We discuss in this interview:
- Howie Jacobson and Peter Bregman’s new book “You Can Change Other People” and how it can help in our journey to reduce RA symptoms
- The impact of other people on our lifestyle
- An alternative way to interact with other people
- Personal transformation as a foundation for healing
- Giving advice the right way
- A methodology for a change in behavior
- Setting goals and expectations
- Being a strategic partner
- The importance of finding the right mindset
- Outcomes and feelings
Clint – Today, we are going to talk about changing other people. It’s a very different topic than what we’ve discussed here on the podcast before but it’s going to be interesting. I’ve got the author of the book You Can Change Other People, The 4 steps to help your colleagues, employees even family up their game. It’s going to be an interesting discussion. So welcome Howie Jacobson to this interview.
Howie – Thank you, Clint. I’m so happy to be here.
Clint – You and I connected quite some time ago on your podcast, which is the Plant Yourself podcast. A really, really fun chat we had back then, and I was talking all about rheumatoid arthritis and sharing my story, and you asked him really great questions. I hope that I’m able to do justice like you did on my interview in return.
Howie – Well, we’re just going to have a fun chat and other people are going to eavesdrop.
Clint – Yeah, absolutely. I wanted to kick things off with an interesting question here, and people maybe head-scratching thinking, why should I listen to this podcast? This isn’t about reversing inflammation and listening to people’s stories of getting well and learning what I can do. I wanted to throw this right at you and say, we’re going to talk about how you’ve developed strategies and tools to change other people’s habits and behaviors and thoughts. So how might you address this sticky situation if people are thinking, Oh, I don’t know if I should listen to this? What might you say?
Howie – I would say three things. First of all, if you have joint pain, the way you’re going to address it, if you’re listening to this podcast is largely through lifestyle. And I’ll ask you to ask yourself the question, like, do other people affect my lifestyle? We’re not islands, so if I’m trying to eat better? Can my partner do things that would make it easier or harder for me to eat better? And do I want to ask them to do that? Do I want to ask them to make changes on my behalf? The second thing is, once people get with your program, they’re going to see amazing results and they’re going to realize that even if they’re the only person with RA in their family, that other people have other issues that can also benefit from your program, right? Like the dark secret of the Paddison Program is that it works for almost everything. We’re just marketing to RA, because that’s your experience and you’ve, you can buy the keywords. So you could do the same thing for heart disease, for diabetes, for obesity, for gut issues. Someone who’s been successful on your program is going to want to eventually proselytize and tell other people in their lives, Hey, this could help you to. And we all know that when someone you starts eating better and living a healthier life, we can get upset at them for shaming us, even if they’re not doing anything. Like many times have you asked for the strawberries instead of the ice cream at a restaurant and like, somebody gets defensive, like you’ve just slapped them with your glove?
Clint – Absolutely.
Howie – The third reason is that there are people in our lives who are doing things that make us sad, that annoy us, that frustrate us. And I don’t know about you, Clint, but when I am sad, frustrated, annoyed, stressed, I’m much more likely to stray from my diet than when I’m at peace, strong, whole and connected. So what this book really is, it’s a third way to interact with people where we see them acting in ways that are not in their best interest or ours. The first way is to criticize, to nag, to blame. The second way is to say, Well, I can’t change other people, so I’m just going to bite my tongue and live with it. And the third way is the way we describe in the book this process of four steps to actually shift from a critic to their ally, and which gives you kind of the best odds of having leverage in helping them achieve great outcomes for them and for you.
Clint – Yeah. Awesome. Okay. And we’re going to dive into some of these tactics and strategies, tools, whatever you want to call it, that you cover in the book and get right into that in a second. I just wanted to echo the importance of what you’ve raised here is that sometimes the biggest battle in trying to get well and improve through lifestyle changes is the social influence of people around us. And sometimes people give up making positive changes because their loved one namely their wife, often their husband says, I’m not eating that way. And so they’re eating in an island state and they’re also cooking for their family, or they’re watching their family eat foods that they used to eat and love. That makes the whole process full of friction. So this discussion is going to be super helpful is to how we can potentially cause the entire family or at least those ones that are having the most friction in our lives to be less friction-causing, that would be great. And it’s for a good cause to we’re not exactly trying to convince someone to start smoking we’re quite the opposite we’re trying to do things that statistically have been shown to improve someone’s long term health outcomes. So let’s get into it, what motivated you to do this? Why this book?
