Growing a company is not all about generating revenue. It also means honing your employees to work alongside each other to reach a growth goal. On today’s show, John Livesay interviews Jason Treu on the importance of having a harmonious workplace. Jason is the bestselling author of Social Wealth and a TEDx Talk speaker. He teaching on building relationships and shares some tips on how to get co-workers to like each other. He also talks about his free downloadable game called Cards Against Mundanity, a game which builds deep, meaningful relationships with anyone in minutes.
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How To Get Co-Workers To Like Each Other With Jason Treu
Our guest is Jason Treu, who’s an Executive Coach. He works with executives and entrepreneurs to maximize their leadership potential and performance. He also helps them build and execute their career blueprint. He’s the bestselling author of Social Wealth, a how-to guide on building extraordinary business relationships. He was featured at the TEDxWilmington where he debuted his breakthrough team-building game, Cards Against Mundanity. Finally, he’s the host of the podcast Executive Breakthroughs, bringing game-changing CEOs, entrepreneurs and experts that share their breakthroughs and breakdowns. Jason, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me on the show and speaking to your fantastic tribe.
I always like to ask my guests to take us back to their own story of origin. You can go back to childhood, high school, college, wherever you’d like that you could say, “This is when I started to figure out my path.”
It was back in high school and college when I had the foresight to start getting involved in organizations, volunteering and serving other people. Through that, I started to see the glimpses of when we can work together, we can do great things. Also, the opposite when we can’t, we can do little at all. It’s how do we get the best out of other people and then get the best out of us. I even thought to myself about all my teachers that I had and I loved. It was because they could reach me and bring the best out of me so I could get more engaged. Vice versa, you also give them a lot of energy and enthusiasm because of how you show up to their class. Early on, doing all those things manifested in me doing more and more things externally. Even though I’m an introvert, I found a lot of my energy was working with other people.The magic of building relationships is in groups, not one on one. Click To Tweet
It’s good to figure that out. That’s a great takeaway. Just because you’re an introvert doesn’t mean you don’t have a career working with other people. It doesn’t mean you have to be in an office doing accounting or something and never talking to anybody.
A lot of times when you talk to introverts, and I’ve been doing this quite a bit, the biggest challenge and biggest gap is they want to have as many conversations as extroverts. It’s the path getting there that is exhausting for them so they hung out. I’ve done this over the last couple of years as a pet topic. If you could instantly have deep vulnerable conversations that mattered to you, would you have considerably more topics around that? Almost everyone said yes. What they don’t like is the small talk and the other things that’s required to get there so they are opt-out. It’s too much work for them mentally and how they’re built in order to get to that point. If they could be transported there, that would be a whole different subject. That’s an interesting thing that people leave out when they talk about the difference between introverts, senile, ambiverts and extroverts.
How did you come up with the title of your TEDx Talk? I know you talk about that every leader needs to show some vulnerability. If there’s anything I’ve learned from giving my own TEDx Talk, which happens to have been at the same location you did, is the need for vulnerability. It’s a different talk than being an inspirational motivational speaker.
A hundred percent, because you’re having to give a speech in a little short amount of time that you have to convey significant amount of information, meaning entertainment, which is the hardest thing to do. I look at a 45 to 60-minute talk that is much easier because you have a lot of leeway and you can try a lot of things. That’s great but when you’re having a short talk, you can’t. You’re not practicing this and giving this 100 times. You’re doing it once or in front of a small number of people ahead of time. You don’t know what a bunch of strangers are going to think about what it is that you ended up saying.
When I started on the journey doing the talk, one of the things I was looking at doing was to stand out or do something different like a how-to speech. One of the challenges doing TED Talks is because there are so many of them, it’s hard to use it as a solely branding thing. I wanted to do it that it would force me to create something along with it and people could walk out of it doing something with it. That’s the other thing that’s frustrating me with TED Talks. They’re inspirational, motivational and they’re at a higher level or whatever it is they’re trying to convey. The problem is when you do stop listening to it, what do you do with the information? I feel that’s always a shortcoming. It’s the same thing at a conference or anything else you go to. How you make it real is the bottom line.
