Transform Your Life & Business With Surgical Empathy with Dr. Mark Goulston

Dr. Mark Goulston is a psychiatrist, executive coach and consultant to major organizations. Mark is the author or co-author of seven books including the international best-selling books: Get Out of Your Own Way, "Just Listen," "Real Influence" and Talking to Crazy.

He has contributed to Harvard Business Review, Biz Journals, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Fast Company, Psychology Today and appear widely in the media including CNN, Wall St. Journal, NY Times, Fortune and Forbes and appear frequently as a subject area expert on television, radio and podcasts.  And he hosts his own podcast called “My Wakeup Call” where he interviews influencers about their wakeup calls.






Ted Talk

Inside This Episode

  • Listening To vs. Listening For,
  • Insights Into Imposter Syndrome and the Fear of Irrelevancy
  • Surgical Empathy
  • The Life-Changing Power of True Connection
  • Why You’re Really Listening for 1 1 1 6
  • Talking to Crazy and Using FUD CRUD
  • Dr. Mark’s Personal Story about 2nd Chances
  • Change Your Life With the HUVA Technique

Subscribe for More Key Conversations for Leaders

John Ryan
You're listening to key conversations for leaders. This is episode number 35. Welcome everybody. In today's episode, we'll be discussing how to transform your life in business with surgical empathy with Dr. Mark Goulston, we'll be talking about listening to versus listening for insights into imposter syndrome and the fear of relevancy, the life changing power of true connection, and why you're really listening for 1116 and much, much more.

John Ryan 0:30
In times of great change, we need great leaders, those willing to step up, to take responsibility to create a vision and inspire others to join them and fulfilling that vision. A key part of that is having conversations with yourself and those who lead. That's what this show is about better conversations for better leaders, everybody and welcome to key conversations for leaders. I'm your host John Ryan, and today we have a very special guest Dr. Mark Golson. Dr. Mark is a psychiatrist, executive coach and consultant to major organizations. He is also the author or co author of seven books, including the international best selling books, get out of your own way. Just listen real influence and talking to crazy. He has contributed to Harvard Business Review business Journal's Business Insider, Huffington Post, Fast Company psychology day and appears widely in the media including CNN, Wall Street Journal, New York Times fortune and Forbes, and appears frequently as a subject area expert on television, radio and podcasts such as this. He has his own podcast called my wake up call where he interviews influencers about their wake up calls. And today, we're very fortunate to have him here on the show. Welcome to the show, Mark.

Mark Goulston 1:38
That's a lot to live up to.

John Ryan 1:42
I know that you can. I know. And I want to I want to start off by pointing out um, first of all, congratulations I saw in doing research on on all your publications and experience that you've been in business for 43 years. And and also if I got this number of crack, please forgive me if I'm wrong, that you are now are just about to turn 73 years of age it you don't look a day over 29 like how what is your secret? How do you do that?

Mark Goulston 2:13
Well, part of it's my immaturity, my, my wife says it's okay that you're mature, just don't be so proud of it. And I've been thinking about this, because people will say, You look pretty young. And, and maybe there's some insight that I can offer your listeners, there's a lot of people who suffer from something called the imposter syndrome. And the, if you suffer from the imposter syndrome, it can age you, because you're always afraid of being found out. And also, inside you. You're you're afraid of being found out by a sense of an inner embarrassment, shame. And, and I've dealt with imposter syndrome kind of thing. But I think what's kept me young. And I actually was in Moscow. And I was a co presenter with Daniel Kahneman. He wrote a book called Thinking Fast and Slow, he won a Nobel Prize. But what I introduced to them in Moscow, which I'm going to introduce to you and your listeners, is a way to change the way you communicate and think and I think it'll keep you young. And what I introduced to the audience, and there's a video clip, you can go to YouTube, and it's there's a shameful amount of video clips on me. But what I introduced to them, and if you're listening in, right, this time, you want to focus on what people are listening for. And then deliver it. And what I said to the audience in Moscow, there's about 1000, managers, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and I said, if I focus on what you're listening to, you're listening to me and I deliver a bunch of bullets. And I'm engaging and entertaining. Yeah, you'll give me your mind for an hour. And you write down the bullets, you know, you might try some some of works some, most of them all, and then you'll abandon them.

Mark Goulston 4:28
But you know, if I do a good job, and I'm engaging, you'll give me give me your mind for an hour. And then I put on my NPR voice, and I said, but if I focused on what you're listening for, and you haven't told me it, and I get it, right, and I deliver it, you'll give me everything. So let me see if I get what you're listening before. Actually, I'm going to demonstrate it right now. here with you. So There's a listening to energy. And I see you're nodding. So even though I go on and on, you're you're not, you know, you're not getting the thing to hook me off. But let me see if this is what you're listening for. And if I get it, right, which I hope I will tell me what happens inside your head. Okay, I think what you're missing, I think what you're listening for, is you want to give immediate value to your listeners, that not only couldn't they get anywhere else, but they can immediately use to make them more successful. And you're looking for information that is doable by them immediately. Yeah, it's nice to have someone on who's bright and brilliant, yada, yada, yada. But if you're, and you might respect or this person is pretty smart. But if your listeners can do anything with it, you know, you know, you talk to the person because they have a best selling book. But I think what you're listening for is you want to do right by your listeners. You want to give them something, maybe they take notes, they say I'm going to use that today. And you're also listening for someone you have to protect your listeners from. So you might have a guest on who has an amazing book, but they're a stiff. I mean, you said, Ah, I can't post this, how do I get back to this person and say, we can't use it. Because you're listening also for someone that you might have to protect your listeners from? Because you want to give value to your listener? So is any of that true?

