In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

Time is an invaluable commodity and yet we waste it beating around the bush with convoluted communication and messages wrapped in peripheral fluff and unnecessary noise.

Have you ever wondered how much time would we save if we acted like humans and said what we meant?  

In this solo episode, we’ll break down several case studies and discuss how to effectively read a situation, manage paraverbals (pacing, pitch, tone, inflection) and have direct, efficient conversations. We’ll also discuss strategies for preventing misinterpretation and being assertive without being aggressive.  

Also in this episode: 

  • Identify what’s keeping you from getting your message across clearly
  • Understand why humans are comfort and peace seeking survivors
  • Mokusatsu & Elon Musk: it’s not just about the words 
  • Take Home Tactics: 24 Hour Recall and Half-Life Your Message 

It’s one thing to talk about being human, it’s another to actually practice it. In addition to the tactics and strategies mentioned in this episode, join our All-Access Digital Community and interact face to face with other professionals dedicated to improving communication skills!

Also- you’ll hear it in the intro, but make sure you go back and listen again for a special deal that VersaClimber is offering listeners of this episode. That’s all we’ll say for now… 

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Brett Bartholomew  00:06

Welcome to the Art of coaching podcast, a show aimed at getting to the core of what it takes to change attitudes, behaviors and outcomes in the weight room, boardroom classroom, and everywhere in between. I’m your host, Brett Bartholomew, I’m a performance coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book conscious coaching. But most importantly, I’m a lifelong student interested in all aspects of human behavior, and communication. I want to thank you for joining me. And now let’s dive into today’s episode.


Brett Bartholomew  00:34

All right, nice to have you guys back. Listen, I would like your permission to be able to just speak candidly and kind of riff on this episode, right? I know, some episodes, we we really tried to do a lot of conversations more fly on the wall. And other ones, we take more of an educational path. But sometimes it’s just nice to have a riff. So nothing here is outlined. Nothing here is scripted. I just want to have a conversation for a moment. So please just give me permission. If this is not my clearest speaking, or if it seems to jump around a bit, but I think you will find something here useful. 


Brett Bartholomew  01:21

And today’s episode is all about the stuff that gets in our way, when we’re trying to resolve some kind of conflict. This idea that, you know, there’s so much to what it takes being a leader, a coach, a good communicator, that oftentimes we can fill our speech with so much fluff that we never just get to the point. And because we never get to the point, and because sometimes we forget to just speak, like a human being speaks that causes more conflict. And I’ll give very specific examples of this. Right. 


Brett Bartholomew  01:50

One other thing I want to do is I want you guys to show some love to one of our sponsors, Versaclimber, and if you mentioned this episode, and this is Episode 169, again, Episode 169 of the Art of Coaching podcast, to anybody at Versaclimber, you are going to get an exclusive discount, and they are doing so many cool incredible things. For many of you that maybe cancelled your gym membership, or you’re looking for alternative ways to train and you know, a bike or maybe even lifting or something else really isn’t for you. The Versaclimber is one of the most efficient tools there is I’ve used it with all of my athletes, whether it’s fighters, whether it’s special forces, whether it’s folks in the NFL, or what have you, there’s no better tool to get low impact, almost non impact really, conditioning. It’s super efficient. And all you have to do is mentioned this episode, Episode 169 to them to get a discount. And you know what, if you’re not in the market for Versaclimber still reach out to them, Brett Collins and Kirsten are some of the best human beings you will meet. So pay them some homage go to And at least introduce yourself. This is not just for athletes. This is not just for fitness people. This is for anybody. Episode 169. 


Brett Bartholomew  02:59

Alright, so let’s get into the meat of this. And we decided to do this episode, when we were running one of our apprenticeship workshops. And inevitably, we deal with people that have conflicts, this could be the owner of a company and their staff, the staff to the owner of their company. We’ve had married folks come to our apprenticeships, we’ve had a lot of different situations. And people have a lot of the same questions, right? There’s inherent, hey, how do I get this person to do this? How do I get them to see my point? How do I deal with somebody stubborn, and I want to just talk at a base level of some ways to look at this. Now. Keep in mind, there’s one thing I’m going to come back to again and again. And it’s a quote from Alan Rudolph. And Alan says, human identity is the most fragile thing we have. And it’s often only found of moments in moments of truth. 