Howie – Well, I wrote it with a partner of mine who’s actually been my coach teacher for the last 22 years, Peter Bregman. And like everything that I do that helps people is ultimately related to this process. There’s a lot of people out there who teach how to cook well, how to exercise, they have lots of advice they can go through your home and help you throw things out, and that’s all useful and great. What I wanted to focus on was the hard part, which is once I know what to do and I’m still not doing it, what do I do? So really like helping people overcome their own limitations. It was just such meaningful work because it never stops as you know, it never stops with the food. It wasn’t like, the Clint who was eating terribly and having flare-ups every other day is the same person now just minus crappy food, right? Like you’ve changed who you are in some fundamental ways. Isn’t that right?
Clint – Oh, absolutely, I could give some hilarious examples, but you’re on a roll. I’ll come back to that.
Howie – Well, when I talk to people who’ve made that kind of transformation, what they often almost always say is, the health improvements were like the bonus, it’s who I became, it’s how I became comfortable with myself, it’s how I started living in integrity and power. If I had to go back to either R.A. or the old me in terms of mindsets and behaviors, I would choose the RA over losing my integrity.
Clint – Yeah, there can be some tremendously profound transformations. I’ll give you an example, I’ve not shared this before, and I don’t bring this up with my wife. But when she and I were having our first date, our very first date, I was a meat heavy always been skinny, always wanting to sort of look muscular and stronger than what I was biologically capable of unless I was focused on becoming an Olympian, I was doing my best with what I had. I sat opposite her and we were chatting and then getting to know each other stuff like, Oh, you know, do you like this? Do you like that? She ordered vegetarian and she said, Oh, I’m vegetarian, I’ve been vegetarian my whole life, and I distinctly remember the disappointment flag that went up in my head. And I actually remember saying to myself, Oh no, not one of those or something along that sort of that sentiment. To think that that same person is now sitting here interviewing you, a fellow plant based advocate and talking about potentially helping more people to become plant based, I guess, is one of the sort of driving original factors for your book, amongst many other things, so it’s a funny shift. Absolutely. So look, you’re motivated so much to write the book because of the much greater than the original purpose of how people make change, and why you started, your podcast, and your movement. And then was it easier to ally yourself with the co-author? I mean, was he’s your mentor? Was he up for writing a book like this?
Howie – Yeah, it actually the spark was he does coach trainings, and every time I can go to one, I do because it’s, you know, it’s like going to the gym, so it helps me get better as a coach. And he announced in April of 2019, he was doing his last one. Like his business had evolved. He’s working with, CEOs of Fortune Hundred companies, kind bar and showtime and he loves the coach training and helping coaches get better. But it just wasn’t strategic in terms of how much time and energy he was putting into filling the room. He’s like, OK, like, I’ve done this. I love it. I’m moving on. And I was in attendance and I talked to him after I said, You are not moving on because this is such important wor. Like and it kind of bothered me like there were 30 people or so at the training. And like, that’s not enough people, and yeah, you can’t, you know, like this stuff is World-changing. So what we decided like first, we were going to write a book for coaches, like how to coach ccording to this method. And quickly we decided what we’d rather do is empower everyone. So we spent a long time just going back and forth like, what’s the DNA of this process that we can make it accessible, straightforward, replicable for anyone? And I’d love you, you have a book, you went through it, I’d love to hear from you. To the extent that you think we succeeded or failed at that. But look, change is really hard, and it’s going to take multiple failures, and it’s going to take some suffering and it’s going to take self-doubt and shame and tripping over ourselves. And the one thing that makes it easier is other people’s support. And so, I want to live in a world where we are equipped to support each other to make changes that we want to make as opposed to where we’re just trying to criticize or shame or blame or motivate each other to change. So like for the vast majority of the use cases of this book is for people around us who are struggling, who want to get somewhere and are not succeeding. And to have this conversation with them can help them get unstuck and moving in the right direction with our care and love and support and confidence expressed confidence in them. So that’s how that book morphed into, let’s put the coach training on paper to here’s what we want to share because this is the world we both want to live in.
Clint – Yeah, I love it. So let’s get into it. You ask for my opinion on the book, so. What I like is that you constantly provide illustrations and examples of ways of what not to do. And each time I’ve read those illustrations and examples, I find myself nodding and smiling and realized, Oh my gosh, that’s what I do all the time, especially in the family setting. With children, it’s so difficult to behave in the way that they almost biologically designed not to, which is orderly, which is respectful because they just want to run amuck when we’re little, all we think about ourselves and what we want and what we want to get. Can I have this kind of this? So it’s been very useful for me, and I consider myself reasonably good at persuasive language and so forth. And I’m learning with the kids how to get them to behave in ways that are more in line with social etiquette.
Clint – I’d love to hear some of the illustrations that I’m sort of referring if you’ve got some stories of how we do things wrong. with that, I want to then, I want you to share some things we can do. And I’ve got the book open in front of me in digital format, you’ve got your four steps, perhaps you can pick some things out that can be some takeaways for today that people can actually implement as well. And if they want more, they can buy the book. But if we can leave them with implementable tips that would be great as well. So perhaps some stories first or what not to do?
