David Bradford is the author of Connect: Building Exceptional Relationships with Family, Friends, and Colleagues. He has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business for over 50 years and helped to cultivate a course affectionately known as “touchy-feely” where he has coached and consulted with hundreds of people to help them cultivate excellent relationships.
Join us in this interview on the School for Good Living Podcast as David and I discuss how we can better deal with conflict, the three realities in any situation and how to leverage them to strengthen relationships, and how to differentiate between thoughts and feelings. We also discuss how we can give better feedback and productively address pain points in relationships.
“Emotions are important because they give meaning to facts.”
This week on the School for Good Living Podcast:
- The “Touchy feely” course David helped develop at the Stanford Graduate School of Business
- The keys to exceptional relationships
- The tennis court model and the three realities in any interaction
- Feedback as information rather than a requirement for change
- Breaking away from feedback sandwiches to create more actionable feedback
- How to correctly identify feelings and cognitions
- Breaking through fear by understanding their limitations
- Feeling pinched rather than hurt
Brilliant Miller [00:03:04] David, welcome to the School for Good Living.
David Bradford [00:03:07] Thank you. Glad to be here.
Brilliant Miller [00:03:09] I’m glad you’re here. David, will you tell me, please, what is life about?
David Bradford [00:03:16] Oh. I think life is about two things for me. One is living it fully. And the second is trying to make a better world. That’s my responsibility.
Brilliant Miller [00:03:38] All right. I like that answer. Now, I’ll ask you too, if you’re willing to elaborate a little bit on that, how have you gone about or how are you going about living fully and making it a better world? What does that look like for you?
David Bradford [00:03:53] Well, I think it’s a couple of things. One is it’s trying to live in the present. Not to ignore the fact that I may have some regrets about the past, and to forget that I may have some hopes for the future, but not to be controlled by either of them, but to very much live in the present and say, what can I do? That for me is rewarding, which may be that I want to go. Yesterday I decided to go out for a walk, a nice long walk, and that for me was very fulfilling. Maybe wanting to spend time with my wife or our kids. So it’s good. I remember once having a friend say “answer the question, are you doing now exactly what you want to do now?” And that’s a difficult question. To ask yourself, what is it I want to do now? And I can say that what I want to do now is to have this conversation with you. So that’s the first part. The second part is. What gives me meaning is to try to make a better world. And that’s part of why we wrote the book. We have a vision about that book improving the world. It’s why I have been rewarded for teaching. That’s very rewarding for me. But it’s also how I want to deal with people, can I not do things that make things worse for that person. It may be that I’m going to have to say some difficult things, but it’s with the intention of making our relationship better.
Brilliant Miller [00:06:08] Right on. Well, thank you for breaking that down a little bit. I want to dive into this more. I think about how many people don’t really know what they want or if what they’re doing now is what they want to be doing or maybe who they are or what their own life is about, that kind of thing. And many people might be considered dabblers, which there’s nothing wrong with that, or dilettantes, like moving from one subject to another. But I think not you, right. You’re in longevity. I understand you’ve been married more than 50 years.
David Bradford [00:06:43] Correct.
Brilliant Miller [00:06:44] You taught at Stanford for more than 50 years?
David Bradford [00:06:46] Correct.
Brilliant Miller [00:06:47] So there’s this longevity and this depth and something that’s very rare in many regards. I want to ask you, like before we get into it and obviously we’ll talk a lot about your book “Connect” and the course that it’s based on. But let me just start by asking about longevity. Like, how have you been able to find and stay with anything for more than five decades?
David Bradford [00:07:14] Well, since you started with the marriage, we’ll start with that. Actually, 56 years. It takes work. And it’s taken work during most of it. It still takes work, which you know, Eva’s a wonderful person and we’re deeply in love, but we’re both changing and growing. We also may become less tolerant of the things we tolerate before. And it’s a willingness to say, are we willing to look at things when they get in the way? So I think one of the most misleading phrases is a marriage ceremony which says that you live happily ever after. I don’t think that’s possible. I think that for that to occur, both parties, one party or both parties have to stop growing or have to stop thinking. So I would say that. But also, can you see that as a source of satisfaction, not as a problem or a sign of difficulty, but as an interesting challenge. And with that sort of mindset, I think it’s easier to deal with the difficulties or pinches that inevitably occur. I think, in terms of the work, that also has never been a static phenomenon for me. There’s always been something new. There’s the course which we’ll talk about was it in a constant and still in a state of development? I also develop other things. I developed a professional organization. I helped to introduce and developed the leadership program at Stanford. I’ve always looked for challenges and I want next year to be somewhat different than this year. And the wonderful thing about the freedom I had at Stanford is I could have those degrees of freedom to do different things, to do additional things. And one of the points of inspiration I have is decades ago, I went to a retrospective of Renoir, the French impressionist painter at the Boston Art Museum. And apparently his last words, and he died and his eighties was, oh, that’s the way to do it. And that’s been inspirational to me, because I know that if he were to have lived one more year, that would have been his last words, because he was constantly figuring out what’s the way to do it. And I don’t think anything I’ve done has ever reached a final stage because I’m not sure when you’re done doing creative work. If there is a final point. So when you say doing one thing for 55 years, I have a been in one place for 55 years, but I haven’t been doing one thing.
Brilliant Miller [00:10:40] Right on. That was a great response. So this idea that it sounds like one thing. It’s been one place, but it’s not been one thing. It reminds me of a common saying in the personal growth self development world. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. That kind of thing. And it sounds like that’s certainly been true in your experience. And one of those things that’s been dynamic, you mentioned this course interpersonal dynamics, I understand, is the name of the course, but more popularly known as touchy feely, correct?
David Bradford [00:12:23] Yes.
Brilliant Miller [00:12:25] Will you tell me a little bit about this program. What is it? How and why did it begin? How has it evolved? What does it do for people? Just anything you’d like to talk about related to it?
David Bradford [00:12:35] Yeah, it’s based on a very simple concept that’s hard to implement. But the concept is, I need you in order to know me. That is, I may know my motives. I may know my intentions. Both of us can see my behavior, my words, my gestures and so on. But I don’t know the impact I have. And I need to know that impact if I’m to be effective. But we live in a world in which we rarely get that impact directly. We know I’m talking and you’re nodding, so I’m assuming I’m making some sense. But it might be that you’ve just been raised to be so polite that even though I’m not making sense, you are not anyway. And the difficulty is we don’t know how to let the other person know the impact of their behavior, particularly if their behavior bothers us. We think this act of kindness to solve the time. And yet I start with the assumption most people are well-intentioned. And if I’m doing something that is dysfunctional, bothers the other person, I need to know what. Because if I don’t know it, I don’t have a choice. I may not go along with what the other person wants, but it’s useful for me to know the impact. Now that’s a long answer to your question. So let me try and delve into your question. What this course is about is in some ways a civil process. We have 12 students and two facilitators who meet for about 5 hours a week and then they go away for a long weekend. It’s an unstructured group situation. And the task of the group is to build a group in which we can learn from each other. So we don’t have to have cases. We don’t have to have role plays. We don’t have to do anything like that. Totally unstructured and a facilitator support people sharing their reaction, particularly their feelings. So what is so powerful about it is people learn how to find out the impact of the behavior. So I can say to somebody, you look troubled. What is it? It’s not just asking that. It’s also, am I willing to hear the answer and not be upset? Offended by and maybe upset by hopefully having a bit of my. But it’s also a process in which people learn that they can be more themselves, more authentic. Many of us walk around that trying to be a powerful leader, like attractive, sexy, whatever you want. I have to pretend to be something I’m not. And what I inevitably find is the more I am myself in an appropriate way in this setting, usually the more effective, but it’s a risk because we have the fear that if you know me, you know, right. And so this is a course in which we build a climate in which people can start to take the risk of being more themselves and during the reaction of other people. And then raise it when I’m bothered when you’re doing something. But I could also express my appreciation or authentic way, which we often don’t do. When you do something like that and it’s the key to building strong, open relationships. If I could add one thing, why it’s called touchy feely is what’s central to the course is sharing emotions. So there’s a lot of feelings.