John Ryan 6:52
I'm trying to be completely aware of my own inner experience and also processing what you're saying. And it was really, you were spot on? To the extent that, you know, you One could say, oh, you're a psychic, right, but, and there's some logic in there, but you are you're 100% on that I do care about my listeners getting something that's valuable, and immediately applicable. What happened internally for me was I actually I felt some tingling in my brain, my what I would call my prefrontal cortex, right? And and then as you kept going, and then talking about the listeners, and protecting them, and providing them with a valid protection thing, I felt the warmth inside that was really interesting. And in the word that came up to mind in relation to your work, and in my thinking was empathy. Like, I really felt like you understood why I'm here. And that was a very, very profound Thank you.

Mark Goulston 7:53
Well, thank you, God, I pulled it off again. But if you're listening in or watching it, john shared the experience of when you get where someone is coming from. One of my books is called real influence. It's it's, it's a great book, it's lesser known than the other ones. But while we talked about a wonderful co author named dr. john oldman he teaches at the Anderson school at UCLA. But the whole idea of that book is how to go from you're here, why Oh, you are to there there. th er, th e, ri. And the key to that, is being able to totally abandon you're here to go to they're there. I recently wrote something on the fear of empathy, not the fear of being empathized with, but the fear of using empathy. Because what if you focus on someone else? And what they're listening for has nothing to do with what you're selling? What a fear, you know, you've prepared something and what they're listening for. It's a mismatch. And what if you've got all this inventory? What if you've got, you know, all all this investment in r&d, and it's not what they're listening for. That's why also if you're listening, I have become almost a fanatic fan of design thinking. And if you're listening or watching this, do yourself a favor just look up design thinking it was made famous by the design company, IDEO, and Stanford design school. And what I find wonderful about it is designed thinking begins with empathy.

John Ryan 9:55
And so empathy means really go to their their Something that I find fascinating about idea, because I do is a collection of psychologists, philosophers, sociologists, computer programs. And basically what they tell people is go out and notice, what is it that puts a smile on people's face? And what would excite them? What are they looking at that they're smiling at? Look at the world through their eyes, and then come up with what would excite them? Or look at what they're frustrated about? and think, what is it in their life that really frustrates them and do the opposite. And then what they do at IDEO is they say, go out and notice that stuff, and then bring it back in. So you empathize. And I didn't know this is going to be a mini lecture on design thinking, but it is because we're into it. Yeah, the next step is a problem definition. So you empathize with whoever that intended market is that you want to serve. And to be helpful to be a market that is moneyed and will spend their money. And then you after you empathize with them. What's the problem that you're solving, given that empathy? And then the next step is you ideate. Okay, so that's the problem, what would be a solution? And then the next step is you come up with a prototype. And you put it out there, see if anyone cares.

John Ryan 11:38
Yeah, there are a few things that sad me as much as a lot of things now with COVID. Sad me. But we've all passed these wonderful mom and pop restaurants and stores that you know, are going to be bankrupt in six months. You know, we've passed things where people are just passionate, they love what they do. And they, they think, how can people not love what I love. And it's painful. Because you can pick up wrong location, wrong product, wrong service. And some of them have invested their life savings, and you can't protect them from themselves. So you come up with a prototype, and then see what happens, and you test it, then you refine it. So I'll give you an example of how I'm doing. So my next book is coming out December 1. And it's called why cope when you can heal? How healthcare heroes of COVID-19 can recover from PTSD. I'm a trauma expert. I was a suicide prevention expert, I get a book of PTSD for Dummies. But what I was thinking about here, tell me if you think this, this is empathically accurate. I wonder how many people in the world have been through tough times that they got passed, but they never got over. And they cope. I'd say.

Mark Goulston 13:16
And they cope. And that's better than not coping. But they're not the same. They don't feel fully alive. They don't know joy. They don't know peace. But coping is better than not coping, coping. But what if they could heal? It's interesting, as I was testing this idea, with people I know have been traumatized. I know, we're onto something. I have a wonderful co author, because they start to cry. As I'm thinking of writing a book, collide coping, you can heal. And if they've been traumatized, they cry, and I said, What are you crying about? And they look at me and they say, if only What do you mean? I cope a lot of days, I don't cope and I bunk, nobody sees me. So we're very excited. And Harper Collins is is is about to do a huge push, which is exhausting. But I'm sharing this and thank you for giving me a long leash, and I hope what we're talking about is relevant. But people listening in watching this. Use that empathy first step. don't invest in something. Also, don't surround yourself with people who tell you why it's great. There's a lot of people who find to support you that what you really need. You want supportive people. But you want people who can be critical of it. So you can make it better.