Howie – Yeah, sure. I mean, what not to do is a pretty simple list. It’s basically to make them feel bad about how they are now. But there’s a couple of ways to do that, right, there’s the obvious way of just criticizing. Right. And when we get frustrated, we get critical because that’s the energy we’re coming from, I think about it in terms of just, Homo sapiens on the savannah. Are we in fight or flight mode? Or are we in let’s find all the yummy routes and berries mode? And the people around us who can really get on our nerves and we can be sad for ourselves, we can be sad for them, we can be frustrated, we can be angry because we have no control over their behavior, right? Like anyone who thinks they have control over their kid’s behavior, there’s a great quote by the founder of Nonviolent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg, who said You can make them wish they hadn’t, but they’ll make you wish you hadn’t made them, wish they hadn’t. Like they’re going to get there, like we really can’t control other people. As a story in the book about my co-author, Peter, who has a fondness for sugar, and he knows he shouldn’t eat so much sugar, and if he’s sitting at dinner and he reaches for the ice cream and he scoops out a third bowl for himself and someone says. Are you sure you want that third bowl of ice cream? He will double down and like, make it three scoops. But you watch me, it’s a two-year-old response, right, but all of us can feel that like, don’t you be the boss of me, you’re not going to tell me what to do. So the way that we try to get people to change actually reinforces their resistance.
Clint – Yes, we inadvertently make it worse.
Howie – The more we care, the more we’re in danger of doing that. So it’s harder to talk about this with a spouse or a child than with a friend or a co-worker. Right. The more we care, the more negative emotion we can bring to the interaction. So now, if we’re skillful, we’re not going to attack them, but we’re going to maybe give them advice. There are two ways of giving advice is just outright, Hey, you know what you should do? You know, or you know what I would do in your situation? Or, you know, here’s what I’ve done, right? So that seems very innocuous, it’s sort of, future-focused. The trouble is, it still puts me in a superior position to you because I know better. And you’re still going to bristle at that if you if you ask me for advice, if you say, Hey, Howie, I’ve got this problem, what do you think? And I say, Oh, here’s what I would do. You’re receptive, you’re open to it because you own the problem and you are in control, you have set the boundaries and set the rules of engagement. I haven’t transgressed those upon you.
Howie – The second way we give advice and this is so seductive is to ask questions like, have you thought about this or have you considered that or might this work? So we’re still giving advice, we’re just making it seem like we’re not.
Clint – Of the two, which one have you determined to provide the greatest outcomes? Well, you’ve given 3, it’s like, Hey, you shouldn’t do that, that’s sort of instructional. The second one is if I were you, this is what I would do, which is kind of still, as you said, superior positioning. And then the third one is asking questions, which is seductive. Obviously, the third one sounds, you know, the preferable way to go.
Howie – But there’s something about the stink of pretending to be what you’re not. It’s better if someone says you’re eating like a pig, like at least it’s clean energy to it, you can deal with that, right? So, here’s the underpinning of this methodology is we’re going for a particular change, but we’re not. Like we don’t know exactly what is in the best interest of the person, but what we want to give them is not like, I’m going to force you to eat more vegetables. What we want to do is stoke their ownership over the problem, right? Like, the thing that drives us crazy is that, oh yeah, people will complain, Oh, I’ve got joint pain, I’m overweight, I’m on all these Diabetes meds, but I’m not going to do anything about it, Right? Or people are like, Yeah, I tried and it didn’t work. They’re going to make excuses, the gym was closed or organic produce is so expensive or, you know, everybody else at the company eats out at The Cheesecake Factory. So when we hear people making those excuses, what that is is they’re not taking ownership. When we come at them with another answer, we are still depriving them of the opportunity to own it. By coming in as a critic, we’re removing the possibility of ownership. Right? Rarely are someone going to go, Wow, thank you for telling me that I didn’t realize it before, but now I’m really motivated to change, that doesn’t happen. So instead, we want to think about like our goal is to increase their ownership. And now we can talk about the four steps and how the steps do that.
Howie – The second thing we want to work on is making sure that they’re increasing their capability. Like if I tell you to go and cook vegan food and you’ve never seen a plate o vegan food, you have no idea what a meal looks like it doesn’t have a big hunk of meat in the middle. That you don’t even have the ability you can’t even imagine it you wouldn’t know what to shop for. So we want to make sure that people have the ability or can develop the ability to do the thing.