Brilliant Miller [00:16:55] Yeah. Reading this book Connect: Building Exceptional Relationships With Family, Friends and Colleagues. One of the things that I really appreciate about this book is there are a few distinctions, a few kind of models or ideas that you offer in the book that for me, just having access to that is helpful. And I want to ask you about a couple of those. But, of course, this is experiential. Like you’ve said, you know, you get a group of people and they go away and they have interaction and they actually try these things out. And it’s more than just a theoretical thing. As I understand many of these people, this changes their life. Like it’s not just in the workplace, but also in their parenting and their relationship and their social things. What are some of the ways that you’ve seen that this has made a difference for people long after the program has ended?
David Bradford [00:17:46] Yeah, and we keep on hearing reports. In fact, last Friday I did an hour and a half presentation to the 25th class reunion, and that people talked about how they were using some of the things that came out. One person said I was really having difficulty with my voice and we weren’t really communicating well with each other and it was getting more and more dicey and I was actually thinking of leaving. And I remember what I learned in the course and I talked to my boss and I said, this isn’t working for me and I guess this is not working for you to talk about. And he said it turned our relationship around. Had another person said, this has been crucial to my marriage that we now can raise difficult issues. We can even get upset at each other without it breaking up the marriage or causing a deep hurt that can’t be rectified. I heard people talk about reconnecting with parents that they’ve felt somewhat estranged with. So we hear people in almost all aspects of their life. Some I remember a person in his thirties was the executor program. We read, we ran. It was based on this course. And he went home and he said to his teenage daughter, he said, my guess is you don’t feel heard by me. Then she said, yes, I do. And he said, I’m sorry, let me try again. And that is so meaningful when we hear those stories. So we hear it with family. We hear it with friends. We hear a lot at work. Where you aren’t necessarily building an exceptional relationship, but you’re trying to build an open, functional one. Yeah. And there’s always difficulties with with any relationship.
Brilliant Miller [00:20:12] Yeah, that’s right. That’s something I’ve definitely observed is with any human relationship as far as I can tell from my own experience, my own study. That there’s always inevitably different differences of desire, differences of opinion, differences of value, misunderstandings. Right. It just happens. It’s kind of inevitable. And one of the things that I really appreciate about your book and about the work you’re doing is basically this idea that relationships are a skill and when we can learn to relate more skillfully, more effectively. And this idea that this was one of the things I was mentioning when I said there are a few distinction, this idea of an exceptional relationship, it’s kind of this almost you could put maybe your own trademark behind that. And you name this as a thing, as a possibility. And then you say, this is what it is and this is how one can achieve it. And of course, it’s a model. It’s a concept, but I think there’s a lot of value to it. Well, you talk about the idea of an exceptional relationship, like where did that come from? What does it mean to you? And just not asking you to go through point by point, but a little bit about like how we can actually get there as real human beings?
David Bradford [00:21:35] Well, let me talk about the dimensions that we think is crucial to being exceptional. And this was something that Carol and I, as we reflected on the years that we taught this course and we saw what it produced, not with all the students, but with some frequency over the ten weeks of the course, where people build relationships that come close to what I call exceptional. The first one is what I alluded to before, which is, can I really be myself? Which doesn’t mean I share everything with you, but I share what is relevant to our relationship at this point in time. I really am willing to say this is David. For better or for worse, this is me. But the second dimension is can I do things that encourage you to be more yourself? And we often do things that shut down other people or that we don’t convey that we really want to know them. The third thing is, can we build this relationship in shared best mutual sharing, which means that we’re also being mutually vulnerable with some degree of confidence that what I share won’t be used against me? This has relevance at work to show that we’re colleagues at work and I share some self-doubts about my competency I have will then not become public in a way that hurts you. But the other way it could hurt me is when you start to make judgments on me. It might mean that you don’t approve of all my behavior, but I’m still accepted. I’m accepted as a human being, a flawed human being. But you still can accept. Fourth is can we be honest with each other? And when I hear somebody say, well, I’m going to be brutally honest, I find they’re usually more brutal than honest. And we’ll get into that later about what honesty really is. And again, it’s not saying everything, but you know that what I say is what I mean. And what I mean is I’m going to say that you can trust my words. Fifth. Can we disagree? Can we raise disagreements? Could we even get into conflict? And not only can we raise it, but can we resolve it in a way that further deepens the relationship? When the fear is that it will destroy the relationship. Yeah. And finally, are we committed to each other’s growth and development? And that may mean that I’m going to say things that you in the moment may not like. We have the phrase and of course, we sort of steal the Hallmark slogan. We say “I care enough to say the very worst. That if I see you doing something where you’re hurting yourself isn’t it an act of kindness that I say that. And also if I see you doing things that are really good. Do I say it? Because you may not fully realize the benefits of your actions. So those are the six dimensions, they’re all on a continuum and relationships are on a continuum. You don’t have to be at the top of all six, but you have to be pretty high on most of them, if not all of them. And then you can move toward exceptional. And when you’re exceptional, and I think Carol and I have an exceptional relationship as my coauthor, even I think that we do. I can say almost anything and I can encourage her to do it. We can disagree. We can trust each other’s comments. And that, in a sense, is a very demanding state, but a relaxing state. I had a colleague once who said, when I’m in that relationship, I don’t have to wear much armor. And I think we often walk around with a fair amount of armor to protect ourselves.
Brilliant Miller [00:25:53] Yeah, I think you’re right. You know, my version of this, I feel very fortunate to be married to a woman who is my best friend. And we’ve been together about 12 years and early in our relationship she said, you know, being with you is like being by myself only better. And it’s, you know, that thing, there’s no armor, there’s no pretense, there’s no effort to either present something or hold something back. And it’s just it’s a gift. And it’s a gift. Like you said. And I think the second point, right, is if we can encourage others to be themselves.
David Bradford [00:26:30] Yes.
Brilliant Miller [00:26:31] That there’s a generosity that’s possible in a relationship. And that’s where you say relationships take work. I think maybe having the awareness and maybe the willingness, you know, to allow another to be who they are or maybe honor who they’re not. When they tell us as well or if they show us through their actions is pretty amazing. And this other model that I really want to ask you about, because, again, it’s one thing to hear these like in this interview or to read them in the book, but then there’s life as it’s lived.
David Bradford [00:27:03] Right.
Brilliant Miller [00:27:04] And I had just read on Tuesday the pages that describe this model, the tennis court model.
