In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

If a total stranger came up to you and asked you to write the word “pickle” in a library book so they could prank their friend (and not have their handwriting recognized), would you do it? Sounds strange, but think about this for a moment…

Research (performed by today’s guest) overwhelmingly shows that we say yes more often than we say no to requests like this (despite the request requiring us to engage in socially undesirable behavior).

Why? We all have more influence than we think but because we aren’t aware of how we come across or are too nervous to ask for what we actually want/need, we often struggle to see the direct link between our behavior and people’s changing perceptions, actions and opinions.

Dr. Vanessa Bohns is an experimental social psychologist and professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University, and holds a PhD in psychology from Columbia University and an AB from Brown University. She is the author of You Have More Influence Than You Think: How We Underestimate Our Power of Persuasion and Why it Matters (OUT SEPTEMBER 7th, 2021). Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and Harvard Business Review, and her research has been featured by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and NPR’s Hidden Brain.

We discuss:

  1. Why informal influence (gestures, facial expressions, tone) can trump formal influence
  2. The best (and worst) mediums to use when influencing others
  3. Why you should always just MAKE THE ASK if you want or need something
  4. Consent & why we say yes even when we don’t want to
  5. The 3 things we can do to assess the influence we have and better utilize it

Connect with Dr. Bohns:

*PSA* Pick up her book TOMORROW: September 7th, anywhere you can get the book. 

Via Twitter: @profbohns

Via her book: You Have More Influence Than You Think: How We Underestimate Our Power of Persuasion and Why it Matters

Via her website:


You heard from Dr. Bohns herself that experience and knowledge are two VASTLY different things. What if we could see ourselves influencing others in real time, understand what tactics we have at our disposal and how to make sure we come across as we’d like. That’s what the Apprenticeship (our live two day workshop) is all about: role playing, video analysis, a research backed evaluation, and lots of practice. But we’re officially down to our last few Apprenticeships of 2021! 

Join us before the end of the year: 

Finally, a resource that can help with self-awareness: Take our FREE and SHORT quiz to learn what really “drives” you and underlies your behavior. Better yet, have your whole staff or team take the quiz. Unlike other personality assessments (of which this is not), we measure your behavior in different contexts because we all show up differently depending on time, place and people. So take it once when you’re in a great mood, once in a poor mood, once when you’re hangry, once when you’re feeling fresh. You get the point.


Brett Bartholomew  0:08  

What’s gonna set you apart? I mean, literally what’s gonna set you apart? Is it your knowledge and what you do? Is it your ability to motivate others? What do you think is going to set you apart in a crowded marketplace, whether you’re trying to move up to the C suite, whether you’re just trying to get an internship, whether you’re trying to be noticed by somebody that you care about deeply, and you want to establish a relationship with what’s gonna set you apart? If you ask yourself this or you’re not sure, or maybe you have a little bit of hubris and you think you know, but you want to check your blind spot, man, urge you guys go to again, that’s We have a quiz, it’s completely free, and it may tell you some things about yourself or others that surprise you. Check it out, now learn what will actually set you apart or what might be your Achilles heel


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.


All right, in today’s episode, we have Dr. Vanessa Bohns. Dr. Bohns is a social psychologist and a professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University. She also holds a PhD in Psychology from Columbia University, and an AB from Brown University. She is the author of the upcoming book and you guys have to check this out, make sure to preorder it or order it. If you’re listening to this down the road. It’s called you have more influence than you think how we underestimate our power of persuasion, and why it matters. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times the Harvard Business Review, and her research has been featured by The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and NPR is hidden brain. Now here’s what I know about all of you listening, or at least our most dedicated listeners, all those things are great and very impressive. But I know from your feedback, most of all, you just value people that are upfront, candid, engaging, and don’t mind having a real conversation. And Dr. Bohns  did this with me. So I think you’re really going to love this episode. She is certainly anything but your average academic. We had a lot of fun. Dive in. Here we are with Dr. Bohns.


Hey, everybody, welcome back to another episode of The Art of coaching podcast. I am here with Dr. Vanessa Bohns . Thank you for joining me. I really appreciate it. Dr. Bohns .


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  3:23  

Thanks for having me. I’m really excited to be here. 


Brett Bartholomew  3:25  

Yeah, I hopefully you’re laughing a little bit right now. Because off air like hey, Vanessa, Dr. Bohns , we agreed on Vanessa. But like I said, the Midwestern in me. So we’re gonna go back and forth. Listen, we’ll cut right to the chase, you are somebody that I find absolutely fascinating. For many reasons. One, our audience knows our work for some of the things that we do for power dynamics and persuasion and influence. Your research is very much in that space in its own right, about how we underestimate our own influence how we overestimate the amount of rejection that we might get when applying that, right people that sometimes just don’t want to ask for help or don’t want to state their opinion or don’t want to ask a question because they’re nervous, right? But like, does anybody care? Does anybody take me seriously? Can you give us a little bit of background as to how you even got interested in the subject of influence and how that’s manifested in your career?


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  4:17  

Yeah, sure. So I am an experimental social psychologist. And as a graduate student at Columbia. I was working on a project with a professor there. And I was basically doing what you do as a grad student, and you go and sort of collect data. And I did that in New York Penn Station since I was at Columbia. And I was going up to people and basically making a request, like you said, like this anxious kind of nervous thing going up to people again, and again, and again, needing them to fill out the survey. So you know, hey, we fill out my survey. And we have this hypothesis for that particular study that didn’t wind up working and I actually just vaguely remember the details of it now. But when we looked at the data, we were so struck by how many people were actually agreeing to this request, or like, actually, most of the people in New York Penn Station that you’re going up to, are saying yes. And so we felt like our surprise might sort of be the actual discovery there. And so that’s how I really got into influences trying to get people in my study to participate, right, trying to influence strangers, basically, to do this thing for me. And since then, what I’ve been really interested in is this misperception that people have about influence. So like, for example, people like Bob Cialdini, right talk about how to get people to do things, my sort of contribution to that, and the way that I’m different from that is I look at what people think is the best way to get people to do things and how we tend to be wrong, sort of in our intuitions about influence a lot of the time.


Brett Bartholomew  5:53  

Yeah, and I appreciate that specifically, because it’s something that I think that and feel free, you can always disagree with me, it’s not one of those shows where we’re looking for echo chamber by any means. But it’s always bothered me, that power and influence has always kind of been almost hyper sexualized or sensationalized in the media and many books, right, we know that there’s no shortage of people, and out there that have written these things and probably presented them in not always the best light. And so the general public opinion is these terms are even shrouded with some sort of ambiguity, I think influence unfortunately, even became a byproduct of when influencers on social media, then people get this idea in their head. But the thing that I especially appreciate about is, like you said, we don’t need to spend as much time trying to gain influence, or learn some kind of trick, as opposed to taking a step back and really take an inventory as to how this already manifests in everyday life. And I have to wonder, based on your curiosity, what were you surprised to learn about yourself and, various influence tactics that kind of came naturally to you, and maybe some ones that you abstained from? You know, with so many people in academia and research, we know that we can lean on rational persuasion and try to lead with facts and figures, but what is the influence you found that you have when you took inventory of these things?


