Radical Candor Podcast with Jeff Wetzler

Radical Candor “Asks” Jeff Wetzler: The Foundational Skill of Asking Questions 6 | 26

On this episode of the Radical Candor podcast, Kim Scott sits down with Jeff Wetzler, author of Ask: Tap Into the Hidden Wisdom of People Around You for Unexpected Breakthroughs in Leadership and Life. Recorded live, the conversation explores the fundamental skill of asking questions to solicit feedback and create a culture of Radical Candor.

Listen to the episode:

Episode at a Glance

Jeff Wetzler takes listeners through the journey of asking impactful questions to achieve unexpected leadership breakthroughs. Learn practical strategies for soliciting feedback and fostering an environment of transparency and trust.

This episode is packed with insights for anyone looking to enhance their communication skills and build better relationships at work. Jeff shares insights from his book, discussing the importance of tapping into the knowledge and perspectives of those around us.

Jeff and Kim delve into the five practices of “The Ask Approach” and reflect on audience questions, offering valuable takeaways for leaders and individuals alike.

Tune in to learn how to transform your communication and leadership through the power of asking questions. 

The TLDR Radical Candor Podcast Transcript

[00:00:00] Amy Sandler: Hi, it’s Amy Sandler and we’re thrilled to share a conversation that Kim had with Jeff Wetzler. Jeff’s the author of Ask: Tap Into the Hidden Wisdom of People Around You for Unexpected Breakthroughs in Leadership and Life. This one was recorded live so you’ll hear Kim and Jeff reflect on some questions from the audience as well.

[00:00:21] I love questions. So this one’s a favorite for me. And in fact, asking questions is the foundational skill of practicing Radical Candor. In other words, soliciting feedback. Also, if you’re looking for a little Easter egg in this conversation, Kim shares a story when she refers to a colleague of hers who gave her some feedback.

[00:00:45] Spoiler alert, that colleague was me. If you like these live conversations, you can find them with accompanying videos on our YouTube channel under the live tab. You can listen to the podcast on YouTube as well. 

[00:01:01] Kim Scott: I am excited to introduce Jeff Wetzler, who is the author of a wonderful book and, uh, a book I love and a book that is very important. Uh, if you are trying to create a culture of Radical Candor, you need to learn how to ask for feedback and for just to ask in general. So, Jeff, talk a little bit more about your book, Ask, and then we can, I’ll ask you some questions and you can ask me some questions. 

[00:01:30] Jeff Wetzler: Love it. Thank you for having me, Kim. It’s great to be with you. Um, the premise of the book Ask is that the people around us in our lives, whether that’s our coworkers, our managers, the people we manage, clients, investors, friends, whoever it is, they are filled with ideas and insights and perspectives, even feedback for us. That is not always coming to us directly. 

[00:01:51] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:01:51] Jeff Wetzler: Um, they are not necessarily exhibiting candor, uh, in how they treat us. And, uh, but if we could actually tap into what they knew, um, we would be better off together. 

[00:02:01] Kim Scott: Yes. 

[00:02:01] Jeff Wetzler: We would make better decisions together. We would save a lot of time together. We would have closer relationships. We would even probably innovate better because new ideas would pop out of that, but just too often it doesn’t. 

[00:02:12] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:02:12] Jeff Wetzler: And so the starting point of the book is what’s going on here? 

[00:02:15] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:02:16] Jeff Wetzler: What are the biggest things that people are not telling us?

[00:02:18] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:02:18] Jeff Wetzler: Um, and I bring out my, you know, I bring out research around what are the top things that stay stuck in people’s heads and why. 

[00:02:24] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:02:24] Jeff Wetzler: Um, and then the book says, what can we do about that? 

[00:02:26] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:02:26] Jeff Wetzler: Um, and that’s really the heart of the book, which is the ask approach, which is five practices that truly help us tap into what those around us think, feel, and know, so that we can get better results, better relationships, better learning. 

[00:02:39] Kim Scott: I love that. I mean, I think one of the superpowers that people most often long for is the desire to be able to read other people’s minds. And your book gives them that superpower. 

[00:02:50] Jeff Wetzler: What’s so interesting is that, um, the book starts by citing a Gallup poll asking Americans, what do they wish was their top superpower? 

[00:02:58] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:02:59] Jeff Wetzler: Um, and the two top ones were time travel and the ability to read other people’s minds. 

[00:03:04] Kim Scott: Yeah, Yeah. Absolutely. 

[00:03:05] Jeff Wetzler: Um, but we are so bad at it and it turns out that all the conventional suggestions for how to do that, like read their body language, put yourself in their shoes, none of it works.

[00:03:14] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:03:14] Jeff Wetzler: There’s literally only one thing that research shows works to read other people’s minds, which is to ask them. 

[00:03:19] Kim Scott: Yes, and listen to what they say, not imagine. It’s so interesting, there’s a lot of research coming out of the University of Chicago, and probably other places as well. That shows that we misinterpret each other’s facial expressions, and there’s more noise than signal there. But we imagine that we know what, we know that we don’t know what other people think. And yet, then we imagine we do know at the same time. 

[00:03:45] Jeff Wetzler: And those facial expressions and what we read in them aren’t totally useless. 

[00:03:49] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:03:49] Jeff Wetzler: Those can be cues for us to get curious about what may be going on, cues for us to actually ask.

[00:03:54] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:03:54] Jeff Wetzler: So they have value. It’s just that we have to, we can’t just assume that how we read them is what’s truly going on for someone, ’cause you don’t know.. 

[00:04:00] Kim Scott: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that’s, uh, I got some feedback from, uh, from someone I work with at Radical Candor recently where I was making that mistake. I was looking at their facial expression and I said, it looks like you disagree. And she said, no, I don’t disagree. And she explained to me what, and then I did it again. And I realized rather than making an assertion, it looks like you disagree. I should say, what are you thinking? 

[00:04:31] Jeff Wetzler: Yes. What’s your reaction to what I just said? 

[00:04:34] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:04:34] Jeff Wetzler: And what was so interesting about that example is, you know, you did at least one step better than what many of us do, which is by saying it, it looks like you disagree, you gave her the chance to at least correct you. 

[00:04:46] Kim Scott: Yeah, yeah. 

[00:04:46] Jeff Wetzler: Many of us just say, look in our heads, it looks like they disagree. Let me double down on my argument to convince them 

[00:04:51] Kim Scott: Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. 

[00:04:51] Jeff Wetzler: Or those kinds of things without even naming what we’re seeing. 

[00:04:54] Kim Scott: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Um, well, so one of the things that we were chatting about before is what happens when we don’t ask?

[00:05:08] Jeff Wetzler: Yes. 

[00:05:08] Kim Scott: Uh, very often it’s like some form of ruinous empathy. So talk, what I call ruinous empathy anyway. So talk a little bit more about that. 

