Don’t think an introvert can succeed in sales? Today’s guest is here to prove you wrong! Matthew Pollard is the founder of Rapid Growth, a keynote speaker, a bestselling author, and he is also an introvert. His book series, Introvert’s Edge, has been recognized in the industry and even endorsed by Harvard, Princeton, Marshall Goldsmith and more. In this episode, he joins Dr. Diane Hamilton to break down what introversion really means and how it impacts your skills in sales. He shares the introvert’s approach to preparing and planning for your next sales pitch or speaking gig. Matthew also discusses strategies to effectively network as an introvert and channel your energy on the right people.
Perception is an interesting topic that comes in handy when talking about workplace relationships. But what does it mean, and how does it impact us? In this episode, Dr. Diane Hamilton talks about her book with Dr. Maja Zelihic, Power of Perception: Eliminating Boundaries to Create Successful Global Leaders and details the concepts and inspiration behind the concept. She shares that fueling curiosity and understanding perception ultimately leads to better communication in the workplace. She also discusses the Perception Power Index and breaks down the four key areas: evaluation, prediction, interpretation, and correlation. Listen in and learn more about Diane’s paradigm and understand how this can impact your personal and professional environment.
I’m so glad you joined us because we have Matthew Pollard here. You might think you need to be an extrovert to be successful in sales and beyond, but he is the author of The Introvert’s Edge to Networking. You’re going to want to read this. It’s going to be a great show.
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The Introvert’s Edge in Sales and Networking With Matthew Pollard
I’m here with Matthew Pollard, who is the bestselling author of The Introvert’s Edge book series. He is responsible for five multimillion-dollar business success stories, all before he was 30 years old. I’m very excited to have you here, Matthew. Welcome.
Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here.
I want to get your backstory because I got fascinated with a lot of personalities and that type of thing. When I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence, I went to get certified, not just on emotional intelligence but Myers-Briggs and some of the other things that deal with introversion and extroversion. This is going to be a fun show. I’m looking forward to this. I want to get your backstory that you’ve got to be now what Forbes calls “the real deal” of Global Gurus. I’m very excited to know that.
It was an odd journey. A lot of people that see me speak from the stage now or hear me on podcasts ask me my story later on in an interview and then they’ll say, “After hearing you, it’s hard to imagine that you’re an introvert.” I’m like, “That’s right because introverts are supposed to hide under a bridge, not talking to anyone.” The thing is that what happens is we see people that are successful and we project extroversion upon them.
You had Guy Kawasaki on your show. He posted a very angry tweet at one stage, highlighting that he is tired of people assuming he is an extrovert. He is an introvert. He likes his quiet time. Now, I can say I did the same. Sometimes I’ll see somebody super successful. I’m like, “I wish I had the gift of the gab like they do.” It turns out they don’t have the gift of the gab either, just like I did when I started.
I had a reading speed of a sixth-grader in late high school. I had horrible acne. Luckily enough, I got diagnosed with this thing called Irlen Syndrome, which means I put on a pair of glasses with colored lenses and miraculously, I can learn to read. I’m not like everybody else, but I could start the process of learning. Here I am in high school with colored lenses and acne. I was known as the slow kid, the person that wasn’t applying himself.
I took a job at a real estate agency straight out of high school. It’s just a year to find myself. I wasn’t the guy out selling. I was doing data entry. Within 2 to 3 weeks of being employed, my manager came up and he said, “Matt, I’m so sorry to tell you this, but they decided to close down our office. You’re out of the job.” Now, I’m out of work and it’s Christmas time in Australia. Australia closes down for a month over Christmas because it’s summer and Christmas at the same time.
I was like, “Where do I get a job?” The only answers that were available at that time were commissions on these sales roles, which, as you can imagine, was terrifying for me. The one thing that most people don’t want to be doing if they’re an introvert that’s scared to talk to their friends is going door to door and saying, “Do you want to buy this?” I applied for three jobs and got three interviews. I got three job offers and I was like, “Maybe they think I’m good at this.”
The job I took was business-to-business commission on these sales in telecommunications. My manager put that to rest quickly. He was like, “Matt, we hire everyone. We had this saying, ‘We throw the mud up against the wall and we see what sticks,'” which sounds like a fun saying into, “You’re the mud.” For me, after five days of product training and not a single second of the sales training, I got thrown on this road called Sydney Road.
I live in the US now. In Melbourne, Australia, this road is like 1,000 doors on each side and you get told to sell. I took a deep breath and I went to walk in the first one after my shocking realization of, “I don’t even know what to say.” Luckily enough, I was politely told to leave and then I was less politely told to leave and then I was sworn at. My favorite was always, “Why don’t you go and get a real job?” Door after door, this happened. I got to my 93rd door, where I made my first sale.
I was ecstatic for probably about 45 seconds and then I was like, “You’re going to do this again tomorrow and the next day.” I wasn’t okay with that. A lot of people have two choices at this point. They either decide they’re going to grind it out and hustle through it, which I would like to think a lot of people pride themselves on now. Doing that without a strategy meant my year was going to be terrible, but I wasn’t willing to give up, which is what most people would do otherwise.
What I did is I made the decision that sales had to be a system because, if it was a system, then I could learn it. It would be something external to me that wouldn’t mean I had to take rejection so personally. I went looking for it. Long story short, I found the answer on YouTube. I typed in sales system because I couldn’t read a book. My reading speed was terrible. Every day, I would go out and spend eight hours putting to work what I had learned and then eight hours at home practicing that night. On weekends, I would spend sixteen hours practicing. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
It was so soon when I started to do better. Soon, it was 63, 41, 22, 18, and 9 doors. I got it down to making a sale on average of every three doors. Six weeks in, my manager pulled me aside. I thought I was in trouble because I was the quiet guy that handed my paperwork downstairs. No one even knew who I was. He said, “Matt, we’re blown away by this. We cut our national sales figures and it turns out you’re the number one salesperson in the company,” which was the largest sales and marketing company in the Southern Hemisphere.