Brett Bartholomew  03:47

Now, this is what I mean by this. If you’ve listened to me for a while, you get the sense that I’m a pretty intense guy. I’m wired for urgency, I can easily be perceived as aggressive, even though I’m just extremely passionate. And if you know anything about my story, especially me being hospitalized for a year in my life, you should know or hopefully at least understand that the reason I speak with such urgency, the reason I speak so frankly, is because I nearly lost my life at that age. And it gave me the perspective to think about the things I want to really be worried about when I’m on my deathbed. You know, whether that’s at 56, heaven forbid, or 96. But what are the things I really wish I would have said, How do I wish I would have said them? Where do I want to spend my time, right? Because time I don’t know about you guys, but time is the most valuable thing to me in the world. It is it just I’m not somebody that values a bunch of objects or material things i value time I value travel, I value moments because I know how quickly those things can go. Now we’re not getting wishy washy. So you know again, just hanging in there. 


Brett Bartholomew  04:50

And I think about these times or we’re on calls with people or we’re running workshops and somebody says, I’m really having trouble getting through to somebody and I asked them well What have you done? And, you know, they generally just talk about, well, I tried sitting down with them, I tried asking them this and that and what have you. But it’s a lot of peripheral attempts. And what I mean by that is oftentimes, we beat around the bush, we do we beat around the bush a lot. And why do we do that, because humans are really survivors. And we will do anything we can to move toward life and comfort and peace. But we’re also inherently self destructive meaning, we start with a simple idea, we start with a simple plan, maybe it is, hey, I’d really like this person to take more accountability. And then we’re so worried that that person is going to be offended, or that we’re not going to frame it up in the right way, that we wrap it in all this external messaging. And that external messaging inevitably leads to a miscommunication. 


Brett Bartholomew  05:48

Because remember, communication does not happen just because you tell somebody something. communication happens when both sides understand what is said, I’ll say that, again, communication doesn’t happen just because you tell somebody something. Communication is a shared process of meaning making, when both sides really understand what’s going on. And, and specifically, I think, a question that we got recently of an individual that said, hey, you know, I want to sit down with my clients. And there’s a conversation I wanted to have with keeping themselves accountable. And they said, for me, it’s always been hard to address because the elephant in the room, you know, I don’t want them to feel like I’m pointing the finger, but they do need to be more accountable. 


Brett Bartholomew  06:31

Now, I’m going to ask for your grace. Again, of course, there are many different things that depend on context and fit and what have you. But guys, sometimes it just pays to say what you mean. Now how you say it is where you can differentiate the Para verbal, right? But still so many people? Oh, hey, you know, I think that we could make better progress. And I’m really trying here, and I know you’re trying and 15 minutes later, they maybe get around the point of, hey, I’d like you to be more accountable. 


Brett Bartholomew  07:02

What about just taking a moment and thinking about what you want to say from a clarity standpoint? And generally, these are people you probably care about, or you appreciate their business, at the very least, and saying that say, Hey, Judy, and of course, I’m making up names here, Judy, I’m struggling specifically, because I really want you to do well. I really want you to do well. But I feel like there’s an asymmetry and accountability. Now, understand that Judy might be defensive, and that’s okay. You would be as well prepare a specific example. But don’t come at it. Like it’s a court case. Don’t say you remember, Judy, when you did this, that’s that’s not the point. Give them a chance to react. So if Judy says, Well, what do you mean by that? I’m trying my best. I’m a mother of three. And I’m working at this company, right? So you could say, well, yeah, and I appreciate that, Judy, I get that. I think what I’m meaning specifically is blank, right, and then state your case, now you have no business going to Judy and talking to her about being more accountable, if you don’t have specific examples in which that accountability has wavered, right. And so you need to be prepared for that. And then you need to use a combination of seeking her advice on what would remove some of those obstacles, or offering advice of your own. But as you add clarifying questions to the account, the situation, you’re going to have this shared power dynamic. Now, if that’s not a strong enough example for you, I’ll give you another one. 


