsible for making sure that person received a message… Ultimately, you might not be successful.
- 28:40 Sean: Kyle in the chat says, “Responsibility is freedom.” There are some good comments coming in. I’m going to get to these.
Taking responsibility will get you so much farther than looking for excuses, for reasons why you might not be responsible.
Isn’t This a Waste of Time?
- 28:48 Sean: Eugene says, “But Sean, isn’t it a waste of time having everyone repeating everything each other says… Won’t it just end up as an endless loop of repeating what the other person said?” He does a little winky face. He’s being tongue-in-cheek. I think he’s actually asking this, though. Isn’t it a waste of time to have all this repeating? No. It’s a waste of time to have all of this blabber between two wait-to-talkers with no listening and people saying they’ve had conversations.
- 29:15 People say they’ve communicated. 80% of all conversation is not communicating anything. I truly believe that. People so want to feel heard that they are practiced in letting other people feel like they’re heard. They’re not practiced in listening. You’re not being heard. You’re not communicating. I think what’s a waste of time is going through life broadcasting your message to everyone, assuming they’ve heard it, and getting upset or angry and playing the victim when there are problems later on.
- 30:01 It’s the only way you can know. It’s the only way you’re not making an assumption—getting people to repeat things back to you. That’s the only way you have certainty that you’ve been heard. Here’s where people have an objection to this. There is a small chance, like we talked about earlier, that when you have someone repeat something back, they still might not remember. Is this their fault? It’s not their fault.
- 30:35 No. It’s not their fault. You must always take responsibility. If they don’t remember even when you had them repeat it back, you must implement a new process and frame it in their benefit. I’m hoping this example I’m about to give will unlock something. Maybe it will click for someone if I give an actual example here of how you can operate in a relationship successfully by taking responsibility.
Ensuring you’ve been heard by getting the other person to repeat back something that’s important is the most efficient way to communicate.
Communication in Action
- 31:03 Sean: “Hey, last weekend when we talked, I let you know that I was going to be writing my course outline today between 7pm and 8pm tonight. I’m seeing on the calendar that you’ve scheduled a dinner with our friends during the same time. I realize I didn’t do a good job of reminding you as it got closer to the day. Would it be okay with you if, from now on, I put my writing sessions on our shared calendar? I’d hate for us to double-book again and miss out on a dinner with our friends.”
- 31:34 Think about what might have transpired up to this point. You tell someone, “I’m going to be writing my course from 7pm to 8pm on this day.” You did a good job. You communicated. You set expectations. Maybe you even got them to repeat it back. “I want to make sure. What did you get out of this conversation? ‘Oh, you’re going to be writing on your course from 7pm to 8pm on this day.’ Awesome. Thanks so much for talking that through with me. I want to make sure you’re on board.”
- 32:00 The next thing you know, they book a dinner during that time. “What the heck?” you say. You have the right to be angry. You communicated and they failed you. It’s their fault. That’s what you want to do. How can you take responsibility for this? How could you have ensured that this didn’t happen? What if you made sure you were on the shared calendar in the first place, instead of relying on them, assuming they would make their own event on their calendar?
- 32:30 What if you reminded them and said, “Hey, you know that thing I told you three months ago that I’m doing next Friday? I wanted to bring that up again. I realize that you have a lot on your mind, and my priorities aren’t necessarily yours. I didn’t want to assume you remembered. I just wanted to check in and say that next Friday, I’m going to be doing X.” When it gets to next week, you say, “Hey, in a few days,” and when it gets to Thursday, you say, “Tomorrow,” and then on Friday, you say it again.
- 33:02 Ben: I agree with that. At the same time, there’s something I’m having a little bit of trouble with. I’ll get to that in a moment. There are a couple of different ways I can illustrate this, but I think about back when we used to play music together. I would set up the sound system. I never communicated with you guys how to do it. We were using amplifiers and stuff like that. There are a lot of different connections.
- 33:36 If I don’t understand how the signal gets from the guitar to the speaker through those various things—it has to go from the guitar into the sound board, and then the sound board has to send a signal to the amplifier, and the amplifier has to send it out to the speaker. All of those connections are important. Every person is different. If you think of every person as a receiver of a message, every person receives messages differently. Some of them need reminders.
- 34:16 Some of them don’t. Some of them need very specific, detailed information. Some people feel overwhelmed by that. It’s important to recognize that and understand, “How do I get my signal from the guitar to the speaker?” How do I get the signal to the receiver in a way they can actually receive it?
- 34:40 Sean: What’s the format they accept?
Reaffirm, reconfirm, and take responsibility for communication.
- 34:44 Ben: Exactly. Where I have a little bit of trouble is this. Does it get out of hand at some point, or is there a point where you’re doing too much compensating for their lack of ability to receive a message, in a more efficient way where it’s actually harmful? Maybe it’s costing you a lot of time and it sets a precedent for how you’ll communicate things in the future. I wonder if there’s room in there to set some expectations and work with that person to meet you a little bit closer to where you can communicate more efficiently.