I went from having no business being in sales to being the number one in the company. I started teaching other people how to do it. A year later, I started my own business. Fast-forward to now, I’ve been responsible for five multimillion-dollar success stories. I came to the US and walked away from my entire network that I had spent a life awkwardly fostering and then I had to network my way to success. That’s why my books came around because I had started sharing how I succeeded in sales and networking. Everybody that I spoke to said, “Matt, I never thought I could sell network as an introvert.” I went, “These are books that just need to be written.”
I’m sure you’ve probably read Susan Cain’s book. I interviewed Ken Fisher. He said it changed his life to learn about being an introvert when he read that. He never recognized what it was that was making him so uncomfortable when he would be at these events. Being a billionaire, he is always that thing. As you were saying all that, I was in commission sales most of my career. My daughter in high school took a job with telemarketing. They would hang up on her callers, Osama Bin Laden and all these things.The more diversity you have in your sales team, the more chance you have for success. Click To Tweet
You get these horrible reactions from people when you’re new sometimes and you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s a tough job. I’ve been thrown the phone book and said, “Here’s your territory. Dial for dollars.” I know I come out as an extrovert but not as an extreme extrovert when I take any of these assessments, but I feel the introverted thing. I do get energized when I’m alone, but I can talk to just about anybody anywhere. What I do have in common is that I wish I hadn’t said that versus I wish I had said that.
We all have our burdens to bear. Firstly, Susan Cain’s book is terrific. It does a great job of helping empower a group of people that felt very disenfranchised. It shocks me that a lot of people still haven’t found that book. There’s this huge misinformation out there, though, because what’s interesting is people read Susan’s book and they then went, “I can be an empowered introvert. The world needs coders, writers, and creative people and that’s okay.”
The thing is that Susan talks about being a negotiator and no one heard that. They went, “I can be empowered in my quiet role, but what about all the people that are introverts that want to run their own small business, that want to have a business that revolves around their life where they’re not employed?” A ton of introverts I’ve worked with want to have sales careers. They were like, “That success for me is impossible.”
It’s funny. Even though they read Susan’s book, they didn’t hear those introverts can make the best salespeople, networkers and public speakers. We don’t have to look far to prove that. Let’s face it. If you look at somebody like Ivan Misner, the Founder of BNI, the worldwide networking group, he is an absolute introvert. If you look at someone like Jeb Blount or Zig Ziglar, both of them were introverts.
I’ve had Tom Ziglar and Zig was the classic. Jeb was on the show. You’re naming a lot of the guests that I’ve interviewed and they’ve all been wonderful. I’ve had Tom Hopkins. I’ve had a lot of the most famous people who were in sales. When I was in sales, it was a different thing than it is now. They give you the phone book thing, but in pharmaceutical sales, it was better with more training and all that. In a lot of mortgage sales and different things I’ve done, it was more that way.
What I found was, especially in pharma sales, computer sales and some of the things I’ve done, that used to be you alone. Now, it has turned into a team. The team has introverts and extroverts. It has got a combination of people sometimes. The introverts are so great at asking questions and listening, where that compliments the extroverts who can talk all over and maybe you need somebody who can say things quickly and don’t spend time thinking about it. You have these complementary characters. Do you see that more on sales teams or am I off on that?
Firstly, you have introverts and extroverts in every sales team. What’s interesting is that people think that the best salespeople are the extroverts and the bottom of the rung would be the introverts. In truth, a good sales team will have a combination of everybody from different race, culture, gender, introvert and extrovert. The more diversity you have in your sales team, the more chance you have for success.
Introverts and extroverts both had their burdens to bear. Some might say that extroverts aren’t the best listeners in the world. They’re perhaps not the most empathetic. It’s not something that’s not fixable. What I find interesting is that an HR professional or a sales leader may notice this and say, “I’m going to send that extrovert to an active listening class or I’m going to get somebody that perhaps lacks empathy to read Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence.” It’s because they believe that these are skillsets that can be learned and mastered.
What’s interesting is when we look at our introverted teammates, we go, “Poor little Johnny or Sarah, they’re introverted. They’re never going to be successful.” What’s interesting is if you look at Brian Tracy’s work, Brian Tracy talked about the top 10% of all sales performers have a planned presentation. The bottom 80% say whatever comes out of their mouth. The people below the 10% above the 80% are probably the extroverts that are winging it. What I have discovered is everybody in that top 10% is using a plan process.
Jeffrey Gitomer, one of the most extroverted sales trainers on the planet, will admit that it was only when he gravitated to a system that he started to figure out how he could teach it to others. That’s what I always find. It’s so interesting to see. When you look at the best speakers in the world, you get an extrovert and say, “Can you do that exact presentation tomorrow in front of this group?” They’re like, “What exactly? I don’t even know what I said.” If you asked someone like me to do it, I’ll say, “Yes, absolutely. I can do it exactly the same way because I planned, practiced and prepared.”
This is what I’ve always said when I look at leadership professionals, salespeople and people that are going into networking, “If you look at networking, it’s terrific.” A small business will be like, “I’ve got no customers. I need to go to a networking event.” They book one and then they try not to think about it until they get the reminder that comes up on their calendar. They try to talk themselves out of going.
