Ep. 100 – Frequently Asked Questions

In the celebration of 100 episodes I’m going to be answering common questions I get. We are covering interpersonal communication, speaking, success mindsets, how to navigate these intense times.   





01:16 – Helping someone else be less reactive to things          

05:35   When 2 people you work with are asking people to choose sides    

09:45  How to quickly create win-win outcomes to interpersonal issues   

17:40  Becoming a “Super Learner” on any subject 

21:30 – How to maintain a positive focus in a world of so much uncertainty 





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Below is a machine-generated transcript and therefore the transcript may contain errors.

This is episode 100 – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.  In the celebration of 100 episodes I’m going to be answering common questions I get. We are covering interpersonal communication, speaking, success mindsets, how to navigate these intense times.  Hi, I’m Carla Rieger and I’ve now made it to 100 episodes of the MindStory speaker podcast, one week for 100 weeks.

The reason I want to do an episode like this is that I want to make sure I’m covering topics of interest to you as my listener. So after listening to this, or even during listening to it, if questions come to mind feel free to send them to Carla@MindStoryAcademy.com,  and I will answer them on another episode.

Some of my most popular episodes are about interpersonal communication and the mindset shifts and communication habits that help you be a good speaker, communicator, whether it’s one to one or to a group. So here’s a few questions on that topic.

QUESTION: I often deal with people saying they don’t have time to do something assigned to them. I have tried the open question you recommend of “What’s happened that’s making you say that?” but they often just give me a long list of their obligations and stressors. How do you suggest I respond to that?


ANSWER: That’s where setting agreements with people ahead of time can help all concerned. Obviously, there are times when life happens and people get behind. But if it seems to go on week after week, then you are dealing with either fear which often shows up as procrastination, or a lack of commitment to the original agreement of their role in whatever project it’s about. That’s when it’s a bit more of a complex and I always suggest a combination of having compassion for their underlying fear (which they may not even be aware of), validating their obstacles versus invalidating them as in “I understand that you clearly have a lot on your plate right now”, while also asking the person to relook at their agreements/commitments to their role. If they are still committed and see this job as part of their role, then it serves to laying down a challenge to stay focused on the ideal outcome for the project rather than on all the obstacles. Even if  you say, “I want you to schedule in time for this project Tuesday at 10 am for at least 30 minutes. Get them to commit to that,  hold them accountable. I find that once people get started, they get on a roll and keep going on their own a lot longer than 30 minutes, and a lot more often than just once a week, especially if you give them a deadline. Without a deadline, most people will back burner a complex project until they have more time, which never happens, because it’s just much easier to focus on short urgent tasks first. The getting started is where the greatest amount of resistance happens. But the other thing you can do, if appropriate, and if this is a common procrastination amongst a group of people, is put the issue out to that group. Have a brainstorming session to achieve the ideal outcome and sometimes that garners amazingly helpful ideas. Then make sure you set up specific action steps with deadlines so its not all just  ideas and no results. I hope that’s helpful.

Here’s another Question on this topic:

QUESTION: I don’t have any interpersonal issues with others right now, but there are 2 people on my staff who are at odds with each other. They are rivals. At first, they were friends and they competed against each other and that helped them both grow, but now they seem to want people to take sides. I don’t want to choose sides and I don’t want others to do that either. Any tips on how to deal with a situation like that?

ANSWER — just so you know, that’s very common in all kinds of organizations and businesses, big and small. Competition can definitely motivate people, but there is obviously a dark side to it when people lose their good sportsmanship attitude and others get caught in the crossfire. You can’t change anyone else’s behavior, but you can make them aware of how their behavior might be affecting you and you can invite others to share their experiences, too, if they’re willing. You may have already done this, but just in case you haven’t — you could say exactly what you said here. You respect both of them, you want to support both of them and don’t want to have to choose sides. Open the floor to discussion, but before anyone says anything make sure you say…I want to find an outcome here that works for everyone. That somehow lays down a guideline, or invites people’s higher mind to come into the conversation. Everyone has the ability to be collaborative, I think we’re naturally that way when we’re young. But once you hit school it’s like there’s this push to be competitive, to see the world as a dog eat dog, eye for an eye kind of place, in subtle and not so subtle ways. So, you have to remind people of their ability to be collaborative to find win-win solutions, by proposing this possibility that there is a  way that everyone can win. Now I realize that some people are super aggressive, and just wouldn’t be happy unless they win and the other loses. It’s like an ego thing. It’s not as common as you think. Most people don’t enjoy the fall out and backlash that often comes when they’ve forced their agenda on another, especially in an aggressive way. However, if you’re dealing with someone like that sometimes it helps to work with a professional mediator especially  if it’s a long standing issue. I’ve seen that be very successful in a number of situations where both parties were able to let go of their resentments, learn from their mistakes, move on and now they are very good friends – in fact better friends than they were at the beginning. You can find a list of mediators in your area by typing into your search engine Mediator and your geographic region or your industry…as many mediations now take place online anyway. So someone who knows your industry, and they could live anywhere.