Howie – The third thing that people need is emotional courage. Because changing a behavior is hard, we feel like whatever we’re doing, no matter how dysfunctional we’re experts at it. Like I am the world’s expert at being Howie Jacobson. I could be a total screw up, but I’m my screw up like, I know how to do the things that I know how to do because I’ve been doing, you know, you talking about 10000 hours, how many hours have I been alive? Like hundreds of thousands of hours, I’m really good at this. And so when I see that there’s something I need to change, I have to go back to being a beginner again, it can feel awkward. And when you talk about food like the main function of crappy food is to make us feel good in the moment. Right, so every time I’m annoyed, upset, depressed, anxious, I can solve that with food. And so now if I’m saying I’m not going to have the candy bars, I’m going to have strawberries or I’m going to have nothing. I have to have the emotional courage to feel what I’ve been trying to cover up.
Clint – I’m loving it, I’m loving this is so relevant to what we go through with everything associated with rheumatoid arthritis improvement, so I just want you to just keep on the role here. I’m taking notes on the side here, it’s so nice to get there, explaining this in this sort of really simple condensed format here. Please keep going.
Howie – Sure. And the fourth thing we need we call future-proofing, which is the understanding that when I can do something, then the universe is probably going to make it harder next time, right? Like your skills have to keep improving, your emotional courage has to keep improving. You have to be aware that no matter how well you’re doing, at some point there’s going to be a situation that you are not equal to. And you’re going to have to deal with that and overcome it. I don’t know how many people you’ve worked with, who they’re doing great and then they stumble and they don’t want to talk to you again because in their mind, it means, Oh, I failed, I fell off another diet. As as opposed to having the mindset, of course, I’m going to make missteps and that’s part of the process, and I’m going to make sure I learn from them and grow from them and get stronger.
Clint – I guess I put those in the terms of setting expectations, setting realistic expectations, and in those expectations, if someone wants to in our case, someone starts our program says I want to be off methotrexate by 6 months from now. That’s when we need to intervene and say, well, hang on, there’s a lot in that statement. There’s a lot of expectations, there’s a lot of potential incorrect strategies, there’s a lot of incorrect goals involved in all of that. And so, yeah, setting expectations that it is a long journey that absolutely this is like climbing Mount Everest. It’s extremely difficult to get to a state that most people are striving for, which is sort of maximum health with as fewer meds as they can. It’s hard, there’s a lot involved. And then the ups and downs along the way, I mean, yeah, that’s crucial to the understanding of what people are getting involved with when they follow our program as well. So that future-proofing, I love that, love that 4th point.
Howie – So Once we understand like that’s what we’re going for, we’re going to help them increase their ownership so that they’re in charge, because that will that’s the motivation that lasts. We want them to be working to improve their capability, to grow their emotional courage, and to sustain the change into the future and even increase it. So like when you hear those things, then when you say, giving advice, how does that do against those frameworks?
Clint – That’s it, how do we then knowing those frameworks when a problem is presented or someone that there is that resistance to change and you know something you could impart upon them would help them? How do we proceed with that level of knowledge?
Howie – Right, so once we know what we’re going for that it’s easy to see what doesn’t work like, you can see that advice actually decreases ownership. If I’m giving you the advice, it’s much better for you to come up with a flawed plan of your own than to accept my perfect plan. Because when we own it, then we feel committed to making it happen. Advice doesn’t build capability, advice doesn’t address emotional courage and has nothing to do with future-proofing. So, instead, we want to think like, how do we want to be a strategic partner to that person to enhance all four of those concepts? So the first step is probably the most important, and if people only get one thing from this conversation, this is what I would suggest it should be. To shift yourself from a critic to an ally, which is the name of the first step, shift from critic to ally. And we do this because when people are struggling, they’re defensive, they don’t want to feel bad. If I’m constantly saying like, I want to lose weight and I’m constantly eating cookies, then I feel shame about my behavior. And shame is the human emotion that we will do almost anything not to feel. And the best way to not feel shame is to deny there’s a problem. So to become their allies, when we’re a critic, we are triggering shame. When we can become their ally, we are saying, let’s work on this together we’re partners and there’s no more I am superior to you, I know more than you, I’m the helper, You’re the one who needs help, we’re on an equal footing. And so there’s three parts to being an ally, the three C’s, you want to be Caring, Confident, and Committed. We can express these through a 3 part formula, which is empathy, expressed confidence in them, and offer to think it through with them. So if someone comes to you and they say, Hey, I really like your help with this right, then you know, then you can say you start with empathy. Find out a little bit about it and then say, Boy, that sounds like quite a struggle, it sounds like you’re really having a difficult time. I know that you can do this, or I’m sure you can handle this or some expression of confidence people like to hear that. And then would you like to think it through with me?
