1: Getting better at getting better is what RiseWithDrew is all about.

Monday through Thursday, we explore ideas from authors, thought leaders, and exemplary organizations.  On Friday, I share something about myself or what we are working on at PCI.

Recently, we’ve been exploring how to become a better negotiator, according to FBI lead hostage negotiator Chris Voss in his book Never Split the Difference.

Turns out these lessons apply to more than just negotiation.  Chris’s ideas and best practices can also help us have better and deeper conversations.  

One of my goals for the year is to be intentional about having more meaningful conversations with the people I love and care about.  My wife.  Our six kids.  My good friends.  And my trusted colleagues whom I work with every day.

Chris tells us having a great conversation begins with having an open mind and what he calls “a discovery mindset.”

We aim to be “present and alert in the moment,” he notes.  And to “use all the new information that comes our way.”

The trap we fall into all too often?  Tunnel vision.  Allowing our arrogance or impatience to lock us into one way of thinking.  Instead, we are deliberate about remaining open emotionally to all possibilities.  

If we are open to and looking for surprises, many times, we will find them.  

Another trap?  Instead of listening to what the other person is saying, we think about what we will say next.

“It’s the voices in our own heads that are overwhelming,” Chris writes.

When we are focused on what we want to say and our own point of view, we miss out on all the cues and available information the other person is sharing, consciously and unconsciously.

In one of the most cited research papers in psychology, George A. Miller found that the human brain can only process about seven pieces of information in our conscious mind.  

“In other words, we are easily overwhelmed,” Chris notes.  It’s easy to fall into “a state of schizophrenia: everyone just listening to the voice in their head (and not well, because they’re doing seven or eight other things at the same time).”

Instead, we slow down.  We focus all our attention on the other person.  And we listen.

More next week!


Reflection: Think back on a heated or emotional conversation.  Was I focused on listening to the other person or preparing what I would say next?

Action: Slow down.  Listen.  Today.

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