- 35:29 Sean: I think there are two aspects to this. Let’s take this to the extreme. Someone asked this, so maybe I’ll use their words here. “When do you draw the line and accept that the other person is not willing to communicate or not willing to meet you to understand your communication? When do you just break those ties and move on?” I think that’s a phenomenal question. That’s the extreme. You can take responsibility all you want for everything in life—for your relationships, for everything—and some people are just going to burn you.
- 36:03 Should you continue to keep them in your life just because you’re taking responsibility? No, I do think there’s a point where this person is not willing to hold up their fair share. Your car breaks down and you call your best friend in the middle of the night, and they’re going to come pick you up, because they’re your best friend. If you do that every day, they won’t be your best friend for long.
- 36:25 You’re best friends because you both have given of yourselves without expecting anything in return. You’re not keeping tabs. “Hey, you owe me one. Han Solo, I owe you one.” You’re just a good friend. You’re giving of yourself.
- 36:45 Then it’s done. There is a breaking point. If people are interested, maybe we can talk about that breaking point. That’s one aspect of what you’re saying. The other aspect is, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. What feels right now like a ton of wasted time being super duper clear and everyone repeating things and taking responsibility is nothing compared to the amount of time you waste by not communicating, by realizing that most of your conversations in life were not effective communication.
- 37:20 There were assumptions that were made. Cory and I talked about this in the pre-show. Different people have different pictures in their minds. If I say, “Apple,” and I don’t clarify it, Ben’s thinking of a red apple, Cory is thinking of a green apple. If I say, “Apple,” maybe in this particular scenario, the color of the apple doesn’t matter. This is how so many people get away with ineffective communication. They luck out on their assumptions.
- 37:51 They made the mistake of assuming, flipped a coin, and it happened to land on heads such that things did not blow up. If every decision is a flip of a coin, you’re building a Janga tower. Some people make it further than others, and they’re like, “We’re fine!” Yeah, you’re fine until you’re not.
- 38:12 Ben: That’s why you can get ten clients deep using whatever your process is for sending out contracts and discussing terms that is not efficient communication, and it seems like everything is fine. Then you hit number eleven, and that comes back to bite you in a big way. They’re coming back at you saying, “I don’t remember discussing this. We didn’t agree on this.” I know we’re not focusing communication directly on clients. This is why this episode, especially for this Community and the type of people listening here, is so important.
- 39:06 Ben: This is true as long as you want everyone to be on the same page.
- 39:07 Sean: I think we do need to define the extreme, because so many people in the chat seem stuck on this. We need to go there, because it’s important to contextualize all of this. Eugene says, “This only applies to the people that respect and love you.” That’s absolutely right. The same is true for clients. It only works with good clients. That’s absolutely right. Those are the only clients you want. Don’t waste time on the bad clients.
If you have a one-sided relationship for too long, that relationship breaks.
You have to use these principles of communication in every kind of relationship if you want things to go smoothly.
Communicate About Communication
- 39:44 Sean: Maybe we can open up the discussion here. Cory was really interested in this one. I said, “Think about it.” What is the extreme? I do think it’s a bit of a rubber band, because you can’t just say, “You failed me once. I told you I was going to be writing for my course and you scheduled a dinner. You double-booked us. We’re done. Good day, sir.” You’re not going to have friends if you do that.
- 40:11 You have to have a little bit of leeway. If people are burning you and burning you and they don’t give a crap and they’re not meeting you halfway, that’s when I would say that it’s time to cut that relationship out. We are giving the benefit of the doubt that the person you’re communicating with is someone you care about. That’s a given. We’re also figuring that you care about this person because they care about you.
- 40:43 That’s not to say that we can’t care about anyone that doesn’t care about us, but in most cases, the people we really care about, we care about them because they also care about us. It’s a mutual thing.
- 41:02 You have to explain. I’ll tell people this, new friends that I get. I have this rule. I don’t always follow it myself, but if I break it, I apologize. This is a rule with the people in my life. I’ve decided that this is something we both have to agree on and respect each other with if we’re going to have a relationship. That is that we don’t interrupt each other. I’m not saying that I don’t break this. With myself and my wife, I break it all the time.
- 41:35 She breaks it. When we break it, we have to apologize for it. That’s the way we’ve set up our relationship. That’s the way we have set up the dynamic. It’s the same with Cory. Cory and I are very similar personality types. We want to save time. We’re efficient. We don’t waste words. When Cory thinks that he knows what the rest of what I’m going to say is, he’s inclined to jut in to save time, not out of rudeness.
- 42:01 I get it, let’s move on. I have that same tendency. This is a problem I ran into. I would cut people off because I thought I knew where they were going, except that I didn’t. It saved time where it did, but it made things bad where it didn’t. I realized, it’s actually overall more efficient to let people finish. I decided it’s a more respectful thing to do anyway. I’ve encountered people that frequently interrupt me and talk over me.