David Bradford [00:27:12] Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [00:27:13] But the next day I was in a meeting where things got a bit contentious and I was able to refer to that and sit and kind of observe as like, Oh, that’s on that side of the net and this is on this side of the net. Of course, I didn’t try to teach everyone, but it was interesting to observe. But I know I’m maybe speaking abstractly of something the listener doesn’t yet have any context for. But that idea is amazing. Will you talk about that tennis court model or whatever you call it?
David Bradford [00:27:41] Okay. Well, I’m back to what I said before about this course based on a simple model of I need you to know me. So we’ll start again with that and build on it. We say, in fact, in terms of being honest, we say you can say almost anything to almost anybody if you stick with your reality. So it turns out in interacting, there are three realities so brilliant between you and me. There are three realities. There are my intentions, my motives, and reality. Number one. Reality. Number two is my behavior, my words, my tone, and my gesture is nonverbal. Reality number three is the impact of my behavior on you. Now each of us knows only two of those three realms. I know my motives. We both see the behavior. But I don’t know the impact and you don’t know my motives. Yeah. So we say imagine in tennis that between reality number one and reality number two. Between my intentions and my behavior. And in tennis, you can’t play on the other person’s backcourt. But when we comment, we often are, quote, over the debt. So one of the things that we stay and say, of course, is stay on your side of the debt. Well, what’s an example of that? So if you say, David, you just want to show how smart you are. You are doing it because you’re making up a story. There’s a story as to my mother’s. Now, if you stick with your reality, you might say. David, your answers tend to be too long. And I start to lose interest. Well, that’s your reality. I can’t say no, you don’t. Or I’m over your neck. I may say oh, I’m sorry. I don’t want to do that. And then we could get into joint problem-solving. What could I do? And I guess what you picked up in the meeting is people were starting to make up stories, making attributes about the other person’s motives and intentions. Yeah, you just want to have your own way. You just want to control the discussion. Yeah. And that creates defensiveness. And it’s also a low-impact statement because the other person has only to say, no, I don’t, and you’re nowhere. Right. But if you were to say it’s not true. So, David, would you keep on talking? I lose interest in this. Beautiful. I can’t say no. I can be bothered. I can be bothered most of it myself. But indisputable and therefore it’s very impactful.
Brilliant Miller [00:30:47] Yeah, I had a friend once who said he said, you know, any time I get in a fight with my girlfriend, she’ll always just say, well, that’s just how I feel. You know, I saw this tweet that said, how you know you’re going to lose an argument with your wife. Number one, you’re in an argument with your wife. But this idea. And this is there’s so much in this that I want to explore with you because you talk about so much. I love this idea that we can only know our side of the net. We can theoretically write in an ordinary state of consciousness. We can both see the words and actions of both parties.
David Bradford [00:31:26] Right.
Brilliant Miller [00:31:26] And we can know this is what this is. One of the things that is kind of amazing to me is that I happen to believe that we don’t even know our own motives. We might say or we might claim we have a motive, and I know that gets into some fuzzy space that’s maybe not necessarily useful or it’s a place for a therapist’s office. But at least knowing like, hey, I can know how I feel. I can know my motives, but I can’t for sure know how that person feels or I can’t know their motives. So there’s this back and forth, a give and take in any interaction with human beings. But then this thing about how there’s this amazing awareness, I think, required to be effective in staying on our side of the net, you know, in one regard. But part of what complicates that is, and I love the way you break this down that many people will maybe skillfully use. I feel, well I feel that, or I feel like. But there’s at least two things here I’d love to hear your view on. One is about the power and importance of emotions in human interaction or in human life. And then two is a way that we kind of unfairly or unwisely, unskillfully kind of explain how we feel sometimes.
David Bradford [00:32:41] Right. There are at least three major issues you covered.
Brilliant Miller [00:32:48] Okay.
David Bradford [00:32:49] So I want to take them apart, which they’re all really very important. You raised the first point. I want to go back to what we started with. You said, do we know our motives? Yeah, we kid ourselves, but the nice thing about this model, this way of interacting is it’s a process in which I can learn more about my importance. So let me go back to my example. Use it myself again. So, let’s say you were to say that to David. You know, you go on to learn. And what you might also say is it’s the way of our relationship. What is that for you, David? Well, that may get me to reflect. And it might be that I wasn’t aware of my motives. But you stopping me short may get me to reflect and I might say, well, you know. I guess when I think about it, I often don’t think that I’m listen to. So I guess I say things two or three times. Well, now I’m aware of a motive that I wasn’t before because of our interaction. Yeah. So there’s more open back and forth. Where you’re staying on your side of the net. And help me not only understand the impact of my behavior, but make it lead me to be mindful. Okay. So that’s that was an important point that I didn’t want to miss. So to go on to talk about emotions or do you want to follow up on that point?
Brilliant Miller [00:34:41] So I do want to follow up on that for a moment, because there’s also this thing right about, okay, well, that’s the impact of that human being. That’s how they feel. That’s their experience. But then there’s a point that’s like, well, screw them, or that’s just a sample of 1. 99 Other people don’t feel that way. So at what point and I don’t know that there’s an answer to this. But at what point are we true to ourselves, so to speak? And we continue in a course of behavior or action or whatever. Even knowing that it’s having an A make, a person is having an experience or it’s having the effect of something on another person.
David Bradford [00:35:19] Well, we see feedback as information, not as a requirement for change. So you give me feedback. I shouldn’t experience it as coercion. Yes, you may wish that I would change, but that choice is mine but if I don’t have that information, I don’t have a choice. That’s all.
Brilliant Miller [00:35:48] So feedback as information, not as a requirement for change.
David Bradford [00:35:51] That’s right.
Brilliant Miller [00:35:52] That’s great.
David Bradford [00:35:53] You may wish it. And you may be unhappy if I don’t. But it’s a choice of mine. Yeah, and my job isn’t to make everybody happy. My job is to also meet my needs. Also, there isn’t a perfect way for me to act with everybody, right? So this is a process in which I could learn to modify my behavior, while still being myself, because as complex human beings, we can be ourselves in acting somewhat different ways. So I act so differently to Eva than I do to Carol, both I’m close to, but I act differently thank goodness. And to the woman behind the clerk, behind the supermaket. So we modify our behavior all the time. So this means that in each relationship, if I want a relationship, then I need to take into account what works for you and works for me. Now, if I don’t want a relationship, some might say, well, yeah, but this is based on the notion that I don’t want a relationship with everybody. I mean, that’s too exhausting. Right. And I want different levels of relationships with different people. I certainly don’t want exceptional with everybody. I’d get a heart attack from the strength. Right. So I need some slight friends. I need some that are closer. I may need a tennis partner, but the tennis partner doesn’t have to be in either relationship. Yeah, so what? I need to figure out what relationship I want with this person and what they want with me. And this is a process of working out what works for both of us. All right. And so let me give a more specific example. One of my characteristics is I interrupt people. So I’ve really had to watch for myself not to interrupt you. I can do that. Now with Carol, my coauthor. I interrupt her all the time. She interrupts me all the time. Works fine. We see interrupting as a sign of engagement. I had a colleague some time ago, Daniel. Where I saw him frown and I said, Daniel, what’s going on? He said You interrupted me. I said, So. He said that’s inconsiderate. And I went, Wow. Now, is interrupting good or bad? An irrelevant question. Good with Carol doesn’t work with Daniel. And so what I said, using that three-part model, I said, first of all, I’m sorry. Not my intention, but clearly I’m doing something. Which I guess is interrupting and it’s having an impact and he said yeah, you know I think it’s inconsiderate. I said, I’m glad to hear that. I said, I’m going to work very hard not to interrupt you, but it’s going to take effort on my part. But I’m going to ask that you give me a little leeway because I know I’m going to fail sometimes. We said fine and we worked it out. So therefore I was able to modify my behavior. He to modify somewhat his so we could have a relationship. And that’s what it takes to build relationships that I’m aware of and that I have a choice. You know, there are other people who say, you know I don’t like when you interrupt. I say, I’m sorry. I’ll pay that cost. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [00:39:51] Yeah. And that’s so powerful. The awareness, the choice, the responsiveness or not. But that’s part of the choice. Right, and then going back to the thing about emotion also, and I know there might have been more to it than what I’m about to ask here, but I definitely want to follow up on this thing about when people assert that they’re having an experience or feeling an emotion. That’s maybe not really an emotion you talk about.