That helped me think through how was I going to make it actionable and then I look back to the biggest challenges. My clients, my friends or anyone that I was talking and coming in contact with was about their ability to get the most out of the people that were working around them. Either they were managing their coworkers or managing up, it didn’t matter. I felt that was the problem to tackle because that’s where they felt most out of control. It pretty much controlled a lot of their success, existence, happiness and fulfillment, but they were unsure of how to do it on a consistent basis and how to build the relationships with people, individuals, groups and external however you want them to gather and make that work.
The title of your TEDx Talk, How to Get Coworkers to Like Each Other, is the surprise there because it would be, “How do I get coworkers to like me,” or, “How do I get along with coworkers?” You’ve got an interesting and unique twist here of not trying to get them to necessarily like or get along with me because we’ve had a lot of content on, “How do I get along with somebody I don’t like.” Yours is more focused on, “How do I get coworkers to like each other?” Speak on what’s one of the big takeaways from your TEDx Talk on that.
The thing about a group of people is, you have to get them all working together. At the end of the day, we’re dependent on groups. We talked about this before. You have a podcast team behind your podcast. Getting them to all work together and bought in, thinking strategically, adding in ideas can help you or make your show significantly better. Their relationships with each other are hugely dependent on your success. When you can facilitate that, it’s the key. If you’re with a group of people, which typically happens, or a team working in a company of any size, there are usually some people who get along and some people don’t. You never get to be in that place where you’ve created something great.
I always like to tell people, “Think about a time in your life when you accomplished something that was significant and you were with a group of people that you felt invincible around, either personally or professionally. It happened to all of us at least once in something that we had done. Even if it’s a brief flash, it could even be like a school sports team or something as small as that. Not even having to do with work. If you could recreate that feeling, emotion, communication and success into every single team you are on, imagine what success that would be in your life and what it could do for you.” I thought to myself, “That’s one of the holy grails that people struggle with.” It’s not your relationship with other people. You could have great relationships with all the people you work and interact with but if they don’t have it with each other, you end up having to do significant work. You’ll never be able to do the things that you could do if they had them independent of you.
That leads to what is something that leaders can do because they all get stuck and maybe even hit rock bottom. I wrote an article about going from Rock Bottom to Revenue Rockstar when I got laid off. That’s what my TEDx Talk is all about, how do we pick ourselves back up? You talk about that in terms of uncovering our blind spotsWhat is your biggest blessing in disguise? Click To Tweet
One of the things I’ve found when I’m doing any work with a group of people or anything is it comes down to your level of self-awareness. When I’m doing conflict resolution work with people, to take that as an example, you have to stem this trust and build trust. The challenge comes in when you can see your blind spots and the challenges that you have. It’s hard to come to the table and be vulnerable and put them out because that’s what other people see in you, but you can’t see yourself. When you can identify and communicate that to other people, they know that change is real and they know that you’re committed to it, but that’s the problem. We can’t see our own blind spots the way our brain is organized for survival patterns and other things when we’re able to have a deeper conversation.
That becomes the problem because those are the things that hold us back the most. That’s the problem with almost every leader. The data is 95% of people think they’re self-aware but only 10% to 15% are. You can look at all studies and it’s pretty close to that. That’s the problem. The higher you get, the more you overestimate your abilities because you don’t have people around you that are willing to tell you the hard truth because of risks and other things. You never get to the point where you’re constantly iterating and getting better and hearing the truth. We all need to be able to do that. The thing is, you have to look inside yourself and you need to get help from the outside in order to figure that out because we can’t see that. When you can, you can take a massive leap forward because a lot of this stuff has to do with past patterns, things that you grew up on and the blueprint of you seeing the world.
