7 Things You Should Know at 45+: Practical Advice From a Psychiatrist

  1. You have much more control over what you say than over how it’s heard
    Before you speak to someone, give some thought as to what they want to get from it. If you shape your message in a way they’ll want to hear it, they will be less likely to push back against you.
  2. Be compelling to open, and convincing to close
    Too often people try to convince too soon. When you do that too early you take away the other person’s ability to choose to engage with you, because they’re feeling too pressured by you to have to do something. Most people want to choose instead of feeling forced to do something.
  3. Forgiveness means accepting the apology you will never receive
    Shared with me from Shawne Duperon, Founder of Project Forgive. This is especially helpful with deceased relatives who deep down may have wanted to give you an apology, but didn’t or couldn’t find the words. Doing this will help you let go of your anger and hurt. Following this by apologizing to them in your mind’s eye or in person for holding a grudge towards them may help you let go of your guilt.
  4. See conflict as a triple opportunity
    – An opportunity for poise, by saying in your mind, “Use ‘Radical Patience’ to pause and not react”
    – An opportunity for empathy, by asking yourself what you feel hurt, upset, angry and disappointed about; and then ask yourself what the other person might be hurt, upset, angry, and disappointed about.
    – An opportunity for growth by asking the other person who might be yelling at you, “Please wait a minute, I just figured out what I’m feeling hurt, upset, angry, and disappointed about,” then let them keep venting and say, “Oh, please just another moment, because I think I figured out what you’re hurt, upset, angry, and disappointed about. Might I tell you to see if I got it right?” This may help both of you to calm down and when you’re speaking about the disappointments, you may have a rational and constructive conversation.
  5. People are always listening for something underneath their listening to you
    For instance, right now, underneath you reading this and listening to me, I think you might be listening for practical, doable-by-you advice that you could use immediately to improve your life or deal with a problem you haven’t been able to solve. If that is true and I get it right and give you it, you will lean in towards me because you’ll want to hear more.
  6. Resistance to change doesn’t exist
    What does exist is non-rational, non-functional, self-preservation because when you’re asking someone to go outside the competence/confidence/control psychological silo in their mind, they are afraid of feeling incompetent/lacking confidence/out of control. So instead of treating them as if they’re being resistant instead of fearful, ask them, “What about what I am asking you to do is really upsetting to you so that it’s tough to go along with it, or even listen and consider it?” Then have a conversation with them, hear them out, and discover what might unlock them from being hesitant to give it a try.
  7. Create: “Whoa! Wow! Hmm… Yes!” to grab and hold other people’s attention and get them to act.
    – This is the secret of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk in creating fanatical customers.
    – “Whoa!” = “I can’t believe what I just saw, heard or read!
    – “Wow!” = “That’s astonishing, amazing, unbelievable”
    – “Hmm…” = “This is too good to ignore”
    – “Yes!” = “Sold”
    – To see this in action watch this video dramatization of Steve Jobs first seeing the Mouse and Graphical User Interface at Xerox Parc and you’ll distinctly see each reaction. Jobs went on to create the Macintosh, and he recreated the same “Whoa! Wow! Hmm… Yes!” experience with customers whenever he introduced a new Apple product (“An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator… these are NOT three separate devices! And we are calling it iPhone! Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone!”)


Mark Goulston, M.D., is a Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coach, former psychiatrist, former FBI/hostage negotiation trainer and author/co-author of nine books translated into 42 languages with his book, “Just Listen,” becoming the top book on listening in the world. He is the host of the My Wakeup Call podcast and hopes some of the above points woke you up.

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