John Ryan 15:07
Can I go back to the the initial concept you brought up around? imposter syndrome? And which, which I would agree almost every person I've worked with in the last 20 years has had some self worth issues not feeling good enough. And there's many, many reasons why people come to those types of conclusions, the empathy, okay, instead of your year, you're here, they're there. When you shifts, from a me focus to a you focus, does that inherently get them out of that trap of asking those negative questions and connecting to those limiting beliefs that are inside?

Mark Goulston 15:47
Well, there's usually two. There may be more, but there are two major contributors through an imposter syndrome. One is, I'm incompetent, I don't know what I'm doing. I'm hiding it. The second is, the world doesn't know that. I don't care about it. I care about me. And I'm not saying don't develop competence, you got to be competence, because because if you're not competent, then you're then you're caught lying, your BSN people. But I go into the other one. And so when you go to they're there. And you live to be of service. So I'll share something else. Because I'm 72. I don't think any of your viewers, you know, if you're a viewer, and yeah, you're probably I got you by 30 years. So this would be a good time for you go to the bathroom, because you're not going to this is not relevant to you, but it's relevant to me. I've had seven mentors, my last they've all died. My last one was a guy named Warren Bennis, big leadership guy. The only thing that he was that was greater than the respect people had for them was the love they had for him. But towards the end of his life, when we would meet, I remember there was one time he said, you know, Mark, I'm trying to be a good sport. I said, What do you mean? He said, You know, they parade me around the USC business school to the MBAs, and they say, Oh, you know, he wrote all these leadership books. But I'm irrelevant. You know, people, these young people, you know, I'm irrelevant. And I'm trying to be a good sport, because I got to be relevant into my 80s. A lot of people aren't relevant, you know, after they push 70. And so I'm trying to be a good sport. But it hurts to be irrelevant. And that really stuck with me.

Mark Goulston 17:53
So the way I remain relevant, I believe, is identify young people who are talented, hard working, but they have to have values that are beyond just them. They don't just say the words, I want to make a difference. It's a calling, they can't get out of their head. And the difference has to benefit other people. And so the way to be relevant, if you're into your 70s is do is find those people and do everything you can to help them land in their future. And do everything you can to help them distill what that future is. Because we've all heard the expression, you know, you know, don't worry too much in your business, you got to work on your business. So I would say, you know, something else you have to work on is, well, why were you born? What do you know, besides family? And what were you meant to do? Do you have any idea what that is? That's what my wake up call is about? That's my opening question. So what's the purpose in your calling that you can't get out of your head? And then, you know, what would the wake up calls that led to that? And so so I'm doing this they're, they're on steroids, because I'm, I'm blessed by. And I don't have rooms for more mentees, but, but I'm blessed by the people. Because we'll drill in. And it takes away that part of my imposter thing about making it about me, because because they feel cared about. And they are. Does that make any sense?

John Ryan 19:39
I think it does. I think it does. What is if I may flip the script a little bit. What was your wake up moment? When did you realize what your purpose was on the planet?

Mark Goulston 19:51
Well, I was a specialist in suicide prevention for 30 years and none of my patients killed themselves. Not Not a bad track record. And I've been trying to figure out what the heck I did. And I'm introducing it and why coping you can heal. So I'm introducing a, an approach a field that I'm hoping to grow, called surgical empathy. And what is surgical empathy? So I'm gonna, I'm going to go off into something else. So if you didn't go to the bathroom before, and you're watching a listing, you can do it this you can do it now again. So I was a suicide specialist. And here's how I look at people who are feeling suicidal, they're feeling hopeless. And when you're feeling hopeless, and powerless, and useless and worthless, and life is purposeless and meaningless. It's like, it's like an abscess, in the dark night of the soul. And when people give you suggestions and advice, sometimes it works. But a lot of times, you can't access it. Because you're stuck. And so surgical empathy is a way of going into the hopelessness, abscess. Twice surgical empathy, and you go into it, and you keep them company there until they begin to cry, from not feeling alone.

Mark Goulston 21:33
And as they begin to cry from not feeling alone, I've been doing this for years, I'm retired. So I teach people who are interested in how to do this with their kids that they're worried about. But when people feel less alone, in my book, just listen is about how do you cause people to feel felt? So the tingling feeling you had when I went into you're trying to protect your viewers and listeners from people that may be brilliant, but you just just can't post it. The tingling feeling as you felt felt not just understood the tingling feeling was? Yeah, that's true. That's true. I don't have to go back to someone and said, Sorry, you know, maybe we can do it over again, but we can't use it. You know, and you might come up with an excuse, a little imposter syndrome. Excuse, but, but, but you might not want to say we can't use it because my audience would get no value out of it. They're not gonna say that. Yeah, yeah. And so, so I learned to listen into people. And what helped me do that is one of my earliest mentors was what Warren Bennis was to leadership, a fella named Dr. Heidemann was the suicide prevention. I mean, he was one of the top three people. And he would keep, we were both at UCLA and he would go see, he would go see still suicidal patients that had to be discharged. So they weren't acutely suicidal, but you can keep them there forever. And sometimes, the residents didn't want to see them as outpatients because they felt they're going to kill themselves. So Ed would go up to a consultation and refer them to me. And I was really fortunate. Because after my training, I didn't go into an institution where I had to check boxes, and then report this is what I did. And what happened as I started meeting with this, still suicidal people. And I look into their eyes, what I picked up in their eyes that they were screaming at me with their eyes is you're checking boxes, and I'm running out of time. And I could feel that the more I checked boxes, the more they were running out of time until I threw away the boxes.

