In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

“I don’t know.  I just froze up.”

Have you ever just “frozen up” in a really important situation?  Maybe you clammed up in a team meeting, forgot the opening to your presentation, or didn’t know how to respond in a social conflict.  Maybe your mind just went blank, you started rambling nonsense, or you kind of just stood there, nodding your head.

Freezing can look a variety of ways on different people.  But no matter what it looks like, the costs can be high – a lost opportunity, a strained relationship, or a hit on your own mental health.

If you’ve ever experienced something like this or if you know someone who has, this episode is for you.  Today, we explore the science behind what is happening in our brain and body when we freeze, what it can look like, some root causes behind the response, and a few very TACTICAL AND PRACTICAL approaches you can use to combat this occurrence.

Specifically, we dive into:

  • The scientific definition and what is happening in the brain during a “mom’s spaghetti” moment (7:10)
  • The first step to addressing this response and the specific questions you should reflect on to help you identify potential root causes (14:40)
  • How to train freezing out of you (21:10)
  • 3 key performance indicators (KPIs) to track your progress as you practice (32:10)

Referenced AoC Resources:

E207: How Perception Impacts Communication & Relationships

E289: How To Get Someone To Quit Interrupting You: Considerations & Strategies

Conscious Coaching: The Art and Science of Building Buy-In

Apprenticeship – This is an intimate 2-day leadership and communication development workshop. This small group event allows for tactical and hands-on experience, providing you with feedback you can instantly go and apply to situations in every area of your life, improving your adaptability in social situations.

Speaker School This live 2 day experience not only gives you the knowledge you need to create a logical and clear presentation, but provides you with a safe environment to fail, one filled with people who want you to succeed, and are there to give you the feedback and encouragement you need to take steps forward.  Join us in BEAUTIFUL Phoenix, AZ on November 4th & 5th.  There are only a few spots left, so secure your spot today!

Research Articles:

Freezing in response to a social threat: a replication

Fear and anxiety: animal models and human cognitive psychophysiology

Changing Fear: The Neurocircuitry of Emotion Regulation

Human freezing in response to affective films

Incident experience predicts freezing-like responses in firefighters

Today’s Episode is Brought To You By:

AG1 (Formerly Athletic Greens): I constantly fall short when it comes to my daily nutrient intake. Whether that’s because I’m traveling, or simply because things get hectic because, well – LIFE – it’s just a great way to cover all of my bases. For less than $3 a day, it’s a small micro habit with huge benefits.  For a free one year supply of immune supporting vitamin D and five free travel packs with your first purchase, go to today!

BetterHelp: Today’s episode is brought to you by BetterHelp. At some level, we all struggle with unexpected challenges in life. BetterHelp is an accessible, convenient, private, and affordable therapy option to help you look at your problems a little differently, feel less stressed, and gain confidence. Visit for 10% off your first month.


Brett Bartholomew  0:21  

Oh, hello. You know one of the reasons we are able to bring you free content like this is due to the support of partners like AG1. Now frankly, I always hate when podcasts waffle on the host clearly reached miscript. Despite never really using the product or anything like that. Rest assured that is not the case with us. AG1 is something I take every day to try to combat the loads of stress I have in my life right now, due to simultaneously running a business being a dad working on my new book and trying to finish my doctorate. I know I’m a genius trying to do all those things at once. Huge nightmare, but we’re going to push through. So what is it straightforward. It is a powder that provides 75 high quality vitamins, minerals, Whole Foods source superfoods, probiotics and adaptogens. That’s a mouthful. All in all, it supports gut health, your nervous system immune system, and for me, the goal is not to die in early death, I tend to stretch myself a lot, I need to be as proactive as possible. It’s as simple as mixing a scoop of it with whatever you drink, my wife does water, I’ll do like fairlife Chocolate milk or I’ll do a protein shake with it. I’ll mix it up. The bottom line is do something that makes it consistent. If you’re on the go all the time, you have a solid routine, they give you packets, you can use them anywhere anyhow you want so regardless of where you are, you can get those vitamins and minerals. So for a free one year supply of immune supporting vitamin D, and five free travel packs, go to Again, Eight anything you buy, you’re gonna get those other things for free. It’s a great deal, support them. And thank you again to AG1 for your sponsorship


Welcome to the Art of coaching Podcast. I’m Brett Bartholomew, and at a young age poor communication nearly cost me my life. Now, I help others navigate the gray area of social interaction, power dynamics and communication so they can become more adaptable leaders, regardless of their profession, age or situation. This podcast is for everybody who is fascinated with solving people problems. So if you’re in the no nonsense type who appreciates frank conversations, advice you can put to use immediately, and learning how others navigate the messy realities of leadership. You’re in the right place. I’m glad that you’re joining us. Let’s dive in.


