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You know that how you communicate with others can be the key to good or bad relationships. It can be the key to success or failure at work. It can be the key to getting momentum or getting stuck in life. In this episode I’m going to share the three words I’ve been using for years to propel me, my relationships, and my work forward. These three words will make sure that you aren’t having conversations led by your primal brain that is reactive, have deeper more meaningful connections and get to the outcomes you are looking for. These three words have the power to change your life.

Tamara’s Everyday Innovator style is Risk Taker Experiential. What’s yours?

Sticky Inspiration: “Tell me more” are the three most powerful words and will impact your life

Lesson & Action: Don’t let the primal brain take over. Instead, go deeper with “Tell me more.”

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Raw Podcast Transcript:


Hey. Hey everybody. Tamara here, your host and risk taker, experiential, everyday innovator, and I think it’s safe to say I enjoy running. Hmm. More on that later. I’m not sure. Yeah, you can tell the question in my voice. I’ve been doing a lot of it lately and I think I might be coming to enjoy. It just goes to show you that something that you think you hate or you’re bad at may actually be something you enjoy if you give it enough.

Okay, that’s for another podcast today. The sticky inspiration behind this podcast is actually an experience that I had that actually changed how I communicate and really elevated my ability to get buy-in. So one of the struggles I often hear from everyday innovators across the globe is that, Struggle not to innovate.

They’ve unlocked their ability to innovate. They are creative problem solvers, they’re strategic thinkers. But it’s then the second step, which is getting buy-in for your ideas. It’s no fun trying to push a boulder uphill by your, by yourself or beyond an island, or whatever analogy you wanna use. , it’s really does suck When you’ve got an idea that you know is a solution to a problem that you know is gonna propel you forward, that you know is gonna solve something in your work and in your life that you know is a great opportunity to go after, to only have whomever it is sitting across the table from you, give you the thumbs down, even though you know is a great idea.

So I wanna share a story with you about an experience that I had that is what changed. As I was saying, how I communi. Innovative ideas and how I get buy-in for innovative ideas and how I get other people on the journey to being everyday innovators, thinking differently and seeing their own problems and opportunities.

So early on in my career, I was recruited to head up the strategic arm of a marketing firm in New York City, and our parent company was one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, and they were based in Chicago. So when I was recruited to take on this job, not only was I the youngest person in an executive role that they had ever hired, so I had a lot to prove, but also the department, the strategic arm of this advertising agency.

Hadn’t been created yet. So my first job was to figure out what this department was gonna be about. Meaning what services did we provide? What clients did we go after? What type of pricing did we give to our clients? So all of the stuff, right, to set the stage. And then I had to go out and it and sell it and bring in the millions.

So every couple of weeks I had to fly to Chicago and present to my bosses. Think of ’em as my internal board of directors. There were about six of ’em, and at every stage I had to go present to them what my thinking was, where I was, their research, all that, and then get to the next level. One time there was this really important meeting, so this was the meeting where I was gonna get the thumbs up that I needed to get the resources that were critical for actually launching this department.

So this presentation had to go well. In fact, it had to go better than, well, it needed to be exceptional. I needed thumbs up from everybody in the room so that I could go back and actually make this thing happen. So I had about three months to prepare for this presentation, and I spent more hours than I can count, creating the most beautiful.

PowerPoint presentation you have ever seen. I labored over every image. It mattered. What did it say? How did it say it? Every picture had to be right. Every word had to be just right. I’m telling you, this might be the most beautiful presentation I have ever put together to this day. And then I spent hours, hours, roleplaying in the mirror.

I thought of every question they could possibly ask me, every objection they could possibly have, and I had answers. For everything. I practiced it all. So then the day of the big meeting arrives. So I fly to Chicago, I go up to the executive floor, open the doors to the green carpet. Now mind you, this is the only floor with this beautiful carpeting in it because it’s the, you know, the executive suite.

So I’m in the conference room with my internal board of directors, and I’m presenting, and I’m crushing it. I’m doing such a good job. I am c. , I am on point. My, my presentation is beautiful. It is drawing them in. So good. And as I’m finishing up the presentation, I look over and I see one of my bosses give me a thumbs up and I think, yep.

Nailing it. And then I look over and my main boss gives me two thumbs up. So now I’m about to pat myself on the back. I’m thinking, yep, I’m getting the resources, the money, everything that I need to make this happen. This is, my dreams are coming true. , but then one of my internal board of directors raised her hand and she asked me a very challenging question, or at least I perceived it as very challenging and.