Mark Goulston 24:08
And I learned to listen into their eyes. And if you're listening in and you're worried about one of your kids, you're worried about a spouse. But I'm especially keen on helping parents get through to teenagers they're worried about In fact, there's a good friend of mine whose 14 year old son killed himself two years ago, and he reached out to me afterwards. And his name is Jason Reed. And if you look up teen mental health webinar, Jason read on YouTube. He did some he did a goal cast video goal cast is a company that creates eight or nine minute videos and his head, I think 9 million views. And he meets with 15 men about how he blew it with his son and it's chilling and it's riveting, but He's edited. So you see the 10 minute video, and then, and then I'm speaking to parents. So this is how you can get through your kids. Wow. So if you can relate to that if you're not just an entrepreneur, but you're a parent, you're worried about a kid. here's here's a taste of surgical empathy while you're doing an activity with them, because they can't stand these, your heart to heart face to face, eye to eye conversations that they don't initiate, teenagers don't want those. See, if you're doing an activity with one of your kids that you worried about, here's the few questions you ask them. You say to them, at its absolute worst? how depressed? Are you capable of feeling? They're going to go What? At its absolute worst? how depressed? Are you capable of feeling? Now, they may look at you because this is an unusual conversation. They'll say what fuss about? You say? I have a reason for this. Just answer the question. And they'll look at you and they'll say pretty bad dad, pretty bad mom. The second question is, and when you were feeling that, how alone do you feel? Why are you asking me this? How alone do you feel? Pretty alone. Pretty alone. Very alone. Alone. The reason I'm asking this is because as your parent, I can't allow you to be alone and health. If you become a parent, and you get the owner's manual, don't allow your kids to be alone in hell through there.

Mark Goulston 26:57
Then the third thing you say to them is, take me to the last time that happened. What Take me to the last time was a 230 in the morning, and you had a big test and you couldn't get back to sleep, you know, take me to. And here's an interesting thing. When you get another person, like your teenager, to describe in graphic detail at 230 in the morning, so that you can see it as their mom or dad they re experience it. But they're not alone. Wow, yeah, I was wandering I wandering around, you know, I couldn't get back to bed I you know, I was looking for some Benadryl, you know, I know you have one of your sleeping pills hidden somewhere. And I wanted to put my fist through the wall and and then you keep them talking. Because obviously they didn't do anything. So what did you do? And what happens is, as they talk it through, and they feel less alone, they may start to tear up. And then what you say to them is I've got a favor to ask you. Actually, I've got a direct order to give you as my son or daughter. Sometimes it's difficult to get my attention or your mom's attention. You feel this way. You get our attention. You do whatever it takes to get our attention. Because there's nothing more important than then going to where you're so anyway, you know, this interview went I don't know where it went. But hopefully there's something in it.

John Ryan 28:50
Well, I think, you know, I think we all have people in our lives who are suffering, as you said, what's the percentage of people who have been through traumatic, painful experiences and are coping rather than healing? And I know many people who've had children in those situations and in some made through and some did not. In First, let me just take a moment. Thank you so much for your contribution to this planet in saving and reaching so many people. It's unbelievable. And for sharing this today, it's not our standard topic on conversations for leaders, but parents are leaders too. And you have to help them find that way out. Because you're I think what I hear correctly, because we're talking clinically now a little bit is they're alone, and they're in pain. And when they re experienced that they're still in pain, but they're not alone. And that becomes that bridge, the outside world and they have that cathartic moment. Just like you said, What if you could heal and not just cope when you have that and it's like a bridge and that the the sadness, maybe the tears that come up is a release rather than holding it in. That's part of the beginning of the healing process. Is that is that true?

Mark Goulston 30:04
Yeah, it's a relief. It's a relief. And it helps them to feel unlocked. see something else they need to know. And you're right, you know, thank you for giving me the leash. And I hope people are listening to this, it'll be a lot of people that will say, that has nothing to do with my business. And, you know, and listen to some of his other episodes. But here's something that really sort of touched me. But it gives you an insight if you're worried about your kids. I remember, I asked one person I'd seen, I said, what has helped? You know, it seems like this is helping what has helped. And I found this so pleasant. He said, I'm a burden to everyone. I worry fright my parents. My brothers and sisters think I'm a manipulator. And there's some truth to that. And there's a part of me that feels like, why don't I and I'm a burden to myself. So why don't I just relieve every one of that burden? And I said, so. What has helped, and he looked at me, and he said, You're the only person who enjoys me. You're the only person who when I see you, I put a smile on your face. And it's not about that I thought, not just about did I follow through and something that I think medicine data was I don't know, data, yada, yada. And, you know, and he said, At first I thought, you know, we're looking at someone else. But you have this smile, that you're glad to see me. And in that moment that you're glad to see me. And it has nothing to do with whether I'm following treatment recommendations. In that moment, I'm not a burden. He looked at me and he said, I thought you were crazy. But you know, but clearly, you seem to enjoy me, you are crazy for enjoying me, how can you enjoy me? So I'm just sharing that because it was just so poignant.