David Bradford [00:40:17] Yeah. In the English language, we use “I feel” two different ways, and they’re both legitimate, but they’re two different ways. One is an emotion. So right now I’m feeling quite excited about our conversation. I feel pleased with it. I’m enjoying it.
Brilliant Miller [00:40:37] Yeah, me too.
David Bradford [00:40:38] Good. Those are emotions. But we also used the word, I feel, to stand for cognition. I feel that this is a useful interview is a cognition and I feel good that I think is a useful interview, is a feeling with a cognition. So whenever you hear people say, I feel like, I feel as, you’re getting at a cognition. I feel that the media is going on too much, too long now. There are feelings behind it but they’re unstated. I feel that you just want to dominate is not an emotion. We can’t do that in the english language. We can’t say I feel that angry is just not good enough. So it’s interesting to listen to people because most of time when we say, I feel, you will get an emotion. Yeah. And so what I say to people is, “Okay, here’s what you’re thinking, but what are you feeling?” And now then the question is, why do I want to know? And why we stress feelings is two major reasons. Thoughts tell what is, feelings tell what’s important to me. Feelings, so what I tell you is what I’m excited about, bothered about, dismayed about, worried about, pleased about. You’re knowing David more. And if we don’t know how people feel, we don’t really know them. And one of the things we say in building relationships is, are you really sharing your emotions? Now the other reason why emotions are important is they give meaning to facts. So saying, David, you interrupt a lot, it’s a fact. Someone saying, David, you interrupt a lot, and I really like it changes the meaning from Daniel saying david, you interrupt a lot and I don’t like. So emotions give meaning to what’s going on. And if we just went around the world and just gave observations, we often didn’t want to say, Well, where do you stand with that? What does that mean to you? And what we’re asking is. How do you feel about it?
Brilliant Miller [00:43:28] Yeah, I think that’s actually really profound, too, to say that emotions give meaning. And I watched I think it was a talk maybe you and Carole gave at Google where she talked about treble and base. I thought that was cool. What is that? I’ve never heard this kind of analogy before but I think she had said that like if the facts are the treble and the emotions are the bass, but what does that really mean?
David Bradford [00:43:59] Well, if you’re listening to a symphony and you have a stereo receiver and you turn one off, that symphony is much less. Yeah. You’re not getting the richness of it. Yeah. That I want to hear. I want to hear facts. I just don’t want to hear feelings. I mean, that’s only half the music, right. So in a symphony, I want to hear bass and I want to hear treble. And then the symphony comes alive. And I think that if I could hear what’s going on for you, what’s going on in your life, and how you’re feeling about it. There’s that richness. That wouldn’t be there if I only heard one.
Brilliant Miller [00:44:47] Really appreciate that insight and I’d love if you talk about this because I know in a way, it probably brings the book full circle where you talk about exceptional relationships, you talk about self-disclosure, you know, allowing others to be known as a force. But you’ve chosen to end the book with the topic of fear. Why?
David Bradford [00:45:09] I think we control so much of us. And there are things, legitimate things to be afraid of, but I don’t want to discount that. But I think we put too much weight on what we think is the impending disaster. Gee, I’m afraid Sam won’t like me. Well, is the world going to come to an end? I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake. So we’re going to come during my world to come to an end. And I’m afraid that if make this comment to you, you’ll be upset. Well, you might be. But is that going to kill the relationship? Isn’t it as we could recover? And. I think that we’re more aware of acts of permission. But I think what we lose more are acts of omission, things we don’t know. And I would rather well. We put it this way. I have a colleague who said the only mistake you can make is to refuse to learn from your mistakes. I think the mistakes rarely are, and in the Situation, A, they could often be repaired. And if they can’t, maybe I could, you know, I think they learned from it. Certainly made it enough mistakes. And I think I do. I regret them. Yeah, some of them I’ve regretted. But also I say that’s like. Yeah. And I don’t want to walk around being afraid of doing things.
Brilliant Miller [00:47:24] Okay. Well, just a few more questions before we transition a few more questions about the book and some of its contents. One thing I thought was a really useful idea is this idea of a pinch. I wish that our society more broadly had that term as something, and then they could call it out when it happens and resolve it. But I’d never heard this before until I read your work. But will you tell me what is a pinch? And maybe how can we actually use it effectively to improve our experience and the quality of our relationships?
David Bradford [00:47:58] Well. A pinch is a pinch. That is I’m pinched. I’m not deeply hurt. It’s not a capital crime, but I feel pinched. So let’s say that. Do something. I go down and I make coffee and I make a little bit of a mess. You are going to feel pinched. She just cleaned up the kitchen and the cavalierly come down. It’s not an earth-shaking, relationship-ruining event. It’s a pinch. And I think that we are pinched somewhat frequently. Because as you said before, we’re all different. We all have our own style and we do things that we don’t realize may have pinched that one individual and it may not have pinched somebody else. So it’s a certain such idiosyncratic. Now, this is not to say that we ought to respond to all pinches. I mean, life is short and we let things roll up or back. The trouble is it may be more important than we think. Or it may happen again. And then it becomes a bigger pinch. And the danger is it becomes a crunch. And then it could become a major conflict. So let’s go back and talk about it. But this is for the two of us. Sometime ago. I actually was making coffee. And I left the spoon on the counter. And even said with some heat, why the hell don’t you clean up after yourself? I said. What’s that about? Because my first time she was saying, what’s the big deal about one spoon? Well, it wasn’t one spoon. It was a series of other little messes that she had let go by. That had now built up. And often when things become a crunch. It seems to be more than responding, more than the other person thinks is appropriate. Yeah, but because you’ve accumulated all this. So the question is. What pinches do I respond to that which don’t I? And I may not know ahead of time. But our tendency is to shove them aside. We don’t want to be seen as super sensitive. We don’t want to be a pain to the person and we let it go. And Carol actually developed that. She said one of the ways to test how important it is when you say to yourself, oh, it’s not worth it. You change the pronoun, you say, I’m not worth it. You’re not worth it. The relationship isn’t worth it. And then you may decide it is worth it. Or you may decide it’s not worth it. Yeah, but we need to watch our tendency to say, Oh, it’s just a pinch. And it may be more than that.