Brett Bartholomew  08:27

And this could occur with family, I think of an incidence with my family. You know, I’ve told you guys before, that we’ve had some instances in my family where people die relatively young. Okay. And so between my own experience, and knowing my family history, one of heart disease and cancer, we try not to beat around the bush. And one of the reasons my wife and I decided to have our son, Bronson when we did is because I didn’t get to know my grandfather, really beyond the age of when I was 15, he had passed away. And that was my last grandparent. Well, my parents are, you know, in their 70s, or they’re getting up, you know, my mother is going to turn 70 this year. And so we wanted to ensure that we did everything we could to give Bronson that experience with them as long as they can. Now there were periods and of course, a lot of it leads to COVID. But it would have been nice to have some members of my family visit a little bit more often, mainly because you want them to have a relationship again with your grandson, my wife and I are pretty autonomous. We’ve We’ve lived away from home since 17, and 18, respectively. So we certainly don’t need them. Although we like to see our family. We don’t need them to come visit. This is more for our grandson. 


Brett Bartholomew  09:33

Now, we could sit here and say, hey, hey, mom, Hey, Dad. You know, Bronson’s getting bigger and this and this and this. Or you can just come right out and say and say, Hey, I’d like you to see Bronson more. I understand travel is complex, and you have a lot going on. But is there a time you could get down here? Could we work that out in the coming weeks? That’s just clear, guys. That’s clear. You know, but so many people because of the situations that they’re in either it’s family and you know, we all know how families are right, they can misinterpret a lot of things. Or maybe it’s a paying client where you’re scared of losing them. It is our fear in some capacity of not being light of somebody being angry with us, or what have you, that keeps us from just getting our message across more clearly. But you wouldn’t be surprised, right? And you think of it as a business owner, as well think about what happened during COVID. Think about how many businesses just came straight out and said, Hey, we’re suffering, and any support is appreciated. You know, if people were that honest, in 90%, of their marketing messaging, right, they probably do a lot better the rest of the time, not just COVID. You think about these things. And you think about all the back alley ways that people try to get you to support stuff or to buy stuff. There’s a lot of people that will trick you out there. Shoot you think about it in the apps that you download me and my coworker, Ali Kirschner, were talking about this the other day, there is an app that was going to provide a seven day trial, and they charge yet five, why? Because they didn’t think that you’d notice and the majority of people wouldn’t call and say, Hey, this is not appropriate, I did not sign up for that service. And this is an issue. 


Brett Bartholomew  11:05

Now, let me give you a more complex example. Right, I think of times, from a customer service standpoint, I’ve reached out. And there’s been an issue with the company. And I think about it recently, we ran an event in Phoenix, we had an erroneous charge. And I’m trying to give you guys a lot of examples. So you can pick up on this. And we had been charged an underage fee by a car rental company and a fairly exorbitant amount. Now, I’m 35, I shouldn’t be charged an underage fee based on the company’s policies and procedures. So inevitably, we have to elevate the dispute to the credit card company. And there’s nothing I hate more than dealing with customer service. Because as many of you can relate to you’re just put on hold constantly, you’re shifted to somebody new, it’s long wait times, and as you heard me say earlier, time is really important to me as it is many of you. So after dealing with this for a while, I finally get to my credit card company, and I speak to them. And I say hey, I’d like this charge removed. Well, Mr. Bartholomew, have you tried talking to the vendor? Yes, I have here was the result. And we went on and on and on and eventually said, Okay, we’ll remove the charge. But just keep in mind that, you know, if they reach back out to us, the charge might end up back on your card. Now that had happened to me before. Now mind you, this is a small business card that we probably put collectively over $50,000 on. And this erroneous charge was about 100 150. All included, right? So not much, but significant, especially in a time where as a business, every penny counts. And I remember talking to the individual, and there were many things I wanted to say. And as somebody that studies communication voraciously, there’s many ways I thought about how I could say them, I could use some type of archetype framework that I talked about in my book conscious coaching, we could have used a number of the influence tactics that I talked about and Bought In and our Apprenticeship workshops, I could speak to any number of the drives that that we talked about in our But here, I just wanted to get my point across. And the point was simple. I’ve spent a lot of money as a customer of this credit card company, a significant amount. And if they won’t believe me to the tune of $150, I don’t know that I’m going to do business with them. 


Brett Bartholomew  13:14

And so I just stated that I said, Dan, here’s the thing. As a customer, this feels really disappointing. While I appreciate the fact that you’re going to give me the benefit of the doubt, the way you phrase, your prior statement was that if this company comes back and says no, we were, you know, legit, and charging them this, you’re just going to charge this back. Well, yes, sir. It’s our company policy and what have you. I said, Okay, well, I just want you to know that if that occurs, you will be losing my business. And I didn’t say in a threatening way, I just said it in the straightforward way. 