John Ryan 32:25
Does that go to mean, when you talk about? You know, it seems like on the on the surface level is a well, what does this have to do with my business? The reality is, is that there is a parallel in every single relationship that you possibly have with your employees, with your customers, with your family member with your kids. Because it's really about the connection, the salesperson who has a product and the other person doesn't need it. That's not that's coming from you're here, not there there. So in all of these situations, the The answer is to create that empathy to create that connection. Because if you understand where they're coming from, that's what it's all about. And for this situation, it's acceptance in this one specific situation, what the power of it wasn't conditional on tasks, or behaviors, it sounds like you're just really accepted that patient as well, they are.

Mark Goulston 33:22
So I'm going to give a gift to you and the viewers and listeners who have made it this far. Because I'm not going to flip it into something that will dramatically change your success in your business. So when I gave this talk in Moscow, the title of the talk was 1116, change everything you know about communication. Why? 1116? Because I made it up and it's memorable. People are curious what the heck is 1116? So one of the things that I said to the audience to get where they were coming from. And the event planners, I mean, I drove them crazy, but I pulled them off because they said, you know you're a thought, Doctor Gholston Don't try to engage the audience. I said, All I do is engage, you know? And I said, let me see if this is what you're listening for. Right here right now. You spent over $500 or whatever the Russian thing was, and you sacrificed the day of your time. And so you're listening for 1116 and they look at me. Look, this guy is crazy. I don't know what 1116 is. And I'm saying this because your listeners can use this with investment They can use it with, especially with b2b sales. Because people will say, and you bring it up, you can say, No. Can I bring up kind of what's we're not talking about, but I think is relevant to you. So you say that to the investor, you say that to the customer. And they're gonna say what? I've been focusing on what you're listening for, from our conversation from my sales pitch. I think you're listening for 1116. Now they're gonna look at you, they're gonna wake up, because what the heck is that? You're thinking, what the heck is that mark, you know, you've done pretty well. So, so far, let's see if you can pull this one out. So the 1116 this is what I said to the audience in Russian. And this is this is true of investors or b2b buyers. Where you're listening for whether you regret saying yes to me, one day, one week, or one month from now. And if you spent over $500, and a day of your time, you're looking whether you regret having said yes to that one day, one week, one month from now. Because if that happens, you're not coming back. You're not investing, not going to buy this. If you regret saying yes. And you might say, so what's the six?

Mark Goulston 36:20
Well, what you're really listening for, is if you say yes, in six months from now, your boss says do so this is the b2b sale, where the investor says yes to you, what they're worried about is that their boss is going to say, why did you say yes to this? Why did you say yes of the investment? Why did you buy this b2b product or service that cost us so much you overpaid for it, we can implement that we can use it, we can train people? What the heck are you thinking? So what you're listening for is that you don't want that to happen six months from now. Because of a does, your boss is gonna say, you know, I had to fix that in our company. But you said yesterday, and I dodged a bullet. But you didn't. That's what you're listening for. And they're intrigued by what is. So but here's the other thing you're listening for. You're listening for whether you regret saying no, one day, one week, one month from now, six months from now. And you'll regret saying that if you're an investor, one day, one week, one month from now, six months from now, what if your boss says, you know, that business you passed on, that we didn't invest in? Guess what? Someone invested in it? And it's called Instagram. So you're listening for? Will someone come back to you and say, didn't someone to make a presentation to you? Or they went with another VC firm?

Mark Goulston 38:14
And, or if it's a, or they're gonna regret saying no. If they say no, and they have a real problem, and you have the solution to their problem, and they say no to you, they still gotta solve the problem. Right? If they have a problem with buying a service, or product, or b2b thing, they still got it, they got to solve the problem, and they got to go elsewhere. And not only that, they have to go elsewhere. But if you're a really good listener, and you open up with their listening for, they got to go elsewhere, and you know, deal with someone who doesn't listen at all they got to go to someone else is so hard selling them that you know, they have zero confidence in that product or service. So if you're following and tracking with this, you can actually customize and bring them into the conversation. And when I've done that, people, they look at you like a deer in the headlights like, how did you know that? Well, as you would say, Well, what would what you would say to them, Mark is a little bit empathic. And then what you do is you have them talk about it, say so if we're tracking what you really want, is six months from now that you say yes, and your boss says, Remember that product or service that you bought for us. Or remember that investment you may remember the person that talented person that you hired for a company. It's the best that's happened in five years. I'm getting a promotion because you said yesterday. That's What you're really hoping but that's probably beyond, you know what you can imagine? Then you drill down with people, you know, now that I have your attention, let's say it's six months from now you're meeting with your boss, what's going to get you promoted in a raise? Hmm? Now what's going to get you promoted or raise? You might not have anything to do with what I'm talking to you about. But, you know, if I can be service of service to you, and it helps, you know, you'll probably take another call from me, you know, a few months from now, even if I didn't sell you anything.