- 42:36 If it’s just a conversation at a conference, someone I don’t really know or care about, I’m not going to sit there and correct them or tell them how they should speak to me. That’s silly. I don’t do that because I don’t care about the person. We don’t have a deep relationship. This is not going to continue. I’m not going to invest a ton of energy. For the people I care about, I will slow down and have a conversation to communicate about communication.
- 43:05 I’ll say, “Hey, I wanted to talk about how we talk to each other. I know, it’s easy to want to jut in and interrupt someone when you think you know what the rest of their sentence is, but here are the reasons why I think it’s a bit disrespectful and almost certainly inefficient in the long run. It’s so inefficient in the long run that spending the 20 minutes on this discussion still leaves us at a net positive.” Do you know what I’m saying?
- 43:34 Ben: I feel like I interrupt you at least once per show.
- 43:39 Sean: I interrupt you probably ten times as much, Ben. I’m sorry.
- 43:46 Ben: I like this meta conversation about communication. You’re working on the mechanism, on the transmitter and the receiver. That’s an important piece of it. It’s not just about how you communicate, but there may be unresolved things that are keeping the receiver from receiving your message. Maybe they don’t seem to be receiving your message, or aren’t doing so efficiently, is because they have some hurt or something they’re holding onto that you don’t even know about, because they haven’t communicated with you.
- 44:29 I think that’s part of the work of getting outside of trying to communicate and working on the communication, it’s doing maintenance on that. It’s just like anything else you want to run smoothly, like your car. You have to take it in for maintenance. You have to get the oil changed. You have the get the hoses and the belts changed out. It should be a regular thing that you do. Honestly, in the almost 14 years that Rachel and I have been married, there have been few times, outside of the times when we were forced to, when we’ve intentionally said, “Hey, let’s have a conversation about the communication mechanism.” How is this working?
- 45:18 Sean: It’s so meta and it feels like a luxury to even have that.
- 45:24 Ben: It’s hard. Right now, if we can even have a few words with each other in the course of a week, that’s pretty phenomenal. It seems that way. Communication is so important.
- 45:57 You’re losing so much time because the communication isn’t where it should be.
You have to communicate about communication with the people you care about.
So many systems depend on efficient communication.
When you don’t maintain communication, systems gradually break down, too.
Maintenance Is Not a Luxury
- 46:03 Sean: I like the oil change example. You’re driving from San Antonio to Dallas. Both are cities in Texas. It’s maybe a five hour drive. You’re noticing, “It’s about time to do an oil change, but if I do an oil change right before this trip…” Aaron was driving down here to help me record the audio book for Overlap. He was supposed to be here in the first half of the day on a Wednesday, and he was like, “I need to get my oil changed.”
- 46:32 “I let my mom borrow my car, she put a bunch of miles on it, and now I’m realizing I’m to the point of needing an oil change. I’m going to get an oil change and then drive down there.” He didn’t get here until 2pm. You’re like, “That’s not good.” It takes way longer to get there. You can totally still get there. You would save an entire hour. You’d have more hours when you get there. You can totally not do an oil change.
- 47:00 Ben: You can push it a couple hundred miles past the recommended point.
- 47:04 Sean: What’s the big deal? It’s just a racket, right? They’re just trying to get you to come in more often than you need to. It’s fine. It works. You convince yourself that the maintenance is a luxury. “I’m fine. I’m burnt out, but I’m going to keep pushing through. It’s fine. Maintenance is a luxury.” But the maintenance isn’t a luxury. Zoom out from today and getting to your destination on your road trip an hour later. Zoom out from today and look at five years from now.
- 47:48 The belts on the machine on the engine snap and everything grinds to a halt. The engine throws a rod through the engine body, and now you need to replace it and it’s $4,500, money you didn’t have. The car is in the shop. It took them two days to figure out what they need to do, and it’s going to take them seven days to do the work, all because you were trying to save an hour once or twice. You’re pushing it back.
- 48:14 You’re pushing it off. Eventually, it’s going to break down. I just realized that in this chapter from the Overlap book, I was focusing more on communication in isolation, but this chapter is called Get People On Board. That’s what it’s about—getting people on board with what you want to do. Communication is a piece of it, but there’s more to it. I was just kind of like, “I don’t know if we can go into all of that in a podcast episode,” but I’m realizing now that it’s not only important, but it answers the questions that people have, the disconnect that’s been occurring.
If you don’t do the maintenance and have the meta conversations about communication with the person you care about, what is the cost of everything breaking in five years?
Get People on Board
- 48:50 Sean: When you want to get people on board, communication is involved. When you want someone on board with what you want to do—you want to quit your job, start a business, move, do something—you need that buy-in from the people in your life. You’re essentially asking them to invest in you. You’re asking. This is the Rule of Reciprocity 101.
- 49:17 How do you get someone to give to you? You start by giving. Open the reciprocity loop yourself, and because it’s an intrinsic human thing, it’s going to come back to you. To be invested in, you need to invest in others. This is going to come around and answer the questions like, “What about these difficult people? What if you try your hardest and they don’t care, they won’t meet you halfway?” This is going to answer that.