Brett Bartholomew  13:43

And that’s because sometimes guys, that’s what being assertive means. Being assertive does not mean you’re aggressive. Being assertive doesn’t mean that you have to be over the top. Sometimes being assertive just means disclosing something in a very concise, relatable way. It does, you know, and we do this on the podcast as well. I can sit here and say, Oh, guys, hey, everybody listening, you know, I just, I hope you’re getting value out of this. And, you know, we count on your support and all this stuff. Or I could come out and just say, Hey, guys, we really like doing this podcast, and more importantly, we like doing it for you. If you have a moment, leave a review, because reviews really help us. And many of you understand because you’re in a service based industry, where word of mouth and reviews are important to you. So if you have a moment, or if you could just take a moment, leave us a review. Right? Like do you see how straightforward and honest that is? But if I sit here and worry about how you’re going to perceive me for asking for an honest review, then it muddies the message and you guys are gonna get annoyed with me. 


Brett Bartholomew  14:44

So I want you to just think about something for a moment. Please do a 24 hour recall or 36 hour recall guys do a month long recall whatever. And think about a time where you conveyed a message to somebody whether it’s your significant other, a co worker an intern whoever if you say prayers at night, maybe it was that, whatever it is think about where you just really didn’t know what to say. And you ended up saying something in a way that was way more convoluted. Or, Hey, I didn’t, I didn’t mean for it to come across like that, or man, like, I don’t know, if my message got across and just draw some columns here, drop, put in one column, what you really wanted to say, at its most basic level, such as I’m sorry, or I’d like you to be more accountable, or I feel like I can’t trust you, or, Hey, I really appreciate that whatever it is, what did you want to say? What was the core of the message? If it was on a newspaper headline? What would the story of the day have said, and then think about on the other column? What actually came out? Right, and you don’t need to remember it word for word, that’s not important. But what I want in that third column, then is a list of ways they may have misinterpreted that. Now I appreciate that you can’t read minds. Okay. But what I want you to think about in that case, then is when did somebody say something to you, that you’re pretty sure they meant something else. But you might have misinterpreted it. Right? 


Brett Bartholomew  16:10

I remember getting a text from a friend the other day, and I had just run, you know, two straight days of our workshop in Miami. And these are 16 hour days, right guys, like in terms of in total, right, we started eight to five. And sometimes we wrap early, but a lot of it is led by me. And so after the second day, I slept in probably slept until about eight. And I remember getting a text and my phone was off. But I saw that it was that, you know, 4:47 in the morning, and the individual said, hey, they made a request. And then within that message, they also said, you know, no worries getting back to me right away, I’m sure you’re up and at’ em trying to get as much accomplished as possible. Now, that was sent at 4:47 in the morning, I was not up and at’ em, there was a time of my life where 100% I might virtue signal or try to be competitive at you know how early I wake up and the amount of cold showers and meditation and specialty and workout routines I knock out before noon that day. I’m kidding, I never did that. And then there’s reality. And so but when I thought about that, I remember looking at my wife, Liz, and I said, I don’t really know how to take this, you know, they’re, they’re sending me a message at 4:47 kind of saying, Hey, I’m sure you’re up and at ’em and ready to attack the day? Is that kind of like a kick in the pants of if I’m not up and at ’em that I should take that personally. And Liz as you guys might say? No, they were probably just saying that, you know, to be nice, or what have you. 


Brett Bartholomew  17:39

But that’s my point, right? There are many things that we say that sometimes are vague and opaque. And this is why if you can’t recall something in the last 24 or 36 hours, I’d urge you to open up your text, open up your text, and look back at some of the texts that you saved or the text from somebody that you got, that was a little bit off, and maybe it rubbed you the wrong way. And then that’s that’s what I’m asking for in that third column, write down the multiple interpretations that might have been. 


