Holding the Calm

With Hesha Abrams, a master at turning high conflict into amicable resolutions and resolving delicate matters with diplomacy and skill, has resolved thousands of high profile or difficult matters, including mediating the case over the secret recipe for Pepsi. Hesha has worked with a wide range of clients, from large multinational companies to individual inventors, creating deals and solving cases. Her strategic ability to remain cool-headed and balanced in complex situations leads to successful outcomes making her a leading name in her field, and an invaluable resource in any dispute resolution process. She specializes in crafting innovative solutions for complex or difficult matters in Intellectual Property, Commercial, Pharmaceuticals, Securities and “Deal Mediation”, which is driving a complex business deal to a successful signing. 

Hesha’s popular new book, “Holding the Calm: The Secret to Resolving Conflict and Defusing” is where she shares her secrets on how to read a situation to solve problems, eliminate conflict, and restore harmony. Learn these secrets and inspiring stories to resolve conflict and defuse tension.

Join our conversation where Hesha shares valuable insights on how you can settle disputes and create a business and life that you love while protecting yourself from being destroyed by one mistake. Additionally, she discusses VUCS – a four-step process she created for handling any situation and how to use it in the moment. You will also learn in this episode how recognizing early signs of fight, flight or freeze can shift power dynamics, and understand the concept of multiplexing, which enables deeper connections with other people.

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Takeaways & quotes you don’t want to miss:

  • How do you settle disputes?
  • Why is best the enemy of better?
  • What the book “Holding the Calm: The Secret to Resolving Conflict and Defusing Tension” is all about.
  • “100% of conflict starts with tension.”

“Just imagine going into a negotiation with anybody… and you’re thinking they’re trying to win the whole thing when problem solving and all that. 90% of the time, they’re not trying to win, they’re trying to not lose. And if you think of it that way, it completely shifts how you’re going to approach it…”

-Hesha Abrams

Check out these highlights:

  • 20:03 What keeps the small business owners from getting legal support? 
  • 30:39 This gets in the way of listening…
  • 36:13 How do you recognize if someone is in a flight or freeze state?
  • 42:14 How to get 80-90% of the value of reflective feedback.
  • 50:22 Hesha shares one thing that she wishes most people knew that they don’t.

How to get in touch with Hesha on Social Media:

You can also contact Hesha by visiting her website here.

Imperfect Show Notes

We are happy to offer these imperfect show notes to make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who prefer reading over listening. While we would love to offer more polished show notes, we are currently offering an automated transcription (which likely includes errors, but hopefully will still deliver great value), below:

GGGB Intro  00:00

Here’s what you get on today’s episode of Guts, Grit and Great Business®…

Hesha Abrams  00:04

Just imagine going into a negotiation with anybody – an employer, supplier, contractor, anybody, and you’re thinking they’re trying to win, you know, the whole thing when problem solving and all that kind of junk 90% of the time, they’re not trying to win the train to not lose. And if you think of it that way, it completely shifts how you’re going to approach it, and what your gimmies are going to be and how you’re going to handle something. How can you let them not lose means you can still win on stuff you need to do because you are aware of that.

GGGB Intro  00:38

The adventure of entrepreneurship and building a life and business you love, preferably at the same time is not for the faint of heart. That’s why Heather Pearce Campbell is bringing you a dose of guts, grit and great business stories that will inspire and motivate you to create what you want in your business and life. Welcome to the Guts, Grit and Great Business® podcast where endurance is required. Now, here’s your host, The Legal Website Warrior®, Heather Pearce Campbell.

Heather Pearce Campbell  01:07

Alrighty, welcome. I am Heather Pearce Campbell, The Legal Website Warrior®. I’m an attorney and legal coach supporting online information entrepreneurs throughout the US and the world. Welcome to another episode of Guts, Grit and Great Business®. I am super excited to welcome Hesha Abrams today. Welcome Hesha.

Hesha Abrams  01:29

Hello, pleasure to be here.

Heather Pearce Campbell  01:31

So good to have you. I know we connected just a few I want to say a few short weeks ago, and I loved our conversation. I love your topic. For those of you listening, Hesha is a fellow attorney, she’s got a really fascinating background. This topic is one that I actually considered to be the most important topic that you can cover whether it is in business, and personal life. And we’ll get more into why this is such an important topic. But if you stick around for this conversation, you’re going to learn some things, it will be one that could really help you achieve a powerful transformation in your life and your business in more ways than one. So Hesha Abrams is an internationally acclaimed master attorney mediator with a unique talent to manage big egos and strong personalities, and a keen ability to create synergy amongst the most diverse personality types, driving them toward agreement. And in case you do not live in the legal world, I can attest that there are plenty of big egos and challenging personality types. Not all right. Oh, yeah, I love so many of my colleagues and like Hesha and others who really do amazing work that actually goes well beyond “just the legal landscape”, there are some folks that earn us a reputation. So anyways, Hesha is on a mission and that’s what we’re here today to talk about. By Holding the Calm, Hesha uses innovative approaches to deal making specializing in crafting solutions for complex or difficult matters. During her 30 plus year career, Hesha has resolved 1000s of cases both large and small, in every conceivable area, creating settlements worth billions of dollars, saving clients billions more including a dispute over the secret recipe for Pepsi. Holding the Calm, which is also the name of her book is her insightful, practical, easy to use toolkit forged in the trenches of resolving human conflict. Its secrets will enable you to know how to approach every situation to prevent explosions, disarm conflicts and reduce drama. Holding the Calm is Hesha’s contribution to help make our world businesses and relationships less acrimonious and more harmonious. Welcome Hesha!