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  7:13  

Yeah, I mean, first of all, say that I completely agree with you that, you know, you look at the landscape of, research, and, you know, books and seminars and articles about influence. So it’s just like, try this, try that, try this. And there are all these tips on like, how to stand up and embrace your influence and take up space and like, formally influence people. And it would make you think that, like, we need so much advice on influence, you know, because those things are just so popular, and they’re all out there, when the research that I’ve looked at as a social psychologist, who studies influence shows that we have so much influence over people all the time, we just have these biases, that mean that we don’t actually see when we’re actually influencing people. And that kind of formal influence, right of like, I’m going to stand up and give this lecture or I’m gonna, you know, give us you know, pump up talk and influence people is only one type of influence. And at the same time, like, every time you make a little face or make a little comment, or, you know, people are paying attention to that, and you’re impacting people that way, and we don’t tend to think of that as influence in the same way. And so, you know, to answer sort of your second question about what I’ve been surprised to learn, and this really has been surprising to me, is that given all these tricks and tips out there about how to influence people, and they do work, like a lot of them work a little bit, right? The thing is, it’s only a little bit. So if you ask something in one way, you know, you’re a little more likely to get people to agree, if you ask this kind of person, they’re a little more likely to agree. And in my research, what I’ve found is that all those little things are kind of small compared to the difference between what we think is going to happen if we ask someone and what actually happens. So we may obsess about like, I need to say this the exact right way I need to, you know, write out this email so that I’m asking for something in the perfect way. But really, it’s not about asking for things in the correct way. It’s about doing the ask, and then people are more likely to agree to that. And they listen to us more than we would expect. 


Brett Bartholomew  9:17  

Yeah, I mean, I think a natural example is you and I didn’t this is the first time we’ve chatted, right. And I know, one thing that I’m trying to work on as a leader is delegating. And as our company grows, I can no longer reach out to everybody that I find fascinating. Now that’s at natural odds of what I just believe is proper decorum. I would love it. If I could have just reached out to you through a friend and had been, you know, Hey, Dr. Bohns ,, Brett Bartholomew done the pitch, right? But I’ve had to delegate that. And so there’s a certain amount of trust on your end, right? There’s a trust on your end that a third party really put us in touch. And then I’m sure you’ve had both good and bad podcast experiences. And so it’s really easy for me to think well, I’m not going to try to reach out to these folks whose work I admire or they fascinate me cuz they’re just gonna tell me no anyway. 


And so I’m interested in if you wouldn’t mind just you can be as explicit as possible. When you hear from a stranger, like me, or a third party that connects you with me, what are some things that went through your head? And I think this will be helpful for our listeners, because I know they’re terrified to leverage the influence that they already have. Because they’re worried about that other person’s perspective and theory of mind. They don’t want to bug them. But what was your thought process? Like when we reached out to you?


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  10:26  

Yeah, that’s a great question. And I will say, we do have some research on the difference between reaching out over email versus talking to someone face to face or through other media. And so it might be different. But I think one of the things we find when you reach over to someone you don’t know through email, is this issue of trust that you brought up. So when you go up to someone face to face, and you talk to them, right, maybe someone brings you by someone’s office and says, Here, I’m going to introduce you to so and so. Or maybe you just stop by someone’s office, and you talk to them, you’re a real live person in front of that, other person, and they could sort of judge you and decide whether they trust you. over email, you’re just a name, you know, an unknown name. And it’s hard to know whether you trust someone. And so that’s where it’s extra hard to convey that trust and to get that trust over email, as opposed to face to face. And so exactly what you did when you reached out and you said, Hey, we have this, you know, acquaintance that we both know, that immediately says, Okay, I trust this person, I’m going to read on, you know, I’m interested in this, someone else has kind of given me that social proof. And so it’s interesting, as much as I say, the how matters less than the doing. There is one exception to that in our research, and it is the email exception. And that’s where it’s so much more important to kind of convey trust in those kinds of ways. All of that said, it’s still hard. And I find this and I think a lot of people will find this to say no, even over email, right? If you’re, you know, I do get a lot of requests from people. And each time, even if I don’t know them, and I know, I’m gonna say no, you know, I feel guilty, I write a super nice response back because I don’t want to make them feel bad. And I think people on the other end, don’t really expect that they think that oh, this person is gonna blow me off. I’m gonna annoy this person. But actually, you know, that person does care. We don’t want to be jerks to other people, right?


Brett Bartholomew  12:20  

Yeah, no, I’m glad you brought up the medium, right? Because it’s such an important component of communication and communications, primarily, how we influence right is, I wish there was a technology and I know there are in various formats, but it might not be the proper way to do it yet, or of kind of saying, Hey, here’s an extension of me in a more context rich medium. And I’d love to have been able to meet you that way. But sometimes we are limited by that, you know, whereas, you know, something, let’s say somebody quits their job, or they’re breaking up, right? We all know that. Nobody should do that via text and what have you. And there’s a million other ways to do that, because that’s an established relationship. But it does get tricky, especially during COVID. I think some things that went through my mind and be interesting to see if there’s anything that this brings about in discussion is, I think, okay, we need to reach out to her. And we want to be respectful for a time, right, because we know that you get bombarded. You know, you have a book, your book comes out September 7, right? You have more influence than you think September 7. 


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  13:13  



Brett Bartholomew  13:14  

right. So all of a sudden, I’m sure you know, you have all these things lined up. Now, I know, when people ask me to come on their podcasts via email, there’s something that I’m immediately wary of, and they’re quirky, but when somebody almost it’s like, they try to oversell themselves, or if they and it’s like it’s a picture of them in a suit, and it’s all their accolades, and how awesome they are. And like, whoa, just humanize this a little bit, you know, and then on the other end, but I worried because I’m like, Hey, I’ve written a book, too. And I want to tell you that listen, I’m not just a hobbyist with it, but if I feel like if I tell you that it was a best seller, then you’re gonna think I’m an ass. And there’s so much noise that goes in, within our heads and, that can manifest itself as insecurities. Talk to me a little bit about what your book and your research says about that, when we’re trying to really take stock of our influence, but we also have to battle those inherent insecurity that keeps us from using it.


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  14:09  

Yeah, I think that we do tend to think that we need to sort of overdo it and throw in all our accolades and kind of like, make this big pitch to get attention. Partly because, you know, we’ve been told forever that people’s attention is, you know, this valued thing that’s really scarce. And you have to kind of jump in front of people and wave your hands around and kind of get people’s attention. And there are forms in which that is true, right? Like an advertising you want to you kind of need to grab people’s attention. But this is particularly where the medium really matters. Because when you’re around other people in person, you don’t need to wave your hands around to get people’s attention. People are already we are wired to pay attention to the people around us. We’re listening to what they have to say we care a lot about what they think of us. And so this kind of idea that I need to sell myself, and especially like a hard sell, is really just not true. And I think also, you know, what people are doing in those email contacts is kind of compensating for that medium and the lack of richness in that medium, as you were saying. And so we have studies, and some other people have done studies as well, looking at when you ask people for things, and also when you just connect with people over email versus richer media, like zoom or over the phone. And there is this greater sense of trust. And this greater sense of connection when it is, you know, a richer medium, not surprisingly. But one of the things that we found really surprising is that when we have people ask for things over email, over zoom over phone, and in person, nothing beats in person, again, complicated because of COVID. And it’s unfortunate that that’s sort of the conclusion we have to draw, but even zoom where you know, you are face to face with someone and you’re talking to them in real time, it still just doesn’t be you know, the connection that you could form with someone in person.