Howie – If they’ve already asked for permission, that’s almost redundant, but let’s say someone comes up to you and complains, Oh God, I’m getting so fat or my joints are hurting all the time. And you’ve been dying to tell them what to do. Right? You’re in the Paddison Program, and now finally they’ve said, it’s hard for me to like, grip the hammer with my hand some days it really bothers me. And then you’re, you know, the part of your brain that wants to give advice is, great now they’re ready, let me dump it all, let me open their brain and dump in the Paddison Program. And instead, we’re going to say, you know, that sounds really frustrating. Whatever’s true about your confidence in them because if you weren’t confident, you wouldn’t even have the conversation. Like so it’s implicit. Like I’ve seen you overcome harder things than this or I know when you put your mind to something, you achieve amazing things. Would you like to think this through together? And think it through together is a beautiful phrase. Because it’s very non-threatening. It’s not would you like me to tell you what to do? Would you like to know how I would solve it, you’re a thought partner.
Clint – Yeah, it’s great, it’s great. It actually just struck me that Anthony Robbins, once when I was at on of his seminars, said, You know, if you’re struggling with personally overcome a challenge, he said, close your eyes and think back to when you’ve absolutely crushed something in the past. Something that you know, was a big struggle for you, that you’ve overcome it, perhaps it was, just an exam at primary school. Or was it, maybe it was trying to ride a bike. And you find an illustration in the past that supports the concept that you can overcome things and you have the ability to achieve things that others might find difficult even. And that empowers you then to have that confidence in being able to overcome this new challenge. And that it is just a new challenge that you’re facing, like all those others that you’ve overcome in the past. That touched on that memory when you said that, that that’s a strategy that he uses to great effect. And you feel confident, don’t you? When you remember you’ve done something in the past that took a lot of effort and yes, you can do this as well. So drawing upon that in the conversation to illustrate that to the person, I can see how effective that would be.
Howie – Yeah, because when we’re when we’re in the midst of a problem, we’re really focused on all the negatives. Right. The problem, my shortcomings and solving the problem, all the obstacles. So like the whole process, all the four steps are really designed to shift from negative to positive, from defensive to creative, from hopeless to hopeful.
Clint – Can I just take a wild adlib swing at trying to do this from what you’ve told us so far?
Howie – Yeah, let’s go for it.
Clint – This could be a hilariously fail, a big fail, but that’s I think that’s what this that’s what life’s about. So I’ve known that I’ve got to have the person develop ownership. They have to increase their capability, develop their emotional courage, and future-proof them. And then we have to use empathy and express confidence in them and and say the phrase, we’re going to think this through together. Alright, here we go. I’m going to set the scene. Ok, let’s say I’m living with a woman called Jennifer, and I’ve just started, making lifestyle changes that are going to reduce my joint inflammation and hopefully give me a better quality of life in the future. And I say to them, Hey, I’m just about to go plant-based, and Jennifer says, no way am I going to eat those terrible plants I love, eat my meat, and like, I’m going to KFC every Friday night and I eat out with the girls and blow and the kids don’t want to eat that. They love eating here. They love having Cheerios for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Cheerios is their thing. This is what we’re doing as a family. If you don’t like it, get out, right? So let’s say we’ve been confronted with that, and then I think to myself, Okay, So I’m going to say, well, yes, I understand where you’re coming from. And by the way, how are you going to correct me and tell me how to improve on this obvious thing? Because so far I’m in the ditch here. I’m in the ditch.
Howie – I’m not jumping in that ditch with you.
Clint – You’re going to watch me crash and burn, and then you can show us what to do. Because Jennifer, she’s a tough character and we say, OK, Gosh, I don’t even know how to work this in. But I know that I can say. I can certainly do the second part, I can certainly say that I can say yes, this is this must be really concerning for you. And here I’m doing the empathy. This must be really concerning for you because, we’ve been together now for 20 years and we’ve always eaten the same thing and we’ve built our love and relationship often around food because, you know, we do get drunk at night after we often finish the kid’s Cheerios and then, that’s how the kids were born. So we do really, So we do really have this, you know, connection around food so this must be a big challenge. And I know it’s confronting and that must make you feel very scared about what might happen to you and I. But you’ve helped me overcome changes in the past and we’ve done this together. You know, remember when Frederick, our firstborn went ballistic at school and we had to teach him how to read, that wasn’t easy for us. But, you know, we were able to do that and we did that together, and that was a big change. So, we’ve been through changes in the past and would you like to think this through together? So that’s my first pass at this, but I don’t know if I incorporated any of the the four major
Howie – Well, yeah, we’re not trying to do everything in every sentence. So if you’re looking for a grade, I love the first part. The empathy of like, Boy, this like this must be hard for you. So one of the things that we want to do before we start blurting to other people, we want to do some work on ourselves. We want to be prepared, as you would, for any high-stakes conversation.
Clint – No blurting.
Howie – What I heard from Jennifer was that there’s a history here like I’m guessing that in that scenario, this is not out of the blue that there is a relationship dynamic that she is immediately defensive about, right?