I turned too mush. I went into freeze. My primal brain took over and I was panicking. I didn’t know what to do. I was getting sweaty and hot and I couldn’t see straight. I just, and all that research, all that confidence was just out of my brain. It was like scrambled eggs up in my head. I did not know what to do.

I was so panicked and in an effort to just buy myself some time and get my feet under. . I stopped and I looked at her and I said, that’s an interesting question. Tell me more. The most amazing thing happened. First of all, I had a chance to get my feet under me. So stress lives in the neurological system.

And where research has shown is that it takes us about three deep breaths to calm our neurological system, get ourselves out of that unnecessary fight, flight, or freeze, and into our higher thinking, into a calmer self, you know, decrease our heart rate. So I had a chance to calm myself down, get my feet under me, compose myself, and pull back my thinking.

but something else happened that was really interesting, and it’s actually the point of this story. She started to talk. She started getting herself out of her primal brain. She started to tell me why she asked the question, the reason behind it, her past experience that led to her concern. She started to talk herself into solutions to her own obstacle.

See, here’s what. . We’re not the only one in our primal brains all the time with our emotions and our lizard brain driving our decisions and our reactions. So are the people on the other side of the table, the people you’re trying to get buy-in from. And oftentimes, particularly in today’s world, where we’ve been dealing with unprecedented, unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety.

this kind of primal brain stress living has become this insidious part of our lives. So while the primal brain and stress used to be this response, it was like, you know, fight, flight, or freeze, right? It happens in an instant and it goes away. Now we’re living in this brain more than we like to think we are.

And sh she in asking that question, was coming from a reactive place, right? Something set her off. But in asking her, oh, that’s an interesting question. Tell me more. , it actually gave her a chance to open up. She got to calm down. She got her three breaths, and she talked and told me everything I needed and went deeper and deeper and deeper.

And we got to have a real conversation about what matters and drive to some innovative solutions. Not only did I get buy in from my ideas that day because of that moment, because of, tell me more, but our conversation helped strengthen the ideas I was present.  tell me more. Are the three most magical words when you put them together.

And so if you wanna get buy-in for your ideas, if you wanna communicate in a way that gets people on board with your thinking, that takes them along for the journey, instead of trying to answer their question, instead of trying to resist their resistance, instead of trying to convince them, convey more inform.

Just stop and say, Hmm, that’s interesting. Tell me more. People will always talk if there’s a vacuum to fill, believe me, people fill it. Tell me more. Has been my not so secret weapon in getting people on board with my thinking and opening up new ideas in moving things forward, getting traction, and it’s so simple, isn’t it?

It seems so basic saying, tell me. , but we’re humans. We wanna jump to solution. We wanna look smart. We don’t wanna look stupid, right? We have a fear of looking like idiots and someone asking us us. A question feels confrontational. Remember at the beginning of the story I had said she asked a challenging question.

So I think she did ask in a challenging way, but even more so, I took it really personally in that moment. That’s why I went into freeze, because not only did I not have the answer, I often don’t have the answer that doesn’t rattle me. , but I thought she was challenging my authority and suddenly my panic of, oh my God, I’m not getting a yes.

This is so stupid. What have I done? That is the voice that kicked in and that’s why my brain went to scrambled eggs. So the next time you’re in a situation where you’re trying to get the person on the other side of the, of the table to buy into whatever it is you’re talking.  and they ask you a question instead of trying to answer it, even if you think it’s obvious, in fact, especially when you think it’s obvious, I want you to stop and just say, oh, that’s interesting.

Tell me more. Now, the story that I just shared is work. So let’s talk for a moment about how powerful, tell me more can be in your personal life as well with your family, your friends, your relat. Have you ever been in an argument with your significant other or boyfriend, girlfriend, parents, siblings, kids, whomever it is.

We, you probably argue with all of them. I know I do at some point in my life and it’s just going nowhere. Everybody’s digging in their heels. The, the volume’s getting louder and by the end of it, it’s that agree to disagree moment, which really doesn’t resolve anything. And sure enough, six months. , that argument comes back.

Here’s what I found. The reason those arguments are so frustrating, don’t go anywhere and never get resolved. And then of course, come back around at some point or another is because we are having a conversation on the surface. So in that work story I just shared about presenting my ideas and that one internal board member.

I mentioned the fact that the, the challenge we were having is both of us were on the surface in our primal brain. So her question and where she was coming from was in her primal brain because she was set off. And then my response or lack of was also coming from my primal brain. And tell me more, gave us both the chance to calm down and dig deeper.