Brett Bartholomew  18:06

And guys think about the adjacent possible even if you know what somebody said, let’s say somebody said, Hey, I really appreciate your time. Well, there’s people that can say that, and they really mean it. And then there’s people that can say that, you know, they’re being condescending. And that’s where the Para verbal comes in how somebody says it. Let’s say somebody says, you help somebody out and they say, Hey, I really appreciate your time, I want you to know that. And then maybe there’s another time where somebody reaches out and you have to set some boundaries and just say, hey, respectfully, you know, I’m kind of locked in at the moment. I have some other commitments, I can’t get, you know, can you give me a little bit of time to get back to you? And they say, oh, yeah, sure, yeah. Really appreciate your time, and they raise their eyebrows, and they say, and kind of a, that means something else. And the point is not to get you guys to overanalyze, the point is to get you to think the point is to help you understand that communication is a process. It’s ongoing, and that what we think we’re saying or what other people think they’re saying is not often how it’s interpreted. Now, we have a million studies of how this can be brought to light. And I’m not sure that those would always help. 


Brett Bartholomew  19:13

But I’ll give one really famous example. Okay, and this is something that really, really changed history. So if you think we, you know, we talked about it all the time of saying that a poor communication is the one thing that can be guaranteed to nearly make any situation worse. And we alluded to this in an earlier an earlier podcast, but there’s there’s a Japanese term, and I apologize if I’m not pronouncing it, okay. Called Mokusatsu. Right, it’s a Japanese word and, and it depending on you know, what area of the country or region or what have you and people’s interpretations, they might have different meanings for it, but in general, the word means to ignore or take no notice of or to treat with some kind of silence into contempt, okay. And when we think about this, there was an issue in World War Two. And this was after the Potsdam Declaration where there was a conflict with America, and Japan, fairly notable conflict, right related to Pearl Harbor. And the Japanese emperor was warned by America that either there’s gonna be some retribution. And I’m oversimplifying here for the sake of time, but they asked for a comment by the Japanese emperor, and that he had used the term mokusatsu. And what he meant by that is, essentially, like we haven’t reached a decision yet in terms of what we feel about America’s warning or their declaration. Right. He that’s, that maybe is what he meant. And we don’t know. And there’s a lot written about this, and there’s articles about this as well. But that was misunderstood, right, that was misunderstood by the United States is saying it wasn’t worth commenting on. 


Brett Bartholomew  20:58

And to this day, this argument continues to resurface this idea that mo Kusatsu was misunderstood and, and that this misunderstanding interrupted that negotiation for a peaceful end to World War Two. And that resurfaces, but the point is, is shortly after America misinterpreted that word, there was a bomb dropped. And that changed the course of history forever. And we even look at something more recent. And we think of Elon Musk tweeting something out about cryptocurrency, which sends things like Bitcoin tumbling, and if you’re not, you know, a crypto investor, listen, don’t don’t tune out. The point is, is that you have this currency now that is supposedly decentralized. Yet, when one person tweets about it, it can take a dramatic, a dramatic tumble. Or when China comments that they’re not going to honor it, it takes a tumble. Well, that’s pretty centralized to me when somebody’s words or actions can cause bombs to drop and cause prices of stocks to fall and what have you. 


Brett Bartholomew  22:01

And what happened originally is people said, well, when Elon Musk tweeted this out, they thought that he had sold all of his Bitcoin, Elon Musk did no such thing. But because tweets and emails and other things can be so poorly translated due to the mediums that they’re in, it leaves a worm for work room for misinterpretation. 


Brett Bartholomew  22:21

So that’s the theme of this episode. Think about all the things that could be misinterpreted. Think about the relationships that are struggling right now, or you’re struggling with in your life, that would even just be solved by saying, I’m sorry, I can’t count the number of times, you know, I acted rudely or inappropriately, because some work stuff got in my head. And I said something to my wife, you know, or maybe I just got frustrated. And, and then I had to come back down. And there were many things I could have said, and I could have done some large romantic gesture. But what I simply tried doing, and what I’ve been working on is saying, Hey, I’m very sorry, in 2021. And or sorry, 2020. In 2021, I bit off more than I could chew. And this is something I actually said, I thought I could balance a doctorate writing a new book, a podcast and all these things, I’m really trying to do good. And sometimes it feels like I’m letting myself down. And that makes me angry. And I took it out on you. And I apologize. So in short, I’m sorry for being an ass. And it’s not like this is going to part the seas, guys. 