Brett Bartholomew  16:02  

Yeah, no, it’s a good point. And you’ll have to forgive me if this next question doesn’t come out super seamlessly. It’s something that I want to ask you in conjunction with that. You make it a point, I’ve heard you in previous interviews, and I thought you did this really eloquently. You talked about, hey, I’m an experimental social psychologist, specifically interested in understanding social interactions, right? That’s, core of what our company art of coaching is about is the nuances of social interactions. We think that if you have better interactions, regardless of the intervention, you’re going to have a higher likelihood of success. 


That said, we still live in a society where people tend to think they’re better communicators than they are. And we have this idea that we’re socially skilled, that by and large, can fit into a kind of Dunning Kruger are better than average effect. You know, when it comes to people better utilizing the influence they have, that still is gonna require them to become better or more effective communicators in context. How do you think we get a society and I know this is broad, so feel free to pontificate. But how do you get people to maybe think about like, yeah, maybe I’m not as good at social interaction as I think I am? And how to even train them from a communication standpoint, so that they can then use that influence. Does that make sense? I know, that’s long winded. But it’s all about how do we become more skilled at social interactions? So that influence is leveraged more appropriately, ethically, and, effectively?


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  17:28  

Yeah, so your point is interesting about the sort of assumption that we tend to overestimate how good we are as communicators, because we so the research I talked about in the book is actually a lot about how we actually underestimate our ability to influence other people and communicate to other people. And how we do as you mentioned, like there’s the Dunning Kruger effect, and all these other overconfidence findings. And so it’s true that people are overconfident in the things that they believe, right? They think that whatever they think is absolutely true. They think they’re, you know, smarter than other people more moral than other people, less bias and other people. And so the things they say are, like obvious, right? But it turns out that there’s all this recent research showing that we’re actually under confident when it comes to actually conveying our ideas to other people, and getting people to listen to us, and people liking us. So a lot of the research I’m talking about in the book is how we like obsess about exactly how to word things. Like I don’t want to say something, you know, so that it’s gonna offend someone, or how do I say this just right, or, you know, I said something really stupid in that meeting, and now I’m obsessing about it afterwards. And so many of those concerns are overblown. And actually, we’re doing much better than we think. So some of the things I talk about are something called, for example, fuzzy trace theory. So this is a theory in which we hear what other people say. And we remember, but we remember it very vaguely. So you may make this case that sort of, like awkward and weird, and you don’t phrase it quite right. And you’re like, after the fact, like, how did I say that? You know, why didn’t I say that so much better. And you were really inarticulate. But the other person just remembers. Oh, that’s, you know, Vanessa’s opinion on that. And so you have this impact. And then because I realized someone I know has this opinion. And I’m going to take that with me as I go about, you know, the rest of my day and going forward, and not obsessing over all those tiny little details that she maybe didn’t say exactly perfectly. So it’s more sort of about expressing yourself genuinely, and not obsessing about exactly what you’re saying. And also, I’d say being paying more attention, as I mentioned, sort of at the top of the influence that you have when you’re not like doing this whole formal influence shield when you’re actually like actively trying to influence someone, but being really aware of the ways in which you’re contradicting yourself, you know, An hour later when you’re rolling your eyes at something, or you know making a face at something. So if you’d like give this big public speech, and you have this big, like bold attempt at formal influence, and then you kind of make a terrible face later when someone does something. They’re paying attention to all of that. Right? So you are having this unintended influence at times as well.


Brett Bartholomew  20:19  

Yeah, I’m glad you elaborated on that. I think you know, where I was coming from on that. And I love that the point your book makes and this makes it even more interesting from just analyzing your own behavior is, when we initially talked to our primary audience early on a lot of people in the performance realm about coaching and communication, we noticed there’s this huge gap right out of 265, Coach development workshops, less than 6% Focus on interpersonal skills. And most coaches said they wouldn’t pay to go to anything that worked on interpersonal skills and social interactions. And many of them were like, Well, I do this every day as part of my job. And so then it’s interesting, because you almost wonder what kind of, you know, is it? What’s the word of impression management? Right? Do people tend to think well, I’m not that good at it. And so they shield themselves from really building this skill? Because, you know, even if you take stock of what influence you have, and even if you quit under estimating yourself, you’ve got to deliver that. And I just always found that fascinating in when people even look at influence and communication. I mean, these two are there, they’re part and parcel, but we just don’t see a lot of that training within the coaching space. Now, I know that can be different in corporate environments as well. But yeah, that I think you’ve learned tremendous insight there. We think the book says, No, we actually think we’re not that great at it. And that makes us kind of shield ourselves or run from this. But then there’s some other people that think Well, yeah, I mean, this is what I do every day of my life. Any thoughts on that?


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  21:45  

Yeah, for sure. You know, my colleague, just the other day reminded me of this great quote by Kurt Lewin, who’s a famous psychologist, it’s experience alone does not create knowledge. And so that’s something I talk about in the book as well, that it’s true that you can say, sort of, you know, I do this every day, I have all this experience. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re learning anything from that experience, just doing it, right isn’t enough. So one of the things I talk about in the book is the need to sort of integrate that experience with your existing knowledge base and reflect on the things that you’re doing. And it is possible, you’re missing a lot of the influence that you have. And so therefore, sort of underestimating the way you’re impacting people, you know, whether it’s people you’re coaching, or whomever, and ways you might not intend. And so, I mean, one of the things I was thinking, related to coaching is how, you know, coaches get their players to watch tapes of their performance, right to figure out sort of what they’re doing. And one of the things I talk about in the book is this ability to sort of get out of your own head and see what you’re actually doing, like, be able to view your influence from a third party perspective. You know, you can think of it as like, why don’t we watch tapes of us coaching, you know, like, get out of our heads and think about like, what did I say? What are my, you know, players responding to, for example?


Brett Bartholomew  23:06  

Yeah, no, I’m glad you brought that up. That’s something we draw heavily from Kolb’s experiential learning inventory. And we do that at our workshops will put people in these constrained based scenarios, right, make them improvise or roleplay, whatever terminology you know, somebody wants to use, and, then we’ll have them watch it back. And we do something where they score themselves, right, so that we get that inherent egocentric bias, another person in the Workshop will score them so they get a peer bias. And then we come together in groups, and kind of get that group bias. And the idea is, we’re never going to always leverage our influence perfectly or communicate perfectly. It’s more about managing that perceptual gap. And your book does a really good job of elucidating on this too. And in many respects, I think, you know, it’s chapter five, right, the one subtitle, the dark side of misunderstanding the influence we have over people, right, and we talked about in our own work, the dark side of virtues and how people can weaponize guilt and what have you. But there’s a study that you write about where 64% of participants engage in vandalizing a library book at the request of a stranger. And in this study, the you realize kind of the discomfort of saying no is greater than the potential consequence of the undesirable behavior, and we witness undesirable behaviors when we reflect on video or conversations or what have you. But specifically about that part of the book, I found that fascinating. Would you mind giving our listeners a little bit more insight as to what that study is about? And what that told you about this aspect of social behavior?


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  24:31  

Sure, as I said earlier, you know, when I got into this, it was really about, you know, oh, when I go up to people, and I ask them for a favor, they’re much more likely to say yes, than I think. And so early on in my graduate career as we started to explore that, you know, we had participants in our studies, go up to strangers ask for favors, like Could I borrow your phone? We give me directions to this place where you sponsor me for a race. And each time people were more likely to comply, then People thought. And so we kind of thought what’s going on here, people just way nicer than anybody thinks. And that’s what our participants thought they would come back and be like, oh, people are really nice. They said, yes, so much more than I expected. And as we sort of delved into the actual mechanism underlying that disconnects between what we think is gonna happen, what actually happens, we found that what was really driving those effects is that it was just really hard for people to say, no, so someone’s standing there in front of you asking for something, you can’t find the words to say, No, you feel like you’re gonna offend them. You feel like a jerk, as you said, it’s almost like weaponizing guilt. But in this case, you’re kind of asking for our favor. 