Brilliant Miller [00:51:45] Yeah, for sure. Again, this is one of those things that when I hear it, I think there’s potentially some really deep value right in this awareness and I once heard the spiritual teacher say, it’s never about what it’s about, that there’s the part of the profundity of this. If there is one, there is one. When we’re able to listen beyond the content of the message and hear that there’s an emotion behind it and then attend to the emotion. Now, we don’t always have to. As you said, I love feedback as information. It’s not a requirement. But when we’re aware that there are two levels of communication, there’s the content. Why do you leave the spoon on the counter? Then there’s the emotion behind that. That’s probably coming from a bigger reality of maybe not feeling appreciated or, you know, something else. And then we can explore that and then it opens up avenues that can really enhance the relationship if we’re willing to take that on or see it that way.
David Bradford [00:52:45] Right. And what happened with the interaction with me and even the spoon was so, you know, what’s going on and we’re supported, she said. You know, I don’t feel appreciated for all the cleaning I do. So it did stand for something more. It wasn’t a spoon and it wasn’t just this one incident. But was it that I was treating taking her for granted? And then once we saw that we couldn’t have a discussion of to what extent we do verbally appreciate the other, you know, and then we deepen the relationship. Now, now, sometimes a spoon is just a spoon. Right. You probably know the famous story of Sigmund Freud in the cigar area where he was giving a talk before the English Psychoanalytic Association. He pulled out a cigar and lifted the lid off one end and he lit the cigar and he said, Sometimes a cigar is just a good cigar and sometimes a spoon is just a spoon, you know. But it may not be. And that’s what we need to be aware of.
Brilliant Miller [00:54:01] Yeah. And the larger kind of model here of the pinch, the crunch, the major conflict. I think actually there’s some real value there, too, in being able to have that awareness, be able to evaluate the cost-benefit. You know, is it worth it, am I worth it, is my relationship worth it? And then to choose, you know, yeah, it is and so forth. And I love what you’ve broken down about, you know, the feedback sandwich it’s so often taught and how I think your take is it’s really kind of a crappy thing to do and I’d love to hear your take on that, but my dad wanted to share this. I think my dad, one of his ways of dealing with this was he would open some conversations with I’ve got a bone to pick with you. And that was the signal like, okay, this is a pinch. Maybe it’s a crunch, but if those were the words I knew it wasn’t a major conflict. It was like, okay, all right, bring it on. Let me hear it. You know? But I appreciated that. And it wasn’t this model of, well, let me tell you what you’re doing really well, and I’m going to give you something that’s really hard for you to hear, and then I’ll pat you on the back a little bit, the feedback sandwich. But when you talk about like what you know and I know many people listening to this, I think they do lead others. They’re in a workplace. There may be managers or whatever, and they’re looking for ways to be effective. They want to be liked, you know. But this feedback sandwich is maybe not the best way to go about addressing a concern you have or a desire you have related to someone’s behavior. Why do you say that and what do you recommend instead?
David Bradford [00:55:30] Well, for one thing, there’s research to show it’s ineffective. Nobody hears that first statement. As soon as you hear that, you’re waiting for the big “but”. So it’s not effective. What we also say is feedback is going to be more effective if you really want to help somebody. And my guess is your father wanted to help the relationship. His intention was not to make you feel miserable. But it was to improve something that was getting in the way. So his intentions were there. And what was good is that he cued you, this is what’s going on. And I think that it’s a great way to start. So I think at work I would go to somebody and say there’s something that’s going on that I’m bothered about or there’s something going on that’s hurting our relationship, or there’s something going on that I think is hurting you. So I think those would all be ways you’re cueing the other person that this is important. And I want to talk about it. It also assumes that the other person is an adult. And I think most people can handle things like that. Yeah. If somebody gets bothered by it I would want to say. Look, if I can’t say that, I can’t be helpful to you and I want to be able to. There’s another thing that’s wrong with the feedback sandwich and that is it delegitimizes positive feedback because we use a feedback sandwich to soften the other person up. Well, I think that’s insulting to the other person. One thing. But also, why do you need to be soft enough? Because I think you’re a healthy human being, right. And I’m not out to hurt you, I may be bothered about your behavior. Doesn’t mean I want to hurt you. And I think that we need to go around in organizations and give positive feedback that’s also behaviorally specific. Yeah. So we say to somebody, nice job will make them feel warm and fuzzy, but it’s useless. Right. What did they do that was a nice job. It ought to be behaviors specific. The report you gave at the meeting was really nice because it was succinct and you cut to the point. Yeah, it was really good because you answered the questions in a straightforward way. And if we went around in organizations just spontaneously giving positive feedback that’s behavior specific people would learn about themselves because we often don’t know the full positive impact of what we do. Yeah, but it would help relationships.
Brilliant Miller [00:58:41] Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. Well, thanks for that. That was an unexpected jump for me because honestly, I’ve had guests that will praise the feedback sandwich and give that like, here’s the new way to do it. But to me, it feels a bit manipulative you know.
David Bradford [00:58:59] But it is manipulative. Very manipulative.
Brilliant Miller [00:59:03] Well, we’ve covered a lot, and I know there’s so much more that we could talk about. But before we transition to the next part of the interview, let me ask you and I didn’t tell you this before we started recording, but the design of this is that there’s an Enlightening lightning round, which is a series of questions, on a variety of topics, not related to this necessarily. Then the last part is about writing and creativity. So I’d love to get into a little bit of that before we wrap. But knowing that that’s what’s left, maybe, I don’t know, half-hour or 45 minutes of that. What, if anything, related to this book or your work have we not talked about that you want to talk about or you think would be of benefit to the listener or the viewer?
David Bradford [00:59:46] Well, the thing I’d want to stress and we talked about it, but I want to raise it again. And that is the fact that just two things. So let me start again. There’s two things that I want to say. One is what we’re talking about, behavior. And often people say, well, that’s my personality. Well, I’m not going to get into what is personality because it’s really a complex topic, but we’re not trying to modify personality, that’s a therapist’s job if it’s even possible. We’re talking about behavior and behavior we have control of. So I can be shy. And that can be a pretty innate part of me. But I can go to Toastmasters and learn how to tell jokes. And I could learn to be sociable. So I could modify my behavior. So when somebody says, that’s my personality. I think the answer is to say no. What we’re talking about is your behavior and you have control over your behavior. People use that’s my personality as an excuse. And I don’t want people to get away with that. Related to that, and we’ve talked about before what I really want to stress. Is that everything is a choice. And when students say, I can’t. We say no, we’re choosing not to. So we say, technically, I can’t refers to a physical impossibility. So my office here is actually two stories above the street. I can jump out the window and escape unharmed. But most of the time we say, I can’t out of politeness. So if a person were to say to me, Jay, I’d like you, neighbor, to come over for dinner on Saturday. I’m likely to say, well, gee, that’s really very nice. We’d like to, I can’t because we have symphony tickets. Yeah, well, that’s not really accurate, right? Because if they were to say, if you don’t come, I’ll slash my wrists. I’d sell myself for them too. But it’s impolite for me to say. Gee, that’s really very nice. But I choose not to write because I’m 72. So at least when people, students say, I can’t really say no. You’re making a choice. That may be a choice you want to make. But, Owen, the fact that it’s a choice. Yeah. So we want people to essentially take responsibility for their behavior. And if we took responsibility for our behavior. I think, would feel much more empowered. So if you’re at work and your colleague is talking about difficulties with a boss and you say, have you talked with the boss? Oh, I can’t. I’d say you’re choosing not to. That may be a wise choice, but the choice and own the choice. And it might be even more accurate to say I choose not to yet. Because it holds a possibility of the future is different.