Brett Bartholomew  23:25

But the point is, is just get it out. You know, there’s something in your life right now that’s been lingering. For days, there’s something that’s been lingering for months, there is an x in your life, or there is a business partner that you’re having frustrations with, or there is a client that you can’t figure out how to help. And what I’m encouraging you to do is get to the core of the damn message. Think about what that is, think about how to phrase it. I’ll give you another one. That will give you another example from somebody that that reached out to us. And they said, Hey, I have a co worker, that just will not work with me. I’ve tried having direct conversations with them to see if there’s an issue between us. And I’m always told there isn’t. But he continues to be very short with me when I try to talk to him about anything. Whenever I ask him a question, he immediately seems to get offended, and even walks out of the room while answering the question if he answers at all. And I think this is something a lot of people relate to. 


Brett Bartholomew  24:29

Now if I want to get really technical, we could break this down and I want you to do it with me. Okay, so when they say how do I work with a co worker that will not work with me? I could say well, what are what do you mean by not work with you? What are they doing? Is there silent protests? Are they not joining Team meetings? What we need to know what that means if we’re really technically going to break this down and have a true case study. We also would want to know how long that coworkers worked with them. Is this a lateral colleague, right? Is this somebody that isn’t The same position, is this somebody that’s a superior? Is this somebody that’s a subordinate? Because I hate to tell you, but you guys know this, this all influences it, right? 


Brett Bartholomew  25:09

When we think about why miscommunications occur, and this is a whole separate episode, you have to think about timing, you have to think about the role of environment, you have to think about other social factors that come into play with that person’s drives, positions, perceptions. And if this is frustrating you and you think, Well, why can’t the answer just be simple, I’d urge you to have some patience and consideration of the same reason that you can’t just go into a doctor’s office devoid of them knowing of your medical history, or what you’re allergic to, and giving you a prescription. You know, for for the life of me, I can’t figure out why some people think and this isn’t the individual that that reached out. So I’m not making a comment to that I’m talking in general, I’m talking about people that are lazy communicators, or think they’re already good enough and that everybody else is the issue. Why would we think that? Okay, a financial manager should be able to just make a decision without, you know, knowing anything about our financial history, or budgeting or spending, a doctor could make decisions without medication back or getting medical history, a trainer or strength coach could create a plan without understanding the specifics of the sport and individual nuances. You get the idea, so on and so forth. But that we shouldn’t consider these things with communication. 


Brett Bartholomew  26:20

We have to now the next thing I’d say if we were doing a technical breakdown together, is it his next line was I have tried having direct conversations with him to see if there’s an old issue? I’m sorry, I didn’t say old to see if there’s an issue between us. And I’m always told there isn’t. So that leads into guys, what what is a direct conversation? What does that mean? What is this person’s interpretation of a direct conversation? Is it hey, let me give them fake names here. Let’s say it’s Frank, and Suzanne, right? And let’s say, Hey, Frank, I feel like something’s wrong. Is that a direct conversation? Or is it Hey, Frank, what’s going on? I feel like there’s, I feel like there’s something between us what’s going on? Right? Is that a direct conversation? Or is it? Hey, Frank, are you good? Is that a direct conversation? We don’t know. Because everybody’s version of what is a direct conversation is going to be different. You know, you talk to somebody on the, in the, in the northeastern part of the United States, let’s look at Boston, in the city of Boston or New York City have direct conversations about to be very direct. There’s other parts of the country where people might, you know, they might not like confrontation, because it’s not part of the everyday hustle and bustle of life. And they could consider somebody direct or, you know, perhaps too direct if they stare at them for too long, and you never know. 