They finally show up, and then, funnily enough, they get to speak to someone at selling insurance. They’re like, “When I’m talking to someone that sells insurance, this was a total waste of time.” Of course, it was. You didn’t plan and prepare. These days, you can research the people that are going. You can connect with them beforehand. You can make networking feel like a lot of pre-planned meetings and you can have things to say.
What was interesting is when I spoke at an event at Intel, I did a whole presentation on storytelling and how marketing and sales teams need to have a consistent story narrative that they can attract clients with and then echo that story in the sales meetings. I had one senior leader show up at the hotel. He was staying at the hotel as well. We talked for 30 minutes and he said, “Matt, I can talk with you because after seeing your presentation for 30 minutes, I’ve got things to talk to you about. It’s not just small talk.”
Firstly, Oprah Winfrey is an introvert. She is pretty good at small talk. It’s not something we can’t learn to do. However, it’s not super comfortable. How could you not have researched? This was a global marketing and sales event. It happens every year. The average person at Intel is considered a newbie if they’ve only been there for twenty years. He knew who was coming.
How did he not profile the people that were going and work out the conversations he wanted to have and then work out what they were sharing online to work out how to bring up topics that they were interested in, in conversation? We don’t plan and prepare and then we fail because introverts can’t wing things, but the best of networking, speaking and presenting is planned presentations.Introverts can actually make the best salespeople, the best networkers, the best public speakers. Click To Tweet
You said you can’t wing things. As you said that, I’ve had a lot of people on the show. One of the people you mentioned, Daniel Goleman was one of my favorites. With some of them, we’ve talked about improv and how that helps people to be more able to handle the questions and things that happen as a speaker. How do introverts handle improv?
Improv is a skillset just like anything else. You go to improv classes and they teach you strategies for how to do things. If you think about this interview for a second, in this interview, you’re asking me questions that we have not planned in advance. How does this introvert answer those questions? The answer is, when I first started, I started by going on shows that we’re not as big a deal as yours.
A lot of times, when I did that, though, these show producers would ask me for pre-planned questions or they would send me a series of questions that they were going to ask me. I would then practice like crazy how I was going to respond. Occasionally, I would synthesize one answer with another and they would ask me something I wasn’t expecting. I would answer it probably averagely to poorly, but I had learned from that and I then put a final response for that.
I’ve been on some of the biggest shows, Entrepreneurs on Fire twice, BNI twice, The Ziglar Show, yet every time now when I go on an interview, I’m like, “You can ask me anything you want.” Why? I’m more prepared than probably any other guests you’ll have on the show, which is why I can come across as articulate as I can and while half the people listening are probably thinking, “There’s no way he is an introvert.”
You definitely do not seem like an introvert of what people think of as the classic introvert. I do ask guests to submit questions and you did just like other people do, but I tend to not ask them. It gives me an idea of the kinds of things they like to talk about, but I’ll ask as the conversation progresses the normal way I would speak to somebody if I had met them for the first time at a restaurant. Sometimes I look at them and think, “I want to touch on this because this is important to them.” That’s the only reason I ask for questions.
I don’t like to be on shows where they have pre-setup questions. In fact, I get interviewed quite often. When I go on their shows, some of them will say, “Let’s meet ahead of time and we can go over in the questions.” I’m like, “Please don’t. I just want to meet you and go over it. I don’t want to know what the questions are because I respond better if I don’t overthink it.” It’s funny that you have to know your strengths. I would have prepared answers for certain things, but I almost like it if I don’t know what’s coming. Do you ever like it if you don’t know what’s coming or not?
The answer is now I do. When I first started, I found the whole concept. I remember going to speaking events. There would be this extroverted speaker that would make some jokes that I wouldn’t understand until tomorrow when I would realize what he or she meant. I said, “I didn’t handle that well at all.” Now, because I’ve been around things a little bit, I’ve learned how to handle things, so it doesn’t look like I don’t get the joke. I still don’t get the joke, but no one now notices.
What’s funny is I don’t, a lot of times, even understand the context of the joke until the next day. I’m Australian. We think backward half the time regardless. When we’re there, it’s usually some jokes that are based on American cultural significance that I, a lot of times, will not get. What’s interesting, though, is when I do interviews like this now, I appreciate somebody that doesn’t stick to questions. I appreciate somebody that maybe has done some finding on who I am, so they ask well-contrived thought-out questions, but they don’t stick to the script. Let’s face it. I’ve done well over 100 interviews now. It gets boring, but now I can be dynamic.
Here’s the difference. While you’re asking organic questions, you’re not asking me organic questions about the Olympics or some basketball sport. What’s interesting is if you get an introvert talking about their passion, all of a sudden, they come across as extroverted. This is one of the things that blows me away. There is miseducation in the world about what introversion is, so you get some people saying, “I was an introvert in the past, but now I’m more extroverted if that’s even possible.” The thing is that people still see introversion as a bad thing.
I spoke at the AA-ISP Leadership Summit a while back. When I spoke, there were a lot of leaders. I did some pre-research. I messaged them and said, “It’s only a small retreat. Most senior leaders will be inside sales organizations. Are you introverted or extroverted?” Some people absolutely knew they were introverted. Funnily enough, the people that knew they were introverted and the people that knew they were extroverted was about 50/50 from the top of the echelon, but there were a lot of people that did the, “I’m more introverted now since COVID.” Introversion is where you draw your energy from. That’s it.