And so because that was the mechanism, it’s not like, oh, people are so nice. We thought, well, this must be a bigger phenomenon, right? It’s not just about people doing good things. It’s also that you maybe can get people to do bad things more than you expect. And people feel bad saying no to those things. And so we ran this study, which was basically a similar format, where participants went up to people and asked them to vandalize the library book, as you said, they were not real library books. Sometimes I get in trouble when I talk about this, and people don’t understand that. But basically, we took all these books from my shelf, and we made them look like library books. We sent our participants into libraries, they went up to people, and they said, Hey, I’m trying to, you know, I’m playing a prank on my friend, will you just write the word pickle in this library book? Because they know my handwriting. And so they’d hand people a pen that hand them this library book. And people would say, This doesn’t seem right. You know, I feel like we’re gonna get into trouble the kind of hesitated, very similar to you know, if you’re familiar with like the Stanley Milgram studies, and people don’t want to continue to shock the person. On the other side, there’s this resistance, this hesitation this, like, I don’t want to do this, will you take responsibility for this, but the majority of people did it. And many more people agreed, then our participants thought, and it was really because it was so hard for people to say no to this request.


Brett Bartholomew  27:05  

quick pause for a moment to acknowledge something critical, Dr. Bohns is set here. Now her research details how important it is to better understand the nature of social interactions and how we see ourselves how we process our thoughts and feelings, how we both get and take perspective at the end of the day. And if we can’t get out of our own heads, and if we can’t learn how to quit being so hard on ourselves, so that we can make a bigger impact with the influence we have all of us risk ultimately feeling stagnant, unsatisfied, and simply stuck within our own professional progress and our personal relationships. Well, we couldn’t agree more at art of coaching, which is why we have created the world’s first workshops of their kind to improve social interaction. And it couldn’t be more timely because the world is more chaotic than ever. Now, in these workshops, you can train this skill, you can see yourself on video, you can go back. And if we put you in a role playing scenario, and you feel like man, I didn’t handle that well, or I lost my temper. I didn’t know what to say, we go back, we do it again, we break it down. And you can engage in discussions with peers, from your field and other fields on how to improve, you’re also going to be able to walk away with a tangible assessment as to where you are at the moment in terms of your skill at social interaction, at communicating at adapting at handling your emotions, that processing your thoughts. And when we work together to bridge this gap. Ultimately, we’re going to have higher self confidence, more clarity of thought, and the ability to ask better questions when it matters most. So we can improve in our development and those relationships. 


So to get ahead, and to take part in this visit, The name is purposeful. None of us will ever be perfect communicators. None of us will ever be perfect at the complexities of social interaction. But we do need to be an apprentice we do need to commit to a process to improve these workshops take place worldwide. And they’re open to people of all ages, experience levels, backgrounds, professions and the like. They’re certainly inclusive, but spots are limited. So visit now. Okay, back to Dr. Bohns.


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  29:26  

But the majority of people did it. And many more people agreed then our participants thought and it was really because it was so hard for people to say no to this request.


Brett Bartholomew  29:35  

Yeah, I think that’s the thing that we often get high and mighty about as a society is pretty interesting. Whether you’re referencing the Milgram experiments, the Stanford Prison Experiment, all these classic experiments, right, where people tend to think that again, well, we wouldn’t do this, and I wouldn’t do this. And I couldn’t believe that. And I remember one time getting into a friendly argument, right with a colleague. And I said, that’s interesting. So do you think that everybody that eluded during her Again, Katrina, just a bad person, you know, and we often miss attribute situational, whether that’s environmental effects, the context of timing or history in general, social factors. We always think that fundamental attribution or, no, that person’s crazy. Well, it’s like, think about this. We’ve all spent in traffic, and we think we’re either late for a flight, I gotta get somebody to the hospital, what have you, yet somebody else speeds? Oh, they’re, insane. They’re psycho. They’re reckless. 


Are there any kind of just from a humorous standpoint, as you go deeper down these rabbit holes? And this is your life’s work? What are some just funny or quirky or idiosyncratic things you’ve witnessed about yourself? Within these contexts of like, Wow, I can’t believe I did that, or, yeah, I can’t believe I thought that . And of course, I’m not asking you to divulge anything super personal, just anything that like you see more of yourself and become more self aware as a manifestation of the work you continue to do.


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  30:58  

I mean, I’m constantly, you know, finding it hard to say no to things and having to remind myself of my own research, and like the advice I give to people on how to say, no, people ask me all the time, you know, how do I say no to these things? I mean, I’d say, it’s just fun to run these experiments, because I can’t tell you how often we design an experiment. And we say there’s no way this is going to work. Right, that library vandalism study, we were sure that would not work, we were sure people would say no to that. We’ve run a study recently, where we asked participants to unlock their phone and hand it over to a complete stranger so that they can go through their web search history. And we have people look mortified, confess the weirdest things like, if you see a search about this, it’s only because I was doing this, you know, just like spontaneously confess these things, even though you know, ethically, we don’t actually look through their phones, they don’t know that they clearly think it’s true, and are kind of like telling us what to expect. And again, we were sure that no one would do this, the vast majority of people just handed it over, even though they were clearly uncomfortable with it, you know, and that was another study. It’s just time and time again, we’re like, this won’t work. This won’t work. Like how far can we really take these things? And it seems like pretty far Unfortunately,


Brett Bartholomew  32:19  

these are always things that I’m always fascinated, and I love reading the methods description for right when they have to go to the Review Board. Hey, here’s the methods. Here’s what we ask them. And there’s gonna be people that are like, Oh, Are you kidding me? And that that’s an interesting thing in and of itself. Right? And this is an inherently selfish question. I’ll come out with it. And your book tells me this is okay. So you know, when we have to open people’s minds to the idea of something and we’re trying to leverage our influence, right? And inherently, there’s going to be some requests that we’re uncomfortable with, as you do more and more of these, I’m sure there’s some traditional academics that view these things as I don’t like this study, why can’t you just keep it simple this and that, how do you broach people that are just stubborn and stuck in their own way? Because I know a lot of our audience, they have these jobs, whether major tech companies, maybe they’re firefighters, they’re in the military. And inevitably, there’s those individuals, those power brokers, who they almost do need to be have a message framed a certain way. 


Now, I know you don’t focus on the how I know you said that’s important. But what should be the dialogue they have in their own head when it’s like, okay, I need to take stock of the influence I do have, and whether it’s the use of a question, to get them to kind of think, from the Socratic method standpoint and influence them that way. Or how can I overcome kind of this inertia that I might feel when making this request that might get turned down by superior? And if that’s not clear enough? I’ll try to rephrase it because I know I rambled a bit.