Brett Bartholomew  27:40

So that’s something else, we have to look at what is a direct conversation that we mean that to us? Because when that person says, Well, no, there’s not that think about what we said earlier. Right? Humans are survivors, we’ll do anything we can to move towards comfort and peace. So that person, maybe they’re not very confrontational, maybe they’re intimidated by this individual? Maybe, if it’s a superior, especially, or another colleague, what’s the history between them? Because that can make somebody not want to chat with you as well. So then they say, but they continue to be short with me. And when I try to talk to them about anything, well, what are those examples? And he does a great job laying that out. Whenever I asked him a question, he immediately seems to get offended, and even walks out of the room. Okay, so what kind of questions are you asking? Are these direct questions? Are you just saying, hey, what’s the deal? Why are you angry? Why are you being so short tempered? Why are you being weird with me? Or is it Hey, Did I do something that may have upset you? What could I do to make this situation better? You know, anything like that, or just get to the damn point? And say, hey, I really want to do a good job. I imagine you do as well. I can’t help but think there’s friction. And I’d really like to resolve it. Right? Because that’s really what you’re thinking when you go to work with a pain in the ass colleague. And you haven’t. If you haven’t done that, by the way yet, you will. But if you go to work with a pain in the ass colleague, you always have to think first of all, are you the pain in the ass because we’re all a pain in the ass to some degree. So you have to think where am I a pain in the ass? And then man, I really don’t want to deal with this today. How can I resolve this? And then think about what you want to say again, what’s what’s the headline? What are we trying to figure out? Like how I would like to respond to this individual who sent this question is, hey, can you give me more specifics? Right? Or I’d say hey, you know, where might you be the issue? Right? There’s, there’s things that you can ask them as well. So then the other thing I want you guys to pay attention to is when he said whenever I asked him a question, he gets offended and walks out of the room, while answering it if he does it all. Well, what room? Are you only having this conversation at work? I once had an issue with a colleague, and they were tremendously hostile at work. But then when I asked them to have lunch with me, and we found a third, I’m sorry, yeah, kind of a third home right? Have you consider that concept of, you know, your house is your first home working your second home. And the third home is like this safe space, like a restaurant or a coffee shop or whatever, I tried to find some neutral territory, and I offered to pick up the tab, and that conversation went a lot different, right, it went a lot different. 


Brett Bartholomew  30:11

Now, I don’t know if that’s gonna work for you, I know what’s not gonna work, right, what’s not gonna work, if you have a difficult colleague, is thinking that you’re not part of the problem, that this other person is the problem. And that without just getting to the point, and trying to find an environment that might be less intimidating, less direct, or just more friendly. And generally, that’s an issue if you’re not going to do those things. Because we often want people to change on our terms, I’m going to say that, again, we often want people to change on our terms. And that’s really what starts being the problem. It’s like that old quote, where they say, it’s not the load that breaks you. But how you carry it, right? Everybody has carried in some kind of shopping bag or suitcase, or maybe your son or your daughter. And it wasn’t that they were heavy, or whatever it might have just been, you know, you had to carry it awkwardly for a long distance, or you had to pick it up from a weird angle. And that’s what I’m alluding this to or relating this to, it’s not the conflict or the person. It’s the approach. It’s the approach. And, you know, you’ve got to figure out what kind of language is appropriate to this person, what kind of environment, you know, what the main issue is what you want to get across and get really clear. 


Brett Bartholomew  31:26

You know, I think about one time when I wrote something, and somebody really got on me about using some language, and that’s okay. You know, I know that I’m rough around the edges. I’m not somebody you want to have long conversations with, if you’re, you know, a part of what I would call and I learned this term from Stephen King, the Legion of Decency, right. And he says this, perhaps even better in his book, he was talking about how he used the word. And if you have kids in the car, I’m going to urge you to turn the volume down now are muted. I’ll give you a couple of moments. Okay, fair warning. So he talked about how we use the word shit, and one of his books. And he said, you know, the Legion of Decency, you might not like the word shit. And you might not like it either. But the fact is that I was writing about a point in my book, when a little kid ran in and told somebody that their sister had just essentially gone to the bathroom in the tub. And he goes, nobody says, Hey, Bobby defecated in the tub. Just like if you guys hit your thumb on the head with a hammer or you hurt yourself. Usually people don’t go, Oh, sugar, you know, usually people don’t say that. 


Brett Bartholomew  32:34

And that’s one of the rules of writing dialogue, by the way is you guys have to actually talk how real people talk, you can always tell if some people have been in certain situations, if it’s over edited, if it’s beautified. And that’s, that’s the thing here. So again, going back to the three columns, as we wrap this up, think about a time or a text or what have you go into your text, go into your emails, go to your memory bank, where, where can you figure out a time where there is something you are trying to say, right what that was, I’m sorry, I was wrong. I want this to be better. I’m trying to get through to you. I’m having trouble understanding, you know, could we try again, what have you write your own tendencies of how you beat around the bush, and then think about how you could clarify that based on how somebody could misinterpret it. And I’m warning you, if you think that Well, nobody could misinterpret what I’m saying, I’m as clear as a day. I’m letting you know, there, you’re the problem, because and this is how I’ll leave you. Meanings are not in words or phrases. They are in people. I’ll say it again, meanings are not in words or phrases, they are in people, there is what you say just like there is a tons of words in the dictionary, most of which have two meanings. But those two meanings aren’t gonna resonate with everybody, a meaning of a certain word means something else. And it’s usually not the dictionary definition to another person based on their life experience and their perception. And it’s going to mean something else to you. And it’s going to mean something else to you and you and you culture, and background and previous relationships and the way we interpret information in general colors the way we receive messages. 