For me, I love networking out and speaking from the stage. It draws my energy less than it used to because I’m not terrified to go. I don’t have as much anxiety, but like a kid at Disneyland, at the end of the networking event or speaking from the stage, I will go back to my hotel room or back to the house and I will be exhausted. At the end of this interview, I’m going to put on a hoodie. I’m going to watch a little bit of Netflix and I’m not going to talk to anybody for about fifteen minutes to recharge. I know that if I don’t manage my time right, then I’m going to be emotionally strained and I will not perform at my best.
It’s so interesting that networking thing, just maybe being in sales for so many decades. I had to learn to be able to make a conversation with people. When I go to networking events, it’s my least favorite thing to go up, do some small talk and meet somebody, “Where are you from,” kind of questions and answers, which is if you’re trying to build your company to do things like that, it’s a must. What suggestions do you have to get us who don’t like to do that to be better at it?
The first thing I always suggest is to make sure you’re not going to the wrong events. In my book, I talked about knowing your niche if you run your own small business or knowing why you’re going to an event if you’re a career professional. When you go there, a lot of people think the job is you pick the networking event you’re going to go and then you just go and hope you run into some great people. When you walk out, you’re like, “Walk out with a bunch of business cards.”
Let’s face it. You do 1 of 2 things most people do when they go networking. They walk up and start talking to people. It’s more like, “Do you want to buy from me?” “No.” “What about you?” That’s the transactional mindset. Introverts definitely don’t want to do that, but a lot of extroverts don’t want to do that either because it feels inauthentic and uncomfortable, especially if they’re promoting themselves.
What that then leads to is what I call aimless networking, where you have these shallow conversations. When somebody says, “What is it that you do?” You’re like, “I’m a business coach or my day job is I’m a business coach.” You undersell it and because of that, people don’t get excited about what you do. A lot of times, you end up helping them, giving them advice and overwhelming them with information. They feel like they’re drinking out of a fire hose or they don’t even ask the question because they’re like, “That’s nice.” You had that awkward pause and you both make an excuse to go off to the restroom.
You walk out with a bunch of business cards that you’ve loosely met, that you have a shallow relationship with and if you don’t have enough time to catch up with your current friends, why would you want to make new ones? You put them on your desk and say, “If they call me, I’ll work with them,” which they never do. That makes everybody go, “Networking doesn’t work.” Strategic networking, in my mind, is this. You make the decision on the networking event you go into. If you’re running your own small business, it has to be based on your niche market.Curiosity is a critical and direct link to improving motivation and communication-based issues. Click To Tweet
If you think your small business or corporation is a niche, you’re drastically fooling yourself. You need to go much more micro. Otherwise, you’re never going to come across as the only logical choice. Once you know your niche, you then start looking for what networking events those people hang out with. When you see that there are networking events that fit your niche, you don’t have to just book in and forget about it. We want to plan and prepare.
What we want to do is we want to go to Meetup.com or see the Facebook or LinkedIn page they have and start looking at some of the profiles of the people that are tagged in the photos. On Meetup.com, it will have all the links of all the people that said they’re going. Start going profile-shopping because if you don’t want to walk into the room and be terrified that there’s no one there you know, the best thing to do is to know people before you go.
You can do that now. You can use social media to connect with people and say, “I’m passionate about helping introverted service providers. I looked at this group and realized that there may be, especially in finance technology, a lot of introverted service providers there. Is this a good event that you would suggest I come to? I noticed that you said you were going.” Now, they’re going to say, “Yes, sure.” If you’re extroverted, as soon as they show up, they’re going to recognize my face. They’re going to want to take me around introducing me to people because that’s what extroverts do.
For an introvert, they don’t want to be there either, and because they don’t want to be there, they’re going to see my face and they’re like, “Finally, I have somebody I know.” They’re going to run over to me. All I have to do is wait. I have to walk into the room and notice one of the people that I’ve already met. It starts to feel like pre-planned meetings. Hopefully, they’ve looked at my LinkedIn profile, but it’s not a necessity that they have.
When I get there, I then want to be interested in them because I genuinely care. I want to add them value, give them ideas and provide them suggested introductions that I might be able to make to the point that they’ll then respond with something like, “I can’t believe I haven’t even asked you what you do. What exactly is that?” The key is not to respond with your functional skill. If you say, “I’m a business coach,” they’ll go, “I had a coach once. It didn’t work out.” That’s awkward, but if you say, “I’m in marketing,” they’ll go, “I need a marketing consultant. How much do you cost?” Now, I’m talking about price. I never even met them.
You have to have a way of introducing yourself that leads to a conversation like, “I’ve never heard of that before. What exactly is that?” It’s what I call a unified message. When I introduced myself, I call myself the Rapid Growth Guy. It doesn’t fit in any bucket, and because of that, it gets people who will invite me to explain. They can’t just go, “I don’t need that or I do need that. How much do you cost?” They’ll say, “What exactly is that?”
I get to explain my passion and mission. I don’t get into the jargon. Everyone wants to talk about their jargon and who they help. They go straight into the pitch. Networking is not about selling. I talk about my passion and mission and then I get into a dialogue around a story of somebody if they find that story useful or they find my passion and mission aligns with something that they’re interested in, which they do because I profiled them before I went.
What you’re saying, being prepared is huge for either introverts or extroverts. A lot of people who are reading this, not everybody is all one thing or another all the time. Some people are on the border of being one or the other. Everything you write and do can be helpful to so many people. A lot of people are going to want to find your books, find your stuff and find you. Can you share how they can reach you and learn more?
My publisher hates me when I say this, but if people are reading and resonate with this and they’re in sales, you don’t need to buy my book. You can go to TheIntrovertsEdge.com and there, you’ll be able to download the first chapter. I will take you through why, as an introvert, you have an edge when it comes to sales. I will give you the full seven-step process for how you’re going to be able to structure yourself in the process.