John Ryan 40:48
I'm just trying to understand that the shift there is still an extension of your here. And they're there. And you want to get to they're there. Because you're there doing the sale, you're doing the pitch the presentation, and yeah, they're listening to you. But instead, you're shifting the focus to one of the listening for, and when what they're really listening even to not necessarily even aware of what they're really listening for behind what they're even aware. They think they're there to hear a pitch and the sale, but the real listening for us what's something that can help them in the long run, or can prevent them from having that that pain of passing up on investing Instagram or Uber? or whatever the case might be? So they're there. Yeah. Okay. I want to ask is, okay, please get to know you go.

John Ryan 41:40
I wanted to ask you about talking to crazy. And in your work in that sense, and I know you differentiate between, you know, mental illness, and and talking to the craziness that that we all have have inside? And what are some tips and strategies in terms of like, how do you know when it's time to walk away from that conversation? For where it's not going to go anywhere unnecessarily? Or that you're quote unquote, talking to crazy?

Mark Goulston 42:11
Well, so a little background about why did I write the book. So when I wrote just listen, which is in 25 languages, I'm kind of humbled by that because there was no advertising, no books, or no anything. So just word of mouth seems to be still going pretty well. There are two chapters that got a lot of attention. One was steer clear of toxic people. And there's a chapter in justice and called How to go from Oh, F to okay. It's a way to calm yourself down the way to talk yourself down from DEFCON one to DEF CON five. And I got a lot of requests for that. I said, Well, it looks like it looks like people are dealing with a lot of difficult people. So talking to crazy is how to deal with the irrational, impossible people that drive you crazy. It's not It's not about mental illness. I'm very compassionate. I mean, I was a suicide expert. Here's a little bit it is a unsolicited marketing tip. This is the way the world is. I took a lot of heat from the psychiatric and psychological profession. They say, how can you write a book called talking to crazy? Don't you realize how much stigma there is? Don't you realize how difficult it is we can get for people to ask for help. I said, Have you read the book? They said no. I said First of all, it's not about mental illness. It's about people who drive you crazy. And the point is, if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it doesn't make a sound. You didn't read the book, but you called me. Why? Because people can relate to it. And in fact, I check these things out using the design thinking I checked with people I'm thinking of writing a book called talking to crazy. What do you think? Now these weren't by psychological psychiatric Collins This is in the business world. And just as when the wide coping you can he'll cause people to cry. When I ask people I'm thinking of writing a book called talking to crazy. What do you think? They didn't cry? They smile this I need that today? What do you mean, I talk to crazy every day they drive me nuts. You got a chapter in the crazy person to yourself. Oh, yeah, we covered that we covered. So that led to talking to crazy.

Mark Goulston 44:35
And here's something that people who drive us crazy I'll have in common. And I could mention politics, but I'm not going to but you'll understand what I'm talking about. The way people drive us crazy and get the better of us is they frustrate us. They anger us. They offend us and they push it into our rage, they outrageous. And if you're uncomfortable with being outraged because it flirts with becoming enraged. And that's not who you believe yourself to be, you'll do anything to get away from them, you'll appease them, because you're so uncomfortable with becoming enraged. So here's some tips on a sheet of paper, put a line down the middle. And on the left side, write down all the people that give you energy that you love having conversations with, that you should spend more time with, that you really need to thank them for being in your life and do that. Because if you take them for granted, because you're dealing with the people on the right side of the sheet, that's not a good thing. And the people on the right sheet are the people that drive you crazy, just the sound of their name, just a text message. You get a knot in your stomach and in your throat. And, and they can be this cloud over your head for the whole day. And you'll try to avoid it. And one of the reasons you'll try to avoid it is because they drive you crazy. And what they do that drives you crazy, is they will have a conversation that that frustrates you, angers you and outrageous here. And so you will find it. So now here is a couple tips. And what you really want to do when you make that list, is those people on the right side who drive you crazy.

Mark Goulston 46:50
You want to do an assessment. What is what are the positive things that I'm getting from them to make up for the negative things. And then if the positive things outweigh the negative things, well, you know, the news ways to talk to crazy and sometimes you can calm them down and I'm going to give you a tactic right now. So here's a magical tactic called the it's called the Fudd crud. Why is it called the Fudd crud because you remember it just like 1116 it's memorable. People say what the heck is flood crud, I'm glad you asked. And you can use this in your relationships because it's magical. So imagine someone is venting at you, whining at you complaining, or someone who's sullen. Those people drive you crazy. So know ahead of time that they're going to pull that. Because they know if they drive you crazy and they get you off balance, they can go for the juggler and you're toast. And so knowing that they're going to do that, don't expect them not to do it. Hold a little bit of yourself back. Don't be aloof but hold a little bit of yourself back. And then when they do that, I have a saying poise begins with a pause. So what you do is you pause and when you pause, they're going to get nervous, because their manipulation did not work. And and you stay with them, and they're going to get very nervous. And this is what you say in this tone of voice. You sound frustrated and I think you're holding back. They're gonna go watch. Hey, you sound frustrated. And I think you're holding back because I think you're upset and disappointed. That's the Fudd what I you know, you sound frustrated, but I'm guessing you're upset and disappointed too. So, you know, can you fill me in on all those. And why that works is because see, if you say to someone you sound upset, they feel like you're scolding them. If you say to somebody, you're angry. They say I'm not angry. You know, they take it as talking down to them. But everybody will talk about being frustrated because everybody's frustrated. So so they lean in and say tell me what you're frustrated about. And then they tell you and then one of my deepening empathic exercises is whenever they say whatever they're frustrated about you say, say a little bit more. So you get them to open up even more and then you transition to upset Which is what are you angry about? But use the word upset? What are you upset about? And you don't disagree with them? Because they really are from your point, I can understand all that. Wow, I can I can see looking at the situation from your point of view. I think I feel the same way. So you and then you haven't talked a little bit more about that. Then you say, What are you disappointed about? disappointed in me disappointed in that we're here in the situation, maybe disappointed in yourself. And john, maybe you can see that you're going through the layers of an onion. And by the time you get using surgical empathy, all this stuff off their chest. By the time they're talking about disappointment. It's, it may not be a full dialogue, but there's an exchange going on. They're calmer. And then what you say, going forward? What needs to be different? So you don't have to go through that again. Does that make any sense? It does.