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  33:42  

Yeah, no problem. I mean, I have a lot of thoughts on that, even though I do focus more on the doing. So I mean, like, the first thing I always say is that actually, if there’s something you want to ask for, asking for it is always the first step. Right. So we could talk about the how we could talk about exactly, you know, the kinds of things you could say the kinds of follow ups. But at the end of the day, so many people assume they’re going to get a no or are worried about how they’re going to be judged for asking both those things are overblown, people are judged less harshly for asking for things than we think so that the research shows that people are more likely to say yes to things than we think, which is my research. And so the first step is always actually just going ahead and ask and not negotiate basically negotiating yourself down before you actually negotiate with the other person, right? by convincing yourself not to ask, but then you sort of get into the places where we do find differences so as I already said, asking a person whenever possible, makes a huge difference. Asking if you can’t be in person as a lot of us can’t right now ask me through the richest medium you can find is the next best thing. Some other things you can do are to mirror the values that the other person has. And so if you’re asking like I you know, I get asked a lot right now All because people are sort of negotiating their work schedules and how much they’re going to be in person versus, you know, working from home. So if you know that your company really cares about productivity, you make a pitch based on productivity. You know, over this past year, I’ve been, you know, I’ve shown that I’ve been really productive working from home, if you know that the person you’re going to ask really cares about work life balance, you say, you know, you’ve been really stressing how important it is to have work life balance, and this is going to give me that. So whatever it is that you know, sort of the other person’s values are, you want to try to make your pitch based on that. And then the other thing that I always like to point out, because at the end of the day, you know, I can say people say yes to you more than you think, blah, blah, blah, they still say no, to you half the time? Right? That doesn’t mean everyone’s gonna say yes, of course. 


But the research shows, our research shows that people then the next time you ask are actually more likely to say yes, because they feel bad about saying no, the first time. And so so many of us think and this goes back to you mentioned the fundamental attribution error, right? We think if someone says no to us, they’re just that type of person. You know, you mentioned like, the people you’re asking are like these stubborn people who are just, you know, we assume it’s something about that person, it’s something about oh, they would never agree to that ask, but often, it’s a product of circumstance. And so if you can go back at another point, it’s often possible that someone will say, Yes, down the road, but people often close the door after that first note, they don’t want to go back and kind of ask for something a little differently or ask again,


Brett Bartholomew  36:30  

yeah, it can be painful. I mean, even the person that connected us, right, we’ve chatted on the phone before and at one point in time, I had reached out and said, Hey, can you make time for a conversation? He was like, no, but here’s some great people that can. And as we get older, and we make more asks, in life, you just realize that right? It’s part of just theory of mind. Like, you don’t sit there and think oh, my gosh, like there are people that I have to say, hey, right now is not a great time for me. And so, you know, it’s always good to remind ourselves that, Hey, when did you say no? When were you stubborn? When were you in this position? There are myriad reasons these things happen. And it could just be timing. And there’s a difference between an occurrence and a trend. And you make that point wonderfully. Now you talk about being judged. And we’ve talked a lot about the idea that again, the central idea that we’re not lacking in influence, we’re lacking in our awareness of it, 


when it comes to being judged. What role does age play in this because I know we’ve had people that reach out to us. And you know, I got judged for writing a book at the age of 30. In my core profession where I started out, there was a lot of well, what do you know, you’re only 30. And no matter who I could have said, well, there’s Nobel Prize winners that have gotten that award in 20. We have them you know, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein at 18. You know, what’s the big deal about that? But then on the other end, we’ve had people that reached out to us or our community that are 70s and 80s, and said, Well, we have the reverse, right? We had the reverse, we get age discrimination that way. Do you see this kind of dynamic continue to represent itself across ages and genders and things like that? Or what’s the discrepancy there? And how do you address that in the book?


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  38:02  

Yeah, so this, the age issue is so funny to me, because when I present to groups of people who are older, you know, like, maybe 50 Plus groups, they’re like, Oh, I bet this is just something young people do. Because, you know, they can’t say no. And then when I present to young people, they think, Oh, we don’t care about all that stuff. You know, this is something older. So it’s people have these intuitions that there’s going to be this big age difference. But when I talk to people, so many people have a wide range of ages have this experience of just like, it was really hard to say no, I mean, my mom just told me a story recently, you know, in the middle of COVID, a stranger wanted to use her bathroom. And she was just like, I don’t feel comfortable with this, but I just couldn’t say no. And so I don’t think that feeling of not being able to say no goes away my handle it differently depending on age. But actually one of my favorite recent studies that has come out about how age is related to our perceptions of our own influence, shows that was by a group of researchers at NYU. And it shows that younger people assume that older people are less interested in hearing their advice than they actually are. So when we’re younger, we think, you know, I can’t really give advice to older people who are you know, higher up in the organization, or to my parents, or whoever it is, like, they don’t care what I have to say, of course, when you think about like being the older person, as I you know, now I feel like I’ve shifted and now I’m, like, always curious what the young people are thinking, you know, you are like, you know, what do you guys think about this, you’re the people I’m interested in. And so there’s this tendency for young people trying to persuade up or advise up to underestimate their influence even more to assume older people actually are interested in what they have to say.


Brett Bartholomew  39:46  

Yeah, it is fascinating a case study of that, happened in real time at one of our workshops as we opened them up to a wide range of professions. And there was an individual that had worked in the NBA for about 20 years. And he was talking about a situation that he dealt with and we have And roleplay it out to try to improve the how and the self awareness. And there was another individual in the audience that was 19. And he had given this guy some feedback. And that person would push back and said, Well, no disrespect, I value your feedback. But I’ve done this 20 years and in my experience, blah, blah, blah, you understand where this is going. And at that point in time, a woman that was in our audience that was in a completely different field, she was in HR for a larger organization said, I’m sorry, you know, who is your main demographic to the gentleman that had worked in the NBA 20 plus years? And he said, Well, you know, they tend to be 18 to 24 years old, yada, yada, yada, give kind of details. And she said, Okay, so why, you know, are they subject matter experts? And what you know, and he’s like, Well, no, you know, I’m in this position. And she said, Okay, well, why would you discredit what they’re saying then? Right. And so we can see that age based bias, but then he, you know, he didn’t counter back at this woman. And she was significantly younger than him, right. And so it’s so funny how it’s also situational, I think of something a little closer to home, like my mother, you know, my mother will take my advice on some things, and other things, she’s not going to hear it. And you can kind of think our parents will never really listen to us. But I find that the older I get, and the more my mom really understands what I do for a living now, because I don’t just coach athletes, we’re kind of in the space of behavior change. She finds it fascinating. And now there’s another connecting point, right? So you make this point wonderfully, like these things bring out you know, when you take inventory of your own influence, there’s such a unique aspect of self awareness that you get from that. And this lack of confidence in these social interactions can be overcome, if you’re just willing to embrace in some of these conversations, you know, where do you think after the book comes out? And again, September 7 2021, preorder now everywhere? And we’ll talk about that more. But after the book, where do you want to continue to take this? Because there’s so many wide ranging applications? What are some things kind of in the near future? You have your sights set on with this?


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  41:50  

Well, so a lot of my current work is about consent. And so basically, you know, I’ve been talking about how hard it is for people to say no, when we ask for things, and how that means that we, you know, assume they’re gonna say no to us more than they actually are, even when they don’t really want to, you know, agree to something, it’s just too hard for them to say no. And so a lot of my recent research has been looking at what that means for consent. So we may see someone as consenting because they smile and agree. But in fact, they may feel like I really didn’t want to do that. And I was just going along. And so that has implications for all sorts of things. So the the phone study, I mentioned, where people unlock their phone and handed over, that is meant to sort of mimic the context of police search, where police are asking someone for, you know, consent to search something. There’s something called voluntary consent, where basically, as long as someone says, yes, you’re allowed to search, whatever it is their bag, their phone, their house. And yet no one says no, because a police officer is asking you to say yes. So, you know, as an officer, I may look at that person and say, okay, you know, they said, Yes, there’s nothing that tells me that wasn’t consent to that person, it may feel like I had no choice, right. And so that’s actually kind of the direction my work has taken consent in all sorts of things. Like when we consent to terms and agreements, when we like, click accept how much that is actually mindful consent, you know, of course, sexual consent, and things like that, which I’ll talk a little bit about in the book. And then things like police consent.