If you do nothing more than grab those chapter headings, grab what you currently say and fit it into that, then you quickly realize there are some things that don’t fit. Stop saying that to customers and then you’ll realize there are some gaping holes. Fill those gaps. Usually, that’s around asking great questions and telling great stories and then you’ll realize there are some things out of order. Fix that. If you do that, you’ll double your sales in the next 60 days.
If you’re not in sales but you run your own small business or you’re in a corporation, networking is going to be a vital importance. You can get the first chapter of The Introvert’s Edge to Networking at TheIntrovertsEdge.com/networking. It’s the number two Audible book in America. There, I’ll help you again understand why you can make an amazing network and give you the process as well.
One of the things that’s going to be most vitally important for everyone reading is for them to understand that networking is not about sales. It’s about fostering longer-term relationships. In one of the chapters, I talked about the difference between prospects, which you shouldn’t be focused on. The way out of the hamster wheel is focusing on momentum partners and champion relationships. People that share your work and you share theirs, and people that champion your work and you then appreciate that and provide value to them. In the first chapter, I’ll start to talk about those kinds of elements, which will massively help you inside the networking room.
There are so many people that can use everything that we’ve talked about here. Thank you so much for sharing all that, Matthew. This was so much fun. I wish we had more time because I love this topic. I wish you continued success. Thank you for being on the show.
Thank you so much for having me on.
You’re welcome.We have to pay attention to unconscious bias. Click To Tweet
The Power Of Perception In The Workplace With Dr. Diane Hamilton
I get so many great guests on the show. Sometimes I want to take a little bit of time to talk about some of the research I do. I’m going to talk to you about perception and some of the work I did with Dr. Maja Zelihic, who is also one of the people I’ve worked with at the Forbes School of Business. She has been great in this process of researching.
Perception’s process in our minds are our opinions, our version of the truth, our biases and how we live. What’s in a rose? Will it smell as sweet by any other name and all that we read about? We looked at, “What can we do with perception in the workplace to discuss it?” We looked at it as a combination of IQ, EQ, CQ for cultural quotient, and CQ for curiosity quotient. We thought, “I think that this is something that they’re not talking about enough in the workplace.”
Did we talk about this perception reality and to what extent are our perceptions true? They’re our perceptions, but what is reality to us may not be reality to them. There is a truth to some extent, but what’s real and all that, we start to get into this analysis paralysis thinking about it. We thought, “If we’re thinking like this, we need to showcase what others have done to try and look at this because the world is changing.”
We’ve seen The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman’s great book. We know that what we used to think is the reality of everything that we thought we could do. Now, it’s different. We’re becoming more connected. We know that there are a lot more issues with the recent global tragedies. As companies are trying to do work in a global dot-com industry, it’s a lot different of how we look at things than when I originally got into the workplace or when Maja got into it.
We’re looking at some of our belief systems of what shape us, both consciously and unconsciously. If we know that, we can be more responsive and respond to this multicultural, multi-language world in which we’re living. If we can monitor our perceptions and guide them towards where we want to go or where we don’t want to go and understand what other people believe and maybe not necessarily agree with everything that they believe in but that we can understand it and see where they’re coming from.
In that way, we manage our perceptions and we’re able to build empathy, which is a big part of emotional intelligence. Maybe you can’t walk a mile in my shoes, but we can have a better appreciation for what it would be like to do that. We looked at what was available in terms of assessments out there of how we can test, validate and do all these things with that. We came up with the Perception Power Index, which goes along with the book, The Power of Perception. Those are the kinds of things that we’re going to talk about.
We come into this world with this predisposition to how we view and interpret things. Imagine if you’re born where you are now compared to if you were born somewhere else. We know that with twins. They’re different if they were separated at birth. There’s a different upbringing. We have this cultural impact on how our behaviors, beliefs and everything that we relate to is impacted by our social, ethnic and age group and everything. We’re seeing that there’s a lot more conflict in the world and a lot of it is because we don’t understand each other that well.
Something that we don’t even think about is acceptable or not questionable here in the United States. It might be something very questionable in another culture. If you’re wearing a miniskirt in Brazil, it’s a lot different than if you’re wearing that in Saudi Arabia, for example. We have to appreciate where other people are coming from and see maybe we’re allowing our culture and society to dictate what we’re thinking and perceiving.
I’ve had Joe Lurie on the show. He has got a great book, Perception and Deception: A Mind-Opening Journey Across Cultures, where he writes about all the different perceptions of things that he has found in different cultures. Maybe eye contact in Western culture is maybe candor and confidence, but if you go to Africa, they don’t want to do that because your eye contact with a person of authority, you got to worry about respect.
There are a lot of different issues when you’re talking about Western culture versus other cultures. In Asian cultures, they might use a calculator to negotiate the price of things, but you might not want to do that in some other areas because it may seem disrespectful. Looking at different areas is fascinating, just even how certain hand gestures mean one thing. It might mean A-OK in one language and maybe be insulting in another culture.
A lot of studies look at Western culture versus other cultures. That is worth reviewing, but now we know that there’s a lot of stereotyping going on. We’re trying to get away from that. We’re trying to get away from biases. We have biases. Beau Lotto talked about that on my show. I hope you read that episode about how you need it. You can’t live without some kind of bias to give you some decision-making ability, but we have to pay attention to unconscious bias. We got to be careful that we don’t come across as arrogant or condescending.