[00:05:16] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah. So in, you know, in my research for the book, I really dug into this question of why is it that people don’t tell us what they really think, feel, know? Especially if it would help us both. And I’ll tell you, as an operating leader, I have had many situations where I have learned something way too late. Near, you know, near catastrophe, and my team knew it. And I had even been saying to them, you know, how’s it going? How can I help? And you know, I was getting back like, yeah, pretty good. We have a few bumps, but we got it covered.

[00:05:45] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:05:45] Jeff Wetzler: And um, and they could have told me, and I’m thinking to myself, why did they not tell me? 

[00:05:50] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:05:50] Jeff Wetzler: Um, and so that in many ways was the curiosity on my part that is animating a lot of this book. And several big reasons came out. Um, one of the big reasons, you know, and the top reason, is fear of the impact of what you know of, 

[00:06:02] Kim Scott: Yeah, fear of retribution.

[00:06:04] Jeff Wetzler: Fear, you know, fear that it could, I, it could piss me off. 

[00:06:07] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:06:07] Jeff Wetzler: It could make me get back at them. It could make them look stupid. 

[00:06:09] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:06:09] Jeff Wetzler: It could put tension into our relationship. Like any dimension of the fear of the impact. 

[00:06:13] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:06:13] Jeff Wetzler: A huge piece of this. As it just says, one interesting example of that in research for the book, I came across this study that showed that between sixty and eighty percent of Americans, depending on the demographics, withhold things about their own health from their doctor. They literally don’t tell their own doctor something important about their own health. 

[00:06:31] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:06:31] Jeff Wetzler: And so the doctor’s not finding out. 

[00:06:33] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:06:33] Jeff Wetzler: And when they ask the Americans, why are you not telling this to your doctor? It was, I don’t want to be embarrassed. I don’t want to burden them. I don’t want to waste it, all of this is the fear. So that, yeah, that’s one really important one. 

[00:06:44] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:06:44] Jeff Wetzler: Um, a second one that, that came out, is that people just, um, don’t have the words. You know, they may want to say it, but they don’t know how to take what they may be feeling in their body or in their gut and actually put it into words. And sometimes it’s a math problem, which was really interesting because I’ve, there was this neuroscience study that showed that, um, people can think at nine hundred words per minute. Um, but the mouth can only get out a hundred and twenty-five words per minute. And so that means, 

[00:07:10] Kim Scott: That’s frustrating.

[00:07:11] Jeff Wetzler: It’s frustrating. And anytime I’m talking to someone, I’m hearing less than fifteen percent of what they’re really thinking, not because they’re holding back on purpose. The math just doesn’t work. 

[00:07:19] Kim Scott: Yeah, yeah.

[00:07:19] Jeff Wetzler: That’s been really interesting too. And then one other one that, you know, I think it’s quite actionable is that people don’t tell us what they really think because they don’t realize we want to know. 

[00:07:28] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:07:28] Jeff Wetzler: They don’t think we care. And if they don’t think we care, like why bother? We’re busy and all those kinds of. 

[00:07:32] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:07:33] Jeff Wetzler: So it’s almost like overdetermined that people are not going to tell us these things. That they’re going to treat us, you know, with ruinous empathy.

[00:07:40] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:07:40] Jeff Wetzler: And I’m curious about this question of how are we complicit in that? Like if I’m not getting this from my team or from someone around me or my investor or my board member. What’s my own complicitness? How am I contributing to the ruinous empathy? I’m curious, you know, what is your, what are your thoughts on that?

[00:07:54] Kim Scott: I think you’re not asking for that. 

[00:07:56] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah. 

[00:07:56] Kim Scott: I mean, nobody in your, I always joke, nobody in your life wants to give you feedback unless you have teenage children. They really want to give you feedback. 

[00:08:04] Jeff Wetzler: Yes, you do. And I have two teenagers. 

[00:08:05] Kim Scott: Yeah, me too. I’m getting a lot of it in my house. But I love it, you know, uh, and in fact, I asked them for more, 

[00:08:14] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah. 

[00:08:14] Kim Scott: Uh, thanks to your book. Why don’t we ask? I think that’s the question. Because we do think we want to know, but we don’t ask. And I think part of it is just that it is awkward. There’s like a social awkwardness. So let’s imagine that you want me to give you an orange. And I am not intending to give you an orange. But I don’t want to tell you that because it feels kind of mean.

[00:08:43] Uh, and you don’t want to ask me, Kim, will you commit to giving me an orange by June first? Because if you asked it to me just that bluntly, then I would say no, I’m not going to have an orange to give you on June first. But if we, but you don’t want to, you know, I don’t want to disappoint you. You don’t want to put me in an awkward situation. And so we both leave that conversation thinking what we want to think and not what’s really going to happen. So you think you’re going to get the orange and I think I’m not going to give you the orange and I think you know that. 

[00:09:21] And so being, you being willing to ask that commitment conversation, Kim, can you commit to giving me an orange on June first, is how you’re going to get the answer when you still have time to do something about the fact that I’m not going to deliver you this orange.

[00:09:37] Jeff Wetzler: Yes. And now let’s substitute the orange for, are you going to give me a promotion? 

[00:09:42] Kim Scott: Yes. Yes. 

[00:09:42] Jeff Wetzler: Or you gimme a raise. 

[00:09:44] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:09:44] Jeff Wetzler: Or different things like that. 

[00:09:45] Kim Scott: Yeah. Or you’re, 

[00:09:46] Jeff Wetzler: Or are you gonna gimme a positive review. 

[00:09:47] Kim Scott: Yeah. Or are you gonna deliver that report on time? 

[00:09:50] Jeff Wetzler: Yes. 

[00:09:50] Kim Scott: I mean, I found this as a manager all the time. I would say, oh, we need this, such and such. And people working for me would say, yeah, we need it. But they didn’t say, yes, I’m gonna deliver it to you. 

[00:10:04] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah. 

[00:10:04] Kim Scott: But I heard, you know, so I had to learn that that was my fault as the leader. I had to ask for that commitment. 

[00:10:12] Jeff Wetzler: Yes.

[00:10:12] Kim Scott: Do you commit to getting me this report by June first? 

[00:10:15] Jeff Wetzler: And the ambiguity. 

[00:10:16] Kim Scott: And then I would learn. Yeah. 

[00:10:18] Jeff Wetzler: Right. When we don’t do that, we leave that ambiguity. It can even just sound like, hey, yeah, we really should get back to that client by Tuesday. But that no one’s saying, and I’ll do it. 

[00:10:25] Kim Scott: Yeah, yeah.

[00:10:26] Jeff Wetzler: And I’ll, you know, so, you know, I totally agree. I think that’s one reason why we don’t ask. And there, you know, there’s some really interesting research that people over tribute the sensitivity on the other person of being asked a question, like, I’m gonna hold back because I don’t want to put you in that awkward position, or you might not want to be asked for that level of specificity of government. 

