Our behavior patterns strongly affect our relationships with others. Today’s guest, Bryan Falchuk, shares his insights on how to deal with people’s actions and attitudes towards certain situations. He offers some tips on how we can prevent or correct relationship dysfunctions. As a speaker, life coach, and bestselling author of Do A Day, he surely knows how to influence other’s behaviors for the better. By using his personal experience as an example, Bryan touches on how much expectations are carried on becoming interactions.
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Correcting Relationship Dysfunction Through Influence With Bryan Falchuk
I have with me Bryan Falchuk. Bryan is the bestselling author of Do A Day and he has a couple of other books out, including one on relationship dysfunction. Bryan, welcome.
Thanks so much for having me.
What is relationship dysfunction? I like that word.
I hesitate on the word, dysfunction, because it’s negative and I don’t want to dwell on that, but also because what my story or the message is about isn’t just for those bad, dysfunctional or tough relationships. It’s for any relationship where we could be better, more supportive, more loving, more productive and more positive. Certainly, the dysfunctional ones or those tricky ones in our lives stand out to us the most. I think it can benefit us 360 degrees around all of our relationships.
When our relationships are not completely imbalanced, how does that affect our businesses?
When I say relationships, people always think romantic or your significant other or maybe your family. This is about how we relate to people every day. That’s at the heart of pretty much every business, whether it’s your customers, peers, people that work for you, your partners or people you’re negotiating with. We have relationships all around us. If they’re not where they could be, how has that holding your business back? If your customers and you aren’t seeing eye-to-eye, aren’t jelling with each other as much as you could, obviously that’s hurting your sales. If your partners and you are having any loss of productivity in that relationship, are you supporting each other well enough? Are you baking each other’s businesses up the way you could, etc.? All the way down to the negative ones where maybe a customer who is having a tough experience with you or you’re having a tough experience with them ends up being a detractor and works against your business instead of just not being a customer of it. There are many different ways that it hits us in our professional lives, especially as entrepreneurs, beyond just how am I getting along with my wife, husband, girlfriend, parent, child, what have you. It’s such a crucial thing in business. I feel like even more so for entrepreneurs because we’re creating something new and so much rests on our shoulders.
One thing I noticed in my life was I had some behavior patterns or maybe the way I dealt with people patterns. When they’re ingrained, especially when we pick them up at a young age, we don’t even realize we’re doing them. Now that I’m out of that pattern, I am like, “Was I nuts?” I see how we’re affecting the relationship.
That’s well said. I don’t think any of this as malicious, the way that we behave or the way they behave. That’s the crux of the message that I’m trying to share in my latest book. What we’re talking about is starting with a very simple and honestly, heart-based view. That’s to see not what they’re doing to us. It’s not, “They’re out to get us. They’re doing this to me. Why can’t they see me differently? Why can’t they be nice?” which is the normal way most of us feel in these dysfunctional situations. Instead, it’s to see what do they want? Because when they woke up, they weren’t like, “You know what I want? I want to be mean to Sam.”
What you’re probably thinking is, “I want this outcome. I want this thing.” In that desire, you may appear to be or may be standing in their way. It’s almost like you’re a casualty of war. The example I love to give is traffic and getting cut off in traffic. I live in Boston. It’s a regular occurrence. For years, I would get enraged at the person who cuts me off. Maybe one of my fingers, the center one, pops up or we start yelling at them like they could hear us through the glass and the road noise. We get all worked up and we were like, “They did this to us. I’m going to get them back. I’m going to cut them off. I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that.” When they got on the highway, do you think they were like, “Where’s that blue car? I want to cut in front of that one.” No, they’re just trying to get where they’re trying to get to, just like you. That’s why I love this analogy because everyone can relate to it. Because we’ve all been cut off in traffic and we’ve all had that response where it gets us riled up. We can all recognize we’re all trying to get there.
For whatever reason, they viewed getting in front of our car as making them that much happier. It’s not like they were seeking to hurt us. They’re just trying to get closer to their destination and we happened to be in their way. When you start to look at it that way, it’s like, “They’re not blindly being bad to me. They had some goal in mind.” Maybe their goal is questionable. Maybe they misunderstand it. Maybe they don’t understand how I could help them instead of hurt them and I’m not their enemy. There are lots of other things that can come from it. That first moment where you feel wronged and you react to it, that’s what we’re trying to grab hold of. Seeing a different intention on their part and allowing for that, I found it brings the energy down and starts to look from a place of helping each other instead of being adversaries. Which if you’re adversaries, you’re not going to expect to get to a better relationship. That’s not going to happen.
That’s not a goal of an adversary. The way I view it sometimes is that their pain management systems are failing because so many of us are managing past hurts or past pains or behavior patterns. We don’t even know that. We go into this pain management mode or get triggered in a situation that has nothing to do with our past.
If you look at someone who lashes out in violence or other destructive behaviors and if they hurt you, it may feel very intentional. On the surface, it may be very intentional, but often what’s going on with them is that they’re hurting and they want to stop hurting. Because of their past, their wiring gives them a bit of a dopamine hit when they lash out, when they’re violent, when they’re mean to someone. That reduces their pain for a moment. It’s not the ultimate way for their pain to stop, but it cures them in the moment like a drug hit. Often what I’ve found in working in this is that’s what’s driving those kinds of behaviors. It doesn’t make it okay and it doesn’t mean you have to allow yourself to be hurt. What it does mean is you can start to see where it’s not about hurting you. There’s something else there. They just may not understand the dynamics within themselves.
You create that emotional barrier. I had some crazy family members and every time I’d go to that house, I’d look at it like watching a soap opera. “Now this character is going to do that.” You already knew what the characters were going to do to rile each other up. I watched it like a soap opera. “This character is going to do this. Now this character is going to start yelling.” You know their personalities.
What I always wonder is how much are we carrying those expectations into the interactions so that we interact with them in a way that makes it come true anyway, whether it would or wouldn’t. The next piece of it is recognizing that in any relationship dysfunction, it’s 50/50. I’ve got my half, you’ve got your half. Within me are these two other halves. One is my actions that I’m choosing to put out into the world for you to react to. The other’s my reaction, so how I’m taking in your behavior and responding to it. Even though it may be hard, I have full control over both of those. You say something offensive. It’s not that it’s easy to just not respond or say thank you or I love you, but that is my choice how I choose to behave in response to you.
By extension, because you’re the same as me, you have actions and reactions, you’re reacting to my behavior. Suddenly I realize I can influence part of your behavior by giving you something different to react to. If I can start from this place of understanding what happiness you’re seeking, maybe I can influence a change in how you’re treating me by giving you something different to react to from my less attacked place that I’m in now. Because I see like, “I don’t like what you did but I get why you’re doing this to me. It has nothing to do with me or it has to do with this thing over here that you want. For some reason, you think I’m standing in your way. What if I can help change your feelings about me in relation to that goal?” That’s what the teaching and the book is about. That’s what I’ve watched change relationships pretty dramatically. Even if we think the other person isn’t capable of change, surprisingly they’re not. You have to give them something different to interact with.Even if the other person isn't capable of change, you have to give them something different to interact with. Click To Tweet
You give them something different on what they can react to. Give us a business example of maybe if you have a client or associate that’s being difficult, how could you use this technique?
I’ll share an in-depth experience that I had myself. It was in my second TEDx Talk that I did in 2018 and then I shared in the book as well. I had a coworker who had gone from being a close ally, confidant, friend, to try and get me fired in pretty dramatic fashion. She’s someone I would turn to and it was quite a shock. What I’ve come to realize is she had screwed up pretty badly and was trying to hide it. A number of us unknowingly were walking into exposing it. She went on the attack because she was trying to take us out before she got found out. With a different style, maybe she would’ve been like, “I messed this up. I need my friends to help me here. Let’s all make it right for the business,” but she didn’t choose that path. Instead, she chose to attack a number of us and we were all dumbfounded. We didn’t know where it was coming from. To make a long story short, she levied this attack, put our CEO and CFO on CC. We’re all members of the C-Suite. I could have lashed out back at her. She threw out a lot of “facts” that were wrong and I had the data to show it. I could have hit back on all of them, but instead I said, “thank you,” which is weird.
It’s not that I was happy inside, but I thanked her for it and I said, “I understand you’re very concerned about X, Y, Z and the impact on the business. I have the same concern for the business,” because I did. “Let’s set some time for all of us to sit down and talk through it so we can make sure the business is in the best position possible.” That set the stage for what started as a nasty meeting where she levied her attacks again. It allowed me to come back and say, “I hear you. I have a different perspective on it. Rather than going back and forth on that, talk to me about what it is you’re most concerned about from an outcome standpoint.” She sat back dumbfounded because she was not expecting that. She thought this was going to be a battle. She had been a litigator in a former life. I knew I couldn’t win going head to head with her. She’s too skilled at it. That caught her off guard. When she shared what her desired outcome was, it’s hard for everyone in the room to disagree with it. I was like, “That’s what I want too. Here are some thoughts I have to help us get there. What do you think?” All of a sudden, I wasn’t standing in her way. I was there along with her helping her get to that goal. I’m not going to lie and say we were best friends again. I’m not going to lie and say I enjoyed being with her every moment we had to work together, but we did work together and neither of us, at least not in that moment, got fired.
She ended up leaving. She wasn’t taking me out. We were able to do those things that she was hoping for, that I was hoping for, that our CEO and CFO were hoping for. We were able to work together productively. I hope that she’s had time to reflect on recognizing she had allies that she turned against that could have helped her, but at least I know she stopped trying to take us all out and that made things more productive. This isn’t about moving to utopia or everything being like rainbows and skipping around holding hands. There’s reality here, but it does mean we can get things to a better place and that certainly was better than where it was and a lot better than where it was headed.
How do our readers find out more about you?
The easiest place to learn about me is at BryanFalchuk.com. That’s an easy way to find me.
You can also connect with Bryan and other great Heartrepreneurs on our Facebook group at #Heartrepreneurs with Terri Levine.
- Bryan Falchuk
- Do A Day
- #Heartrepreneurs with Terri Levine – Facebook
- Bryan Falchuk’s TEDx Talk
About Bryan Falchuk
Bryan Falchuk is a best-selling author, speaker and life coach. He has faced major adversities and learned how to overcome and achieve. From obesity to running marathons, from career struggles to success as a C-level executive, from watching illness threaten his family to finding lasting health, he has been through many lessons he used to develop his unique approach to inspiring others to succeed.
Bryan’s best-selling first book, Do a Day, teaches the philosophy he developed to find your true motivation, set meaningful goals and achieve them by freeing yourself of judgment of the past and fear of the future. His latest book, The 50 75 100 Solution: Build Better Relationships, helps people see the power they have to make their relationships healthier and happier. Both his books come directly from his experience facing his own barriers so he could move his life forward.
Bryan’s work has been featured in many top publications like Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, The LA Times, Chicago Tribune and more. He is a frequent speaker at corporate events, conferences, universities and has spoken at multiple TEDx events. He has been a featured guest on over 150 podcasts and radio shows, and hosts his own weekly show, The Do a Day Podcast.
Bryan holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, and has been a C-level executive and board advisor in the insurance and tech spaces.
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