Here’s another QUESTION:  How do you help someone who’s triggered change their perspective or state of mind? I ask because I’m in business with family members and we often get more triggered with each other, than say with people who work with us that aren’t related by blood.

ANSWER: Yes, that’s common in family businesses. Partly because people have undealt with issues from, say, childhood, that you don’t have with someone you met as an adult. We often don’t have the skills to resolve things effectively as a kid. Secondly, you might have this unwritten agreement that you can be more truthful with your thoughts and emotions with family members, rather than always trying to be polite, because blood is thicker than water…you know you’ll work it out eventually.  Now, when it comes to others being triggered and how to shift that. I will say that it’s very common to be feeling fine one moment, and then someone says something to you in a certain tone of voice and you get totally triggered. And in those cases, it’s easier to see when someone else is triggered, than when you yourself are trigger. Most of us have become very good at hiding it. In fact, you may have someone in your family. You say – is something wrong? and they go, no, I’m fine, but you know they’re triggering. So, I find first you have to normalize and create a safety for them to express what they’re triggered about. Now they may or may not be willing to do that. But even just you saying, you know, if you are, upset about something or just even concerned, you can use lighter terms, like concerned about something that would be normal. It’s okay. We’re all dealing with that, I’d love to know, just to see if I can help. Now, if they aren’t shy about telling you, and they are in a triggered state, which is maybe making you triggered, that’s another deal. I often listen to their issues, let them vent. And validate how they’re feeling, even if I don’t agree with them or can’t relate to it. As in “So it sounds like a few people on your team are not keeping up with the work load, and that’s frustrating for you.” Say it in a neutral, or even compassionate tone of voice if you can. Not fake sounding, but just see if you can get in a curious state of mind. Now if it’s a complaint about you, then it’s harder not to get triggered, so say they make an accusation like “You’re not pulling your weight on this project.” I always suggest coming back with an open question such as “What’s happened that makes you say that?” Even if I think I know. Ask for the details. What’s led you to say that to me right now? Again neutral tone if you can. So people tend to make huge sweeping statements about your character, instead of focusing on a specific incident, which is what gets people triggered. So, you want to get them back to specific facts. They might say, “You didn’t get the report to me on Friday like you said you would.” “Oh, I see. I did send you an email.”  “I never got an email.” “Check your spam.” “Oh, okay. There it is. Sorry about that. Ok. So you’ll get it to me on Tuesday. That’s fine.” So suddenly, trigger is gone, tasks are sorted out. Now it doesn’t always go that smoothly, but without that question – what’s happened that makes you say that? Inevitably the conversation becomes about taking things personally and saying things you regret, when it’s just someone in a grumpy mood with not very good communication skills the moment. They’re operating from their survival brain and you just happened to be in the way. If they’re complaining about a situation or another person I always ask, What is it you want instead? All these kinds of questions trigger the prefrontal cortex and force them out of the survival brain fight or flight mode. So, if we could suddenly see your brain scan before and after that question, it would be low brain activity to higher brain activity. Right? So if you can take a breath and ask those kinds of open questions, you can save yourself a lot of heartache and downtime at work. I hope that was helpful.

QUESTION: You often talk about choosing your capacity by imagining yourself being able to do something you couldn’t do before, like solve a tech issue, or be an amazing communicator. Is this the same as faking it until you make it?

ANSWER: That’s an important distinction.  So, you don’t want to be inauthentic, but here’s my philosophy on it. We’re always hypnotizing ourselves with our thoughts. And so if you want to develop a certain quality sometimes you have to act as if, until it becomes more default. That’s how we learn anything. For example, when I taught public speaking, I would tell people to think of someone who you think is really good at public speaking. How would they think, how would they act. Imagine you are them just as you walk on stage. So it tricks the mind, and overrides the limiting beliefs about your capacity, and all of sudden the person is speaking with confidence, remembering what they want to say, making eye contact. So, I call that a form of consciousness technology, using your own mind like an advanced computer. I believe that is available to anyone who wants to develop a new skills or reaccess one that’s out of use, like a language skill or playing a piece of music you used to play well, or even playing tennis better than you do. If you’ve ever played a sport with others who are better than you, you pick up skills by osmosis. I like to use the metaphor of the cloud and you mind is your biocomputer of the human mind. There’s your local files on  your hard drive and then there’s the cloud that includes all skills available in the human story, by any human. So you’re not faking it. What you’re doing is you’re accessing the cloud. You’re like downloading an app for the job. I can be a good public speaker, or good negotiator, or a whiz at math or playing the guitar, because someone else has, and I can pick up the pattern, I can download it via osmosis. Is it instant? No, because you have to perhaps then train your vocal cords, muscles, eye-hand coordination, but it can improve your learning curve dramatically. So I hope that created a clear enough distinction.