[00:10:47] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:10:47] Jeff Wetzler: Or you might not want to be asked why you do something that way, but when the person being asked is, you know, the researchers said, they actually said, we actually want to be asked that question.

[00:10:57] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:10:58] Jeff Wetzler: And so, 

[00:10:59] Kim Scott: Yeah, because I’m going to be mad at you if you don’t give me the report, even though I didn’t ask you for a commitment, you know, and that’s totally unfair to you. 

[00:11:06] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah, totally. I think there’s another reason why we don’t ask as well. 

[00:11:11] Kim Scott: Okay. 

[00:11:11] Jeff Wetzler: Which is we don’t, in many cases, we don’t even realize there’s something to ask about because we’re not curious.

[00:11:18] Kim Scott: Yes. 

[00:11:19] Jeff Wetzler: The way that we see the world, we think it’s just reality, you know. Of course it’s obvious she knows that it’s going to be on her to give me the orange or to do that kind of thing. 

[00:11:27] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:11:27] Jeff Wetzler: Or of course, you know, I’m right. Or of course this is how things work. And we get stuck in these mental loops. I call it in the book, the certainty loop. 

[00:11:34] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:11:34] Jeff Wetzler: Where basically the way that we, all the assumptions we bring to the situation, colour how we look at the situation, we reach conclusions that just reinforce our assumptions. 

[00:11:42] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:11:42] Jeff Wetzler: And we walk around in the world kind of just certain about how it goes and how it is. And that kills curiosity. 

[00:11:48] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:11:48] Jeff Wetzler: And so when we have that level of certainty, there’s nothing to ask a question about in the first place. 

[00:11:54] Kim Scott: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, anytime something seems obvious to you, 

[00:11:59] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah.

[00:11:59] Kim Scott: It’s a war, it’s warning bells should be going off, uh, in your head. Because what’s obvious to you is often not obvious to someone else. 

[00:12:09] Jeff Wetzler: Yes.

[00:12:09] Kim Scott: Uh, in fact, the most, one of the more painful examples of this is the Challenger launch decision where it was the O ring that failed. And the engineer who designed the O ring went home to his wife and said, we decided to kill seven astronauts today. And he was interviewed later and he said, anyone with a moniker of common sense knows that rubber doesn’t work worth a damn at freezing temperatures. But of course people didn’t know that. If they had, they wouldn’t have decided to launch. And so asking, if he could have asked, do you know that rubber doesn’t work at freezing temperatures? 

[00:12:49] Jeff Wetzler: Yes. 

[00:12:49] Kim Scott: Then, uh, then if people had said no, the decision not to launch would have been much more obvious, right?

[00:12:56] Jeff Wetzler: I totally.

[00:12:57] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:12:58] Jeff Wetzler: I totally, they were stuck in their certainty that it’s going to work, um.

[00:13:01] Kim Scott: Yeah, yeah. 

[00:13:01] Jeff Wetzler: One other reason I have found that people don’t ask enough is that our repertoire of questions is too narrow. We have a go to question, which is good. Um, sometimes we have questions that are not really questions. 

[00:13:14] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:13:14] Jeff Wetzler: They’re more like statements disguised as questions. 

[00:13:16] Kim Scott: Yes.

[00:13:16] Jeff Wetzler: But there’s a whole taxonomy of different kinds of questions that we can use for different situations. Just the same way I think a surgeon might think like, I’ve got my scalpel and all my other tools. 

[00:13:26] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:13:26] Jeff Wetzler: Depending on what I need to do. I’ve got different tools. That’s how questions are too. 

[00:13:29] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:13:29] Jeff Wetzler: Um, there’s, you know, there’s a dozen different strategies that we can use and no one in life and in school sits us down and says, well, if you’re actually want to learn this, here’s the question to ask. If you want to learn this, here’s the question to ask. Once we start to broaden our repertoire, all of a sudden we’re able to ask, um, far richer questions and learn far more.

[00:13:46] Kim Scott: So what are some good examples from your perspective on good, if you want to get someone’s feedback? 

[00:13:51] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah.

[00:13:51] Kim Scott: What are some good, because one of the things I say in Radical Candor is one of the first things you need to do is develop a good go to question for soliciting feedback. 

[00:14:01] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah. 

[00:14:02] Kim Scott: But I’m, you know, there’s no one right way. If I tell you what my question is, that doesn’t mean it’s a good question for you. ‘Cause if you sound like Kim Scott and not like Jeff Wetzler, then people won’t believe you want the answer. So what are some good ways to think about how to ask for feedback.

[00:14:20] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah, the only thing I think that is true of every, makes a good question, my, in my definition of a quality question, is a question that helps you learn what’s important from someone else. 

[00:14:29] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:14:30] Jeff Wetzler: And here’s, I’ll just give you one or two examples of quality question strategies. One of the most overlooked quality question strategies is what I call request reactions. And so that is when I’m giving someone direction or explaining something or giving guidance, um, once I’m done, I just ask a question after that. So what’s your reaction to that? 

[00:14:48] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:14:48] Jeff Wetzler: How did that land with you? How does that strike you? What, you know, what does that make you think? What might I be overlooking? Any number of those, you know, phrases is an example of the strategy of request reactions. And I think far too often, we assume that once we give someone input or guidance, if they disagree, they’re going to tell us. But for all kinds of reasons, including the fact that you may not feel safe doing that, they don’t.

[00:15:09] I had, I’ll tell you one short story. I had a, when I was a new manager and someone had just taught me this question, I was thinking, well, I’ll let me try out what I was just trained on. So I was working with one of my direct reports. I just given him a bunch of guidance and input and direction. I thought we were good. And then I said, all right, let me just try out this question. So I said, um, what’s your reaction to what I just said? And he paused for a minute and he said, I mean, honestly, if you really want to know, it’s totally demoralizing to me. 

[00:15:34] Kim Scott: Wow. 

[00:15:34] Jeff Wetzler: I do not think this is the direction we should go in. 

[00:15:36] Kim Scott: Wow. 

[00:15:36] Jeff Wetzler: And had I not asked him that question, I would have walked away thinking, we’re good. And he would have walked away thinking, you know, Jeff is totally out to lunch. 

[00:15:44] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:15:44] Jeff Wetzler: And by him telling me that, and then I can say, well, how come? And then we unpacked it. And what we discovered is that we each just had different information and assumptions that we were working on about what needed to happen in the project. 

[00:15:53] Kim Scott: Yeah, yeah.

[00:15:54] Jeff Wetzler: We could clear those up and then it was good. Um, and it, you know, think. It just saved us weeks and weeks of time that we would have, you know, diverged. 

[00:16:00] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:16:00] Jeff Wetzler: So, that’s one example of, you know, of a quality question strategy. 

[00:16:03] Kim Scott: That’s such a great example. You know, what I, it reminds, I got some feedback at one point. So, I tended to say, say, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I give somebody direction or whatever. And then I’d say, does that make sense? 