- 49:46 This is also going to be challenging, because it’s not what people like. The context of this episode is, I picked the example of a spouse. It applies to people in your life, people in your family, extrapolated out, but especially your spouse. You have to invest in them. What makes them feel loved? What do they want to do? What do they want to spend time with you doing? What are their hopes and dreams? How can you invest in them?
- 50:22 Anyone in your family, anyone in your life that you care about, start by investing in them. When you invest in them, they will be happy to invest in you. Sometimes, it takes a while. How long do you do this? Do you do this for a year? I say, put aside all of your stuff. Put aside the selfishness of what you want to pursue, what you want to do, and invest in them first, until they’re on board. We’re thinking that this person is stubborn. They don’t want to communicate or support you.
- 50:52 You don’t believe in you. Invest in them, and they’re going to support you. Here’s the thing you need to have. You need to have one of those big, hairy, emotional, difficult discussions. You know it’s something you have to have. If you’re ever going to go from, “I don’t want you to do this. I’m not on board. I don’t support you,” to being on board, there is going to be some big discussion. There will be multiples of them.
- 51:17 At the very least, there needs to be one to start with. What you want to do is you want to say, “We need to talk.” Don’t say that. Whenever you say that, people freak out. Imagine you get a text from someone who normally sends you books, and it just says, “We need to talk.”
- 51:39 Ben: “I need to get something off my chest.”
- 51:42 Cory: That one, I actually want to hear them out. I’ll be your ear.
- 51:46 Ben: But what is it? Between the time you receive that and the time you’re actually sitting down across from that person…
- 51:52 Sean: People don’t want to have that big, hairy discussion. They don’t want to have it. It’s all about you anyway. It’s all about what you want. You’re asking something of them.
- 52:14 No kids. No noise. No people interrupting. Set aside time for this. Make this important. Invest in them first, so they’re willing to have this conversation. You have this conversation. In the book, I say, “Earn the right to an honest conversation.”
- 52:32 Ben: I like that you said “honest.” I’ll let you continue, but I have some thoughts I want to share on this.
- 52:43 Sean: You have to persist through the tension. There will be tension, but you need to come out of this conversation more on the same page than when you went in. You might have a fight. It could happen. An argument could break out, especially if it’s about finances or sensitive topics. Press through. Persist through that possible tension. You have to come out on the other side more on the same page, not less, whatever it takes.
- 53:16 Pay the babysitter more. Cancel things. Get less sleep. Stay longer. Whatever it takes, get more on the same page. Don’t leave on less of the same page. You’ve got to get there. You absolutely have to get there. Here’s the thing—one conversation is not going to change things overnight. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take eight conversations. Who knows? You have to do the math. “I can only get a few minutes, a few words here and there, with this person I want to talk to every week.”
- 53:47 If you can only talk to them once every two months and it’s going to take half a dozen conversations, realize that this overall shift is going to take a year. You have to be patient in that. I’m super, hyper-summarizing what’s in this one chapter of the Overlap book, but I go into that because this completely illuminates and clarifies this whole question of, “How do I communicate with people that don’t care about me, aren’t on board, won’t meet me halfway, and are stubborn?”
- 54:32 Invest in them until they can have a conversation about communication, even a meta one. Invest in them until you can talk about how you talk. If you’re thinking to yourself, “I’m never going to do that. I don’t care about this person,” you’ve just solved it. That’s where it starts. You’ve now determined, “This isn’t worth my time. This isn’t a person I want to invest in. This isn’t a person I care about being in my life,” so you can move on.
- 54:59 If it is, it starts and ends with you. If it doesn’t, the only alternative to taking responsibility for everything is becoming a victim. You’ll become bitter. You’ll become upset. You’ll blame the world, but you won’t really feel whole inside.
Start by investing in the other person, spending time with them, lavishing love and support on them, and they will support you back.
Give, and then set yourself up to have the discussion about getting the people in your life on board with no distractions.
Communication starts with you investing in the other person, however long that takes, until they’re on board.
- 55:26 Sean: I’m interested in the honesty part you were talking about.
- 55:34 Ben: That word really reminded me of something, in the spirit of getting somebody on board. You have something you want to do. I can’t remember if I saw this back in the chat or somewhere, but you can sometimes use the word “sales” to talk about this process of getting someone on board. If you want something and you’re trying to convince someone to invest in you, you’re selling them on it. That’s not a negative thing. We tend to think about sales as being negative (Related: e213 Sales Is Not a Dirty Word – Why You Need to Learn to Sell).
- 56:18 You’re selling them on it. Thinking about it in those terms, let’s use this example. You’re a consumer, and someone is selling a product or a service that you decide to purchase. It sounds good. “Okay, yeah, that sounds good. That sounds like something I want.” That product or service doesn’t live up to your expectations because there was poor communication in the selling of that product or service. That’s the fault of the seller.