Self-awareness to me is not about all the things I’m not doing well. A lot of that is pattern recognition. Recognizing the things that you’ve been doing that may, in a lot of instances, have helped you. I’ll work with salespeople that are good at dealing with objections because they don’t hear them. They don’t hear no; they hear yes. The problem is when you start being successful. When that happens, you can’t do that in managing people. You become horrible at it and you’re unable to get the best out of other people because you’re not listening to them. You’re trying to direct them to the answers that you think they want or you believe they do.
A lot of that’s illuminating those things for people and sharing things. Perhaps you grew up in a family of six people and you would yell over your siblings to get your parents’ attention. You grew up early on valuing and knowing that listening was not a good thing because if you listened, you would never get hurt and nothing ever would happen. You used to talk over other people. The problem is in business, if you stop listening and asking questions, the higher up you go in, the more successful you want to be. That’s a significant blind spot but it’s not a thing you did on purposely. It’s something you learned because you had to.
Let’s talk about how that comes to life with this free game that you created for everybody. How’d you come up with the name, Cards Against Mundanity?
I did a little twist on Cards Against Humanity and I talked to a lot of people. One of the things out of my TED Talk was I wanted to figure out a way to help people build a high level of trust and to get deep conversations with people to move it forward. Essentially, take a complete stranger and be able to have a conversation that you could only have with the closest people in your lives and feel comfortable doing it. I found this research by Professor Arthur Aron. I was looking at a New York Times article and I read about a woman falling in love and going to a bar, asking a guy 36 questions and they end up getting married.
I was like, “That’s pretty interesting.” She had asked him many questions in a bar? I clicked on the study and essentially what he did was he asked vulnerable questions and have complete strangers do it. Over the course of 45 minutes, what happened is 30% of the people created the closest relationship in their lives. To me, it is pretty incredible. To think that that would be possible for someone to do that. They replicated this study so many times with different people and geographies that I wondered if it would work in a group.
The first time I ended up doing it, I took his questions and got together people at a restaurant on a Saturday night and had someone else organize it. I didn’t do it. I found an acquaintance of mine and I asked them to bring people that I didn’t know on Facebook or LinkedIn. I asked the first twelve questions he had. I figured that for an hour I test it out and see what’s going to happen. After an hour, the people were sharing things that I thought it was like in a reality TV show. I’m watching these things and you think to yourself, “I can’t believe these people are sharing all these things with other people.” Some of these people knew each other, but some of these people did not. They didn’t know me at all. I wanted to leave and I said, “Thanks for showing up.” People grabbed me and I couldn’t go. I joke at people who are saying, if I ever had to go to prison, knock on wood or be arrested, I would know how it feels because I couldn’t leave. They wanted to know what the other 24 questions were.
I sat there for three hours and I went through these things. They were getting more excited as you were going along. I did this two more times to see if it was real. At that point, I realized that the magic of how you build great relationships isn’t necessarily one-on-one, it’s in groups. Through groups, the sharing is insulated and you’re protected because if you share it with anyone outside of it, all these people know. It stops you from doing it because you’ll be a pariah. You find connections with at least a couple of people who have similar experiences and emotional experiences about things when you answer the same question. That’s the key. They have to be deep questions such as, “What’s the most important lesson you learned in the last year? Tell me about the person you’d like to thank who helped you become the person you are. Tell me about your biggest blessing in disguise.” When you start to get to that with a group of people, that’s where the magic starts. You can break the trust curve and the relationship-building curve.
Also, “What is your biggest blessing in disguise?” Not your biggest blessing, but for me, what makes that question interesting is because it’s in disguise. When it’s in disguise, people can’t go to the cliché answers like, “The biggest blessing is getting married,” “My kid,” or whatever they might say. If they have to think about what is it that’s in disguise where they’re like, “Getting laid off,” it doesn’t look like a big blessing, but it turns out like it did become a blessing. I’m fascinated by this whole concept. One of the connection questions you haven’t heard, “If you could pick a year of your life to do over, what would it be and why?” I bet people have a lot to say about that.A big challenge among introverts is having as many conversations as extroverts. Click To Tweet
People say it honestly. The other thing I’ll have a small percentage of people say, “I wouldn’t do anything over because I got here the way I am.”