Brett Bartholomew  43:16  

Yeah, I appreciate that. Because you know, language can be so tricky. And not just the verbal but the nonverbal, right, you and I know our audiences and see this, but we’re looking at one another. Now, it’s always tricky, right? Like, I don’t know, I’m looking at my camera. And then sometimes I look down, I want to make sure you see that eye contact. So that warmth is displayed. I can see you smile, like you did right, then I can see you focused. Now it’s tough, because since we don’t know one another, I can try to read these kinesics. And I can think, okay, she consented because maybe she found some of what we did interesting, or, you know, the third party that connected us, or maybe she consented just because she needs to sell a book, you know, and so you never really know. And you never know, am I forging a relationship with this person, or they and I think about this as a presenter, and I’m sure I’d love to hear a story. If you have this. I tell a time of when I first started speaking more publicly, there was a gentleman in the front row, and I was misreading his body language tremendously. And I was giving a presentation that I was really passionate about. And you know, like just the same reason you write your book, you want to honor people’s time and give them something helpful. And so why you can’t please everybody, you’re gonna do your damnedest to put something out there, that I remember at the end, I just said, Hey, thanks for come in. I got to ask, you know, Did you get much out of this? And he’s like, Well, yeah, Why would you say that? I go, sir. I thought you wanted to choke me about half the time based on your body language. And he said, you know, my wife always says that, you know, I I look like that all the time. No, I enjoyed it. And so but it’s tricky, because consent is such a huge part of formal interactions, like you mentioned with officers or even medical staff, Hey, are you consenting to do this, but there’s forms of consent that make us also think like, are you willingly still interested in this conversation? Am I keeping your attention and what have you, and I know still as I have insecurities around that, because I know I can’t be Please everybody, but you want it to make it worth their time. 


And so when you when you think about the work that you’re doing in that space and one of the social, I don’t want to say, just kind of bigger social ramifications and implications of it, was there something in your past that you really, you felt like, okay, somebody I got duped or I’d gotten taken advantage of in this situation and I didn’t read the contract fully. Was there something because I know our audience is gonna definitely be able to relate to you no matter what it is.


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  45:29  

Yeah, I mean, I think it’s more that exactly what you were describing these situations where you’re talking to someone, or you’re trying to influence someone, or you’re teaching, I mean, I’m constantly standing in front of a big lecture hall teaching, and you’re just seeing these expressions that you’re reading into, like crazy, that, you know, look like they’re not listening, they’re half asleep, or like, you just can’t tell the impact you’re having. And that’s a lot of that comes down to the sort of main point of the book, which is that so much of the influence we have on people is on seeing Think of what it means to influence someone, right? It’s all in their head, a place that we can’t actually see the influence we have. So that’s why the studies I review are all you know, like, go and try to influence someone and then let’s, we’re gonna give them a survey, we’re going to ask them, what were they actually thought so we can kind of illuminate what’s actually going on inside people’s heads in those moments. But what in our normal daily lives, you know, as I’m lecturing, I have no idea if anyone’s listening, and then I’ll get like an email from a student a week later, that’s like, Oh, I really love this part. I’m like, Oh, they were listening, you know. And so I think it’s, you know, just to get back to sort of the original question about consent, you know, we try to sort of figure out, why is this person doing what they’re doing? Why are they engaging with me? Do they, you know, are they happy to be here? I don’t know. And so that is kind of what we’re trying to get at in those studies is that and you know, we find things like, you have a conversation with someone you mentioned, like, you know, is this person enjoying it, blah, blah, blah, we tend to sort of be harder on ourselves after that conversation that we need to be. And when people actually ask people, do you think that other person was enjoying it, and then asked that person? How much were you enjoying that conversation? There? Is this just systematic difference, where people tend to say that they enjoy the conversation more than we think? And so there are these kind of just general biases or errors we have when we are interacting with another person trying to figure out what’s going on in their head? 


Brett Bartholomew  47:30  

Yeah, you touch on? Oh, sorry, go ahead. 


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  47:33  

Oh, no, I just so I mean, one story that I love in the book, which particularly pertains to, you know, this podcast, and I don’t know if you’re planning on bringing it up. But it’s, I think it’s a great example of one of these cases where you think that someone’s doing something enthusiastically, but they actually feel like they just couldn’t help it. You know, they couldn’t say no, and that is the case of coach Bannon. Rockers. Right. So Josh Sankeys was this great, you know, high school player, and you want to playing for Ruckers. And Coach Bannon took over and he wound up you know, being pretty hard trying to get like his players, you know, in shape, and kind of pushing them to the brink. And one day, he did this practice session where he actually came up with a strip basketball free toss, game. And so basically, every time you missed a free throw, you had to strip and Josh Sankeys, who had trouble with free throws, because he had a mild case of cerebral palsy wound up being you know, the worst player, he and another player there, and he wound up doing these wind sprints back and forth, totally naked in front of all of his, you know, other teammates. So Coach Bannon, sort of reflected on this and was like, you know, it was all in good fun, you know, no, I didn’t force anybody to do this. And of course, the players themselves felt like your coach is asking you to do something and an official, you know, Ruckers basketball practice, of course, we feel like we can’t say no, right? So he’s looking at the situation, like, I was just trying to liven things up and make things fun and like, come up with a silly way to practice, and that anyone could have chosen not to participate. But of course, it felt forced to the actual people who were involved in the practice.


Brett Bartholomew  49:16  

Yeah, I mean, listen, I have a lot of as you can probably tell from my body language, as you’re talking about this, I have a lot of strong reactions to, that part of the book. And I’m glad that you brought that up. Because coaching is still very much that part of coaching Sport Coaching is very much in the dark ages with some of those things. And it’s interesting, because there’s a lot of nurture nature that goes on with that, and that we could get into probably in another conversation. But you see a lot of these examples in the news almost every day about somebody that does something in the world of coaching, oh, it’s mental toughness, or it’s this or they try to be avant garde or what have you. And it is way left of center, not even to the point where that’s like creative or I could, you know, my master’s degrees in motor learning and we understand that interacting unconventional environments if I have a toddler, right, teaching them to climb trees and overcome obstacles in the environment that builds a movement skill set, right? Those are constraints that are purposeful, stripping naked, right? Or there’s other instances where somebody was forced fed a bunch of stuff because they weren’t making weight. And you always hear their coaching community and every industry has got their own version of it, right. But like, there’s always people being like, well, they were trying to make a point, you’re like, yeah, there wasn’t another way they can make that point. But then you live in this society where, listen, everything I did as a coach wasn’t perfect, and what have you. But there’s a long ways from like, not being perfect to like something that demeaning of a collegiate athlete being asked to strip naked. And I think, again, that’s what hurts some of the public perception of this idea of influence and power, because we think, oh, this person was in that position. That was a position of power. And they did this and it’s like, no, no, that’s not a manifestation. Just a power as it is. Power is a tool we all wield as as influence that has an unethical use, and a lack of awareness of that use of power and influence. So those things get me pretty heated, which is why I think your book is definitely definitely needed. 