- 56:53 It teaches you, as the consumer, that in the future, you’re going to have a hard time taking what they’re selling you at face value. You’re going to be looking for holes from now on. Going back to getting people on board, one of the mistakes I’ve made many times is this. I’m a people-pleaser and I don’t like confrontation, which is stupid, but I’ll hedge a little bit. I’ll try to sell something, so I’ll omit some things. I’ll underestimate if it’s something that’s going to take a long time.
- 57:40 I’ll underestimate that. If there’s a potential benefit that could come from something, I might overestimate the benefit slightly. I’ll fudge a little bit on those things because I’m trying to avoid the confrontation that comes from a rejection of those things.
- 58:00 Sean: Which causes discomfort in the now, in the short term, in the moment, but it’s a much smaller discomfort than the complete falling out that’s going to happen in some months.
- 58:16 Ben: This is the thing that’s really hard. What happens is this.
- 58:45 Now, if you’re telling me something, I’m just going to guess that you’re not giving me the whole picture, because that’s what happened last time. It becomes even harder to get them on board. Now, there’s this lack of trust. I would much rather lay everything out and have some really hard conversations and then get them on board with the full version of it. Say, “Okay, we’re both in this. These are the real potential down sides.”
- 59:21 Sean: We met yesterday, and I won’t talk about the specifics, but we had a miscommunication. I went to the wrong place. It was my bad. I had to drive to another place we were meeting at, and we only had 15 minutes. I was like, “It’s worth it. We don’t get to hang out that much. Even if it’s 15 minutes, that’s fine.” Even though we had a short amount of time, Ben, you brought up something that was bothering you, affecting you, or you wanted to share it.
- 59:56 It was not a fun topic. We have plenty of fun topics to talk about. You were like, “I want to bring up something. I want to talk to you about this.” We talked about it, and I wanted to say that I appreciate your honesty in that, because it shows me that you care about our relationship enough to talk about something that isn’t super comfortable or fun even in the 15 minutes that we had. It took most of the 15 minutes that we had.
- 01:00:29 You decided, “This is something we need to address. We don’t want to move forward on something not being resolved, so I’m going to prioritize that even in this short amount of time, and I’m not going to sugar-coat it. I’m just going to say it.” I just want to say that I appreciate your honesty there.
- 01:00:53 Ben: Thank you. I could have gotten by. I had the capacity for that. You can get by on poor communication.
- 01:01:18 Sean: What if we ended up not doing the show together later because there were enough of those things that were like, “It’s not a big deal.”
- 01:01:27 Ben: Like Sean said, you can drive your car and not maintain it. Over time, there is a bunch of gunk and gross stuff that accumulates on your engine. You can drive. That stuff can stay on there if you don’t clean it off, but something could seep into the engine or create wear that wouldn’t have happened had you maintained it properly. The scary thing is, you don’t know. Maybe some people are more mechanically inclined, but the mechanics of a vehicle are very mysterious to me.
- 01:02:05 There is always this sense that, if I’m not maintaining things, it could keep running for another ten years… or it could break down tomorrow and we would have to go get another vehicle. I just don’t know. You don’t want that. That uncertainty creates a drag on every part of your life. That’s something you don’t need and you don’t have to live with in your relationships.
If you try to sell things and you’re not completely honest in you’re communication, how can the other person trust what you’re saying as the whole picture?
You can get by without having a completely honest discussion and not being quite on the same page, but it’s not sustainable.
- 01:02:35 Sean: We had a comment that kind of relates. I’m interested in your thoughts. “How do I tell someone how I’m feeling who wants to see how I’m feeling?” I was like, “What do you mean?” They said, “I tell someone I’m sad. They say, ‘You don’t look sad.’ What do I do?” Like me! I’m well equipped to answer this question.
- 01:02:58 What I said was, “I would then ask them if they believe you to be lying to them. Take it to the underlying trust issue.” They’re insinuating that you’re not telling the truth. You’re saying you’re sad, but you don’t look sad. “Explain that it hurts you because they are insinuating you would lie to them. Don’t waste much time talking about how people can feel one way and not look like it on the outside. Not everyone wears their heart on their sleeves.”
- 01:03:39 It’s less about that. It’s more about the honesty factor. Paint a picture of the alternative reality. If that’s a problem, that I say I’m sad and I don’t look sad to you, what’s the alternative? What’s the only other thing I could do? I could just not tell you when I’m sad, or I could lie and say I’m happy. Either way, it’s a lie or a lie by omission. Not telling you how I feel, that’s the alternative.
- 01:04:12 Certainly, they wouldn’t want that. It needs to come down to, “When I tell you how I feel, I need you to believe me. I don’t want to omit how I feel. I care about you, and I care that you care about me and want to know how I feel.” I wanted to get your thoughts as far as the whole honesty thing goes. Earlier, Ben, you said that your answer was to use emojis, but I thought you might have a little bit more.
- 01:04:38 Ben: I completely agree with the trust thing. At the same time, I feel sympathetic toward the person who is expressive, who does communicate that way. I feel sympathetic toward both parties. Here’s the reality. We grew up in an environment where communication happened a certain way.