That’s a good insight too.
You’ll see a small percentage of people that will mention and say something like that. These can be taken in many different ways with people that every group organically goes in a different direction with it. The other thing that happens too, which is pretty magical and which I didn’t realize until I started doing this in large groups is if you do it in a room with hundreds of people or you could dive in for thousands, but close to that is everyone treats everyone like they’re in their groups. The magic in a group like that is they extend it everywhere because they’re in that moment and they know everyone else did it and they want to talk to them so they treat everyone differently. There’s a complete mind shift in a group when you do this. When you look at good speakers, they do similar type things to this in the entire group. They take variations of this and that’s what they do to build more trust, rapport, likability and other things with other people and great sales people too.
The best sales people do this in a different form. In essence, what it does is it allows people to see how you do that at the highest level. Once you get there, like any other tool, you can modify and use it and make your own strategies and implement it the way that works for you. You can use it in a multitude of stuff where you could ask a couple of questions. You can do it in a group, use it for hiring and onboarding. Fifty thousand applications building rapport and sales engagements. I call it like a Swiss Army knife. There’s a place I start off with. At the end of the day, building trust, relationships, teamwork, communication and all these things that he does exceptionally well are the foundation points of every single thing we do in our business and personal lives.
The core to this is psychological safety that people feel they’re not going to be judged, won’t be shared out of the group if they share something confidential and you set that criteria up so everybody has an agreement on the matter.
You do, and there’s also a group implicit thing. I’ve gone back with people and I’ve never heard it happen. I follow up with people all the time because the group insinuates it. If you do it one-on-one and you share something, you don’t know whether you get a buy in or not and you don’t know the rest of what was said. If you’re getting 5, 6, 7 people and they’ve all heard it, you have a lot harder time explaining why you shared something in confidence. All those people will self-police because you’ll be so scared of the ramifications for doing that in a group like that. There are some cases that someone could do it somewhere, but we’re talking about the minuscule chance of all the people I’d done it and gone back and doing it right.
I’ve counted at least 25,000 people who have done this so far. I would say probably a little estimate. It’s hard for me to track everyone, but I’ve never gone back and asked for all the groups of people and speaking where it ever occurs. Physiological safety is absolutely a critical thing and people don’t understand the value of that. That’s the higher-level place where magic has gone, especially in business. That’s where the great ideas, innovations and breakthroughs start to happen. You can co-create that with other people in the group or team or organization.
In your book, Social Wealth: How to Build Extraordinary Relationships, you talk about something called your Social Wealth GPS. We all know what a GPS is in terms of getting us from point A to point B. We all know about wealth, money and building tips but you’re talking about something different here. You’re talking about social wealth. What’s a social wealth GPS we can use?
It’s your relationship capital. At the end of the day, it is about having a group of people and networking per se. It’s not only the people you’re meeting, but it’s also the people behind them. It is an indirect network. It’s the goal and how successfully you can mine that is pretty significant. It’s hard too. These are things that are a lifelong thing that you have to put in but at the end of the day, the capital that you have with other people is the most valuable form of capital in the world. They’ll do anything for you and vice versa.