[00:16:16] Jeff Wetzler: Right. 

[00:16:17] Kim Scott: And people are like, that’s a terrible question because it sounds like you’re asking me if I, you know, if I understood. 

[00:16:26] Jeff Wetzler: If I’m smart enough to have made sense of what you just said.

[00:16:29] Kim Scott: Yeah, yeah, yeah.Exactly. 

[00:16:29] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah. 

[00:16:29] Kim Scott: And so what’s your reaction is a much better way to , ask that question. 

[00:16:35] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah. 

[00:16:35] Kim Scott: You know, there’s something that Jim Morgan, who was for many years, the CEO of Applied Materials, uh, said. Uh, he said, let me see, I’m going to get it wrong. So correct me if I do. He said, good news is no news, no news is bad news. And bad news is good news. The point here is that if somebody tells you bad news, that’s actually good news. 

[00:17:02] Jeff Wetzler: Yes. 

[00:17:03] Kim Scott: You know, and being, learning how to respond to bad news or to criticism with some excitement that you’re learning what they think, I think, is a good way to prompt yourself to ask. Whereas if somebody comes and gives you good news, you need to realize that you haven’t learned anything.That’s just sort of the fog of flattery coming at you. 

[00:17:28] Jeff Wetzler: One of the things that I learned in my, you know, in my first job, which was in management consulting, a place called monitor group, is to explicitly invite critical feedback. 

[00:17:38] Kim Scott: Yes. 

[00:17:39] Jeff Wetzler: Um, so if someone says, I think you did a great job. Well, first of all, you can say, well, what, what did you like about it? 

[00:17:46] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:17:46] Jeff Wetzler: Um, because that actually helps you get more specific. 

[00:17:49] Kim Scott: Push them to be more specific. 

[00:17:50] Jeff Wetzler: But then to say, and what could I have done better? 

[00:17:52] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:17:53] Jeff Wetzler: And I will tell you as a manager, I am guilty of ruinous empathy sometimes just because I’m running from thing to thing. Like I’m in a meeting with one of my teammates. I see something they could have done better.

[00:18:02] Kim Scott: You notice something.

[00:18:03] Jeff Wetzler: You notice it, registers with me and then the meeting’s over and I’m running to my next meeting. 

[00:18:07] Kim Scott: Yes. 

[00:18:07] Jeff Wetzler: And then the next thing happens, they don’t get the feedback, but I say to them, if you say to me, Jeff, what could I have done better in that meeting? I promise you, I will pause and give it to you. But you may need to say that to me. You may need to prompt me to do it because I’m just, I don’t mean to not invest in you.

[00:18:22] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:18:22] Jeff Wetzler: I’m just rushing to the next thing, but you can get it out of me. If you just, if you pause and just ask me that question.

[00:18:36] Kim Scott: There was someone I was coaching who said to me that one of his direct reports came and said, uh, you always seem so busy so I don’t dare approach you and ask. And so he had to learn to seem more relaxed so that people would prompt him and, uh, and ask him. 

[00:18:58] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah, just to comment on that, back to your question or your point about ruinous empathy. Um, and my question about how are we complicit in our, in the ruinous empathy? I actually think one way that we’re complicit in ruinous empathy is seeming so busy that people don’t actually talk. 

[00:19:13] Kim Scott: Yes. 

[00:19:13] Jeff Wetzler: So, and so that’s another way that we invite people to have a ruinous empathy with us. 

[00:19:16] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:19:16] Jeff Wetzler: And your other point about if someone gives you bad news and you react offensively. 

[00:19:20] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:19:20] Jeff Wetzler: That’s another way that we’re complicit in ruinous empathy. 

[00:19:22] Kim Scott: Yes, totally. What’s a better question to ask than, does that make sense when you are sharing personally about yourself, and you want to check and make sure the other person understands what you are saying? Uh, so I think that rather than saying, does that make sense? Uh, say, one idea, and Jeff, you’re the expert on how to ask, but here’s my idea, you can improve upon it. Is, you know, just asking the person, what do you think? What would you, how would you feel in my shoes, for example? 

[00:19:55] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah, I love that. 

[00:19:56] Kim Scott: What do you think about that question?

[00:19:57] Jeff Wetzler: I like that question. And I’ll add some additional alternatives. Um, uh, in addition to what, you know, what’s your reaction to what I just said, you could say, how did that land with you? Um, how did that strike you? Um, what did that make you think? 

[00:20:09] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:20:10] Jeff Wetzler: Or feel when I shared that with you? Um, and then if, and I see in Claire’s question specifically, you want to make sure the other person understands what you’re saying.

[00:20:18] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:20:18] Jeff Wetzler: Um, and I think some of the questions both that Kim and I pose can give you a clue as to whether they understand what you’re saying. Because based on how they response, you can know, did they grasp what I’m saying? But sometimes I think it can also be appropriate to say, um, I just want to check if I’m communicating clearly. Can you tell me back what did you hear from me? What did you take away from what I just said? 

[00:20:37] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:20:38] Jeff Wetzler: Because I want to see if I’m expressing myself. 

[00:20:40] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:20:40] Jeff Wetzler: What’s coming up for you is another one. I like that. 

[00:20:42] Kim Scott: Yeah. That’s a, that’s a good one. And I think it’s, I think asking the person to repeat it back to you is really a great idea. You also have to be, though, very careful that that doesn’t come across as patronizing. 

[00:20:54] Jeff Wetzler: Absolutely. 

[00:20:54] Kim Scott: I’ve tried that sometimes, and it takes, it’s worth practicing doing that. 

[00:21:00] Jeff Wetzler: And that, and I think one of the ways you can avoid it sounding patronizing is communicating your intention behind why you’re doing that. 

[00:21:06] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:21:06] Jeff Wetzler: Um, and the intention not to say, I want to see if you got it, but to sort of say, I’m actually not sure if I’m expressing myself clearly enough. If you do that sincerely, that can be a way to reduce the sense of patronizing. 

[00:21:18] Kim Scott: Yeah, I’m not sure I’m being clear is very different than saying, you know, I’m not sure I’m being clear can you help me? 

[00:21:25] Jeff Wetzler: Yes. 

[00:21:26] Kim Scott: It’s very different from saying you’re not listening to me. 

[00:21:28] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah. I want to check if you got it, right. 

[00:21:30] Kim Scott: Yeah. Yeah. I want to check that I was clear. It’s, I think it’s important to make sure that you own your part of the communication. Uh, and not that you’re putting the burden of communication on, did the other person listen well enough. But did you say it well enough? Yeah. What am I missing is a good one. 

[00:21:50] Jeff Wetzler: I think that’s one of the most important questions. What am I missing? 

[00:21:53] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:21:53] Jeff Wetzler: Um, and also that’s a good question, by the way, to help us get curious ourselves. I did this fun experiment with, just as a slight diversion, with, um, AI, where I wanted to see if AI could help me get more curious. 