Brilliant Miller [01:03:43] Yeah. This one topic. It excites me. It challenges me so much and is one that I work with clients as I coach one on one or in groups as well and then as I live. And for me, that kind of I don’t know if it’s a corollary, but another version of this is need. Right? Like, I need you to get this report done by Friday. B.S. You want me to or whatever. But owning or just the demand get this report done by Friday, and there’s all the ways you could formulate it. And some of them are literally true and others are less true. It doesn’t refer to a physical impossibility. I love the way you say that with I can’t. But it is interesting to me how in my experience or my sense is that we hide behind language, the truth of our desire or our belief or whatever by saying, no, I can’t or I need or other formulations, it’s pretty, pretty remarkable.
David Bradford [01:04:44] Yeah. Yeah. They need some sort of like, I won’t survive. I may want it. Right. It may be important to me. But that’s where I’m coming from. Yeah. And you have a choice about how you respond.
Brilliant Miller [01:04:59] That’s right. Well, that’s the thing. And really having that awareness, I remember I led a letter program once, and I was training coaches and helping the coaches learn the value of helping their clients formulate outcomes. The whole basis of a coaching relationship is, what do you want? What are you trying to achieve? Right. And using the participants’ own real-life experiences to demonstrate this. And I remember this one woman we talked about her desire to earn a certain amount of money or her need to earn a certain amount of money. And if she didn’t, what would happen? And then what? And so forth. And it got to well, then I would have to be homeless. I would have to live in my car. And I can’t do that. And it was well, there’s many people doing it now. Like just like watching her. And I get she was in a group of people and maybe on the spot a little bit and so forth. But that one stayed with me in particular about her seeming inability or unwillingness at least to get something that wasn’t literally true. Right? But in her language, she was asserting it was true. And what I could see was that this was related to a whole belief system. Right that if she could see past the untruth of I can’t live in my car. What else would be available to her? You know, so anyway, I geek out. I totally, totally geek out on this because if spiritual work and I do tend to believe that coaching can be sometimes spiritual work, that this is what liberation looks like, at least in part. So anyway, thank you. Yeah, I’m nerding out on it.
David Bradford [01:06:43] No, it’s important. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [01:06:45] Okay. Well, of course. So I think those were the things you said. Is there anything more on that?
David Bradford [01:06:50] I think we could keep on talking, but we have other areas to go.
Brilliant Miller [01:06:55] That’s right. Other vistas to pursue. Okay. So again, moving to the Enlightening Lightning Round, a series of questions on a variety of topics and I’ll just check in with you, too. How are you doing?
David Bradford [01:07:13] All right.
Brilliant Miller [01:07:15] So question number one, please complete the following sentence with something other than a box of chocolates. Life is like a.
David Bradford [01:07:30] It’s like a mountain to climb.
Brilliant Miller [01:07:34] Okay. Question number two. What’s something about which you have changed your mind in recent years?
David Bradford [01:08:10] I think I have become more discouraged. I think I’ve become less optimistic about people’s willingness to change. Which is really discouraging to me. And what is particularly discouraging is I see people in the helping professions not willing to look at themselves.
Brilliant Miller [01:09:10] But I’m going to keep us moving. Question number three. Now, this one might be a stretch, but if you were required every day for the rest of your life to wear a T-shirt with a saying or a slogan or phrase or quote, or quip, what would the shirt say?
David Bradford [01:09:35] There is a saying by an early Rabbi, God does not expect us to be perfect. He only expects us to be fully human.
Brilliant Miller [01:09:58] I like that. I haven’t heard that before. That’s cool. Okay. Question number four, what book other than one of your own have you gifted or recommended most often?
David Bradford [01:10:29] I think Getting to Yes from the Harvard Group.
Brilliant Miller [01:10:37] Why that book?
David Bradford [01:10:40] Because I think they’ve done an excellent job. Of identifying. How conflict gets. Into a logjam and ways to undo the log jam. But how do people with what seems like basic differences, still find an area of common coming out? We could still have those differences, and I think that could apply to people who are pro and con on climate change. I think on guns. I think if we really gather what people’s needs are and went away from positions we could make a lot of progress.
Brilliant Miller [01:11:44] Agreed. And stayed on our side of the net in the process. That’s good. Yeah, for sure.
Brilliant Miller [01:11:51] Okay. Question number five. So this one deals with travel. I suspect you’ve had your share of travel in your life. What’s one travel hack meaning something you do when you travel or something you take with you to make your travel less painful or more enjoyable?
David Bradford [01:12:11] Oh, my wife makes a big difference because I not only see and do things, but I can share things that people are reading from it now by our conversation.
Brilliant Miller [01:12:31] Cool. That’s awesome. All right. Question number six. What’s one thing you’ve started or stopped doing in order to live or age well?
David Bradford [01:12:46] Well, I’m having trouble with my eyesight. I’m starting to lose my eyesight. I’ve had to do a series of giving up things. I can’t drive. I can’t read a newspaper. Fortunately, there’s all sorts of technology. But what I had to give up is a sense of the world’s coming to an end because I can do some things and be more sane. Yes, I miss those a lot. But I could adapt. And there can be a new way of being. So it changes forms of entertainment. So movies don’t work for me. But symphonies do. And so I search out new things. Some forms of travel will work some forms of travel won’t work. But rather than bemoaning it, saying, okay. That’s where I am now. What could I do?
Brilliant Miller [01:14:13] You know, hearing you say that, I recently heard this thing about knowledge is learning something every day, but wisdom is letting go of something every day.
David Bradford [01:14:24] Kind of makes me think about that. So, okay.
Brilliant Miller [01:14:28] Question number seven. What’s one thing you wish every American, every citizen of the United States, what’s one thing you wish they knew?
David Bradford [01:14:45] I wish they knew. I would be curious, particularly about differences. And not rush to judgment, but more ask the question. I don’t have to agree with you. But I really would like to understand you.
Brilliant Miller [01:15:10] Yeah, me too. It’d be a different country.
David Bradford [01:15:11] Yes. Yes.
Brilliant Miller [01:15:13] Question number eight. What’s the most important? This might be an unfair question for someone whose life’s work has been about relationships, but what’s the most important thing you’ve learned about making relationships work? The most important or useful thing you’ve learned about making relationships work?
David Bradford [01:15:46] Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff. Don’t take yourself or the situations too seriously. And I think if we did that, we would. Not be as up-ended, we would lean into situations more. So it’s all doable. Yeah, for sure.
Brilliant Miller [01:16:16] All right. And then question number nine. Aside from compound interest, what’s the most important or useful thing you’ve ever learned about money?
David Bradford [01:16:33] Once you have it, don’t be controlled by it. Don’t do things for money. Do things because you want to do things and the money will follow them. If you do what you’re interested in, the money will follow. Yeah, I believe that.