John Ryan 51:08
I love that. But you said the FUD CRUD, right? Did you covef the CRUD part?

Mark Goulston 51:17
Well, the crud is just a I could say the fun technique, but okay. You know, the crud was? Yeah, it was just a gratuitous kind of thing. Because Because dealing with crazy people feels like a cruddy thing to have to do.

John Ryan 51:31
Fair enough. I love it. It's a great mnemonic device and acronym together. So you start on the the frustration, which is probably the more surface level than upset. And really what's behind that frustration and upset pseudonym acronym are for anger is the disappointment, the difference between their expectation and the reality of their experience at this point in time, and you are employing that empathy to really get to their their? I think that's a fantastic technique. Thank you so much. And I want to respect your time I do I do one more question asked if you don't mind real quick. I know you've had countless conversations over the last several decades. And you know, key conversations, you know, I think conversations are a huge part of communicating empathy and finding out where is their there? And what are they listening for? What has been one of the more impactful or distinctive conversations that has impacted you either personally or professionally, if you don't mind?

Mark Goulston 52:30
Um, I can take a little bit more time if I can share a story with you we should explain how did he become this empath? Yeah. Why, how come he was effective as a suicidal prevention expert. Maybe this could be my probably my greatest personal accomplishment. You know, besides you know, long marriage, great kids, grandkids and all that. So I dropped out of medical school twice and finished. I don't know anyone who dropped out of medical school twice and finished. And I think I'm treating depression. And I dropped out the first time because my mind just wasn't working. I worked in blue collar jobs. My mind came back. And then I came back to medical school. And then the depression came back again. And I was at a low point. And I met with the Dean of the School who's about funding. And looking at it from his point of view, I could see him thinking I wasn't really a good investment, because every time someone took a leave of absence, they lost matching funds. So he sends a letter to the Dean of Students. My first mentor, see, I didn't know about mentors, because I didn't want to be a burden to anyone. And then the Dean of Students, after he calls me, after I met with the dean of the school, he says, Mark, I have a letter here from the dean of the school, you better come in. Because I think the dean of the school, he just wanted to cut their losses, but he didn't want me to do anything drastic. kill myself. I don't know You thought I was thinking of that. But I don't know. So the Dean of Students calls me and he says, read this letter. The letter says from the dean of the school, I met with Mr. Goulston. We talked about an alternate career. And I'm advising the promotions committee that he be asked to withdraw. Because I was miraculously passing everything. I wasn't a stellar student. So they couldn't really flunk me out because I was in flunking and I looked at the Dean of Students as your What does this mean? Because I was at a low point, I came from a background where you're only worth what you do in the world. If you don't do and you don't produce, you're not worth much. I mean, that kind of background from childhood is not that unusual depression age parents. And so knowing that, since I didn't think I could do that much, I probably wasn't worth that much. So this is what he said to me. He said, You've been kicked up. And I kind of craters. He said that and I remember it's, it's like a, it's almost like I fold it over like a gunshot wound. And I know what that's like, because I had a perforated colon 12 years ago, and almost died, it was exactly the same feeling. And, and I felt something red on my cheekbones. And I thought I was bleeding from my eyes. So I'm not religious, but it gets a little bit, and I'm looking at my fingers, I'm looking for blood. And I was tears. And he said, Mark, so imagine that you've come from a place where what you know, is conditional approval. And he says, Mark, you didn't screw up, because you're passing miraculously. But you are screwed up. But if you get unscrewed up, I think this school would one be one day be glad they gave you a second chance. So I just started to cry, talk about empathy. What I have was empathy was compassion and kindness what. And, as if that wasn't enough to make me cry. With relief, when you say mark, even if you don't get unscrewed up, even if you don't become a doctor, even if you don't do anything the rest of your life, I'd be proud to know you. And then he said, you have a you have a goodness streak in you that we should grade in medical school, but we don't. And you have no idea how much the world needs that goodness. And you won't know what to your 35. But you need to make it to your 35. And you deserve to be on this planet. And you're going to let me help you.