Clint – That was an extra layer there wasn’t there.
Speaker3 – So I would say, like if we’re looking for ownership, if you want someone else to take ownership, then you model ownership. So let’s say in this scenario, like you moved across the country because you got a new job and she had to follow along and you decided that they were going to go to the public school instead of the private school because you didn’t want to work so many hours. For example I’m just making it up, but so for you to begin to own it, to say, the way I have approached you in the past when I wanted to make changes as I look back, it was kind of high handed and I totally get how you might be worried that this is going to be the same way. I want to apologize for the ways in which I’ve done things in the past because I don’t stand behind them and I’m not proud of them. So if there’s water under the bridge, and there often is. Like these issues, like someone’s who’s ready to read, this book is not going to suddenly discover something new tomorrow that they want to change, that they haven’t been trying to change for 20 years. So if you read it and you say, Oh yeah, I’ve been doing all those things wrong, you can say, Hey, I’m reading a book on helping people up their game and improve their outcomes and live according to their best interest. And I realized from reading this book that I’ve been transgressing. Yeah, and I’ve been doing some things that I’ve been saying and doing acting in ways that haven’t been helpful and might have been disrespectful or hurtful, and I want to apologize. If you if want Jennifer to be generous, you lead. If you want to change other people, you have to change yourself first and change how you approach them.
Clint – Great. That is step one, Chapter 8, as I refer back, it’s be your own and be your own ally first. Fantastic, so okay, so I could have corrected that. Okay, so that was the empathy part was not bad, but I should have led in first of all with with taking ownership first and making those fixing the back story there.
Howie – But then even if you just jump in with, this must be really hard for you. I thought it was beautiful that empathy. But empathy includes is basically that you demonstrate that you understand them to their satisfaction. So at that point, you want to pause, you don’t want to kind of read the monologue, but you want to pause and say, like, I bet you’re scared. And Jennifer might say, I’m not scared, I’m mad. How dare you? thank you for explaining that, tell me more. What’s angering you? So if you want to model non-defensiveness in them, guess what you got to do? Yeah, you got to be non-defensive and be curious, and really understand where they’re coming from. So empathy, it might not be a sentence, it might be a two-hour conversation, and that’s all you do.
Clint – That’s just crucial, and that might be the amount of time you have at that time, and then you might have to pick up conversation piece by piece over the subsequent days or weeks, sometimes when they’re in a big change is being implemented.
Howie – Yeah, if the old interactions have gone on for 20 years, you know, like let’s not have a timetable for when they. We’ve been talking for 20 minutes, we’ve got to be a part, be three by now. Right, because that’s just another way of us reserving ownership for ourselves and we have to give up control. If we want them to change, we have to give up control.
Clint – Beautiful, beautiful. And then expressing confidence in them and then offering to think it through together.
Howie – Yeah, yeah, so I mean, to get to the point where they feel like you’re their ally, you’re not trying to pull a fast one. You’re not trying to dominate them. You’re not trying to lead them where they don’t want to go. You are there to support their best interests and their autonomy as well as your own. So the process doesn’t work unless you are shoulder to shoulder. And this first step is a means of creating that partnership.
Clint – I love it. Give us the sort of expectations for the rest of the book people who are interested to lay out the sort of things that they’re going to learn and be able to implement in their lives and the outcomes that could lead to as we wrap this up.
Howie – Yeah, sure. The second step is the second most important. I think they’re kind of in descending order from start to finish. Is to identify an energizing outcome, and that is so important because, again, when people focus on their problems, all they want to do is get away from them, make them stop, disown them. And so it’s very hard to help someone who’s trying to get away from something. So if I’m eating too much ice cream and I say, well, what I want to do is stop eating ice cream, that’s actually I just want the problem to stop, and I’m still focused on my problem. And the more you think about not eating ice cream, you’re actually thinking about eating ice cream because that’s how the brain works.
Clint – It hears ice cream, ice cream. It just hears that, doesn’t it? Over and over again. Even though you put the word no in, no less or less or whatever, it just hears ice cream.
Howie – Yeah, let’s say you stop eating ice cream and now you say, Well, I want to see how I’m doing. Then you have to look for ice cream that you’re not eating it like even in the valuation, you’re focused on the thing you don’t want. And so instead of using instead of diving into the problem, OK, great. Let’s think it through together. Great. Now, tell me all about the problem. Let’s figure it out, right? The same brain that’s trying to figure it out is the same brain that gets us into the mess in the first place. Because we got into this dysfunctional behavior because we tried to figure out a solution to something else. I try to figure out a solution to my loneliness by eating. I tried to figure out a solution to my boredom by playing video games. Right. So the problem solving mind is of little help at this point, but instead we say, what’s the outcome that you want? Now we’re again, we’re giving them total ownership of it. So for Jennifer what would you like to see our family eating together? What would you like our food culture in this family to be? Ideally, it’s just like, Well, it’s got to taste great. Great. I agree. You know, I think food should taste great. Anything else? Well, I mean, I don’t want us to get sick, you know, I mean, I’m naturally slim. So, you know, but I want you to look good. Through this exploration of like, what’s a meaningful positive outcome that we can define clearly, that’s exciting. When people can see, OK, like, you know, the unrealistic thing, like in 6 months, I’ll be off this drug. But you can talk to them about well within my understanding of what’s possible we could get you this or that or that or, you know, and they can tell you, like, what would that if I was off that drug in 6 months what would that give you? Well, I wouldn’t have any pain anymore. Why is that important to you? I could then do X, Y and Z, so great. So if we start moving you towards X, Y and Z like so when they come up with an outcome that seems sort of intermediary like I want to, I want to lose 30 pounds, I want to fit in size 10 jeans. Right. We might ask some version of what for the sake of what? Why is that meaningful to you? And we want to get to something that touches their core. Yeah, I want to be at peace with my body. When I have this condition, I’m looking at my hands and constantly feeling like they’re the enemy. I want to be whole again, I want to be at peace in my body and contributing as best I can to my family, to my work, to my community, to enjoying myself, like that’s a positive. You hear like the excitement in that.
Clint – Their feelings too, aren’t they? When we’re forward pacing like that, these are feelings emotionally that we’re really seeking, isn’t it?
Howie – Yeah. Well, any outcome that we want, we only want it because of the way it’s going to make us feel. That’s a Tony Robbins isn’t it? Everything is about a feeling. Yeah. So if I say, well, I have to be off this med in 6 months or I won’t be happy. And then we get to what would that feeling be if you were off this med? I feel powerful in control. Great. We can get you that feeling, then the next ten minutes, if you start learning how to say no to sugar and cheeseburgers, you can start experiencing the feeling of power. Even before you get external outcomes.
Clint – Yeah, exactly, exactly. This also reminds me of the most very profound book I read Dr Frankel’s man’s search for meaning, you know, and the phrase that sticks out from that book is creating a compelling future. It’s a beautiful phrase, and that reminds me when you were speaking like that. Wow, that just overlaps beautifully with that book as well. Pointing to an energizing outcome. You know, these are powerful. I love it it’s very, very parallel with other really powerful work.
Howie – Yeah, and then it’s also very strategic for the following steps, because if you think about it, if someone’s outcome is what they want to avoid or get rid of, it’s like going, getting into your car, turning on your GPS system and typing an anti destination. Here’s where I don’t want to go today, right? What’s your G.P.S. going to do with that? Right. Take me anywhere but here, doesn’t work. But instead of you say, here’s the destination, now we can start to strategize about how to get there. Right. So the next step, step 3, is to discover a hidden opportunity. And now we’re looking at the problem, but from the framework of the solution and the idea is that the problem we’re facing is actually a doorway to this outcome. What we want here is not the absence of a problem, it’s not going from negative one to zero, but from negative one to positive five. How did you use your R.A. to become a transcendent, happier person than you were beforehand?
Clint – Well, it required me to develop aset of skills and focus my research efforts into one area to become sufficiently educated. To then feel, appreciate it and feel like I had a large degree of contribution towards other people who are in a similar situation to me. And the feelings of the contribution of self-worth, of having a meaning all contribute to to a degree of happiness. So I think that’s as close as I can off the spot to answer that.
Howie – Yeah, I mean, that’s huge. Isn’t it like to say like, OK, so I had this thing happen to me that I didn’t ask for and how did I respond to it? I couldn’t choose not to have it, but I could choose to become resentful and miserable. I could choose to capitulate to the drugs that have side effects that are almost worse than the condition. or I could become this other person who lives and still have it. And I live in service, and I’m joyful every day when I think about the people that I help and the ways in which I’ve grown. Like, that’s like just such a beautiful example of like, there’s the opportunity. So with Jennifer, we might say so it sounds like the opportunity here is to figure out a way to do food together so that everybody is nourished and happy. All right, that’s very different from I want you to go plant-based to support me. And it might not lead there right away, but we want to we’re so like, Great so what do we know? We know what we like what tastes good? What do we know about what’s good for us? And we can begin to explore that without the defensiveness of I read a book and you’re eating all wrong Jennifer. And you’re poisoning our kids with those effing Cheerios.
Clint – And it’s so hard not to go down that path. Do you find that that just is so appealing, even though you know all this and you’re an intellectual and you academically teach this? Is it still hard for you not to use the strategies that you warn against?