Well, in your personal life, this applies doesn. , you get in an argument, you’re on the surface. Nobody’s really getting anywhere. Nobody’s taking a moment to understand beneath the surface, and the entire argument is happening in your primal brain. Now, if you’ve known me long enough, you know that I’ve actually named my primal brain.

Research has actually shown that if you name it, you take it out of the driver’s seat, right? You can actually manage a little better. So my primal brain is named Bernard, and when I let Bernard take over, He is very stubborn. He digs in his heels and he wants to convince the other person why he is 100% right, and they are 100% wrong.

But when I have a chance to calm down and when I have a chance to get outta my primal brain, brain and dig a little bit deeper, and Bernard gets a little quieter, instead of trying to convince a person that I’m a hundred percent right, I try to actually understand where they’re coming. And get to a deeper real conversation that’ll actually move us forward.

When I lived in New York City, I had a boyfriend for part of that for about two years. His name was David.  and every Friday night after a long week of work for both of us, we would go out to dinner and we got into this routine where I would pick the place to go to dinner. Now, just to date myself, this was before Yelp and TripAdvisor and really the internet.

So you had this little book called Zag Getts, and Zagats was the end all, be all of restaurant reviews. And just so you know, if you had one of the latest additions of the Z. Restaurant guide you were considered super cool. It was like a badge of honor if you got it before everybody else. So funny to think about that.

But on, so on the weekends we would go out to eat and I would pick the restaurant and so he’d get home from his job. I usually got home before him. We changed and I’d say, okay, here’s the place I picked. Let’s go. Well, what Friday? Never forget. He got so mad at me for. Picking this restaurant and out of nowhere, it’s like we were walking down the street and he just starts, I don’t wanna go to this restaurant.

I’ve heard bad things from other people about this restaurant. I don’t know why you picked this restaurant. And he’s practically yelling at me on the street corner about this stupid restaurant. And I’m, I’m a little bit shocked. And so what do I do? Well, I start, are you going back? Well, the review said this, I heard this.

The menu has this, we could do this another time. We could go to a different restaurant. Another time. We’re going to this one.  and I’m convincing him, well, don’t you want some good pasta? Don’t you want some good Capri salad? Right? So I’m arguing about the restaurant we’re going to, and then I remembered what happened and my, tell me more situation that it happened in work not too long prior.

And so I turned to him after his last yelling moment and I said, oh, that’s interesting. Tell me more. So at first there was this moment of silence between us and I thought, uhoh, I’m not sure this is gonna work. But as we’re sitting there in that moment of silence, first of all, once again, I got a chance to calm down.

And that was good for both of us too, cuz I was getting severely riled up on that street corner. We were just going at it. And then he looked at me and he said, you always pick the restaurants. I never get a say in. , it would be nice if I could contribute to our Friday evening dinners and not just be told where to go and I sta I stayed quiet and then he said I spent all week being told directions, being told what to do, being given advice.

It’d be nice if when I came home that didn’t happen. Oh. . Well, that is something I could respond to. So I whipped out the Zagats book. I handed it to him and I said, you know what? You’re absolutely right. I was simply trying to make it easy for you because I know your work is very stressful. You worked out on Wall Street.

I said, so how about this? How about you pick one? I’ll pick one. And then between the two, we’ll decide which one we want to go to. The entire situation was diff.  and we ended up going to this other re restaurant, which was absolutely delightful. But do you see the point of the story there? It wasn’t about the restaurant at all.

And most oftentimes, our arguments, our debates, our conversations with the people in our lives are not about whatever it is that started the conversation. Tell me more. Allows us to go so much. I’m so thankful I had that conversation because I was over there, you know, from my perspective, trying to be helpful, thinking, oh, this is making it easy for him, and he’s coming home and thinking, why doesn’t she let me make any decisions?

We were coming from two different places and we didn’t even know it. And when he realized that all I was doing was trying to make it easy for him, he calmed down. He became appreciative of my.  and at the same time I calmed down and realized his perspective. Tell me more. Works in trying to get buy-in for your ideas.

It works in debates and in arguments because you get all those layers deeper, so the next time you are in an argument, you’re trying to get buy-in for your ideas, you’re trying to make a decision to move forward in some way instead. Of trying to convince instead of digging in your heels, instead of instantly jumping to that primal brain, just stop and say, huh, tell me more.

And with that, Tamara out.