Welcome back to another episode of The Art of coaching podcast. We’re gonna dive deep today on another subject that many of you have reached out about, and that is all about freezing, these Mom’s spaghetti moments, it doesn’t matter whether it happens during some sort of social conflict, a presentation a team meeting, we’re going to talk about it. So if you’ve ever been in a situation where you wanted to say something, but couldn’t, you’re trying to process things more quickly, and it just feels like it gets stuck. Or perhaps you watch somebody on your team struggled to really just speak up when it mattered most. And that could be your relationship, there’s always a broad array of listeners hear it, the phenomenon is more common than you think. And of course, it has real world implications for our personal and our professional lives. Now, let me get this out of the way, we always use research to back up our stuff. So if you want any information about the articles, or resources or any of that, let me know. Of course that goes for all of our stuff, whether it’s our online courses, or live events, we always have a lot, a lot of references. Sometimes we’re told too many, but we want to make this really practical for you. So I’m not going to sit here and cite everything in this particular episode. But we will present you with any of that if you want any of it. Alright, so many of you reach out with questions like why do I clam up at meetings? How do I deal with blank when I’m getting into it with a colleague, this is how we’re going to unpack it. So what do we have in store? Well, we’re going to start by exploring a little bit of the science behind why we freeze not so much that we get lost in it and we don’t get to the practical stuff. But there is, of course fascinating neurobiology involved. We’re gonna get to some root causes and then dive into practical and actionable strategies so that you can overcome these moments. Okay, so the other thing I want to make sure that we do is we don’t minimize this. There are some people that will be like, Oh, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s valid to have this frustrate you it is a big deal. There is a very cruel reality that if you freeze up there can be Missed opportunities, there can be relationships strain, of course, impaired judgment, just because you get so in your head with this flood of stress hormones, reduce team morale if you’re leading people, and just overall it takes a hit on your mental health, and in all those factors, so I’ve never really liked when people try to downplay it, of course, you can come back from this stuff. But I totally understand for those of you that are stressed by this, those worst case scenarios that go into your head, believe me, I understand it, I 90% of what I have to do is improvise in the moment. And as you climb to different levels in your career, or even deeper relationships, there’s always more to lose. So let’s get into this. 


All right, what is freezing, freezing can best be thought of as an adaptive response. It’s a defensive response to that to a stressful event. Now, there is a lot of nuance in that, of course, that’s broad, but it’s supposed to be how we perceive stress is going to vary dramatically. And we’ve linked a whole episode on perception and communication. To me, I think it’s one of our best episodes, I think it can, it’s really helpful for many of you. So check that out. But research suggests that, you know, freezing doesn’t just occur in response to a physical threat, freeze, fight or flight, but also social threats. It can be as something as simply you’re presenting and you see what looks like an angry face in the crowd or somebody that doesn’t seem bought in and now all of a sudden it creates all this noise in your system. So of course, freezing is typically associated with fear. And it has been thought this is from Bradley, Kota, Spotty, and Cuthbert, again, all these will be linked to facilitate a lot of that attentional process, if you try to identify a cue, you feel a threat, you’re trying to identify the cue that creates more noise in this constrained a system of yours. And now all of a sudden, you’re stuck. Other people have spoke to freezing as a momentary pause, or a halt in our physical or verbal activity when you’re faced with a stressor threat. Bottom line is it’s all around stress or threat. It’s not just a case of Oh, I forgot what to say. It’s more just like this complete system halt where your brain and everything is just, it’s neither fighting or fleeing the situation, you’re just stuck. So now that we know a little bit more about what it is, what can it look like. And as you can imagine, it manifests in several ways. Some people just go completely silent. We had a woman at one of our workshops that that’s what happened to her, she’s like, I go silent. Another individual said, I kind of mumble incoherently I don’t really freeze, but I just start kind of trying to form words. And it’s, I think, can’t come out. Others just keep nodding. And it looks like they’re processing what’s being said, and sometimes they are. But really, they’re stuck. And they’re trying to show you, they’re listening. But man, they might just be flooded with stress. And they’re just trying to do whatever they can to seem like they’re not on responsive. Alright, so what’s the science behind me? 