- 01:05:12 If you live in the same culture as a person, there’s a good chance that there’s going to be a lot of overlap in the way that you communicate. There will also be things on the fringes that could potentially be very different. I run into this with Rachel all the time. She’ll say something, and because of my context, I receive it in a way that she doesn’t intend. It’s really hard for me, because I have an emotional connection to experiences where that communication pattern was hurtful.
- 01:05:46 Or maybe it was damaging in some way. It takes a lot of work for me to disconnect myself from that emotion to reaffirm my trust in Rachel. Despite everything I’m feeling, to believe that Rachel loves me and wants the best for me. I have to look at what she’s saying through that lens. That’s a lot of work, especially if you’re worn out or burned out in other areas. You’ve got a lot of stuff going on. You don’t have a lot of time.
- 01:06:19 The trust thing is very important. It’s good to have a conversation about those things, about those differences in communication styles, and you’re going to have to do that often. It’s not, “Okay, this is how I communicate.” “Okay, good. I’ve got it now. From now on, any time you say something that way, I’m going to get it.” You have to remind the person over and over, because they have years of context that tells them differently.
- 01:06:48 Sean: There is an, “I feel sad,” with a robot emoji crying comment. That’s funny.
Throughout our lives, we pick up communication patterns, everything from how expressive we are to the way we say things.
- 01:06:55 Sean: Kyle says, “People do things like this so much to move on and get to their thing, too. For example, ‘How’s your week?’ ‘I’m really stressed, honestly.’ ‘Well, you’re looking pretty good. You’ll get past it.’ Why did they ask? It’s so shallow. The example above happens a lot in corporate culture.”
- 01:07:16 Ben: The opposite is true. Sometimes we answer differently than we’re actually experiencing because we either don’t want to go into it or we assume the other person doesn’t want to go deep.
- 01:07:28 Sean: Kyle says, “I’m happy to know when Sean asks how things are going, it’s not just fluff.” Cory Miller wanted to talk about small talk. Maybe he wants to write about it. I know he believes a lot in small talk, and it’s funny, because as a jest, he said, “Hey, how’s it going?” I said, “Cory, that’s not small talk. That’s a really deep question.”
- 01:08:04 Ben: When you ask it at the beginning of the show, I don’t feel like it’s the time or the place, but it is the thing to say at the beginning of a conversation.
- 01:08:15 Sean: It’s all joking. You’re totally right. The context there is opening up the show, but the words themselves have a deeper implication. You have people who say literally what they mean, and then you have people who are trying to convey a feeling. Maybe they’re not using the right words, and everyone else is like, “Words mean things and you said this, and that’s what you mean,” and they’re like, “I’m just trying to convey this feeling.”
- 01:08:44 People can be on both sides of the spectrum, and each of them will go across the spectrum, even a person like me. For the most part, I literally mean what I say. But look at what I did at the beginning of the show. I said, “Hey, how’s it going?” It wasn’t like in our meetings, when I say, “Okay, how are you doing?” Context!
- 01:09:21 Sean: That’s why it’s such an ambiguous thing.
- 01:09:26 Ben: We’ve talked about it before, the weird scale of, “How are you doing?” “Fantastic,” is, “I’m doing pretty good.” But if you say, “I’m doing pretty good,” something is wrong.
- 01:09:40 Sean: If you say, “I’m okay,” it’s bad.
- 01:09:43 Cory: What if they’re fine? They’re just fine.
- 01:09:46 Sean: Fine! That’s a four letter word, Cory! Watch your mouth! Speaking of, a little bit more of a window into my life and the context I’ve set up, we’ve made “fine” a four letter word. It’s an offense. It’s as if you said a four letter word and you have to apologize. The reason we do that is because, nine times out of ten, it’s not an honest word.
- 01:10:17 Ben: “How does this look?” “That’s fine.”
- 01:10:32 Sean: “What’s wrong?” “I’m fine.” That’s not honest. You can say, “I don’t really want to talk about it. I need space. I need quiet.”
- 01:10:57 Ben: It’s like if I interrupt Cory and I’m like, “I’m sorry I interrupted you,” and he’s like, “That’s fine.” That’s not really him being honest.
- 01:11:05 Cory: The funny thing is, internally, I’ve started my own internal movement a year or two ago. When I say “fine,” I really mean that it really is fine. It’s acceptable. It’s good. I wonder if there’s any point in me doing that, because to anyone else, they’ll think, “Oh, what’s wrong? I’m so sorry.” I’m like, “Why am I even trying?” I tried to redefine the word, but it only worked for myself.
- 01:11:27 Sean: A better effort or movement would be to say, “I’m great,” or, “I’m fantastic,” and find a way to mean it. You’re like, “I’m fantastic,” and they’re like, “Really? You’re fantastic?” And you need to have an answer ready. I could get on board with that.