Because here’s the tail end of that, and then feel free to go where you want with this. One thing that drove me nuts is this mantra and coaching, and it’s in servant based leadership in general, of, oh, it’s not about us, you know, it’s not about us, it’s about the athletes or, you know, I’m a servant based leader, it’s not about us. Well, you know, what people are really generally trying to do when they do that, right. They’re using this impression management tactic of kind of feigning kind of self deprecating humility, or whatever. But to that athlete, it is about you, their coach, like to some of the most powerful words that a coach an athlete will ever say Is Coach said, so you may say, oh, it’s not about us. And let’s imagine somebody’s being actual truthful. they feel like that truthfully, well, that’s okay. But you better take the other person’s perspective, because for them, it is about you. And you have a responsibility to use that influence in an ethical and way that self aware. So obviously, that got me pretty passionate. Anything you wanted to add on or touch on there that brought up an additional thought?


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  52:07  

I mean, yeah, I think that it, you know, another story I tell in the book, which kind of gets at the way we think when we go into a situation of power when we’re in control of like a group of people, for example, is I tell the story of when I worked at a sleep lab, when I was an undergrad, and I was a research assistant there. And it was a super weird context where you’ve got, you know, little kids like prepubescent kids, in this sleep lab, in the basement for a week hooked up to, you know, all sorts of electrodes and having to do all sorts of weird things. And as a research assistant, I was going to be in a position of power. And my focus was really on how do I control the situation? These kids are going to get wild, you know, how am I going to get them to do all the things they need to do? And I was really thinking about, like, how am I going to gain influence over them? Right? How am I actually going to gain that control. And we went in for our sort of our first training, and the professor in charge of the lab, really drilled into our brains that we were already in this position of power, and that we really needed to treat it responsibly, that basically the kids were not going to complain if we like pulled their hair when we were hooking them up to these different things, that they weren’t going to complain about all sorts of different things that we’re being asked to do. And that we need to constantly be checking in with them to make sure that they were comfortable with what they were doing. Right. So it was just a total shift in the way I was thinking about. It was like, Okay, I got to figure out how to maintain control two I’m in a position of power, you know, I need to make sure I’m always checking in to make sure that people are comfortable with that in this case, right?


Brett Bartholomew  53:47  

Yeah, well, because I mean, power is shared, right? It’s shared. And like you said, it doesn’t really know in an age or a demographic and everything we do we have this shared power. It’s, very, it’s flowing. And this is again, why I’m glad you make studies with stories, right? Because in your work, study after study illustrates how poorly we assess the feelings and thoughts of others in most circumstances, and you know, I wonder, and you’ve touched on this before, but I want to think about how to frame this, like in your mind, when people are looking for tools, obviously your book is going to be one when they’re saying okay, how can I better assess these potential outcomes? And the impact of the influence that I have, right, like we in this conversation? How can I assess the influence I had on your experience with it? How can I access if I Or how can I assess if I in a staff meeting today? Whether I use my influence in the best way possible? Because that’s a lot of the questions that we get Dr. Bohns is beyond reading the book. How can I like sometimes they don’t always know the questions to ask. And people have such a hard time getting feedback already, right? Whether you’re a small business owner, or a researcher, you can ask people Hey, how was your meal today? What do you think of this experience? 


What have you and maybe and of course, I’m grossly over exaggerating, but let’s say you ask 100 people, you know, but you might get 20 responses, you might get 10 If you’re lucky. So then people get defeated again. And they’re like, Well, why even ask? Why ask if somebody’s not going to take the time? And so just thoughts around that when you have such a robust array of studies that shows we need to improve with this and be more aware of it? How do we manage that gap?


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  55:22  

Yeah, so I talked about these three things that kind of need to be used all together, all the time to sort of check on our own influence and be more mindful of whether we’re using it positively. And so the three things are to get better at seeing it. And that goes back to what we were talking about. When you’re in a situation, looking out at that situation, you only see everybody else, you don’t see yourself, you don’t see how what you’re doing is what people are reacting to. And so as much as you can get out of your own body out of your own two eyes and sort of try to picture that situation from a third party perspective as if you’re watching tapes of whatever you’re doing, right? And kind of think about what actions was I doing? What was I saying, what face did I make, the other people are reacting to in this situation. So that’s being able to see it better and kind of using that little technique. Another is to get better at knowing, you know, you can see it, you can say, oh, maybe something I said is the reason that they reacted that way. But that doesn’t mean you truly understand how it impacted the other person and how they feel about it. And that gets at what you’re talking about actually asking people. So there’s a difference between what we call taking perspective and getting perspective. So we often say like, we’re so bad at getting into other people’s heads and knowing what they’re thinking we should take other people’s perspectives more. But actually taking perspective means you basically searched your own head to try to figure out what’s going on in someone else’s head. And so you’re never going to get out of this, you know, your own head and your own stereotypes about what people might think and your own ideas about what someone should be thinking your own previous experiences. And so that’s why we try to tell people to get perspective. And that is, you know, asking, and hopefully a few people will get back to you. I mean, most of the research I’ve seen, shows that people are actually more willing to open up than we tend to think and actually talk about personal things. And that’s the way that you can actually get the information about what’s going on in their head. But you know, you have to cultivate that trust. And, you know, they have to feel like they can open up to. 


And then the third thing is experience. And as we already talked about, like all the experience in the world, doesn’t teach you anything if you don’t actually reflect on it. But you do have to do these trial and error kinds of things. You know, like, if you ask for things, you find out whether or not people say yes or no, and don’t just pay attention to all the nose you get which we have a tendency to do, but also sort of keep track of how many people are saying yes, because we tend to sort of the nose are just blown out of proportion. And we think like, Oh, nobody says yes. But in fact, people usually do say yes, More than we realized that we forget about all those times.


Brett Bartholomew  58:04  

And I’m glad you brought up taking versus getting perspective. And I remember you referencing some research done by a gentleman named Nick Eppley. And his colleagues and I almost I wonder about your opinion on this as a researcher with all the work that you’ve done, I mentioned to you part of what we do with improper role playing in our workshops is we have three levels of games to use a general term, right? We have abstract games, which most people would kind of see as the Whose Line Is It Anyway. Right? They seem comical, but they’re always working on something like listening or shared power, right? Then we have varies situationally specific games. So now you’re asking for a raise. Now you’re asking somebody, there’s a request, put pickle in a library book. 


And then there’s a third tier that’s very situationally real life specific, but with additional constraints, right? So there’s external noise. There’s other people talking, maybe you can only use questions to try to persuade somebody or what have you, I would have to think, and we see some things when we’re trying to teach people role playing, we start with abstract games, so that they don’t overthink the situation, then we try to tell them, hey, when in doubt, just say anything, right? The game’s gonna be silly, we kind of preface it, we met a communicate the games kind of goofy. The goal is just you can only do wrong by not saying, like by being silent, because then you leave your partner stranded. And so we do it a couple of times. And then eventually, there’s usually one person in the workshop that’s like, well, I just, I don’t get it. And then they watch that they watch that on tape. And they see how just because they weren’t willing to let go for a moment and do something that seemed a little left of center. It threw everybody else off, you know, does that seem like a helpful or harmful way to work on getting people to get and take perspective in some various form? And does that even make sense? How I describe that to you?