When you can create those relationships that aren’t like a bank account in terms of give and take, but in terms of unlimited resources either way, that’s where you can create a massive level of social capital both professionally and personally. It’s something that once you understand how it works, you can do it successfully. The problem when engaging with people is you don’t know where you’re going to find them and you don’t know whether you’re going to find a giver, a matcher or a taker, like Adam Grant mentions, in any engagement that you have with someone. You have to operate the boundaries and know how to give without attachments. Once you start understanding a blueprint of all this stuff, it’s much easier to operate and to build those types of relationships that you ultimately want and have usually in short supply. You can have them in a significant way. You only have to understand how to do it.Being curious and learning is what life's all about. Click To Tweet
That’s one of my favorite parts about hosting this podcast. It’s the relationships I get to start and create with my guests. I’m sure you have examples and stories yourself of either being a guest on the show or having someone on your podcast and how that’s led to multiple things because you’re in a situation where you’ve got some social wealth starting where you’re saying, “How else can I help you and how else can you help me?” You’re already helping them by having them on your show or whatever. They tend to say, “Who else can I introduce you to as a guest?” or whatever it is that you need at that particular moment.
As a keynote speaker, people will often say to me, “You were great. Do you have any other speakers you can recommend?” There are all kinds of ways that people can give back to you once they have you on their radar, have a rapport with you and feel comfortable about knowing who you are and what you do to help people. They go, “This team could use the card game because you’re having some trouble with the people not getting along and I know the guy.” That’s an example of that coming to life.
This is a long-range thing when you’re building this too. The short-term opportunities is for you all the time but if you keep doing it, partly the greatness is you don’t know who you’re going to need when they need them and you don’t know what someone is going to do 5, 10 15, 20 years from now, especially in a world of social networking. For the first time in the history of doing anything, you can track people because before, you could never do that unless you kept in touch with them. You would never know. If you lived in San Francisco and someone lived in New York City, how would you keep track of them? Before the advent of social, you couldn’t.
Networking, business relationships, and relationships in general, we’re entering a new phase where having a lot of them is more important because you’re going to ebb and flow in your life. You will have something that’s at least somewhat of a warm lead or relationships or at least it’s not completely cold like an introduction where you don’t know anyone. There are a lot of things I don’t think we don’t fully understand because we haven’t gone through a full cycle of someone’s life where they’ve had access to this from start to finish or at least from early adulthood onwards.
Before I let you go, I want to ask you about your comment that curiosity is a requirement for long-term success and not short-term success. Can you give us the story around that?
One of the things I found in life is when you’re curious, you start asking questions. One of the things I saw was when I was speaking at a huge HR conference for the State of Maryland, one of the guests there was Buck Showalter who used to be the manager for the Baltimore Orioles when they were better. One of the things that he said that helped him manage, be successful, stay in Major League Baseball and do the things he did was he kept asking questions from people. He was curious on how things had to work.
When he went to Baltimore as a manager and the team wasn’t doing well, he brought them into the corporate office and showed them the ticket sales, walked in and said, “Everything that you do is connected. These people have to eat and feed their families. The phones aren’t ringing. If you don’t play on the field well and when you don’t care, look what happens to this as an entity. You have a responsibility to think bigger.” That’s because he got curious and he always talked about how he asked questions to other people in his managers, leaders and team before he jumped to a lot of conclusions.
When he was going to go recruit baseball players, he would go and meet their parents, their family and ask questions to other people about their character and other things even before the baseball questions came along. He said, “Today’s world of people is obsessed with analytics and everything else.” The difference isn’t there anymore. The difference is in the people, relationships and getting the most out of them and being curious. That’s something that can serve us all well. It’s consistently be curious and learn because that’s what life is all about.
What a great way to end. Jason, let people know how they can find you and your wonderful game card.
You can go on a website. It’s JasonTreu.com. You can get the cards at CardsAgainstMundanity.com and my books on Amazon and through the website. Coaching, teamwork, team building services and other things are on the website too.
You’ve inspired us to figure out new questions to ask and new ways to stay curious.
- Jason Treu
- How to Get Coworkers to Like Each Other – Jason’s TEDx Talk
- Social Wealth
- Cards Against Mundanity
- Executive Breakthroughs – Jason’s Podcast
- TEDx Talk – John Livesay TEDx Talk
- Rock Bottom to Revenue Rockstar – John Livesay Article
- New York Times – article
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