First of all, I would love to know what it looks like too many of you, we encourage you to reach out What does it look like to you? Where has it impacted, you keep that stuff coming. In terms of root causes and the science behind and again, we’re only going to go so deep here. This is in our neurobiology, of course, parts of the brain like the amygdala, which is kind of that alert system of the brain, right? it coincides a lot with what’s traditionally thought of as the limbic system of the brain. Of course, the prefrontal cortex is involved. I feel like we’ve covered so much on the limbic system and prefrontal cortex even before that stuff got cool. I don’t want to bore you with that. But we know that essentially, whenever a perceived threat occurs, that’s when our amygdala kicks into gear. And that overwhelms our prefrontal cortex, the quote unquote, rational part of our brain or the seat of consciousness, the amygdala, by and large is very much in charge. And it’s not just myself reporting on this. I mean, there’s, a litany of researchers from Paul Bloom and others that have talked about this over time. We tend to think we’re rational actors we are not we’re predictably irrational. And the amygdala is by and large in charge of so much of what we do, especially in today’s day and age where it’s constantly just okay now there’s dopamine, a threat dopamine a threat. And this feeds into that evolutionary perspective. You think back, right, it we had predator avoidance when we were on the savanna. Oh, is that something that’s going to eat me, in the natural world, any kind of freezing makes us  We think it makes us less visible or the target of predator. I mean, there’s even some reasons why people don’t want to share on social media, because they’re so freaked out that somebody’s going to come get them. Spoiler alert, they are. Most people are miserable, and they just want to tear you down. That shouldn’t stop you from sharing. But it’s a survival tactic that has been really adapted and adopted through evolution, and there’s energy conservation in that as well. We know that freezing is less energetic. equally costly than fight or flight. So that becomes a sustainable long term strategy in certain situations, even if it’s not your best. So, within this evolutionary basis, there’s that psychological basis as well. One of the terms that can come up in the research is cognitive assessment, essentially just a fancy way of saying, Hey, your prefrontal cortex will assess the situation. And it’s going to try to override the amygdala is more primal and primitive response, especially if it determines, hey, no, trying to fight here or flee here isn’t great. In that case, it just will just freeze. That’s a more favorable option. There’s emotional regulation going on. And I know that this has happened with me sometimes is, I will, it’s a decision of do I lose it on this person in certain contexts, or should I just take a beat, and it could look like I’m freezing, but really, I’m just trying not to go just full scale Old Man Logan, on somebody. And so I tried to reduce movement, I tried to focus on something else. And that’s a weakness of mine, I’ve got to always work on managing my emotions. I like many of you in spread thin, there’s a lot required of all of us. So that’s tough. Okay, that’s tough. 