Mark Goulston 57:32
And then he arranged the appeal. And I guess the promotions committee glide. And you know, they grilled me, but I think they saw something in me that he did. But the combination of someone seeing that you have a value for who you are and not what you do. And you have a future that you can't see that they would go good because he was a PhD. And he was going against the dean of the school. So someone who would stand up for you at their own risk. So all of those combined. And I think that's what I did when I suicidal patients. I paid it forward for 30 years.

John Ryan 58:25
That's phenomenal. And thank you for sharing that story and your compassion, your empathy that they you continue to share with the world and to find those mentors to shape their future and help them step into that future that they have in front of them. It goes without saying I mean, it's an incredible, incredible journey that you are on right now. What is the best way for people to find out more about your upcoming book and all the other books and stay connect with you so they can you know, know that they have a place in the world to?

Mark Goulston 59:02
I gotta tell you, john, I liked the change in your tone of voice. It's not entrepreneurial, but boy, is it accessible. Thank you. I mean that I have a website, Mark and I am a prolific blogger. I go to sleep and I wake up in the middle of the night and part of Warren Venice's words, stay with me, because when I turned 60 I said why I think I'm too old. You know, these young people, it's their turn. And he said mark my 70s were my best decade. Because all the dots of my life started to connect spontaneously. I started to make sense out of things that I could never make sense out of and I didn't try to inform people. But I didn't care what I said or express myself. Some people will like it, some people won't like it. And so that's what's happening now. The dots are just connecting crazy. So if you go to Mark, I get articles there. If you go HBr, I got some articles there. If you go to LinkedIn, I got articles there. thrive global, I throw stuff up there. But Mark is, you'll see what I'm up to. But we're having a whole dedicated website to the next book why coping, you can heal because and I think Harper Collins was right, they said, you know, healthcare workers who are busy and traumatized, they're not going to want to go searching and Mark to find out about this. So we're going to have so very shortly there will be a website called why cope when you can heal calm. Or we might use the abbreviation WC, w, y, ah, y coping, you can but it'll be up there. And the book coming out December 1, there's all kinds of stuff that we're giving out there.

Mark Goulston 1:01:28
Bonus materials. Fact one, can I give you another little tip that people might like? Absolutely. You're so good. I mean, you know, that this, this doesn't have to have a beginning and an end. It just goes on and on. And, and? And yes, thank you for respecting my time. I just checked it. I got time. So chase me off as well. So so one of the so one of the things that will is one of the bonus features, I guess if you go to the website or buy the book is called the Hoover technique at UVA. And Jon's thinking, this sounds like fun crud, okay, Mark, let's move on technique. Totally. So the Hoover. So the Hoover technique is if you practice this every day, it'll change your life. If you do the fun crud, it'll change confidence. But if you practice the hoop attempt, it will not only change your life, it will really help lessen the imposter syndrome. What the Hoover technique means. And by the way, you don't know it, but on a scale of one to 10 your attend each of those. So think of at least once a day, pick one conversation, and at the end of the conversation, grade yourself according to how the other person felt about the conversation. So on a scale of one to 10, you'll see that you did really well. Ah is to the other person feel heard out. I have felt heard out by you. And then some to the other person feel understood. Your questions to clarify things showed understanding, did the other person feel valued? About what they said, I have felt really valued by your job. Thank you. And the final thing is the other person feel that you added value. You know, as opposed to showing hiding and then making it about you. You've added value. So you've taken what we've talked about, and you've added to it.

Mark Goulston 1:04:02
And so if you practice the huva technique, and don't beat up on yourself, when you realize that most people are not very good at this. But what will happen in grade yourself and just get better at it. What will happen is the relationships you have with people and this if you're a business person, this can be customers. This can be clients, this can be your employees, this can be investors, if you improve yourself in terms of how they felt heard, understood, valued and you added value, they're going to lean towards you and they're going to want more of you. Because they're not getting that from anyone.

John Ryan 1:04:49
That's incredible. I love that it brings it into your intention, your mindfulness, about how you're showing up. It's mostly about the other person but you have to show up in that that conversation too. It can't just be all about them. You have to add value as you say. Thank you for sharing that wonderful gift. I'm so glad that we that we did that. Thank you.

Mark Goulston 1:05:09
Well, thank you. Thank you for having me on.

John Ryan 1:05:11
Yeah, it's been an absolute pleasure. I will put all the links in the show notes. And again, Dr. Mark, thanks so much for being here.

Unknown Speaker 1:05:19
Well, thank you. Thank you, john. I would they say at the end of what was the Humphrey Bogart movie? We're at the end, he says, He says the person I think this is the beginning of a good, good relationship of a beautiful, awesome friendship. Is that right? Yeah. I think this is the...

John Ryan 1:05:44
beginning of a beautiful friendship or something like that. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Well, I certainly hope it continues beyond our conversation. And I look forward to staying in touch as well. And for those of you haven't checked out, please check all the resources in the show notes. Thank you.

John Ryan 1:05:58
And thank you all for listening. Until next time, develop yourself, empower others and lead by example. Thanks for listening to key conversations for leaders with your host john Ryan. If you enjoyed the show, please let us know. Give us a rating or write a review. And if you'd like to connect with me and other like minded leaders, I invite you to join our brand new Facebook group called Develop, Empower and Lead. If you go to, it will redirect you right there. Hope to see you there soon.

John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

related posts: