Momentum Podcast: 206

Instant Emotional Engagement

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

As a kid, I really didn’t understand where I fit in. I felt like I had a different operating system than those around me. One book changed everything from me and I obsessed over it. There is one particular lesson that struck me. Be hardy in your approbation and lavish in your praise. If you develop the habit of learning to look for the things that are special and unique within people and compliment them genuinely, it creates momentum for everyone involved. Most people don’t go out of their way to notice what other people are doing right.

Full Audio Transcript

I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off, and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy, and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat, because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average, and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority. The few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future, and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability, and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent positive human evolution, and we always will be.

Instant emotional engagement. When I was younger, and really, up to and including sometimes today, I always felt like I didn't have the same operating system most people had. I felt like, when I looked at the people around me, like I didn't understand how to access the world of social skills, how to not be awkward, how to make friends, how to build relationships. It was incredibly difficult for me. When I was younger, I remember, at one point, it was, I think, third grade. There was a discussion, we had a discussion about the pyramids in Egypt, and I remember, I think almost as an aside, my teacher said something like, "Well, there's people who think the pyramids were built by aliens," and I remember, third grade, thinking aliens came and made the pyramids. Maybe I'm from aliens, like I'm so different than everyone. Maybe that's it. And I remember walking around the playground that day, looking for places where an alien craft could land, to see if I could figure out how the hell I got into the room where I felt so fundamentally separate, and different from everyone.

I know that's not everyone's experience. That's how I felt. I was very isolated and different, and as a kid, I was so different that I started reading, and reading personal development books, and that didn't go very well. I started reading life histories, because personal development starts conflicting, so I started reading life histories, and then I found the story of Dale Carnegie, and who he was, and how he lived, and I got a hold of his book, How to Win Friends, and Influence People, I think in my teens, and I have a copy, I'm looking at it right now.

I've always had a copy. In fact, I think I carried this book around for years, two or three years. I practically memorized it, and the reason is, when I found it, it felt like the operating system for how to access and interact with and create relationships with other people. Up until that point, I was completely and totally, fundamentally lost, and I obsessed over How to Win Friends and Influence People. I read every single principle. I read them over, and over again. I underlined the book, I spent time with this, to the point where I started really understanding how to talk to, and how to influence people, and how to build relationships, and I think one of the most effective tactics taught in the book, but one that I've learned how to use to create an emotional connection with people, is to be lavish in your approbation.

I know that that, I remember when, I think the actual quote in the book is "Hardy in your approbation, and lavish in your praise," which essentially, what Carnegie is saying is compliment people. Let other people know that they're doing well. Learn how to offer genuine praise of the people around you, because here's what I want. Here's what I think most thought leaders want. Here's what I think most leaders want. Here's what I think most entrepreneurs want. Most of us want to be heard.

If we really get down to brass tacks, we want to be heard, because everything comes after being heard. People taking action comes after being heard. People changing what they're doing comes after being heard. People completing what you ask them to comes after you're actually heard. I believe that, with every person in our lives, we are in a constant battle for their attention. We're in a constant battle, so that we rise to the importance level that they will listen to us, so that we can be heard.

Here's what I found, in following this principle of being hardy in your, what's it again? I just read it. It's be hardy in your approbation, and lavish in your praise. That if you learn how to offer genuine compliments, if you learn how to look for what is special and unique and important about somebody, and you point it out to them, here's what I've found. If it's genuine, they will accept it, and it often creates momentum, and when I say genuine, when you give somebody a compliment, when you share with somebody something that you think is significant, or extraordinary about them, you have to mean it. You have to feel it before you say it, and if you mean it, and you feel it, you will connect with that person. You will create instant emotional engagement, and I often do this, and I work with a lot of entrepreneurs that get uncomfortable when complimented. But I still do it anyway, because what I've found is if you point out genuine appreciation for something that someone is, or something that someone does, or how they show up, that it connects you to that person near permanently.

Because here's what's interesting about the world we live in. Most people don't go out of their way to notice what other people are doing right. Most people don't go out of their way to give a compliment, to share praise, to tell people what they appreciate about them, and if you're one of the people who is willing to do that with the people you care about, you will build relationships that are much deeper, and much more valuable than you would otherwise. I know, because I've tried to do it both ways. There was a time where I didn't know how to give compliments, and I didn't understand how to give praise. There was a time where all human interaction felt threatening, or frustrating, or irritating, or just downright confusing, for me, and I didn't understand how to give someone praise, genuine praise, that they would hear, because here's what I believe about the people around me, and the people like my clients, my team, my family. I think they're amazing.

I've gotten to the point in my life where I select who I am around, 100% of the time. I elect to be around people who inspire me, who motivate me, who make me feel engaged, who make me feel like we're getting something done, like we're doing things, and I do everything I can to keep those people around me, and what I know will do that is giving them genuine compliments, and praise. This is interesting, 'cause a lot of people have challenges with this. A lot of my clients have had challenges with this. I often share John Gottman's rule of five to one. So John Gottman is a ... I think he's one of the most incredible psychologists and psychotherapists in history. Gottman is a quant psychologist. He's a quantitative psychologist. I don't know if anybody else has ever called him that, but I've read most of his stuff, and I've looked at how he has put together his content, his information, and what he's done is he has obsessively, like every great EPT, watched human interaction, human dynamic, and then charted out what he believes is the ideal way to communicate, or what are the steps, the tactics in communication that allow us to be heard, that allow us to be effective in communication.

Here's what Gottman found. That the five to one rule is that for every five times you have a positive interaction with somebody, they will hear one corrective, or constructive suggestion from you. I'll say it again. For every five times someone hears something positive from you, they will hear, they will be able to process a correction, or constructive criticism from you. Five to one. If you're a manager, or if you're a leader, manager, you have people on your team, like I do, you're probably thinking like, how do you get to five to one? And think about, in your marriage, with your significant other. That's where Gottman showed this. He said, "In a marriage, you have to have five positive interactions, for every corrective one, just to have the correction be heard. Just to have the correction be recognized as a correction."

So those of us who aren't there all of the time, which, by the way, this isn't ideal. I'm not there all of the time, but I've definitely learned how to be there a lot more often, and how to get to the point where people are hearing much more positive from me. Let me share with you some of the strategies that I use. So, first, if I'm gonna give somebody a compliment, I'm always ready to give them significant detail, so they understand exactly what I'm saying. Like one of the people that I am just constantly in awe of is Layla Hormozi. She is one of the most gifted entrepreneurs I've ever worked with. Her ability to assemble a team, and to ascend to the position of COO in the company that she and her husband Alex have created is extraordinary, and Layla also is not somebody who will just let you blow smoke, or wants casual conversation about nothing. Layla is a get-to-the-point, and understand what's going on, and get things done type of person. So when I compliment her, when I say, "Layla, I think it was extraordinary, how you handled this situation," I will tell her, in detail, what I mean. I'll say, "It was extraordinary because," and let me give you some ways that I make certain that I clarify, when I give a compliment. One is to share contrast. So I'll say, "Layla, here's why it was extraordinary. This is how you handled it, this is how most people handled it, and you did so much more, and so much better than most." So I will share contrast, when I'm giving a compliment, and that's for anyone. If you say, "Hey, I like your hair, you got it done," I'll say a little bit more, like, "Hey, you got your hair done, I love it. The short hair makes you look so much younger." Little bit of contrast.

One of the other ways that I give a compliment is I share sincere thanks from me. If somebody does something for me, like somebody who I'm always so grateful is in my life, and so grateful is on my team, is Justin [Light 00:11:33]. Justin has been with us for years. He is one of the most professional, conscientious, caring people I've ever met. He helps me run our coaching, our entire coaching department, and Justin does so many things, that I have a hard time thanking him for everything, and so when we're on our daily huddles, and there's any type of a recognition, or anything that he's done comes up, I always try and jump in and say, "Justin, I just want to thank you, because if you weren't doing this, we couldn't get everything we needed done, and I want to thank you because you're showing up in a way that I don't know if we could get anybody else to show up, and I just want to let you know what you did here was extraordinary," and man, recently, I can't help but compliment Justin five or six times a week, in our huddles, sometimes more than one time a day, because he's accomplishing so much, at such an incredible level.

One of the reasons this is such a fundamental tactic, and such a fundamental habit that we should pick up, when we're communicating with other people, is when you compliment what you want, people will do more of it. One of the biggest challenges we have, as employers, as leaders, as entrepreneurs, is that somewhere in our minds, we have it twisted up that if we tell people they're doing really well, they'll stop trying as much, and I've actually gone through that, with a couple of my clients. I won't share her name, but if she's listening, she knows I'm talking about her, and one of our clients in real estate, who came to a ... this was a few years ago, came to one of our seminars, and we talked about exactly this, we talked about the five to one rule. We talked about institutionalizing compliments and praise, adding who got caught being awesome to your huddle, where everybody can congratulate you. Sitting down, on a weekly basis, and actually writing out who you're going to thank.

I talk about those things with entrepreneurs, because once you get to the point where you have a team, that type of strategy, those types of tactics, staying on top of letting people know you care about them is where rubber meets the road, because it gets to the point where you can't do just about anything on your own. You have to have your team involved, you want your team involved, and that's how it really works. I remember her telling us, "Alex, I don't think I can do this. The insecurity level I have around telling people that they're doing well, I just, I think my entire team will stop working." I said, "Well how often do you give them a compliment now?" She looked at me, straight in the face, and said, "Never."

I remember having this distinct feeling of pain in my chest, not just for her, but for the people who worked with her. How horrible would it be, to be in a job, where you were never told you did anything right? Because you know, in any position, it's just inherent in the position, you're going to be told you missed. You're going to be told you had issues. You're going to be told you didn't do everything perfect. But what about never being told you did something right? Never being complimented, or never being praised? Never hearing you did a good thing, never hearing you did the right thing, never hearing you did something that was progressive, that helped, that helped the team, that helped all of us? I can't imagine what type of an institutional feel a company like that has, even in a small business.

I remember having the conversation with her about what it felt like for human beings to work in a situation where they never heard they did anything right. So she committed to us, in that class, that she would go back and start trying to use the five to one rule, and I remember getting an email from her a few days later saying, "Well, I've been working on this, and I'm really trying," and then I remember getting an email from her saying, "I would love to connect with you. My team just had a meeting with me, and I want to share what happened."

So I was intrigued. So I ended up setting up a call with her. I jumped on, and here's what happened. She went back to her office, and started giving genuine praise to her team members. She started telling them when they were doing things right. She started sharing with them where she noticed that they were doing something wrong. She was sharing with them the way that what used to happen, and what was happening now, and giving them contrast, and her team pulled her into a room, and asked her if she was dying, because she changed so quickly, and they felt such a massive shift that they wanted to know if there was something wrong with her.

Now, to make a very long story short, she ended up telling them that, no, nothing was wrong. That she had realized how she was treating them, that she was really trying to move in the right direction, and her team actually thought it was incredible that she had made such a massive change, in such a short period of time. So they started supporting her on it, and it was kind of a little bit of a joke, when she would compliment somebody, and it was awkward, they would all smile at her, but here's what happened. She went from having four or five, I think it was four or five people on her team, to having like 16 people on her team. She went from making under seven figures a year, but doing very well, to making multiple seven figures a year. She went from being one of those business owners that felt like her team was always out to get her, to throwing parties for her team, to having reunions for her team, to bringing all their families into events for her team, because she started realizing just how important they were to her.

I think that when we praise the people around us, when we look for the reasons to catch them doing something right, we reinforce how we want them to feel, and we also show them why we really care, and that's what human beings need. Praise, genuine compliments, are one of the most underused, but most powerful leadership tools there is. Just telling someone you appreciate them, when you mean it, can change a situation, can bring them closer to you, can make them feel engaged, and connected.

Now, there is a warning, here, and this is a sincere warning. This tool doesn't work, if you don't mean it. In fact, if you give someone praise, and it doesn't really mean something to you, if you give someone a compliment, and you don't feel it in your chest, feel it in your soul, feel it as you share it, know that you're telling them what you really mean, if you start giving people false compliments, and trying to come up with stuff, and you don't really mean it, and it's not really real, it will backfire on you so fast, your head will spin. Because we've all walked up to the used car sales guy, or the guy who seems like a used car sales guy, and had him say, "Hey, nice jacket," and we know he's just looking to bond over a compliment. We've all talked to the person that says, "Oh, it's really nice," and we know they didn't probably even look at what they're talking about. Human beings have a sensitivity to people blowing smoke. We have a sensitivity to people being disingenuous. We have a sensitivity to people not being real with us. So I want you to know that everyone around you has that sensitivity. So if you're going to use this tool, if you're going to create emotional engagement, and connection through complimenting the people around you, make sure it's real, and genuine, and you mean it, and you feel it.

Because there's very little that will give a human being momentum, and make them feel appreciated, and make them feel valued, as someone else, another person, validating them, complimenting them, and letting them know that they appreciate them. There's very little that will make you feel more valued than that. Here's what's amazing about this tool, is that when you're communicating on a day-to-day basis, when you're sharing with the people around you, when you're managing and leading your team, telling them what they're doing right, complimenting them on what they're getting done in the right way, letting them know that you care, letting them know that you appreciate them, letting them know how much they're doing for you, and how it's helping you grow the business, giving them lavish approbation, or hardy praise, but really going over the top, only helps you be heard more. Only helps draw people closer to you. Helps you communicate at a higher level, and will connect you and your team in a very deep way, because as human beings, as entrepreneurs, and when we go out looking for the reasons to compliment people, we connect to that person in a much deeper, more real, and more spiritual way.

When we look for the strengths in the people around us, we will find them. When we reflect those strengths back to them, they will show up even greater. If you want the team that you have to show up in a totally different way for you, if you want the team that you have to show up and crush for you, if you want to get more out of every person that you work with, find things they do right, and let them know. Compliment them on a regular basis. Let them know how important they are to you. Tell them that you appreciate them. Use the five to one rule, and you will see everything in your business, and your relationships, change.

This just doesn't apply to your business. If you're married, you and your spouse have the same dynamic. If your spouse isn't hearing five positive compliments, five positive interactions with you, for every corrective, or constructive one, they're probably not hearing everything. If it's been a while since you've been in that pattern with your spouse, if you have a husband, or a wife, or a boyfriend, or a girlfriend, or someone that matters to you, that you haven't complimented in a while, it's something to sit back and think about, because how we affect the people around us is one of the most important things to us, as human beings, and when we reflect how the people around us affect us, it's one of the most important things to them.

So if you haven't been in the pattern of using praise, if you haven't been telling people why they matter, if you haven't been letting your spouse know what you appreciate, or what you care about, if you haven't been complimenting them, this is your opportunity to go create emotional engagement with the people around you. This is your opportunity to be heard as a fundamentally better communicator. This is your opportunity to create relationships at a much deeper, and much more emotional level than you have right now. All it takes from you is to look at the people around you, discover what you appreciate about them, and share, openly, honestly, and regularly.

I appreciate Dale Carnegie in a way that I can't possibly explain, because when I found his book, it was like the code book, or the guidebook, to the instruction manual for being a human being, and talking to other human beings, and these days, I'm known as a skilled, and some would even say gifted, communicator. But for all of those of you who are awkward, or struggle with this, or have a hard time talking to other people, I want you to know, not only have I been there, I'm often there on a daily basis these days, even though that's not the impression I give. And if you haven't yet, go pick up a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People. There's a reason it's been in print for over 70 years. There's a reason it's sold over 15 million copies, because Dale Carnegie sat down, and he indexed human engagement, and human communication, and he gave us a guidebook for how to be the most effective communicator you possibly can be, and to be heard by those around you.

If you haven't read it yet, it's one of my highest recommendations, and if you haven't yet read my book, once you get through with How to Win Friends and Influence People, go to, and get a great companion book to Carnegie's book, The Entrepreneurial Personality Type, so you will understand yourself better, stop limiting behavior, and create massive momentum.

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