There’s some folks that if we just look at the inherent nature of social dynamics, which they themselves can be threats. And so it’s like, what’s the social cost of me engaging with this, whether it’s in person on the phone, social media, anything like that. And so often, you know, again, just if we look broadly, there’s evolutionary mechanisms at play. There’s psychological mechanisms at play, all of these are intertwined. And there’s so many aspects of that, of course, and I have to do this for people out there that want to nitpick. It’s not just the prefrontal cortex, it’s not just the amygdala, you’re looking at the hypothalamus, right there that kind of serves as the command center. And this instructs, in many ways, our adrenal glands to release stress hormones. So that’s beyond the scope of this episode, because I want to get to what can you do about it, but whether it’s the hippocampus, which plays a role in memory, the prefrontal cortex, decision making amygdala, all these pieces, it’s always interconnected, and everything is with the brain. And I want to challenge some of you that I just know we’re in this age of optimization. It is very important to know what goes on in our brain and our body, of course, but there tends to be rabbit holes that people just want to keep going down. And I think maybe it’s because the supplement industry and all those things are so huge, and so is the kind of productivity industry, but beyond a point, you just need to say okay, yeah, I get it, that there’s these intricate interplays they’re gonna dump a lot of neurotransmitters and hormones. But what do I do? I mean, how much more can we all talk about? cortisol and adrenaline? Yes, these play a role in the stress response cascade, okay. But I think more practically, what I want you to consider is the root causes that you can reflect on right now, because our body is going to do a lot of the things whether we try to regulate it or not, it responds so quickly, the brain is so incredible. I just want you to take a beat, and think, Alright, I know social anxiety plays a role. Why? Where am I scared of judgment and humiliation? Is this valid, not valid, of course, you’re valid and in with respect to how you feel. But just think is the worst case scenario really that bad? You’re gonna make a mistake. You’re human, and most people like that. You know, most people like that. I’ve talked about this before. On this show. I am a communication strategists and I will still mess up. I teach people how to speak more professionally, I will have disfluencies. Guys, I don’t read from a teleprompter. Right. I’ll reference some notes here and there. But I don’t read from a teleprompter. I don’t have speech writers. I’m like you. Things come into my brain and I got to speak to a wide audience. Just in one workshop recently. I just speak to real estate agents, physical therapists, strength coaches, a doctor so I’m always having to think and cognitively appraise Should I give another example? Are we good? Do people get the point? Has that? Have I gone deep enough? Am I going too deep? And so some of you might just need to think, hey, you know, even if you feel like you’re not prepared? Or that you you feel like somebody’s gonna think you’re an idiot or whatever. Is a worst case really that bad? Or do you care so much about this, that your worst case is most people’s best case. But I just want you to be really clear about where that fear of judgment or humiliation comes from, and if it’s why I’m a people pleaser, check out the episode on that too. We have that we have a lot of steps that can help you get over that. So social anxiety, a lack of preparedness overthinking you see all these are tied in some of you have valid traumatic experiences. You know, there’s and I know I don’t want any friends by saying this but . Oh, fear of judgment. Some of you, you can’t let your pass rule everything, I don’t care if you’ve choked in a million presentations get over it, I made the mom’s spaghetti joke early on. I mean, this was how Eminem and so many other people have had to do it, choose your famous person. Past experiences play a role. I have had a very interesting experience right now working with a major publisher, on my next book, objectively, it’s enough to make me never want to write another book with a major publisher. I have to weigh those consequences. There’s also a lot of benefits. There’s also a lot of self exploration it’s had, it’s made me do a lot of clarifying my content. And it’s made me do there’s a lot of benefits. But you’ve got to address those causes. And you’ve got to start to recognize what triggers that response in you. Is it a particular question? Another valid thing here is I went saw somebody speak recently, dear friend, immensely immensely skilled at what they do tremendously skilled. And all on my piece, I asked a question about something they were presenting on during their presentation, when I probably just should have sat there and shut up. But it was interesting. They invited us to ask questions. I asked a question. And I remember getting feedback later on. They said, hey, you know, I love you. But that really screwed up my timing with this. And there’s a part of me that needs to own that. Where am I the problem? Oh, my gosh, so many places. I shouldn’t have asked a question at that point in time. But on the other end, I took that invitation. And I know that they’ve told me Well, I want to speak more in front of I want to do more workshops, I want to scale what I do, and so on colleagues, it was it was our very own Ali Kershner. That kind of just brought to the point of saying like, well, listen, I’m sure you throw her off to a degree. But if she wants to do more of these things, she better get used to people disrupting you, she better get used to. And that is true. I mean, it’s part and parcel with what we do at our events. You guys can ask questions. I mean, there’s gonna be times it will tell you, Hey, hold on a minute. And we tell you to do that too, in our episode about how to handle people that interrupt, but you’re gonna have to deal with these constraints. So if you’re like, well, somebody interrupting or asking a particular kind of question that can throw me off, you know what I’m going to tell you? Well, those things are going to happen. So there’s a certain amount of exposure therapy needed. And we’ll talk about how to structure that later on. But just like we had another coach in the past that said, I don’t like it when people ask me why. Why Does that upset you? Well, I feel like they’re questioning my expertise, Timeout. Timeout, you feel like they’re questioning your expertise, just because they’re asking you why some people? Just they’re just curious. Is there something deeper there? Yeah, well, okay, now I got it. So whether it’s a question a certain person specific situation, you’ve got to write those things down. And I encourage you to even hit pause and do that right now. What are the things that make you freeze, Then you have some sense of cognitive rehearsal, before entering situations where you might freeze and mentally rehearse how you’re going to respond to that. 


This show is sponsored by BetterHelp, I want to be really transparent about something. I have been struggling recently with getting my book finished. And not because I don’t have the discipline to sit down. But because life stuff keeps getting in the way. And then when I come back to make the edits necessary, I’ve almost just lost confidence in where I’m at. I’ve lost my train of thought. And then I can start spiraling feeling like, Man, my one chance to make this book Great is gone. And then I’ll start feeling like a failure. And that will start taking over so many other aspects of my day. It’s times like that when I need a reset. And it’s worth asking yourself, if you ever feel like your brain is getting in its own way, even when you know better, right? Even when you know you have the skills, you have the talent, you have the knowledge, you just tend to just bring yourself into this dark hole. This is one of the reasons therapy can be so helpful. Not only does it help you become more self aware, but it helps you create boundaries even with yourself and your own negative thoughts. Listen, I don’t want to flip this up too much. People need other people to talk to, we need other perspectives. We need people who will give it to us straight to help us get out of our own way. So if you’re thinking of starting therapy, or you’ve been kind of in this spiral or fixated place lately, give BetterHelp a try. It’s entirely online. It’s designed to be convenient, flexible and suited to your schedule. You can make your brain your ally, you can make yourself doubt your ally. All of these emotions have a purpose. Sometimes you just need clarity, and BetterHelp is giving you a heck of a deal. They’re making it so easy. All you need to do is go to to get 10% off your first month. That’s better help h e l check it out now. 


Before entering situations where you might freeze mentally rehearse how you’re going to respond to that, at the time of this recording, me and my team are about to go do an end service with 170 to 180. Folks, right, and predominantly the military space military adjacent as well. And we have to do some things based on the contract that we’ve never had to do, there’s going to be some improvising. I mean, we’re going to do a lot of conversational sparring and evaluations and peer feedback stuff with 180 people with myself and two other facilitators. So I need to rehearse, there’s going to be questions, there’s going to be points when the entire group seems like they’re talking over each other. I need to respond, I need to think about how I respond to this. We have another facilitator that has a lot of experience in the tactical space. they’ve worked in the tactical space for over 20 years. But now they’ve got to deliver material, they’ve got to be ready to deal with objections. So we’ve said, Hey, Tyson, how are you going to act when all of a sudden this happens? That’s important. And of course, things like breathing and all that are important as well. Right? They can make an impact on your nervous system. But all the breathing in the world isn’t going to help you if you kind of just, you almost need everything to be hunky dory. You don’t want to think about these things in your head and you don’t want to expose yourself to this. Okay, so a lot of that self management when you’re like, What can we do to manage these freezing moments, eight mile moments in ourselves? Well start with awareness. Recognize the situation, once you identify start to work on reprogramming that all those pieces, okay. 


Is there a way to train it out of you? Hell, yes, of course, with consistent effort and practice. I mentioned a form of exposure therapy, gradually exposing yourself to these situations. That is when people ask us, Why do you use so much roleplay at your workshops, or what we call conversational sparring, social scrimmaging, we use a lot of different terms. It’s for that not only does that help you actually get this skill, it helps you learn, it helps you codify, it helps you turn, you know, knowledge into actual wisdom. But it’s exposure, right? It helps desensitize that over time. So in our view, and there’s research to support this and even more so than the research. Just think practically, when you roleplay conversationally sparring, game it out, whatever term you want to use, you take a thought experiment, and you put it into an action. Now you can confront and better manage, that freeze response in those situations that are kind of low stakes. They may not seem lower stakes initially, but they are comparatively. Because what’s the alternative right to have you just think positively, and not identify these triggers. And then even if you identify them, not to practice them and say, Okay, now go into the conflict. And nobody, nobody does that. In an ideal circumstance, I get it, there’s no war. But in an ideal circumstance, like you train people for battle, you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do this in a way that is purposeful, and evaluative and safe. So there’s a lot of educational and practical purpose to that. And it helps you also explore reactions and behaviors and patterns. So we’ve had some people that they’re as nice as can be, and we’ve told them, hey, go into this. And when somebody comes out, you lose it on him, Oh, I would never do that. I don’t care. Just lose it on him, lose it, try that. Or for those of you that lose it on people, you know this, that’s a different episode, but just try not saying anything, let them talk themselves out. So when you do that exposure therapy, through role playing and putting yourself in these situations, you enhance neuroplasticity, right? You know that that’s going to leverage your brain’s ability to learn rewire, so to speak, deal with that stress differently, because every successful and how you determine successful because it’s not going to seem like that, at first roleplay helps form new neural pathways. I mean, my master’s degree was in motor learning. This is a lot of how my fascination with language took place. My fascination with power dynamics came from my experience being hospitalized at a young age, and I talked about that unconscious coaching. So I don’t bore you here. But when I worked as a strength coach for 15 years, I had to find all kinds of ways to help people learn new skills and to move more effectively. And we learned all about, you know, different aspects of cueing and, and just anything that allows us to translate, hey, here’s what I’ve said, here’s how you can use it to augment your behavior. That is what you’re doing here. You want to reinforce the behavior. You want to adapt to behavior, anything like that, and that doesn’t happen if you don’t put themselves in that situation. 


Well, hey, Brett, what about positive reinforcement and emotional regulation? Sure, but tell me how that happens at a higher level if you don’t roleplay it out. And then if you’re only giving people that feedback in that after that real life occurrence. Well, now it’s so retroactive here you can at least try on different approaches. So just to be clear what I’m saying, the underpinnings and benefits of using roleplay, conversational sparring, social scrimmaging, as we call it helps with neuroplasticity, it will help with emotional regulation. With time, I promise you it will. It gives you the opportunity for more specific feedback and positive reinforcement. There’s a desensitization that occurs, you’re having repetition in a safe environment, it may not feel safe at the moment. But trust me ask anybody that’s come to our stuff. They get involved. That freaks me out. But oh, my gosh, now that I see it, you know, hug it out, slap hands, whatever, who, yeah, I can’t guarantee that that’s going to help me keep from freezing. But I can damn well guarantee that it’s gonna help me more than not practicing on that. And mind you, you don’t have to go into it. Just with this. How do I want to phrase this trying to figure it out as you go, you can script it and keep it in your safe place. You can develop scenarios that mimic these potentially stress inducing situations, act them out. And then explore how you might react and what you do differently. But I can’t say it enough for those of you whether you freeze up during certain social moments, and you get stressed out or you think you’re already really good in conflict, you have to continue to social scrimmage, to roleplay. To have this conversational sparring, to try new approaches, things change all the time, in terms of leadership, science, and social science, and you never know what events you’re going to encounter. So you’ve got to practice those things, you’ve got to practice those things. And for those of you that feel like, Hey, I just I’m going to continue to freeze, nothing’s ever good enough for me, I get in my own head, and I just start to spiral, I’m going to tell you to just take a second, figure out what those issues are. And then put yourself in that situation again, and again. And again, no different than when I boxed. If I knew I was fighting a certain kind of fighter, my sparring partner needs to put me in the corner and throw those punches. So I can start working on ways to get out of that corner, you need to do the same thing. It’s not a problem. If you freeze, it is a problem. If you don’t want to work on it. There’s always room to improve. Right? That’s safe failure. There’s neuroplasticity. And in you think all right, how can I put myself in time pressure situations to that’s the real life element? Because that’s another piece is you design and you say, Okay, I tend to freeze up when somebody starts questioning my expertise, what can I do? I might say, well give me an example where that happened. And you might just tell me, let’s make it really hard on me. You might be like, what hasn’t happened yet? But for example, if somebody said blank, and I was presenting, I wouldn’t know how to respond. Okay, so let’s try that. I’m going to be a skeptical audience member, you’re gonna make a statement, I don’t care what it is. And then I’m gonna say, hey, frankly, I appreciate what you’re trying to do. But that’s, bogus. And there’s research that states that that’s not true. Oh, now work your way through that. You do it? Well, great. Now try to do it in two minutes, one minute, 30 seconds, whatever. You need to find. What are those attitudinal constraints, those temporal constraints, and maybe if there’s enough interest in this episode, we’ll do a whole guide on how to role play with skill, but I’m just giving you some pieces here, right? But you’ve got to have that quick back and forth dialogue, to help you think on your feet that sharpens your skills. Okay? And that helps pave that road. 


So then let’s say you’re like, Well, I’m fine. But how do I help team members that freeze up? Well, it’s gonna be the same thing. You’ve got to create an environment where it’s okay to make mistakes early on, when somebody came to our apprenticeship. They’re like, Hey, I’m all in on this role playing, how do I sell it to my team? And it’s hard for me to speak to that. Because I don’t always know their team. But to me, it’s always the simplest thing. It’s like, Well, hey, if your team is in sales, or you know, we have a wonderful woman that purchased a bunch of our stuff, to help with troubled youth, and they need their counselors or coaches to get better connected with trouble youth. It’s going back and saying, Hey, we’re all gonna have interactions. We’re not always going to manage those perfectly. I think we all agree communication is a skill. We need to practice in this area. So I understand this is gonna be uncomfortable, but we’re going to do some role playing not haha Jogi role playing, what we what I want everybody to do is write down objections that they get or just any kind of resistance they have and then one of us is going to act that out and the other one’s going to have to engage and try to you know, deal with that. So when somebody says, How do I sell this to my team I’m almost like well almost tell ask them how not role playing and not practicing these things will improve. Because if I ask somebody is communication important? Yep. Of course, is always room to grow. Yep. And Absolutely. They say no, that’s a whole nother thing. They lack a growth mindset. And that’s a red flag. Do you handle every conflict perfectly? Of course not great, then let’s handle the ones that we don’t do perfectly. And here’s how we do this. You can’t do that by just sitting around a whiteboard. And having thought experiments, you need to do it, you need to do it, it’s about equipping them with that tool. It’s about equipping them with that tool. 


So end there for today. Okay, I want to wrap this up. understanding and managing these eight mile moments or these freeze responses is a process. It’s a natural one, we’re all going to have it no matter how skilled you are. And like any meaningful process, it’s important to constantly gauge how well you’re doing now there’s going to be a key piece here. So stay with me. So if you’re like, Well, how do I know I’m actually improving? Well, that brings us to the topic of just KPIs. Right? And these are yardsticks that you can use to measure progress. And you can modify these but let’s just talk basics here. One of those KPIs, if you’re freezing is response time. Note how long it takes you to regain that composure. So even when my wife would be like, how do you come back with stuff so quick? Oh, my goodness. Well, part of that is a nurturer nature. You know, my family was particularly ruthless with words, you’d get an argument, my brother in particular, like we’d get in arguments are and you know, my mom’s super quick witted. And it’s not even just arguments, my family, they just came at you fast. But that wasn’t always good, because sometimes I had to just, I had to step back and process that, right. But the other piece is, I’ve been teaching for a long time, I’ve had just about every kind of audience member, you can imagine from the one that is kind and reinforcing and actively engaged. So one that you just almost wonder, did somebody force you to be here, I have had people that come and they want to add to the conversation, I’ve had people that are know it alls. So a lot of that is just practice. And being in that situation over and over. And I’m giving you a skill, or a tool rather sorry, that I didn’t get to have, I didn’t get to rehearse for a lot of that stuff. I just was out there on the road speaking or I was in front of my athletes having to present, hey, here’s why I have to squat heavy or now I’m speaking at Wells Fargo as to why even though they’re short on time, they’ve got to understand better understand the driving forces of their audiences decision making all these pieces. So response time is huge. How long does it take you to regain your composure and respond effectively in a situation in which you’d freeze. 


The other piece is just confidence level. And that’s going to be subjective, right? But it’s equally vital. After an interaction, you got to rate your competence. Now, you’re always going to thank you, especially if you’re hard on yourself on just wasn’t good. It wasn’t good. Confidence with a twist. You always have to rank it in comparison, or contrast is something so let’s say just for the sake of discussion, you’re doing one to 10. And you’re on your third iteration of a roleplay scenario, where you normally freeze up and you’re like, I thought that was so six, I’m going to say we’ll compare to what what was the last one? The last one was probably a four. Now if you feel like the last one, I thought was a nine Great, then just do it again. But you don’t tell your kid when they fall off a bike, you know, is like, watch the Olympics is every jump the best. Now you do it again. You do it again. So you want to look, was it higher than the last similar situation that you were in? Yes or No? If not, let’s run it again. Another piece, there is feedback quality. This is a whole reason we created an evaluation at our company, is when people would say well, how do you evaluate communication? How do you evaluate this? And that, you know, people could say, hey, Harold, I thought you did a good job of this. But try this next time, what does a good job mean? And there are so many aspects beyond verbal and nonverbal. So for you just decide what that is. We’re not going to go into the weeds here. We have like a 26 point system, but just seek feedback from trusted colleagues or even some rivals. Are they noticing a change in how you handle stress? If I go up to somebody, I’m like, Hey, I know we’ve had it out in the past. And you’ve given me feedback that I tend to do blank, whether that blank is get defensive, or maybe my face as am I getting better at that. Just find some way to get that feedback. And it’s not always going to be the validation you want. But first and foremost, work on that response time, and then work on how you feel. So after that, there’s going to be a degree of social conflict that always feels toxic that feels troublesome. But this is perhaps one of the most important parts of this episode. People fear conflict, but conflict is required for progress. Now, you will know this innately, but I’m talking about social conflict. Communication is a tool that helps all of us hopefully better understand one another. But we don’t tend to work on that. Instead, we just get in our heads we get mad. It’s that other person’s fault instead of saying, hey, this conflict is a gift. I need to refine my communication to make the most of it because there’s progress waiting to be had there. 


So quick thing about conflict as a problem, conflict internally conflict externally think of that as an opportunity. And then work on rehearsing how you can approach those situations so that you can maximize it. Because conflict is required. It’s par for the course you can’t read minds, I can’t read minds, you’re not going to know everybody’s needs, I’m not going to know everybody’s needs. So treat it like a process. That’s what communication is, it is a skill. And it is a process that helps us navigate the ever present conflict we’re going to have. But you’ve got to practice it again and again and again. And role playing is a critically impactful way to do that brutally, brutally, brutally effective. Other sound bites for you. When it comes to understanding the freeze, it’s not about just forgetting what to say. It is a neurobiological response triggered by many aspects of the brain and body that just creates this system halt. And it’s it can be normal, it’s not a flaw. It’s a feature, it’s one that you need to fine tune. And you do that by recognizing those triggers, recognizing those pain points, and then creating targeted exercises via social scrimmaging just like you just like athletes do. Hey, it’s fourth in one on the 20 Imagineering game day scenario, no, it’s not there in half pads on five yards and a cloud of dust now, but you’ve got to think about that as well. So awareness is the first step reprogramming is the next. And that only happens through conflict. 


Other ways of managing your team, right? And if you feel like well, I’m just not a good leader. Because my you know, I have team members that do this. I mean, like leadership’s not just about what you do in the moment or all that it’s just about how you and your team overall prepare for these aspects of stress, if you’re not willing to prepare, and that goes back to the rebuttal of how do I teach my team to embrace this, I mean, quit talking about it, like role playing, say like this comes down to how we prepare and deal with stress in the moment, right, and then measure your progress. Look at your response time competence, level feedback, if you want help, of course, we’re here. We offer this help all the time. It’s called The Art of Coaching Apprenticeship in the future, we might change the name, but at the end of the day, it’s a way for you to come get feedback. In a safe space, we normalize failure, it’s all good. It’s all good. But you if you don’t put yourself in these situations, you’re not going to be able to manage it. Right. So I’ve outlined how you can improve this, how you can measure it, how you can understand it, but you’ve got to do it. A practice doesn’t make perfect it makes progress engage in these exercises. If you have questions, concerns, comments, let me know reach out to us at If any of these episodes are helpful, please just let us know and don’t feel like you’ve got to write some eloquent email just be like Hey, Brett and Team Love the episode on this. Here’s why boom or Hey, Brighton team. These five episodes have made a difference in my life. Boom. But we can’t get better similar to how you can get better if we don’t know what’s resonating. Okay, shout out to Hayden Christiansen Molly Benetti. A number of you that have reached out recently saying or letting us know certain episodes that have touch base and then really hit hard with you. Please keep doing that we are here. Alright, until next time for myself and the rest of the team. I am Brett Bartholomew. We are the art of coaching and we will talk to you soon.

Did you enjoy the show?

Your support ensures the best quality guests and listening experience.

Leave a Comment