Brilliant Miller [01:17:07] I do believe that. Well, congratulations. You survived the enlightening lightning round and on the theme of money. One thing I’ve done as an attempt to express my gratitude to you for sharing so generously of your time and your insight and your experience. I have made a microloan through kiva.org, which I understand was started by some Stanford students, to a woman in Ecuador. She lives in Monterrey, Ecuador. Her name is Martha Cecilia and she makes a living as a mobile vendor of sheets and bread spreads. She has had this business for years, and she sells sheets and bedspreads to her neighbors and friends, and relatives. And so in this way, I’ve made a $100 microloan as part of a larger loan. I believe that she will improve the quality of life for herself and her family and people in her community in a way that we’ll never see. So hopefully this conversation will go out, and do good in the world in many ways.
David Bradford [01:18:05] Good. Well, thank you for doing that. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [01:18:10] Okay. Well, in the last part of the interview here, I just have a few questions for you about writing and creativity. Many people listening to this make people who listen, I think, have an aspiration or they’re involved in finishing their own books, in their own writing projects so they can take some inspiration and maybe some ideas from you. I understand you’ve published now eight books. So that, again, is not a dabbler, it’s a doer, which is pretty awesome. Let me start by just asking. When did you first know you were a writer and how did you know?
David Bradford [01:18:53] Well, my high school English teacher would say I wasn’t. So it was not an easy journey for me. I actually got some help, editorial help in my early writing, mostly articles. I didn’t start off saying I want to be a writer. I started off by saying there are things I want to write and therefore I had to be a writer. So there are things I want to say. There are things I want to convey to other people. So that was a driving force. Of. I don’t think I’m the best writer. In fact, Carol and I have very different writing styles in a way that was very helpful. But she says some of my writing is clunky and she helped to smooth it out. And I said, Some of your writing is repetitious and not organized. And I felt that. So. I think I’m now doing a nice book. The only book I will probably do by myself. Well, what I discovered is that I need to write with somebody else. You know I can get 80% by myself. But I need somebody else.
Brilliant Miller [01:20:32] Yeah, I think that’s pretty common whether or not people share credit on the cover. You know, having a co-writer or a, you know, we tend to think of writing as a solitary act. And in many ways it is, but almost always right. Like there is a team behind editors, whether that’s copywriters or structural editors or this kind of thing. But saying that you need someone else. What? To this point, what is your process? If you will walk me through the process of finishing a book from how do you settle on the idea? How do you research? How do you organize? How do you draft? How do you edit like just anything? How do you get a book done?
David Bradford [01:21:15] Well, as simple as it is, you start with an idea and a goal. But let me talk about how we did connect. I think that might be more useful. Okay. So I got a call from a publisher in Random House UK and he said I hear you teach a course called touchy feely. How would you like to do a book on that? and I said. Of all, Daniel, I will show all 600 copies of a book on what the course produces, which is strong, robust relationships. You said okay. So I was approached by a publisher, which is very fortunate that most of the time you have to go to public news. And so what I would say is you need to start with the idea and do the book you want and then find a publisher and you may have to self-publish. So in the search, I’ve been lucky in that people have by and large come to come to me, come to us. So I went to Carol and I said, We want to do this with me. And she said, Yes. And it took us four years in which we probably reorganized the book. We knew what to talk about. Want to talk about the results of this course? So that was clear. We probably reorganized the book four or five times. We probably rewrote every chapter at least ten times. Wow. So the process was, I tend to think relatively logically. So we’d sort of agree on what was the area of chapter three? And I would do an outline. And I would send the outline to Carroll. Carroll would add to the outline. Then I would do the first rap. Then she’d rewrite the first draft. And then I would rewrite the second draft. And then we go on to another chapter and we realize that part of it was an early chapter in a later chapter or this Chapter 11, we literally wrote chapters. Somebody once said, the book is only as good as what you have come out of. And our editor helped us cut even more out of it. And it’s hard when you love that concept or you love that idea that you have to cut it out. Yeah, I think so. As I read books. My general sense is should have been. We written one more time. People stop too early. Yeah. And they’re too much in a hurry. So of the other books, I’ve done with another coauthor, Alan. I drove him crazy, but I want to rewrite it. And the agreement was that as long as they had new ideas, you go along with it. Grumbling a bit. But he’d go along with it. But it was just rewriting for the sake of rewriting. No, that wasn’t the general. And I think the books that have done best are those that we stuck with it. So I think that it’s a hard process. And too many people just turn it out and don’t go back.
Brilliant Miller [01:25:07] Well, then it’s easier than ever before when you know, the laptop in front of us is professional quality hardware and software, and then anyone can send that out into the world, you know, without an editor or with an editor and not a lot of care or effort or whatever. So and at the same time, it’s amazing to me that books are still, I think, very, very special things. And publishing a book is up there for many people, including me, with any of life’s major accomplishments, you know, building a company or running a marathon or getting a college degree or whatever. So it’s it’s no small feat.
David Bradford [01:25:49] For sure. But I think the other thing is. Most books I read could be half the size. One of the complaints we’ve heard about Connect, so people say this isn’t hard to read, but there’s a lot of material in there. And I think we could have sold more copies if we would have simplified. But our commitment was not to simplify. We wanted to make it clearer. We wanted to make it easy to understand. We want it simple.
Brilliant Miller [01:26:32] Yeah, well, and that point too. I like that saying about a book being only as good as what was taken out of it or left out of it. One question that I’d love to get your take on is about when an editor or a co-writer, a collaborator, suggests, Hey, let’s all meet this, you know, or this portion of a chapter, this whole chapter or whatever. How do you balance that with your own inner voice or your own sense? How do you know when to trust someone else’s judgment versus like go with your own instinct or your own opinion?
David Bradford [01:27:07] Well, first of all, I need to ask, is my resistance because I’m in love with it. I’m in love with my words. That’s the first thing I need to ask myself. And there may be that part that was such a nice way to phrase it. Oh, gee, I feel so proud of that idea. And I think the news and this has happened is when Carol or Alan or other people showed up, as I want to say, why? Mm. You make a case for it and let me try to understand and not immediately resist. But why isn’t this important? And why isn’t this crucial? And. And when. And by the way. I don’t. I think you also have to ask the question in my writing a book. So it’ll be popular. What would you want to write? We want to write a book that will last. We think this book is going to last many, many years. You know, in the field, it’s called. Does it have legs? I think this has like. That’s very different than is this going to be a flash in the pan that will sell very, very well for two years and then be on the rendering table from then on. Yeah. So what? What would you want? Right. Yeah. And if you want to write that sort of book, then somebody wants to cut things out. Ask yourself the question. Does that meet the goal that I want? And remember, it’s your book. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [01:28:54] Yeah, I like that. And I like what you said just a few minutes ago about you start you know, you start your books with an idea and a goal or goals. And I would imagine if you’re clear about your goals and you’re truly committed to them, that that would inform the decisions on hey this belongs here or this is essential. Yeah, I could. I could jettison that. So when you talk about I love that what you said with your agreement with Alan that if you have a new idea that you’ll include that or you’ll keep going on the development of the book or whatever. But when you talk a little bit about how do you. So first of all, how do you find someone that you’re willing to engage in a multi in some cases a multi-year project with, you know, something as difficult, something as arduous, something that can be ambiguous. So like, how do you find how do you know when this is a person that you want to attach to or commit to in that way? And then how do you formulate the kind of agreements and the working relationship that actually works for you both, assuming it does?