Howie – Nobody writes a 200 page book because it’s easy. Right. I didn’t have to write a book telling people how to criticize each other, how to eat junk food, how to be rude. We write books to teach people what doesn’t come naturally. Yeah, I struggle with this all the time. I mean, being immersed in the book and committing to like being a role model for it has helped. But just last week, I was in a conversation with my son, who was expressing anger at something. My first words out of my mouth were like, Oh, don’t worry about it, we’ll figure it out. And that cut off communication, like, I’m like, Oh, I’m your ally, I will be helpful to you, don’t worry I’m going to help you with this. He heard I dismiss your concern. And then I went back to work and I was rushing for some things, and I thought about and I was like, Oh I came back and I said, Hey, that thing you told me, I’m really sorry that sucks. I’m sorry that happened to you. And he’s like, Oh, thanks. Like, that’s what he needed to hear in that moment, not that I was going to come in White Knight on a horse to solve it for him. But then I cared that being his ally didn’t mean fixing it. It meant first hearing and acknowledging what he was going through. So, yeah, this is hard stuff, but it’s so worthwhile.
Clint – It’s so worthwhile, it’s so powerful, it’s definitely a personal passion of mine, these conversations, this topic. Anything personal development I’ve always been magnetized to. I’ve done all of that tony Robbins has programs including his, you know, retreats and mastery and universities as equals. And then it’s all so interesting, and I do actually feel a better person from having done it all. It becomes and not that I don’t think our audience is going to be worried about this, but it doesn’t come off as what’s the word character playing or staged when you understand it so subconsciously that it becomes just naturally who you are. And not in a way that, as I said, like fake or manipulative or any of those things, it’s just good communication. It’s just connecting with another human being in the way that they want to feel connected.
Howie – Yeah. Yeah, and I would say to people like absolutely, as you practice this, it will start to become second nature. And don’t wait till it becomes second nature to start using it, like expressing vulnerability and empathy can be your MO to say to someone, hey, I just got this book and I think I can use the process to help you. Would you? I’m new at it, and I’ll probably be like screwing around and looking through the book from time to time. But I really think it can help if you’re interested. Like, we don’t have to pretend. Like I do that I coach people all the time I have a cheat sheet with my own process on my desk. And I will, I will say, hold on a second, let me think for a second, I will look at it and I will let people know, Yeah, I’m using this cheat sheet. It’s not like like if you’re if your airplane pilot is too proud to use a checklist like, Oh, did we close the flaps? Did we close the luggage rack? Is there water on the plane? Like, No, no, that’s fine and I want you to use your checklist. Yeah. Like, I don’t I don’t think you’re an amateur, I’m just happy for you to follow a process. It’s like when we get over our own defensiveness again, it’s how do we want them to receive us? That’s how we got to be. That’s the part that’s it doesn’t require technique it requires a positive intention.
Clint – Howie, this has been fantastic. I’ve got two pages of notes scribbled everywhere, I’ve got your book open and trying to keep track here with which chapter matches what we’ve talked about. And we went off that a little bit, but I think that it’s just been tremendous and it’s very thought-provoking, it’s just so interesting. And I hope that people go and grab a copy of your book so they can learn this in more detail and be able to then have that resource available if they need to continue to go back and refine their approach. Because just like we’ve talked about right at the start, this is always ups and downs. There’s no solid, long term, easy win in life is that it’s always ups and downs. So tell us I’m looking at the book on Amazon, you’re currently running Perfect five stars. Is Amazon the best place to get it? And also tell us how can people do consults with you? It was crossing my mind through this. Wow, you got such tremendous knowledge in this, and people might want to ask questions to you in a private setting.
Howie – Yeah, I do coaching. I do health coaching and executive coaching so people can find me at www.plantyourself.com. And there’s a little form on the right sidebar where you could send me a message. The book is called You Can Change Other People. It’s by Peter Bregman and me, Howard Jacobson. And I would say the best place to get it from my perspective is your local independent bookstore because we should support them. Yeah, you’ll probably pay more and it will take longer to get, but we want them around. Otherwise, of course, there are all the online places Barnes and Noble books and million Amazon. It’s also on Bookstore.org, which I don’t really understand, but apparently somehow some of the proceeds go to supporting independent bookstores. But once you’ve read it and tried it, Amazon is the best place to leave us a review because, you know, realistically, Amazon is where books get bought and sold these days.
Clint – Yeah, fantastic. Well, thanks very much for sharing so much today. I’ve really, really enjoyed having you on, and I wish you all the best with the success of the book. And I hope that a lot of people are also pumped up about this discussion today and are able to, implement some of what we talked about and are motivated to go and learn more and get a copy of your book and just help people be better people. If it’s in their best interests and it’s in the interest of a better relationship then it’s win win.
Howie – And Clint, thank you so much for having me, thanks for your support for this project, and it’s great being back in touch with you.