QUESTION:  Could you share some strategies for dealing with what you call the Groan Zone of Change or the Winter of Change, where you are still in the breakdown of the old phase of change and haven’t figured out how to get to Spring yet? People seem to be hardest to deal with in that phase. People are talking about how it’s so hard to make decisions on anything because of all the uncertainty in the world.

ANSWER: Usually when I teach The Seasonal change model, where there’s Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, Harvest…we have an ideal outcome that we’re focused on. And I think a lot of us are saying, we don’t know what the ideal outcome is because we don’t know what the external circumstances are going to be like. What will be the outcome of this world situation? Will it go back to the way it was? Probably not. But I often challenge that and say the ideal outcome could be…how we are being in this challenge. That is something we can control. That is something that we could focus on as an ideal outcome as the new status quo that we can all move towards. Because your state of mind, perspective and capacity are all within our control. So that’s where to focus. So without an ideal outcome, you could spend the whole process of change being anxious, feeling insecure, reactive, and problem focused. That’s usually the default way of being through intense change unless you choose a different way of being. That’s when it’s going to be very stressful, lots of conflict, health issues, mental health issues, sleepless nights, feeling unhappy most of the time. But your ideal outcome could be to find a way of being calm, centered, creative, finding inner security, being proactive, maintaining physical, emotional and mental health, finding joy in the moments…whatever you decide as a positive way of being. Then keep that as your focus, brainstorm on how do we create that? It will inevitably create a more resilient, innovative group thinking that will allow you to thrive and to pivot effectively as the world changes.

QUESTION:  How can you practice new habits of mind in a way that sticks?

ANSWER:  That’s really important. Changing habits of mind does require repetition, ongoingly, like building muscles. You can’t just do it once and hope you say strong. There is some research that says, practicing a new habit 66 times creates a new neural pathway that can then make it default – meaning it’s more likely that you’ll want to keep practicing it and doing it effectively. Like you had to probably drive a car 66 times before you could zone out, and drive a car without thinking about it. In some cases it takes longer because some of us have to override bad habits of mind that we’ve been practicing for decades. So that’s why I suggest people have a daily practice of asking themselves mind expanding questions like – what’s my ideal outcome if you tend to be a worrier, or what do you want instead if you tend to deal with someone who likes to complain a lot.  That’s why we created the Mindstory Blueprints that cover all the key areas of life. So over two months you take like 5-15 minutes out of your day and to practice turning bad habits of mind into good ones. More info on those in the shownotes.

QUESTION: How can we be less triggered by the media and the news? Any practical advice other than shutting it off?

ANSWER: Of course, the news is designed to trigger the survival brain response in people, because it grabs attention, they want eyeballs. Right. They I get more ad revenue.  So I go, okay, before I turn on the news or scroll social media, I say to myself I know they’re going to try to trigger my survival brain here. And so that thought alone activates my pre-frontal cortex where I watch it from a more discerning perspective. It’s like, Oh, is that interesting? The wording they chose. Like a saw something the other day. The lockdowns could go on for years. It’s vague. It’s clearly designed to make people annoyed or afraid or frustrated or feeling hopeless. Who said it, why did they say it, what’s it based on? And I see if I can unpack what is useful and not useful. Because I know that kind of info sells, I don’t pay it much heed. Developing a discerning mind, especially these days with all the conflicting information about what’s really happening…that’s a super important habit of mind to build. As I’ve said many times over, to unhook yourself from external stories is to free your mind, so you can discern the truth for yourself. We all have the ability to tell is someone is lying or exaggerating or misleading us. Sometimes we just don’t want to see deception, or we are not really paying close attention. For example, if you’ve ever lived with a teenager, you know you’ve probably been lied to, especially if you’re an authority figure to them, like a parent or guardian. They might have lied about where they were going that evening or whether they used the car or had a party when you were out of town. How did you know? What are the signs? See if you can spot that in the media or social media. Now the trick is to not get triggered that you’re being lied to by a person or an organization or the media. It’s fairly commonplace. Find a way to laugh about it, and then take appropriate action. Disregard it if the news is just trying to grab attention, or it’s a social media click bait kind of thing. If it’s a person…get curious as to why they want to mislead you, ask open questions.