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  59:51  

Yeah, no, I think that’s great. I think that’s exactly the sort of thing I was talking about where you’re kind of reviewing the tape, right, like look at how your behavior impacted everybody in that room in a way you weren’t really paying attention to. And it kind of goes back to something you were talking about earlier, you talked about this presentation where someone stood up, and they were like, well, here’s what I think. And the person was like, you know, well, what do I care? You’re too young, I have all this experience. And one thing about that is, again, we often focus so much on formal influence. So like the two debaters, that person at the front of the room, that person at the microphone, and you know, did that person convinced that person did that third person who stood up, you know, convinced those two people. But if you were in a big crowded room, there were all these spectators, and everything else people were saying was impacting the whole room. Right, for better and worse. So there’s this way that we think about this formal influence, I’m going to stand up and make a point about something. And I hope that that person I talked to, you know, changes their mind. But it doesn’t always matter if that person changed their mind, because the whole room is kind of shifting their attention and hearing what you have to say. And just like in the, you know, these situations, you’re talking about, you know, one person sort of deciding they’re not going to play along, shifts the whole room, even though they’re probably just thinking about like their one partner. Right?


Brett Bartholomew  1:01:11  

Yeah, I mean, the formal piece is huge. It goes into even thinking about all the small businesses that I think are that we saw that suffered during COVID. And when some of them were trying to make a comeback, I remember one person saying, Oh, I’m gonna spend all this money on online advertising and this or we see even various forms of virtue signaling on social media. But then somebody will go to a workshop, go do something, and they don’t have a great experience. And it’s funny, they’ll spend all this money on how to reach the masses, right? Or to be perceived as an authority or an expert, or do have a verified checkmark. But then they spent almost no time thinking about those informal situations, those small conversations in the hallway, so to speak, right, the little things that lead to tremendous word of mouth and compound gains of say no, like, it really is the simplest areas that we have the most influence. And if you just take stock and take heart in that, and and leverage that and not be so nervous and not be so hard on yourself, you can make a dramatic impact on the World Within and outside of that. I mean, that’s the gist of a lot of this, right?


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  1:02:09  

Yeah, and I mean, just sort of follow up on what you’re saying. Part of that is that that person you’re talking to in the hallway right in front of you, right, you already have their attention. And they’re already listening to you. And you don’t have to sort of scream and shout online to get a bunch of people’s attention. And you can actually have an impact that way. And we tend to kind of forget about that, like everyday sort of impact that we have all the time.


Brett Bartholomew  1:02:30  

100% One of the ways I want to have an impact on you Dr. Bohns is, I’m always very conscious of the fact that you people, like yourself, are on so many podcasts, and many times you can be asked the same questions. And I know it’s never really the same, because it’s a different audience. And that’s just the nature of things, right, we need to repeat messages, because generally, people need to hear it three, four or five times. So even if somebody’s following you everywhere, and now they’re listening to you here. 


So you know, one thing I want to do to have a hopefully positive impact on you, as you’ve been asked so many questions, what is something that you really wish somebody would ask you about? But you know, whether it’s a chapter in the book, or whether it’s something they didn’t go deep enough, you know, you’ve done all these podcasts? Is there anything I want to open it up to you? Is there anything you still really want people to know, or that you’d like to chat about that you don’t feel like you’ve really been asked so far on, this kind of book tour as we lead up to September 7.


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  1:03:25  

I mean, one thing that didn’t really come up today, which is kind of like how I apply these in my everyday life, which is also kind of the whole impetus that I had for writing the book. I mean, there was kind of this academic reason I wrote the book, which is like, I look out at the landscape of influence, you know, articles and books, and it’s all like, get influenced this way get influenced that way. And I’m like, you know, I see everyday that you already have influence, why don’t people realize that. But really, there’s a very personal reason that I wrote it and, you know, that I think that people can benefit from which is that, you know, I use this research all the time, I’ve spent years, reassuring myself with this research. So like, if I, you know, say something stupid in a meeting, and I cringe afterwards, I remind myself, Oh, that’s right. The liking gap says that, you know, people probably liked me more than I thought, and that, you know, people weren’t paying as much attention to that super embarrassing thing that I said, because that’s what the spotlight effect says. And I’ve kind of always used research to reassure myself if I’m worried about asking for something, you know, oh, yeah, that’s right. I can remind myself that my research says people aren’t gonna judge me for this as much as I think it’s overblown in my head, people are more likely to say yes, then I think I should just ask. And so I think there’s just a very kind of personal thing here where it’s just a nice like, warm blanket of reassurance in some ways, you know, there’s also like this mindfulness element there’s also it’s like, you know, spider Mani with great power comes great responsibility as Fact. But for me, I always want the main takeaway to be this like, warm blanket that I use this research for myself.


Brett Bartholomew  1:05:08  

Yeah. And when I can relate to that in two ways, one being hard on ourselves, right? So I’ll give you that example of I apologize that that hadn’t came up, because one thing I tried doing earlier saying, hey, was there a situation in the past that that drove insecurities in you? Or was there something where you got taken advantage of? And so that’s what’s fun about communication to me, right? This is something that my company specializes in. But I did poorly at when I phrased that question, because it didn’t make you feel like I had asked that appropriately. And I work on those things. Now, in the past, I would have been like, God, you got to get better at interviewing. And, you know, I try not to script too many questions, because you want it to be a genuine conversation. And in the past, I’d be like, No, you suck at that. Now. It’s just like, no, like, people interpret words and phrases and things different ways. It’s cool, we met our goal. And you’ve got to share that. Another thing is that I’m so thankful for you is this is exactly why we started studying power dynamics and influence and persuasion. I was hospitalized for over a year in my life, a lot of subject matter experts treated me when I was in this hospital, like I was a symptom instead of a person. And a lot of it was about more medication and compliance. And they didn’t really get to know you. And you saw a tremendous power dynamics in these hospitals, these people that had all the credentials, all the power in the world and didn’t know how to wield it with people when we needed them the most in our life. And so I’m very much like you because of things I experienced. I dove into the research. And I said, Well, why did this happen to me? Why does this happen to other people, even if a certain marketing message we put out for something doesn’t hit or a podcast episode is more popular than another one? Well, why what? 


And so you’re right research is this interesting blanket, because in a way, it can be the mentor that we either didn’t have, or it can be the mentor and extension of one that we have. And so your work is just super fascinating. And in a time where our world is going to get faster paced, more complex, more chaotic. I think if people aren’t learning about influence and power in the ethical ways that you represent, they’re really going to be behind the eight ball. So I’m super thankful. And right now, I want you to tell absolutely everybody where they can preorder and buy the heck out of the book, because our audience will be happy to support you.


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  1:07:12  

Thank you so much. Yeah, so you can go to my website, which is That’s B o H N S and you can buy the book anywhere you can preorder it, you know, Amazon, Barnes and Noble all those places, and it’ll be in stores September 7,


Brett Bartholomew  1:07:26  

great and social media. We’ll obviously put this in the show notes, but you want to plug a social media account or anything like that. 


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  1:07:32  

Sure. I’m @profbohns at Twitter. Perfect.


Brett Bartholomew  1:07:35  

And again, I can’t thank you enough. You know, you took a leap of faith hopefully you enjoyed it. And guys, if you’re listening to this, remember, this is time out of valuable time out of all of our guests day, please go to their website support their work if the podcast made a difference for you. Leave a review Dr. Bohns  I’m so thankful and I appreciate you coming on.


Dr. Vanessa Bohns  1:07:54  

Thank you so much for having me. It was great.


Brett Bartholomew  1:07:56  

Alright guys, until next time, Brett Bartholomew, art of coaching podcast talk to you soon.

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