David Bradford [01:29:55] Yeah. Well I had done well and Carol and I were colleagues for 17 years before we started the book. Where I had done other projects where we had taught together. We had done workshops together. Of. And when I got the call on this book and thought of who I wanted to write it with, there was another colleague who had wanted to do something with me and he was really upset that I didn’t ask him. And I told him why that I felt. I thought that his style was not one that I could work well with him. So I was very specific. So so I think that’s part of it. The other thing is, is the fulcrum in the process of doing it. It’s useful to talk about. The vision each person has. What do you want this to be? What do you want this to look like? And also to talk about. The different styles you have and. No. And are they complementary? So, for example, he said, once I get the idea down, I start to lose. Interested. Hmm. And I say once the ideas are down, we just are just beginning to work. Yeah. Because I really want to tease out what the parts are. And each of us valued what the other brought. They’re, as I said, a complementary style with Carol and myself. So. So I think you have to talk you have to get an agreement about what it is you want, where you want to go, and what each person brings.
Brilliant Miller [01:32:05] That makes sense when it comes to the work of actually creating the book. And this is one of the challenges that anyone who wants to do this inevitably runs into is actually facing about 168 hours in a week. This is where I’m going to not do other things I could do. And I’m going to do this thing and I’m going to push past any resistance or whatever self-doubt or whatever shows up. So my question for you with that is in the context is when you’re writing a book, what habits and routines do you follow? Which ones support you in actually publishing?
David Bradford [01:32:47] Well, different people have different styles. I find. That. If I’m working on something. And. It’s hard going. That’s a sign I should stop working. I think that. Most of our thinking is pre-conscious. The number of times I’ve tried to write something and I’ve walked away from it. And I like to garden, so I may do some gardening or I may do another project. And then I come back to it. And all of a sudden it’s clear. Many people report, Oh, it’s in the shower. That starts to become understandable. Yeah, I think when I’m. Working on something. I’m always working on it. Hmm. But I may not know that I’m working on it. Now. One of the things to keep in mind. Is that if you have a partner? This impacts the partner. Oh, I remember when I was doing my doctoral thesis in, I was struggling with something. I was freshly married. And I said, let’s go and get a hamburger. And we went out. And got a hamburger. And I think during the whole dinner I didn’t say anything and even said, this is the best dinner I had by myself. I wasn’t there. And there was a point in one of the books with Alan. That even got. Tell us. Because she said it’s like you’re having an affair with him. But you’re more committed to the book. And then you have to find time to spend time with other activities that are important too. But when it’s when you’re into a book, at least I find it all gross. You know, I may not be writing much. What I’m working on. And I remember times when literally we would go to the symphony and during intermission, I’d say, Would you have a pencil? Do you have a pen? And I’d be taking notes because something would come to me. And it is. It’s all engrossing. If you’re really into it. Yeah. So this is for me?
Brilliant Miller [01:36:12] Yeah. How do you deal with that, then? How do you make time and assume you do for these other things, for family, for health, for your own, you know, personal well-being, and so forth? How do you do that when you find, Because it sounds to me like you’re writing. I don’t know, I didn’t use this word, but it sounds to me like a vocation like this is your maybe even your Dharma. Like, this is right on for you, and you allow yourself to be kind of sucked in maybe. But how do you put these other guardrails, so to speak, in place and keep yourself grounded or healthy or whatever you would say?
David Bradford [01:36:43] Well, that’s what I would say we were using before she would say, you know. There wasn’t enough time for us. Or are you really taking care of yourself? It’s all engrossing mistress. And that’s for me part of the fun because I love to figure out things. That’s where I get most of my enjoyment. And so my trying something been there and my trying to crack that nut figured out what’s the best way to come at this, what am I really trying to say? Is all engrossing and all satisfying. But I do need it. I do need brakes. And they really ought to be brakes and not just when I’m still working on it.
Brilliant Miller [01:37:49] That makes sense. What’s your next book about? If I may ask?
David Bradford [01:37:54] Well, it’s back to this course? Well, there are actually two books. But when I was thinking of. Running these groups. Requires a different set of teaching skills and any other course. And I want to write up my theory of how you do that. So there’s not going to be a big market, but this is something I’m doing for myself. Cool. The other book of doing whatever. Wow. And. And we’re waiting up for her family. Her parents escaped from Czechoslovakia in 39 after the Nazis marched in. Wow. And then went back after the war to see if any of the relatives had survived. And got caught in a communist coup. And had to escape again. Holy cow. And. But it’s really a story of autos being able to do all that. And I want to honor him. And after that he went through, so that’s cool. Yeah. And again. It may never be published. I want the family to know it. Yeah, but I think we write for different reasons.
Brilliant Miller [01:39:33] Yeah, absolutely.
David Bradford [01:39:34] And I don’t write for money. I write because there’s things I want to say.
Brilliant Miller [01:39:39] That’s cool. Well, what advice or encouragement? I know from reading connect that you’re not necessarily big on advice. So feel free to frame this however you would. But what would you say to people listening who are either harboring the dream of writing and publishing their own book or they’re in the middle of this process, but they’re not yet across the finish line? What do you say to someone to help? Either keep them going, do it more efficiently or more enjoyably? What do you say to somebody in one of those situations?
David Bradford [01:40:13] Well, I think everybody has a book within them. And I think you have to ask yourself. Do I want to do it? I don’t think the world needs all the books that are published. So certainly publishers, that’s the first question. Do you really want to do this? Is this important to you? And if so, are you willing to be committed to it? In a certain sense, it’s like a relationship. It’s a temporary war. If you’re going to be in a relationship, an intimate relationship, to be committed to it. I think to those who are into it is to say this is hard work. Of stick with it. And. Don’t rush or so. And if you have put this much time into it. I hope you’re really committed to this being a really good book because I think most books are not as good as they should be.
Brilliant Miller [01:41:40] Yeah. I’m with you and hearing what you shared about thinking, you know, everybody’s got a book or maybe more. I asked a publisher once, I said, do you think it’s really true that everyone has at least one book in them? And she said, Unfortunately. I laughed about that. Well, David, this has been a pleasure. I’m so grateful. I’m grateful that you’ve published Connect. I’m grateful that you were willing to spend this time this afternoon talking with me. I’m grateful to know that you’re doing this work. I can only imagine the impact it’s made in the lives of many people and not just anybody, but leaders coming out of Stanford Business School. I’m I’m glad to know this isn’t all just maximize shareholder value. And, you know, like all of this, it’s it gives me hope.
David Bradford [01:42:31] Good. Good to know. And our students are good students. And many of them also want to change the world. Yeah. And not just fill their pocketbooks. Well, thank you. I’ve enjoyed it too. Yeah, and good.
Brilliant Miller [01:42:49] For anyone listening. Of course, they’ll have been able to find things online or in their podcast player on YouTube related to this. But again, David Bradford, coauthor of Connects Building Exceptional Relationships with Family, Friends, and Colleagues, Co-authored with Carol Robin. You can learn more about this book and David’s work at Connect and Relate dot com. And with that, David, any final thought as we sign off here?
David Bradford [01:43:16] No, this has been good and best wishes to everybody. And may you have a life that you want to build.
Brilliant Miller [01:43:27] Okay. Well, until next time, we’ll say thank you. And that’s a wrap.
David Bradford [01:43:33] All right. Good. That was fun.