Saying something like keep it simple stupid might mean one thing in one language. We have that as a saying and it’s not meant to be insulting, but if you tell it to somebody else, it could be very insulting. These are the kinds of things that we were looking at when we decided, “We needed to look at cultural quotients than IQ and CQ and our drive, motivation, knowledge, cognition, metacognition and all those things to look at how we come up with these actions or behaviors.”
Do we have to adapt to customs or should they adapt to ours? Should we be more tolerant of differences? Change is a big thing that we teach in business classes and being proactive to it is also important. We know that we have these teams where there are in-groupers or out-groupers. We want to try and get people to get along well. I know I’ve had Amy Edmondson talking about teams and teaming and how people get along in a lot of it. Collaboration is about having the curiosity to ask questions and learn from each other.
We want to look at the path that we’re on that’s similar but also understand the path that we’re on that’s not so similar. Some of the things that impact that sometimes are things like spirituality. Whether you’re religious or not, it can be different, but some people have this impact of how important their spirituality or religion is to them where other people might be agnostic or atheist. That could completely shape your whole perception of the situation at hand, where you might accidentally insult someone without even realizing how important something is to them.
I don’t think a lot of people give a lot of thought to the differences of how much strength that can have in their ideas and things that they question or don’t question. It can have a big impact because we inherit a lot of beliefs from our family. We personalize our beliefs. We take things that work for us and maybe don’t work for us. We make something around what works in our situation. That can make us think we’re right and they’re wrong and vice versa.Collaboration is about having curiosity to ask questions and learn from each other. Click To Tweet
That is a problem in the business world if we don’t examine what is shaping what these people are coming up with or not coming up with. Having personalized beliefs are fine, but we have to recognize that even though Stephen Covey says, “Spiritual renewal is one of the habits that are essential to effective leadership,” we have to look at, “What’s your greater purpose? What do they think is their greater purpose? What are our values or ethical principles? What are theirs? What will our legacy be? What is theirs?” Those are the kinds of things that we researched in terms of how people use their religion and spirituality in that.
It was also fun to look at gender to see the differences in how people look at paintings. There was a comment we put in the book. Two strangers, a man and a woman, were visiting an art gallery and found themselves standing next to one another, staring at a painting of an old country estate. It was replete with an elderly man sitting in a rocking chair on a front porch of a mansion and with various barns and outbuildings and serving it as background.
The woman, without prompting, commented, “What a beautiful painting. It’s so serene and peaceful, a beautiful blend of man and nature.” The man commented in response, “That barn looks like it’s in dire need of a paint job.” We both look at the same thing, but we see different aspects. There’s not that one is right and one is wrong. It could be the opposite way around. It could be the man seeing the great thing and the woman seeing the opposite. We don’t want to stereotype necessarily, but it’s interesting to see that men and women do see things a little bit differently. There are psychological differences. These have been documented, including differences in their brains.
We hear gender bias. We know studies show women viewed, treated and paid differently. We know there’s a predominance in the number of men compared to women in executive positions. Those are the kinds of things that are important for leaders to recognize. We have to know the origins of all this and why we see things through these different lenses. We know that men’s brain is structurally different than the female brain. That’s a fascinating thing to look at in itself. We’re not going to exactly see things in the same way.
There’s a book, a New York Times Best Seller, called The Female Brain. It’s Dr. Louann Brizendine. She is a neuropsychiatrist. She also later wrote The Male Brain. She guides you through how the brains of each gender differ and how they shape our behaviors from the time we’re infants all the way into adulthood. Women’s perceptions of behaviors are different from men’s mostly, she says, due to hormones. We do have different hormones. We know women have more estrogen and progesterone. Even though we have testosterone, it’s not as much as the men. It goes all the way back to some of these hormones. It’s just how we are influenced by them.
I talked to Tom Peters on the show. That’s a great show if you get a chance to look at him. He talked about the female brain and he recalled an article. It was from Duke University basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski. It was The Sunday Times magazine section. He described how that coach, often referred to as Coach K, would bring his wife to all the team meetings. He said, “The reason was that she would see what was going on in the player’s lives that he just didn’t notice. She would notice the problem of a girlfriend 100 miles away or some kind of distraction.” He didn’t think men psychologically saw those things and he found it fascinating as an observation.
There are differences. If we pretend we’re not different, that doesn’t work. We get uncomfortable. If we look at that as one thing being better than another, that’s also uncomfortable. It’s important to recognize that these things are part of us that were intended to be different. We’re not intended to be exactly the same. Life would be super boring if it was that way. I thought that would be something that you talk about in the workplace of what we can get.
We know that the percentage of women in the workplace is increasing. We know that the rate of women occupying key roles in the workplace is on the rise. We know that women being hired into leadership roles more often than they were as CEOs is at an increasing rate. We would like to see it higher. We know that women are bringing in different perceptions into the workplace and then those are different aspirations.
It’s an interesting thing to look at how genetically wired we are. We’re wired differently right from birth. These differences are spawning this ground for this history of beliefs and stereotypes of how we’re taught to view each other. We’re carving a different road for ourselves, the women versus the men. That’s important to know that we’re evolving. When we’re doing that, we’re impacted by our intelligence in this process.
If we look at intelligence, we talk about IQ and EQ. If we’re thinking of intelligence as what we know and how we apply what we know, we know that we need to be able to use our intelligence to understand how to relate with one another. We know that our intelligence and perceptions evolve in different ways. There’s this perceptual intelligence of fluid versus crystallized intelligence that comes about. There are some great works by Raymond Cattell who talked about that. If you ever get a chance to read some of his works, there are all these different types of what we learn and how it changes over time. It’s a very important thing to look at.