Some people don’t often say what they mean, but in a moment where they’re trying to drive a point home, they use certain words that they really mean.
If a word like “fine” to describe how you’re doing isn’t honest, don’t use it.
All Communication Begs a Response
- 01:12:11 Cory: I have a question for you guys on the topic of communication, because this is the communication episode. Do you approach things differently when it’s something you want the other person to take action on or you just want them to know? For instance, say you’re on a date, and you’re just telling them about your past. There isn’t really anything for them to do with that information. Maybe there is in the future.
- 01:12:34 Maybe they do something for you that had to do with your past. Maybe there’s an amount of action that could be taken, but for the most part, it’s just the conveying of information. Like, “I just want you to know this.” Do you approach the way of confirming receipt of that information differently if they don’t need to take action or if they do?
- 01:12:55 Sean: Why does it matter to you that their picture of what you’re trying to impart is identical to what you recall?
- 01:13:06 Cory: Doesn’t everyone want to be heard and fully understood?
- 01:13:12 Sean: An example. You’re a filmmaker. You get to put up a picture that people see. For the most part, people see the same thing. Some people are colorblind. Some people have associations with certain objects. Maybe you were trying to convey a happy mood, and that reminds them of a bad childhood. That’s a very real reality.
- 01:13:37 Sean: They take it objectively, for the most part. Someone who’s writing a book that isn’t illustrated, they have to embrace the fact that the reader’s mind paints the picture in a sense. They have to realize that every single reader has their own picture. Are they on board enough with the story to get the same moral or point out of it? I don’t know how much that relates, but it came to my mind when you were talking about it. You can’t know what someone sees in their head.
- 01:14:10 Cory: I guess I’m thinking of a scenario where you’re trying to get to know somebody. Let’s say I’m telling them about my past, and I have this thing with turtles where it makes me really sad.
- 01:14:23 Ben: Why are you telling them about the turtles?
- 01:14:26 Cory: I just want them to know about the past. In the past, that made me sad.
- 01:14:32 Ben: Why do you want them to know?
- 01:14:35 Sean: It’s good.
- 01:14:36 Cory: Fair question. I guess it’s important because, in getting to know someone, that’s a part of your life. Sometimes, you just want someone to know something.
- 01:14:49 Ben: Is it a funny story?
- 01:14:52 Cory: No, it’s just true.
- 01:14:55 Ben: Why is that information about you important for them to know? If they know that about you, how does that change the way they interact with you?
- 01:15:07 Cory: Hopefully it does change the way they interact, but I guess I’m thinking of this scenario. You’re painting this picture of whatever in the past, you don’t really need to say, “What did you hear? Repeat back to me my childhood stories.” If they don’t, maybe they’re nodding their head while they’re listening, later down the road they buy you a pet turtle because they thought it was cool. They forgot about it.
- 01:15:31 In the moment of saying, “I’m sharing this deep, dark secret,” you don’t want them to say, “Okay, what I’ve heard you say,” and repeat everything back. Isn’t that off-putting?
- 01:15:41 Ben: That would be very weird.
- 01:15:43 Sean: Especially if you’re in a coffee shop.
- 01:15:47 Cory: That’s why I’m asking. Is there a different way to approach communication and the receipt of it if you want them to take action or you want them just to know something?
- 01:15:58 If you goal is for them to avoid purchasing a turtle for you in the future, the burden rests on you to make sure they understand that’s the important part. The part of communication when you’re telling somebody about yourself, there’s a range. You don’t have to be a professional story-teller, but if you convey that information in a way that’s interesting and engages them, vs. being really monotone or talking in circles, those conversational skills can help you in communicating that. It makes the chances higher that they’ll actually retain that information.
- 01:17:00 While you don’t necessarily need to make sure they understood it, you can work on being a better, more efficient communicator and better story-teller. Those things can help you accomplish your goals with that kind of communication.
- 01:17:16 Sean: I would submit this to you.
- 01:17:27 Everything you impart to someone, every message you send, is trying to get a reaction, action, response, or something. Ben’s questions were good. You need to figure out the why. You care about telling someone about the turtles. Why? When you understand that every message you send to someone, everything you communicate, is intended to get at an action, reaction, or response, you can better design that.
- 01:18:02 Give me an example of something that isn’t trying to elicit an action, reaction, or response. One of those responses can even be thinking. “I want them to think about this. I want them to change their mind. I want them to reconsider. I want them to zoom out. I want them to understand me. I want them to have perspective. I want them, in the next situation where we’re in a similar scenario, to behave this way.”
- 01:18:36 Otherwise, we’re expending energy to communicate. I want to feel heard. Even then, what makes you feel heard? Does talking at a white wall make you feel heard? No. Something about talking to another person makes you feel heard. If they’re there, they close their eyes, and they put their fingers in their ears, do you feel heard? No. Something they’re doing makes you feel heard.
- 01:19:02 Them nodding, smiling, repeating it back, them giving me a hug. There’s something that you want with everything you communicate, and if you can figure out what that is, you can better design your message to elicit that response.
