129. Connect Deeply: How to Communicate So People Feel Seen and Heard | Think Fast, Talk Smart:...

129. Connect Deeply: How to Communicate So People Feel Seen and Heard | Think Fast, Talk Smart:...

Introduction (00:00:00)

  • Matt Abrahams introduces the podcast and welcomes David Brooks, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times and author of several books.

Personal Motivation (00:01:26)

  • David Brooks discusses his personal reasons for writing his book, "How to Know a Person," including his upbringing in an emotionally closed household and his desire to connect with others.
  • He emphasizes the importance of recognition and understanding in fostering connections and building trust in society, politics, and business.
  • Brooks highlights the need for social skills, such as listening, arguing well, and hosting inclusive meetings, which can be taught and developed.

Barriers to Connection (00:04:01)

  • Brooks identifies three barriers to connection:
    • Egotism: Being too focused on oneself and performing for others.
    • Anxiety: Having too much going on in one's mind to truly think about the other person.

The Stages of Empathy (00:04:43)

  • Empathy involves understanding that you are often wrong, mirroring the emotions of others, mentalizing (theorizing what others are going through based on your own experiences), and caring for others.
  • People with low empathy skills may be perceived as driving their point too hard or showing up late to meetings, while those with high empathy skills may find social conflicts very painful.
  • Empathy can be improved through reading literature, engaging in drama or role-playing, and becoming more aware of your own emotions.

Keys to Meaningful Conversation (00:07:40)

  • To develop empathy, look internally to understand your feelings and try to understand others through literature, observation, and role-playing.
  • For a true connected conversation, treat attention as an on/off switch, giving 100% attention to the speaker.
  • Avoid being a "Topper" by relating your own experiences instead of listening and acknowledging the speaker's feelings.
  • Don't fear the pause; allow the speaker to finish their thought before responding.
  • Demonstrating active listening and engagement is crucial for meaningful conversations.
  • Partial attention is ineffective; give full attention to the speaker.
  • Avoid "topping" by sharing your own experiences instead of supporting and acknowledging the speaker's story.
  • Encourage speakers to provide more details by asking questions and prompting them to elaborate.

Understanding Illuminators and Diminishers (00:11:22)

  • Illuminators make you feel seen and heard, while diminishers don't.
  • Illuminators are curious and ask questions, while diminishers blather on and don't show interest.
  • The goal is to be more like an Illuminator.
  • Focus on the other person.
  • Ask questions to show respect, curiosity, and honor.
  • Start with comfortable questions and gradually move to more personal ones.
  • Ask questions that lift people out of their daily experiences and help them see themselves in new ways.
  • Build trust before asking more personal questions.
  • Examples of deep questions:
    • If this 5 years is a chapter in your life, what's the chapter about?
    • If we met a year from now, what would we be celebrating?
    • What crossroads are you at right now?
    • What talent do you have that you're not using?
  • Asking questions helps people discover themselves and leads to memorable conversations.

How to Be a Better Public Speaker (00:14:01)

  • Do a trust fall on the audience by showing vulnerability.
  • Tell jokes in the first five minutes to relax the audience.
  • Watch speeches by Brian Stevenson to learn how to effectively use stories.
  • Use stories to open up the audience emotionally before delivering the main points.

Paradigmatic vs. Narrative Modes of Thinking (00:16:25)

  • There are two modes of thinking: paradigmatic and narrative.
  • Paradigmatic mode is used for making arguments and presenting information.
  • Narrative mode is used for understanding others and creating memorable and relatable stories.
  • Ask people "how did you come to believe that?" to encourage storytelling and gain a deeper understanding of their beliefs.

David Brooks' Journey (00:18:02)

  • David Brooks discovered his passion for writing at a young age after reading the book "Paddington at the Bay."
  • He initially aspired to be a novelist and playwright but started his career as a police reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago.
  • Covering crimes and encountering amusing criminals made him realize the excitement and uniqueness of journalism.
  • David Brooks admires Oprah Winfrey for her exceptional listening skills.
  • He highlights Oprah's facial expressions and reactions during interviews, which demonstrate her empathy and engagement with the speakers.

Ingredients for Successful Communication (00:19:52)

  • Be passionate and sing out of your depths, not just going through the motions.
  • Be vulnerable and share a bit of yourself to create a deeper connection.
  • Use clear and simple language, avoiding big words when a small word would do.

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