[00:22:05] Kim Scott: Oh good.

[00:22:05] Jeff Wetzler: And so I put into AI all of my righteous opinions about a political candidate, and how could someone ever vote for this person, and what would they be thinking? 

[00:22:13] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:22:13] Jeff Wetzler: And then I wrote at the end to AI, what might I be missing? And then I hit enter. And all of a sudden I got back all kinds of interesting considerations that I hadn’t thought about. Here’s why someone might like that person. Here’s what you might not be thinking about. And I did the same thing, you know, I have this major dispute with my business colleague and they’re totally wrong. What might I be missing? And what I love about that question, and doing it in the context of the privacy of AI, is it’s not embarrassing. I can just sit there and think about it, but it just, it loosens the grip of the certainty, um, of my story on myself. 

[00:22:43] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:22:43] Jeff Wetzler: Thank you for that question. 

[00:22:44] Kim Scott: Yeah, it’s a good, it’s a, that’s a good one. You know, it’s interesting about curiosity and emotion, uh, because one of the things that I recommend is sometimes when I give someone feedback, they might respond with anger. 

[00:23:04] Jeff Wetzler: Yes.

[00:23:04] Kim Scott: And, uh, and I’ve tried to train myself when that happens. Because it’s instinctive, if somebody’s yelling at me to get mad back and start yelling back, and that’s usually not going to solve the problem. Or to sort of clam up into a self protective, what I call manipulative insincerity. So one of the things I’ve tried to do when someone is yelling at me is to get curious, not furious, uh, back. And to start to ask myself and then to ask them, what did I do that contributed to, you know, to this anger? Or maybe their anger has nothing to do with me actually, but why are they so angry and how can I help resolve the situation? So I think curiosity, uh, can be really helpful to move, uh, a conversation away from obnoxious aggression and towards Radical Candor. 

[00:24:02] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah, I totally agree. And you know, when you and I were talking about these ideas and you gave me such helpful input for the book as along the writing process, I think you taught me that phrase, when they’re, when they’re furious, get curious.

[00:24:14] Kim Scott: Yes. 

[00:24:15] Jeff Wetzler: And we also talked about, and I write about it in the book, when you’re furious, get curious. 

[00:24:18] Kim Scott: Yes, yes, exactly. 

[00:24:21] Jeff Wetzler: In the book, I talk about curiosity killers, um, and the number one curiosity killer is emotional hijack. Um, when our own emotions get hijacked, our curiosity just completely shuts down. Um, but if we can use our emotions, if we can get a tiny bit of space and notice, hey, I’m furious. That’s my cue to get curious. Hey, I’m really upset, that’s my cue to get curious. Almost the same way that I think sometimes people would like leave a rubber band on the doorknob to remind you to start the dishwasher, you know, or whatever it was. 

[00:24:48] Kim Scott: Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:24:49] Jeff Wetzler: Like, can we use our emotions as that rubber band to say, I’m noticing that. Okay, that’s my cue to ask, what can I learn here? 

[00:24:54] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:24:55] Jeff Wetzler: What can I learn from this person? And that starts to push away some of the other thoughts. 

[00:24:58] Kim Scott: And I think that, um, investigating emotions is so important. Because when we communicate with each other, we communicate on an intellectual plane and on an emotional plane at the same time. And if we ignore the emotional signals that the other person is sending us, if we like back away from them, uh, and shut down in the face of them, then we’re just, we’re never going to communicate very well. So using those emotional cues as a way to improve communication, I think is really important.

[00:25:32] Jeff Wetzler: I totally agree. In fact, you’re kind of anticipating step four of the ask approach, which is called listen to learn. Um, once we’ve asked the question of someone, then how do we listen back? Um, and I draw from this theory by someone named David Cantor, who was a family systems therapist who said that people speak in three languages.

[00:25:50] They speak in the language of the content of what they’re saying. They speak in the language, he called that meaning. They speak in the language of the emotion that they’re expressing and display. And then they also speak in the language of action. That’s the action that they’re taking in a conversation. 

[00:26:02] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:26:02] Jeff Wetzler: So if I can be listening for, you know, what is the, what are the facts and arguments? What are the emotions, but also what’s someone doing? Are they going along? Are they pushing back? Are they delaying? Are they taking sides? You know, and you can then start to look at, are they, are, is there congruence between the words and the emotions and the actions? Is there dissonance? Almost the same way that someone like a music aficionado, I think would listen for the percussion and the vocals and the harmony and get really good at each one.

[00:26:29] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:26:29] Jeff Wetzler: And then when we can start to put that back together, we just get so much more information, um, when we’re listening to someone.

[00:26:34] Kim Scott: I love that. I love that. That’s so helpful. And what about, what is it about AI, which doesn’t have any emotion, that makes it so helpful? Like, uh, Jason, uh, Miller said it’s a great use of, of AI. Uh, somehow when you ask AI, what am I missing? You’re less likely, it’s less likely to get emotional and therefore you’re less likely to get emotional. So it can be very helpful on that, on the intellectual of those two systems. 

[00:27:07] Jeff Wetzler: I think for me, what I love that question, what, like, how, why is it more helpful? For me, part of it is I don’t feel judged by AI. Because I can vomit all of my righteous judgments into there, then say, what am I missing? 

[00:27:19] Kim Scott: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:27:20] Jeff Wetzler: And they can say things back, and I’m not thinking, they must think I’m a jerk for thinking all these things. It’s just a machine.

[00:27:24] Kim Scott: Yeah, yes. 

[00:27:24] Jeff Wetzler: Incidentally, I, you could also use AI to generate questions to ask the other person. Like I, I’ve also said to AI, here’s a situation, I’m, you know, I’m really stuck here, whatever. What are some questions that I can ask the other person? And when I’ve done that, including even in my marriage, um, I get questions that I never thought of asking my wife before. 

[00:27:43] Kim Scott: That’s amazing. 

[00:27:44] Jeff Wetzler: From AI. And you know, maybe they’re not all great questions. But if I get ten questions and there’s like six of them and three I hadn’t thought of, those three can open up.

[00:27:51] Kim Scott: Yeah, that’s amazing. 

[00:27:53] Jeff Wetzler: It’s been really interesting. 

[00:27:55] Kim Scott: Yeah, very, very cool. Okay. So let’s go through the steps, we got to four. So review the first four. 

[00:28:02] Jeff Wetzler: I’ll just walk through them. 

[00:28:02] Kim Scott: Yeah let’s walk through them. 

[00:28:04] Jeff Wetzler: The first one is the root of everything, which is called choose curiosity. Um, and I’m positing here that curiosity is not just a trait that some people have and other people don’t have. It’s not a state of mind that we happen to be in. It is a choice. 

[00:28:15] Kim Scott: Yes. 

[00:28:15] Jeff Wetzler: It’s a decision that is always available to us. And when we choose curiosity, we are essentially centering in our minds one question. Which is the question of what can I learn from this person? Um, and when that’s the question, it pushes out all the other questions, like, how can I show them smart or how can I get them to do what I want, whatever. And so that’s the foundation. That’s number one. 