Brett Bartholomew  34:24

So when I say meanings are in words and our meanings are not in words or phrases, they are in people. That inherently means that misunderstandings will occur even if you think you are incredibly clear. So you have a couple of exercises. You also have the exercise of what we call Half Life your message if I had to half life the message of this entire thing and whittle it down. I would say guys, sometimes just cut to the chase and say what you mean. Cut to the chase and say what you mean. Now that promotes dialogue. Be thoughtful, but be clear. Be thoughtful, but be clear, you want a very simple, easy way to practice this. 


Brett Bartholomew  35:05

Here you go. And this is unrelated to conflict. This is just an exercise of HalfLife in your message, I want you to stand in front of a mirror or record into your phone, if you don’t want to do that, whatever. I want you to talk about your name, and your background, how you got to do what you do right now, like, give, act like it’s a podcast interview, and somebody said, and I’m going to act like your names. And hey, and tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got on this path. And I want you to set a clock for two minutes. Okay, at the end of two minutes, I want you to do the same exercise, but now you only have a minute. At the end of one minute, I want you to do it again. But now you only have 30 seconds. And then after that it’s gonna be 15. And then after that go five. Now you might say, well, there’s no way I could possibly do that at five, I can’t cleave two minutes into five seconds and what have you. Yeah, you can, because this is an exercise in what’s called message prioritization. 


Brett Bartholomew  36:04

And that’s what this episode is about, speak like a human being, get the points out, and you will be amazed at how much fluff comes out of there. You know, I could sit here all day about my background in the hospital, and how that led me into, you know, a fascination with a body and social psychology. And then I got my background in motor learning and did an internship and did this. And then I wrote a book, right, or I could say, I nearly lost my life due to poor health care that was rooted in communication that made me fascinated with human performance and solving people problems of all kind. And now that’s what I do for a living boom, under 10 seconds. 


Brett Bartholomew  36:37

Now, if somebody wants more context, I can do that. Right? You think of this the way that when a barber or hairstylist does your hair trimmed your beard? What do you do for a living? Guys, they’re not really listen and beyond 10 to 15 seconds. So you have a lot of exercises here. But this is how you can solve a lot of your problems, quit beating around the bush, be respectful, be kind, but be clear and concise. And do a recall of these things and half life your message.


Brett Bartholomew  37:04

Listen, if this stuff helps you and I’m gonna be clear here as well. We have an app called Marco Polo channels. And in that we have weekly conversations about communication, stuff behind the scenes stuff that I don’t even share on this podcast. I’m not gonna oversell it. If you enjoy listening to us, and you want to learn from others sign up for it. Do we charge for it? Damn right we do. We charge for it. Because we take a significant amount of time to do this content and make it useful. We also pay to use the platform. So you can go to and check it out. There’s no bells, there’s no whistles, it gets you out social media. I don’t really like Facebook. I don’t like social media a ton. I have to do a little bit of it just like many of you do. But this is a way that we can have weekly conversations about communication and work on these things more frequently. If you don’t want to do that. And you say, yeah, yeah, piss off, Brett. All right. At the very least leave us a review. Because here’s something else that I’ll say. I would question. If you guys if you think about this stuff, if this is really providing value, and you like it and you support AOC and our message, we know that supportive people find a way to give back and I think about this too. I always want to think Alright, if somebody asked me to do something, and I don’t, I can’t be a hypocrite the other way. So I know this is tough love. I know it’s straight talk. And no, we’re not desperate. Right? We just think that people should help each other out. So check out our channels, leave us a five star review on the podcast, send to a friend, do whatever and then get clear on your messaging, and you’ll be surprised at what it does for your relationships. Until next time, guys, Brett Bartholomew Art of Coaching podcast. We’ll talk to you soon.

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