- 01:19:16 Ben: You don’t always want it from that person. It might be something you want for them. It might be something you want for someone else, but that person is the tool, for lack of a better word, that you’re using to make sure that action takes place.
- 01:19:36 Cory: To give context to why I ask that, I’m on the other side. I’m the receiver of some information. My brain is trying to remember all of these things, and I end up forgetting that the turtle makes them sad, or whatever. That’s a silly example. When you communicate, there’s a reason for it. “Hey, I just want to be heard. Don’t solve this problem for me. I just want to be heard.” You still want to remember everything they’re saying, but you don’t want to repeat back to them, like, “Here’s what I heard you say…”
- 01:20:10 Sean: You don’t necessarily have to remember. If they just want to be heard, that’s fine.
- 01:20:28 Ben: The goal isn’t necessarily even that they want to be heard. Why do they want to be heard? Because they don’t want to be alone with these thoughts or feelings. Why don’t they want to be alone with these thoughts or feelings? You can keep asking why and get to the bottom of it, but that’s going to really help put that into context. I like what you said about being heard being enough, not having to remember it.
- 01:20:54 As the person receiving that information, I would completely understand if I told somebody I didn’t like turtles, once upon a time, years ago, and they bought a turtle. Yeah, I might remind them of that story, but I wouldn’t feel like it was their responsibility to remember that one story that I told them a long time ago and put them on the hook for hurting my feelings again.
For the most part, what you put up is what people see.
Everything you communicate is intended to elicit a response.
Sometimes, someone needs to tell you something you don’t need to remember or act upon, if the goal is that they want to be heard.
We Are All Communicators & Receivers
- 01:21:19 Sean: Jordan’s husband is really smart. She says, “My husband asked me to clarify when I want him to simply listen, so I can simply think out loud and process, vs. wanting him to fix something. It sounds cliche, but it works. Basically, he asks what kind of response I want. Sometimes, what I want is simply a genuine, ‘I hear you.'” For someone like me who wants to fix everything, why would you be telling me about a problem you don’t want me to fix that I could fix for you?
- 01:21:45 It doesn’t make sense to me, but not everything makes sense to someone else. Zooming out here, as someone communicating, it’s your responsibility. If you’re communicating, you need to make sure you design the action, reaction, or response you want. Make it clear what you want out of this, and you communicate that. It’s like, “Here’s what I want from you in communicating this other thing.” That’s your job, your responsibility.
- 01:22:19 Zooming out from that, let’s acknowledge that we all play both sides of the relationship. Let’s try and make a healthy relationship. Let’s try and show initiative, even where maybe it’s not our fault or our responsibility. When you’re hearing someone and you’re dumping information on you, and they have not done their job of telling you why or what they’re looking for, take it upon yourself.
- 01:22:46 “Hey, what kind of response are you looking for from me here? What can be most helpful? Are you looking for solutions? Would you like me to just listen?” Try and establish that as a precedent. “You can come to me any time you want and say, ‘Hey, I need you to listen to this.’ All you have to do is preface everything with those few words, and I’m going to be your sounding board or shoulder to cry on.”
- 01:23:08 Ben: This is a really important distinction, too. When we think of communication, we think of the person sending the message. Being a communicator is being a sender and a receiver. It’s playing both roles at any given time and really working to play those roles well. This whole time, it feels like we’ve been putting a lot of the emphasis on the sending of the message, but being a receiver and taking responsibility for that part of the communication is equally important if you’re trying to think of yourself as a good communicator.
- 01:23:52 Sean: The reason I think we didn’t go there is because if we talk about the perspective of the recipient and what they should or shouldn’t be responsible for, it takes that away from the person communicating.
- 01:24:07 Ben: I’m saying that you take responsibility for both. I think that’s the point you were trying to make when you said that just because we’re talking about the sending of the message doesn’t mean that, when you’re the recipient, you’re off the hook.
- 01:24:22 Sean: I’m with you, Ben. Some people aren’t able to compartmentalize those two. If I, as the recipient, am not off the hook, then this other person, as the recipient of my message, is also not off the hook. Meaning, they’re to blame. That’s why I took such care to set up the responsibility to be on the person sending the message, the communicator. I totally agree with you, Ben.
- 01:25:06 If you found this discussion interesting, it’s based on a chapter inside the Overlap book. The entire point of this chapter is to get people on board in your life, to communicate with your family, your spouse, and your kids. It’s super important stuff. It’s foundational in being able to do everything you want to do, succeed at it, and make it to the destination. Reach your goal and have your family there with you. If you make it there and they weren’t on board the whole time, they won’t care about the destination.
- 01:25:40 All they’ll remember is the horrible journey, kicking and screaming in the car all the way across the country. Get them on board from the beginning. This chapter goes into more depth. I think you’ll enjoy it. I think you’ll enjoy the Overlap book, and I hope you pre-order it before June 16th, 2017, at OverlapBook.com.
Take initiative and ask questions.
As the recipient, don’t be passive.