[00:28:32] Kim Scott: Can we just double click on that for a minute? 

[00:28:34] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah, yeah please. 

[00:28:34] Kim Scott: I think that’s such an important point because even if you disagree with the other person and you’re not going to get to agreement, you can still learn something from that person. 

[00:28:43] Jeff Wetzler: Exactly.

[00:28:43] Kim Scott: And then the conversation is worth something to you. And so when your goal is to learn something from the other person, as opposed to change their mind. You’re much more likely to have a conversation that even if you don’t wind up agreeing will help you build a better relationship. 

[00:29:01] Jeff Wetzler: And oftentimes you also find more common ground than you realize. Um, but, and even if my, even if it’s a conversation where I’m here to give somebody else feedback, I can still go in with the intention of what can I learn from them? 

[00:29:12] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:29:12] Jeff Wetzler: Because if I think they screwed up, what I want to learn is how come? Um, and how did I contribute to it? And so there’s always something to learn to be curious about. 

[00:29:20] Kim Scott: Yes.

[00:29:21] Jeff Wetzler: So that’s number one. 

[00:29:22] Kim Scott: Yeah. And also recognizing that omniscience is never present and never required. 

[00:29:29] Jeff Wetzler: Exactly. We all only see part of the story.

[00:29:32] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:29:32] Jeff Wetzler: Um, and so if we’re in a situation with someone else, there’s always a way that they’re seeing it that we don’t know. And even if that’s all that we learn, that’s really important to learn too. And it’s fascinating, 

[00:29:41] Kim Scott: Yeah, yeah. 

[00:29:41] Jeff Wetzler: As well. 

[00:29:43] Kim Scott: All right. So that’s number one. 

[00:29:44] Jeff Wetzler: Number two, basically says, even if I’m curious to learn from you, Kim, if you don’t feel safe telling me your truth, especially if it’s a hard truth, I’m not going to learn from you. So number two is called make it safe. Um, and it draws in, draws a lot on the research on psychological safety, you know, by, pioneered by Amy Edmondson and others. And it’s basically about letting the other person know, first of all, why I’m asking the question. Because, and we talked about this earlier, if they have to guess at our agenda, chances are they’re going to guess the wrong thing, or they’re going to guess the worst possible motives that we have. 

[00:30:14] Kim Scott: Yeah, yeah.

[00:30:14] Jeff Wetzler: So it’s about saying to the other person, I’m actually stuck. I’m not sure I’m communicating clearly. 

[00:30:18] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:30:18] Jeff Wetzler: I’m not sure why we’re having this situation. I need your help. And especially if we can open up in ways that make, um, that demonstrate some vulnerability on our own part, that invites that reciprocity. But part of the other, the other part of making it safe is what I call radiating resilience. Um, and I think this is one of the biggest ways to defend against someone treating us with ruinous empathy. Um, which is just to demonstrate to I can handle your truth. 

[00:30:44] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:30:44] Jeff Wetzler: I’m not going to crumble. I’m not going to get you back. If I have an emotional reaction, I’m going to own it and take responsibility for it. I’m not going to blame you for it. It could be as simple as saying to the other person, listen, if I were in your shoes, I might be feeling really frustrated with you right now. And if that’s the case, I would totally understand, I’d love to hear more about that. 

[00:31:00] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:31:00] Jeff Wetzler: But when you put that out there on the table, it makes it so much easier for the other person to trust that I can handle what you’re, what you’re going to tell me. 

[00:31:06] Kim Scott: And I think that is really important because that, if we go back to ruinous empathy, like if I’m not sure you can handle what I, then I’m not going to answer your question.

[00:31:17] Jeff Wetzler: I’m going to give you the most gentle answer. Not the real answer. 

[00:31:20] Kim Scott: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I think also reassuring that other person that not only will you not crumble, but that you will reward them for the answer. 

[00:31:29] Jeff Wetzler: Yes, exactly. 

[00:31:29] Kim Scott: Even if you disagree with the answer, you will still reward them. 

[00:31:33] Jeff Wetzler: There’s something in it for them to be here today.

[00:31:35] Kim Scott: Yeah. Because they’re taking a risk to answer your question. 

[00:31:40] Jeff Wetzler: Exactly. 

[00:31:40] Kim Scott: And if we all know, if you don’t reward risk, you’re, you know, the person’s not going to take the risk and that takes time.

[00:31:48] Jeff Wetzler: Totally. I’ll just mention one other part of making it safe that I found really interesting in the research for the book which is, even the time and place and space of where we connect makes a difference. So for the book, I interviewed some iconic CEOs of organizations like Kraft and Medtronic and so on. And I CEOs are notorious for not getting the truth. 

[00:32:07] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:32:07] Jeff Wetzler: They’re insulated from the truth because people tell them what they think the CEO wants to hear. Um, and so I said to them, how did you get the truth out of people, especially people who are like multiple layers away. One of the themes that I heard, they said, like, if I want to get the truth from someone, I’m never going to invite them into my office, make them sit across the big intimidating CEO desk from me. 

[00:32:26] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:32:26] Jeff Wetzler: And assume they’re going to feel safe to tell me the truth. I’m going to go to where they’re comfortable. We’re going to go eat where they want to eat. We’re going to go to sales call, ride along together. 

[00:32:34] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:32:34] Jeff Wetzler: We’re going to take a walk. And there was no single answer as to what the, where the right place to do it is, other than wherever the other person feels more comfortable, not where you feel more comfortable.

[00:32:43] Kim Scott: You gotta lay your power down. 

[00:32:45] Jeff Wetzler: You gotta lay your power down, right? Flatten the hierarchy. 

[00:32:48] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:32:49] Jeff Wetzler: I found this even with my own daughter. You mentioned that you have teenagers as well, but I don’t know about you. But when my daughter comes home school or at dinner and I want to ask her questions and find out what’s going on. And I say, what’d you learn today? And how was it? I get completely stonewalled. 

[00:33:01] Kim Scott: Yeah, yeah.

[00:33:01] Jeff Wetzler: I get absolutely nothing. But if I go where it’s safe for her, which means I have to stay up to eleven o’clock at night when she’s done with her homework, done talking to her friends, I go hang out in her room. She doesn’t want me to leave. It all just comes out and out and out. 

[00:33:12] Kim Scott: Yeah, 

[00:33:12] Jeff Wetzler: yes. 

[00:33:12] I’m completely exhausted. I wish I was in bed, but if I want to learn, I got to go where it’s safe for her. 

[00:33:17] Kim Scott: Exactly. My, my son has a beanbag chair in his room. And I wait till he’s, you know, done, he’s taken his shower and he’s, you know, and then I go sit there and talk.

[00:33:28] Jeff Wetzler: Exactly. So all of that is number two. Make it safe. 