Here’s a question related to career/business reinvention

QUESTION: You’ve talked in several episodes about reinventing yourself, or pivoting your business focus, or going through career reinvention; finding your place in a world that’s become increasingly different.   My question is about how to get more clarity on that. I’ve done your explore your passion worksheet, which was incredibly helpful. I have distilled it down to an expertise mission statement which really excites me, but which is still quite large and vague and I don’t know how to take action on it. My passion is to use my 5 years of experience helping negotiate win-win agreements in the financial world

to help business owners who receive microlending in developing nations

create win-win agreements with large distributors within their local communities

I will do this by educating , coaching, consulting with creators, distributors and consumers of the products

so that small businesses can thrive, and serve the specific needs of their community in an efficient and prosperous way.

ANSWER: Great question. That’s actually really quite specific. But I understand that getting started can seem daunting. All these kinds of roles in life are based mainly on relationships. So the first place to start is to build relationships with key decision-makers within the large distributing companies. I would go so far as to create first, a three-page description of what you offer, then a pitch video where you talk about what’s in that three-page description but in video format. You can either talk on zoom, to a web camera, or if you have the technical ability, add slides with words. Change the slides often as that keeps attention. The reason I’m saying to do this is your pitch is everything, and it takes a while to distill it down to the exact essence of what you offer. It needs to include how it’s a win for the distributor, the business owner and the end-user to use your services as a negotiator and mediator, it sounds like. Just the process of you writing it out and then shortening it and distilling it will also help you when you might meet somebody in a spontaneous way to his interest in what you do, or know somebody who might be interested in you could just talk in this distilled well thought through way about what you offer. Of course, as you talk with different people you’ll notice what engages them and what doesn’t, seeking keep distilling it until you really meet the needs of the people you’re talking to. You can also do one for any kind of organization that supports people in the micro lending program, like the financial institution, or an association of those kinds of business owners, because they could promote you to a large group of people. I hope that’s helpful

QUESTION: What are the mistakes to avoid if you do get triggered by someone who seems to be deceiving or manipulating you? This is so important, because many of us as I said, don’t realize when we are triggered. You only usually realize it if you’re really upset, but often we’re trying to suppress it, and only realize in retrospect. For example, think of the last time someone cut you off in traffic, or a loved one spoke to unit that certain tone of voice. So survival brain is operating when you’re likely to say something that sounds defensive, to curse, to walk away in a huff, slam a door, or something that you regret later or feel kind of embarrassed about. So what’s the common wisdom when you get triggered? Take a deep breath, count to 10, and that way you give your pre-frontal cortex the chance to flip on again, and that’s where your conflict resolution skills are, where your wisdom, your ability to see the bigger picture, to not take things personally, to be empathic with the person. I was working with a client who was uncomfortable about selling from the stage, she was an excellent speaker, had massive amounts of value to offer, but at the end of every presentation she would never tell people how they can get further help, like explore hiring her as a coach. It was only if someone courageously came up and asked her, how can I work with you, would it turn into any business. She just didn’t want to be salesy, which is admirable. I never recommend that. But she never even said anything to groups about the fact that she did consulting, coaching, had books. People had no idea., So people would get some great value and then walk away and feel like they had nothing to support them to keep getting more help in her area of expertise, which was financial literacy. It was only the people who stayed after and talk to her, and waited in a big long line that got to find out. Then one day, a woman came up to her and said, I’ve seen you speak three times and I had no idea you had all these ways that you could support me moving forward, and I’m annoyed at you for not having made that clear in your presentation. It was such an eye-opener to her, so we constructed a way for her to talk about what she did, in a way that wasn’t like a used-car salesman, but just explaining mostly through stories and examples how she helped people get a transformation, and the tools she used to help them, and what it looked like to work with her. And she also then created a way for people to stay in touch with her by email, so that she could slowly drip some content to them that might be useful, to continue to prove her value in the marketplace. That increased her income 10x over. Now I know that’s obvious for some people, but for her it was this block she had from childhood. Many of these things often start in childhood. She had this desire to be as different from her mother as possible. Her mother sold Avon products door-to-door. Remember Avon. And no matter what event they were at, or where they went, she was always selling Avon. And she saw how it turned people off. And she thought, I never want to be like that. So she threw the baby out with the bathwater, but once she crafted a way of talking about it that she felt comfortable with, so that it was a win-win, so that people saw how it helped them…to really get more support over time…she became very confident with it. Because a 20 minute speaking engagement, even a full day workshop can only really create awareness, maybe a few small practical tools for people to implement if they have good self-discipline, which many people don’t. Most people need some ongoing help if they’re really going to get traction in their lives, and so whether it’s a product, or service, it serves people to know. Even if they’re not interested in buying at that time, they might know someone, or they might be interested say six months from now.

So, that’s if for today. I deeply appreciate your time and attention and I hope it’s been inspiring and useful for you. Do checkout the MindStory Blueprints which is an online audio course to develop good habits of mind for 5-15 mins a day over 2 months. Until next time, I’m Carla Rieger, Thanks for listening.

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