Also, Howard Gardner is very heavily cited in the area of types of intelligence. It used to be we thought we had one kind, but he studied all these different types of abilities that we have. You could have naturalistic, musical, logical, mathematical, existential, bodily-kinesthetic, verbal-linguistic, intrapersonal, visual-spatial or interpersonal intelligence. The list goes on and on. To say somebody is smart is a hard thing to do because there are these different types of ways of being smart. How do you value that intelligence? What’s important in your culture for that type of intelligence? That was interesting to us as we went through all the different ways that we grow, learn and apply what we know.
We also looked at emotions as in emotional intelligence in that aspect as well because I had written my doctoral dissertation on emotional intelligence and that’s such a huge area. It was so great to have Daniel Goleman on the show to talk about emotional intelligence. If you haven’t read that episode, I highly recommend it. Emotions play a big part in how we make decisions. If you want to talk about empathy, it’s a big part of emotional intelligence. If we have empathy, sometimes that ties into the curiosity that we’re asking questions to learn more about each other.
Our emotions can be different across cultures. If you have different studies between Japanese and American subjects, they found facial expressions and non-verbal behaviors vary significantly between them. I had Paul Ekman on the show. The TV show Lie to Me was based on his work. There are certain expressions that we all make that are the same, whether you’re blind or not. I thought that was fascinating. My father was born blind.
It’s interesting what things we have similar and then other things that are completely different. It’s conceptually different based on the way you grow up and the influences around you of how you respond to your emotions. Your emotions can make you perceive failure differently, either. Some of us have the fight-or-flight response. Some of us will run from it or run to it, but most of us have that sense that failure is not your favorite thing. Our perception of failure can influence how much we explore things and ask questions. It gets back into curiosity again.
I tell a story in my talks. I write one in the book about different experiences where sometimes you’re in a sales presentation, where you get your rear end handed to you. You might be on a call with your partner. Your partner thinks it’s the worst thing in the world or you might think it’s the best thing because you’ve learned everything you need to know now to fix your next presentation. If you don’t learn these things, sometimes your perception will get you down and you’ll quit.
You have to learn from failure. If you don’t, you’re going to end up being the glass-half-empty kind of person and you won’t move forward. You’ll stay where you are and move backward. That’s what we’re trying to avoid by understanding perception. The other thing that we looked at when we were looking at perception was whether if it’s your reality or not. Looking at some of the perception experts, especially Beau Lotto, I love his TED Talks. I know he was on the show and he talked about a lot of great things on the show. If you’re wanting to know perception versus reality, I would look at some of that because it’s fascinating.Our perception suggests we know something but our curiosity proves that we don’t. Click To Tweet
In talking about perception, you need to talk about collaboration because collaboration is a required skillset in the workplace. If you’re being hindered by your perceptions, there are so many variables. Think of the questions we ask ourselves, “Does this project intrigue us? Does it motivate us? Do we like our teammates? Do we like our leader? Do we like the role we’ve been given?” You look at all these. If you’re getting mixed reasons for why you like something or don’t like something, a lot of it could be your perception of it.
When we talk about collaboration, I always think about Amy Edmondson’s TED Talk because that ties into how they got the Chilean miners out in that disaster. These people were able to work together and collaborate because they maybe had different perceptions, but they knew that it was life or death, literally in this case, to help people get out from under that rock. Understanding that perception is critical to collaboration and to getting people to work together and being innovative and creative is interesting.
Gallup says we’re losing $500 billion a year on engagement. We know that people want to be collaborative. If we don’t have this ability to get along, that’s going to be huge. We want people to be creative and see things differently. In the Dead Poets Society movie, Robin Williams had the students get on top of their desks to look at life in a different way. He said, “To make a difference, you must see things differently.” That’s a key point that a lot of people always are looking at things from their vantage point. They don’t get on top of their desks. They don’t look at things from another way.
I know I’ve done a lot of training classes where we’ve given Legos and we’ve had people build things as teams in collaborative ways. It’s fun to see them get ideas from each other and go, “I would have never looked at it that way.” If you maybe aren’t a big fan of teams, sometimes it’s helpful to get on a team with people who are completely different than you are because, if everybody thinks the same way, life is boring.
It helps to look at things from a critical thinking standpoint to do research, “How did these people do this? How have they made it successful? What facts support their argument? What’s the source of their information? How did they come to that conclusion?” We’re back to curiosity again. Those are the kinds of questions we need to ask ourselves and I don’t think we get enough of that. There are a lot of people who want to take things at face value based on what they’ve always known and what supports the values that they’ve always had.
That’s common for people. You watch the same either CNN, Fox or whatever that supports your values because it makes you comfortable. It’s important to get curious and get outside. Our perception suggests we know something, but our curiosity proves that we don’t. We need to know what we don’t know. A lot of people aren’t asking enough questions. That’s the kind of thing that in the book, Cracking the Curiosity Code is a huge part of changing the culture in organizations. I often talk a lot about that to groups because if we can ask more questions, we can get better at decision-making.
Decision-making can be challenging. I love a quote by Deepak Chopra, where he says, “If you obsess over whether you’re making the right decision, you’re basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another.” If you think about that, you always think you have the right or the wrong thing, but it’s not necessarily the case. There are shades of gray. Not everything is black and white. That’s what I find particularly fascinating in the research that we did.
We’re trying to fix all the things at work. We’re trying to fix engagement. I mentioned before that we’re losing $500 billion a year, according to Gallup. When people are financially invested, they want to return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute. That’s what we need to do. Get people emotionally invested at work in contributing. Part of that is to ask questions and understand each other better. If you’re asking questions, we’re back to empathy, which is a big part of emotional intelligence. We’re getting that perception of the other person’s ideas. We’re seeing it not just from our standpoint but from theirs.