[00:33:31] Kim Scott: Okay, make it safe. Make it safe and maybe even go beyond making it safe. Rewarding it. 

[00:33:35] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah. 

[00:33:35] Kim Scott: You know. 

[00:33:35] Jeff Wetzler: I love that. I love that. 

[00:33:37] Kim Scott: Yeah. Okay. So curiosity, safety. Now, what’s next? 

[00:33:40] Jeff Wetzler: Number three is called pose quality questions. Um, and so this is what we were talking about earlier. And I distinguish between crummy questions and quality questions. Um, crummy questions are questions, some of them are clumsy, like you know, if you ask two or three questions in a row, you know, the person doesn’t know which one they should respond to. Or one of my favorite clumsy questions is when someone says something and then says, isn’t that right? Um, and I think they genuinely want to know, do you agree with them? But when they say, isn’t that right? It’s very hard to disagree. It’s kind of like what you said, does that make sense? 

[00:34:08] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:34:08] Jeff Wetzler: But there’s also sneaky questions where people are trying to kind of manipulate you into the answer by saying, you know, wouldn’t it be better if we did this? And don’t you think, you know, those are sneaky questions. There’s also attack questions. So there’s all kinds of questions that are clumsy. And quality questions are the questions that really tap into what someone knows, thinks, and feels. They include things like request reactions, but they also include questions like how do I hear their headline? Because people don’t always tell us the headline of what they think. 

[00:34:32] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:34:33] Jeff Wetzler: How do I dig deeper to really understand where that comes from? How do I see what they see so I can actually understand the experience that they’ve had? All of that. 

[00:34:40] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:34:41] Jeff Wetzler: Those are those are examples of quality questions. 

[00:34:43] Kim Scott: Jason has a question. I wonder if there’s a way to do that virtually and I assume Jason you’re talking about, uh, asking these quality questions virtually, but feel free to, uh, offer follow up. So, yeah, so what’s, what’s the best way to ask these kinds of questions if you’re not in person? 

[00:35:03] Jeff Wetzler: Well, I want to just point out one thing that you just did, Kim, that I think is a quality question in and of itself, which is that when Jason said, I wonder if there’s a way to do that virtually, that could be interpreted in multiple different ways. We don’t know what the that is. 

[00:35:14] Kim Scott: Yes. 

[00:35:14] Jeff Wetzler: And one of the quality question strategies that I talk about in the book is simply called clear up confusion. Which is just to say, tell me what you mean by that term. 

[00:35:22] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:35:22] Jeff Wetzler: What do you mean by that? 

[00:35:23] Kim Scott: Yeah. Or here’s my assumption. 

[00:35:25] Jeff Wetzler: Here’s my assumption. Is that right? 

[00:35:26] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:35:26] Jeff Wetzler: Or did you, you know, did you mean this or this? There’s many different ways to do that. 

[00:35:30] Kim Scott: The safety part. Okay. 

[00:35:31] Jeff Wetzler: Jason. 

[00:35:32] Kim Scott: He answered the question. 

[00:35:33] Jeff Wetzler: The, so it’s the safety part. Um, 

[00:35:35] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:35:35] Jeff Wetzler: In my experience, 

[00:35:36] Kim Scott: Yeah. How do you make it safe over Zoom or,

[00:35:39] Jeff Wetzler: I actually think it’s even more important to do it virtually. 

[00:35:42] Kim Scott: Yes. 

[00:35:42] Jeff Wetzler: ‘Cause we don’t have that extra context for people. And so even questions like, you know, with the where and when and how. Thanks Jason. The where and when and how to do it. You can give people a choice. You want to do it over, you know, video? You want to do a phone call? Sometimes a phone call is safer to people. When do you want to actually do it? When’s it going to be easier for you to do it? 

[00:35:58] And then whenever you do it, the, you know, the step of opening up and saying, here’s why I’m asking, and here’s what I’m struggling with. Here’s what I need. You can do that whether you’re in person or virtually as well with the other person. You can radiate resilience in person or virtually. So I do think it can take some extra effort because we don’t have all the three hundred and sixty degree cues that we get when we’re in person, but that effort is extra important when we’re virtual. It’s also, by the way, I should have said, extra important when we’re working across any kind of line of difference, whether there’s power differences. 

[00:36:28] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:36:28] Jeff Wetzler: Racial differences, gender differences, other identity markers, all of those things raise the stakes on psychological safety. And so it means we need to lean into that step even more.

[00:36:36] Kim Scott: I think also, virtually, I would recommend actually a phone over a video call, in fact. I mean, I don’t know if you agree with this. But there’s, we talked about it a little bit. There’s this evidence that we misinterpret facial expression and body language. So we assume like, if I look like I am sad, you might assume that I’m sad. But actually if I’m tearing up, odds are it’s because I’m furious, not because I’m sad, you know? 

[00:37:08] Jeff Wetzler: Right. 

[00:37:08] Kim Scott: And you might be able to better figure out what’s going on for me if you just listen to what I’m saying rather than noticing. 

[00:37:15] Jeff Wetzler: I have that experience. When I have a coach, whenever I do a coaching call with my coach, I prefer to do it on the phone because I feel like we could just be with each other in a different way. 

[00:37:25] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:37:25] Jeff Wetzler: The other advantage of the phone is that I’m not watching emails come in and texts come in and all the other distractions as well. 

[00:37:30] Kim Scott: Yeah, yeah. Nobody is as good as they ought to be at shutting down all the notifications. 

[00:37:34] Jeff Wetzler: But I would say. You know, especially if you have any formal power in the situation, ask the other person, which way do they prefer to do it? Sometimes, some people may want the video, some people may want the phone. 

[00:37:43] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:37:43] Jeff Wetzler: Some people may want to actually text for a little while, who knows what it is. 

[00:37:46] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:37:47] Jeff Wetzler: Like, but give that, you know, give them the chance to guide you. 

[00:37:50] Kim Scott: The other thing that’s interesting about creating a safe environment for soliciting and getting answers to your questions, is that there’s a lot of evidence that shows that people who are underrepresented feel safer remotely than in person. And I think that’s important to pay attention to. And it’s also true that people who are underrepresented, I don’t know if it’s true, there’s data that shows, uh, who knows what the truth is. Uh, but there’s data that shows that people who are underrepresented actually experience more bias, prejudice, and bullying online than they do in person. And it’s interesting to think about how, how unsafe they must feel in person for them to prefer this hybrid environment. 

[00:38:38] Jeff Wetzler: When the world first went on to Zoom, during the pandemic, there were times when people kept their video off. And my initial reaction was how dare they. Like I want to see them just so they can see me and all that kind of thing. But I actually learned to say like if that’s actually the space that people are more comfortable in.

[00:38:54] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:38:55] Jeff Wetzler: I can, I need to adjust, um, in certain situations, not in every situation, but in certain situations, um, it’s okay. 

[00:39:01] Kim Scott: Yeah, absolutely. All right. So we got to three. 

[00:39:04] Jeff Wetzler: Okay. Number four is called listen to learn. So once we ask the question, it all comes down to how well we listen. 

[00:39:11] Kim Scott: Yes. 

[00:39:11] Jeff Wetzler: We talked about how can we triple what we listen for by listening, not just for the content, but also the emotion and also the action. And inside number four is strategies for how to do that. And I’ll just share maybe one favorite strategy for how to do that, um, which is what I call pull the thread. 

[00:39:26] So when we ask a question and someone says something, pulling the thread is just say a little more about that. Can you say what else? Can you tell me more? Um, because oftentimes the first thing that they say, or even the second thing they say may not be the real answer or the most important answer. I interviewed for the book, professional listeners in the form of psychotherapists. 

[00:39:42] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:39:42] Jeff Wetzler: They talk about this thing called the doorknob moment. Where it’s like they’re in a therapy session and you’re, just as a session’s about to end their clients about to walk out the door. They have their hand on the doorknob. That’s when they say, I’m thinking about leaving my spouse. That’s when they say I’m getting investigated for this or whatever. And it’s like, why didn’t they say that the whole time? Well, maybe they were building up the courage. Maybe they didn’t have that, so we can’t just take the first thing they say and assume it. We’ve got to encourage more. And of course, once they say, um, that’s all there is, then we can respect that boundary. Um, so that’s one important listening, um, listening strategy, and there’s others in that chapter as well. 

[00:40:16] Kim Scott: Yeah, a follow up question is always a good, uh, a good way to make sure that you are on, because we often, even though we just asked. 

[00:40:24] Jeff Wetzler: Yeah.

[00:40:24] Kim Scott: When we get the response, we often jump to conclusions about the response.

[00:40:29] Jeff Wetzler: Totally. We even jumped to conclusions about whether we understood what they were saying. 

[00:40:33] Kim Scott: Yes. Yes. 

[00:40:34] Jeff Wetzler: And then do you want to go to number five? 

[00:40:36] Kim Scott: Yeah. Let’s go to number five. 

[00:40:37] Jeff Wetzler: Number five, you helped me with Kim. I don’t know if you remember this or not. So number five is called reflect and reconnect. This is really about where once we hear, once we’ve listened and heard what someone has to say, reflection is how we make meaning of it. How do we actually turn it, turn the conversation into insight and turn insight into action. 

[00:40:54] And so I talk about this method called sift it and turn it. And the sift it part, Kim, you and I talked about, which is that not everything that someone says to you is necessary or important for you to take in.

[00:41:05] Kim Scott: Yeah, yeah, you can reject some of the feedback that you get. 

[00:41:09] Jeff Wetzler: Exactly, so the first thing to do in this step is to ask yourself, of all the things they told me, which ones do I want to just let go of? Um, and which ones are important? 

[00:41:18] Kim Scott: Yes.

[00:41:18] Jeff Wetzler: Uh, and sometimes it’s helpful to get a couple of friends or colleagues to help you do the sifting so that you’re not accidentally sifting out something that’s important. But they can also help you release things that are not important to stick with.

[00:41:28] Kim Scott: Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:41:28] Jeff Wetzler: So then once you’ve sifted, then turning it is just to ask yourself a couple of questions. A couple of reflective turns, you turn it in your mind. The first is, from what I heard, how does that affect my story about what’s going on here? 

[00:41:38] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:41:38] Jeff Wetzler: How, did I learn something new about the other person, the issue we’re dealing with, the decision? The second turn is, and what steps can I take about that? You know, what am I going to do now? Um, and then the third turn is, is there anything here that has taught me something about my deeper stuff? Maybe my biases, maybe my assumptions, maybe a prejudice that I have, maybe any number of different things. And so just turning it over in our minds three times for our story, our steps, and our stuff is the reflective process. And then I call it reflect and reconnect. Because it’s not enough just to walk away and take the insights for ourselves.

[00:42:07] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:42:07] Jeff Wetzler: That can be extractive. Reconnecting is going back to the other person and saying, this is what I learned from you and this is what I do about it. And thank you and you took a risk and I appreciate the time. And that does a number of things. It, first of all, it gives you the chance to let the other person correct your takeaways, because maybe you didn’t take away the right things. And you can ask, is there anything different you would have hoped me to learn. But it also let them know they didn’t waste their time. 

[00:42:29] Kim Scott: Yeah.

[00:42:29] Jeff Wetzler: Um, it was, and it was worth the risk. And I think it, um, increases the chances they’re going to want to share with you over time because it shows them that you really care, that you really listen. 

[00:42:39] Kim Scott: And also telling them explicitly, like you told me this, this, and this. And I decided I’m not going to do anything about those things. Like, like telling them what’s the wheat and also what was the chaff, what did you decide to dismiss? Which can be hard. It can be hard, but it’s better than feeling brushed off. 

[00:42:58] Jeff Wetzler: And I don’t think people assume that just because they told you, you have to do it all. 

[00:43:02] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:43:02] Jeff Wetzler: If you can at least say, here’s what I’m going to do, and here’s why, and here’s what I’m not going to do, and here’s why, then people at least know that you’ve listened to them and you’ve heard them. And I love that follow up question as well. Tell me more about that for sure. 

[00:43:12] Kim Scott: Yeah. 

[00:43:12] Jeff Wetzler: And it’s a good example of something that doesn’t necessarily sound like a question, because it sounds like a command. Um, but the intention is that you want to learn from someone and the intention is what really matters. 

[00:43:22] Kim Scott: I love that. Uh, it is a good way to express curiosity. Well, Jeff, thank you so much, uh, for joining. Uh, any last, uh, bits of advice for folks? Where can they get their, your book? Where can they follow up with you? What’s the best way if they want to learn more for them to do it? 

[00:43:43] Jeff Wetzler: Thank you for inviting me. Um, I love to connect with people on LinkedIn. So Jeff Wetzler, just connect with me on LinkedIn. There’s a website called www.askapproach.com. And on the website is something called the Ask Assessment. So you can find out which of these five steps are your strengths and which ones do you want to grow in as well. Um, and then the book can be found anywhere that books are sold.

[00:44:04] Kim Scott: Excellent. All right. Well, Jeff, thank you for writing it. I know that writing is a labor of love, so thank you for doing the work. I know your book is going to help so many people. 

[00:44:14] Jeff Wetzler: Thank you. And thank you for all your contributions to the book as well. It has meant so much to me. 

[00:44:19] Kim Scott: Thank you. Take care. 

[00:44:20] Jeff Wetzler: Take care.

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The Radical Candor Podcast is based on the book Radical Candor: Be A Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott.

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Episodes are written and produced by Brandi Neal with script editing by Amy Sandler. The show features Radical Candor co-founders Kim Scott and Jason Rosoff and is hosted by Amy Sandler. Nick Carissimi is our audio engineer.

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