Some of the questions that we need to ask to improve engagement are like, “Do my employees feel they’re growing in their work? Are they being recognized for their work? Do they trust the company is on the right track?” Those are some of the things that lead to great communication. I had Kevin Kruse on the show. He has a great book and information about engagement. That’s helpful. All this is so that we can be better leaders and better employees both.
We have to sometimes suspend our beliefs, be agile and look in some of the words that we hear a lot about vulnerability. Brené Brown has made a lifelong career out of that. A lot of people don’t feel comfortable doing that. That’s what led to our interest in looking at what the perception process is and how we can manage our perceptions. Creating an assessment would be important in an EPIC decision of, “How can we help people understand what they go through? What does the process look like?” We found it’s about evaluating, predicting, interpreting and correlating one’s perceptions.
The EPIC acronym we came up with is Evaluation, Prediction, Interpretation and Correlation. Those are the things that if you take the Perception Power Index that you will find out how are you doing in those areas? What could you do to improve your EPIC process? If you’ve taken the Curiosity Code Index, it’s very simple. You get your results right away. You can find out a lot more about how well you go through this process and what kinds of things are holding you back. If you get a baseline of, “This is how I am at this,” then you know how to move forward.
Let’s look at some of these because evaluation, you’re going to examine and assess. You’re going to do a lot of these different things that you can recognize if you’re open to thoughts or ideas, that you look at it from your own perspective of your self-awareness. I think of this one as more in that respect. If you apply this element of emotional intelligence, this self-awareness, then you’re going to get along better and be able to be more aware of how you come across to other people.
I’ve seen a lot of people don’t recognize body languages, issues, tones or if they’re typing in all caps. There are all these different things they can do of how they come across and they don’t realize it. They could predict how the other person is going to ask and act. In a way, that’s another part of emotional intelligence is their interpersonal awareness of, “Are they able to understand the other person where they’re coming from, what their perception is and their capabilities and abilities, and how they make decisions?”
That is very challenging to predict what other people are going to do if you don’t look into what they’re doing, have empathy, ask questions and have that sense of emotional intelligence. It’s only then that you can make your interpretation. In your interpretation, you have to consider how all of this impacts their decision. The curiosity comes into this. You’re making assumptions and looking at how their fear is impacting them. A lot of this ties back into their culture of how they were raised. We know that behavior and different things are rewarded or not rewarded in certain systems. We need to look at that, “How did their culture shape them? How did the company culture shape them?”
It’s about assessing and understanding your own emotions for the EPIC part. The I part is more about putting it collectively together and to interpret what you know. You end with your conclusions. Your correlation is your final C of the EPIC process because, now that you have all these, you can come up with your solutions and conclusions. After researching your facts, this is the critical thinking aspect of it all.
We know that there are so many great ideas that come out, but if you don’t go to the part where you end it with coming up with the idea, taking what you’ve learned in this group setting and changing a little bit of your behavior so you can have a win-win situation, you haven’t come to any kind of conclusion that’s going to be good for everybody.
Those are some of the main points that we make in what we’re talking about in this EPIC process in this power of perception. I thought that this would be something critical to share. You can take the Perception Power Index at DrDianeHamilton.com. All of the assessments are there. You can take the Curiosity Code Index and Perception Power Index. You can even take DISC and emotional intelligence tests. If you don’t see it in the drop-down menus at the top, there are more menus at the bottom. I hope you contact me if you have any questions. I hope that this helps you understand perception a little better.
I’d like to thank Matthew for being my guest. We get so many great guests. If you missed any past episodes, go to DrDianeHamilton.com and I hope you join us for the next episode.
- The Introvert’s Edge to Networking
- Matthew Pollard
- Guy Kawasaki – Previous episode
- Ken Fisher – Previous episode
- Ivan Misner – Previous episode
- Tom Ziglar – Previous episode
- Tom Hopkins – Previous episode
- Emotional Intelligence
- Daniel Goleman – Previous episode
- Dr. Maja Zelihic – Previous episode
- The World Is Flat
- Perception Power Index
- The Power of Perception
- Perception and Deception: A Mind-Opening Journey Across Cultures
- Beau Lotto – Previous episode
- Amy Edmondson – Previous episode
- The Female Brain
- The Male Brain
- Tom Peters – Previous episode
- Paul Ekman – Previous episode
- Cracking the Curiosity Code
- Kevin Kruse – Previous episode
- Curiosity Code Index
About Matthew Pollard
Matthew Pollard is responsible for five multi-million-dollar business success stories, all before the age of 30. His humble beginnings, the adversities he faced, and his epic rise to success show that anyone, with the right motivation and the right strategies, can achieve anything they set their mind to. Today, Forbes calls him “the real deal,” Global Gurus lists him as a Top 3 Sales Professional, Top Sales World Magazine named him a Top 50 Speaker, and BigSpeak lists him as an international Top 10 Sales Trainer.
He’s also the bestselling author of The Introvert’s Edge, which hit the Amazon charts as the 8th Most-Sold Book of the Week, appears on HubSpot’s list of the “Most Highly-Rated Sales Books of All Time,” and was selected by BookAuthority as the #2 “Best Introvert Book of All Time.” His soon-to-be-released second book, The Introvert’s Edge to Networking, has already received endorsements from Harvard, Princeton, Neil Patel, Michael Gerber, Dr. Ivan Misner, and Marshall Goldsmith.
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