Hesha Abrams  04:06

My pleasure. My pleasure. This is one of the why should the professionals have all the secrets, right? It’s better for everybody.

Heather Pearce Campbell  04:15

Hallelujah, say it louder for the attorneys in the back. Say it louder for the attorneys in the back. Really, or any professional right?

Hesha Abrams  04:24

Anybody. Yeah, anybody. Honestly, your secretary or paralegal has to do with your garbage because they’re lying. And if they don’t handle things, well, you can lose client. So let’s talk stuff interest.

Heather Pearce Campbell  04:36

Yeah, totally. Well, I think so often, professionals really in any industry can fall into the trap of like, we’re supposed to have all the answers we need to protect the information that we have when it comes to legal and I know we talked about this a little bit on our first conversation. Like I just feel like our industry has gotten it so backwards in many ways and particularly when it comes to the access to justice gap for multiple consumers of legal services, right, it’s been such a traditional slow moving industry that we’re barriers to entry are high. Right. And it shouldn’t be that way. I think it’s challenge for a lot of people to work within the confines of a profession that’s heavily regulated, right, that has certain rules that I think in some ways, really dissuade creativity. And for me, my whole mission has been about how do we make legal support and really principles? And because it goes beyond legal support, but how do we make I’ll just say, support, in general, more accessible to small businesses and entrepreneurs who are not well served in the traditional legal marketplace. And, you know, if you’ve ever played the game of telephone, you know, how quickly things can go wrong, whether it’s in a conversation, in a scenario involving multiple humans, right, and then you add any kind of stressful interaction or, you know, situations where people are really at odds. And I think, you’ve got massive potential, including just in business generally, to really have a huge opportunity to develop skills in the area that you’re an expert at.

Hesha Abrams  06:29

Well said, you know, for those listening, I’m hoping we don’t just have new lawyers listening, I hope we have.

Heather Pearce Campbell  06:35

No, and this is not a podcast for lawyers. This is a podcast for entrepreneurs.

Hesha Abrams  06:40

For entrepreneurs, yes.

Heather Pearce Campbell  06:42

We probably have some lawyers listening. But it really what we do on this podcast is we’re really talking about the business building journey, how to create a business that has the kind of impact that you want with your clients in the industry that you’re in, in your professional landscape. And bigger than that, how do you create a business and a life that you love.

Hesha Abrams  07:09

Well, and protect yourself, so it doesn’t get destroyed by one stupid mistake. You could’ve worked years to create something. And one foolish mistake, you didn’t get a correct release, or an HR problem wasn’t handled well, or a customer or a shareholder, and everything you work for can be ruined. On the other hand, you can so overprotect yourself that it’s like a kid in a snow suit where they’re so bundled up, they can’t play. So having good legal advice is very important to know when and how to do that. But for yourself having a good sense of I want to protect myself, but not protect myself so much that I can’t do anything. Remember, I immediated a case once with Sears, and the manufacturer for Sears Roebuck, I was young, I was in my early 30s. And I remember that was almost 35 years ago. And I remember to this day, him telling me best is the enemy of better. And that bothered me, I spent a lot of time thinking about that. How can that be? Everything I’m doing is trying to be best? What are you talking about? High standards, superlative, excellent, all that kind of stuff. Best is the enemy of better. And he is so right, in 90% of the time, you know, and how you want to try to get something done. And one of the things I talked about in the book is when you’re negotiating, or when you’re in conflict management. I call it creating small, winnable victories. Because think about the issues that are dividing our country right now. They’re huge, gigantic issues, gun control, abortion, immigration, politics. I mean, they’re huge. They don’t affect the normal person’s life. And so how do you resolve things? Not from the center head on you disagree with me? So I think you’re an idiot. You know, we can’t come to terms on anything it’d be think differently. No, no, no, no. You dissolve them from the outside in. Things head on, especially when it’s high conflict, high profile, high stakes, never ever, ever. So that’s some of the stuff we’ll be talking about in this hour. And how you approach this, and how do you keep your whatever is your special brilliance, your special, unique entrepreneurial contribution? For some people, their contribution is really they wanted to be more altruistic, but you know, they’d like to make a living at it. Oh, totally. Well, it’s no, I want to make a lot of money. I want to be super successful. Okay. I feel that way. There’s nothing wrong with that fact. That’s healthy. But then do we then cut out and destroy the people? Do we destroy the environment? Everything has this balance to it. And if you’re smart, you’re on the 60-40. You have to balance the 60, it can be on either side of the median line, depending on which way you prioritize your product, your services, what you’re doing. But if you’re smart, you always have an eye out for the next opportunity, and an eye out for the next boulder in your road, and an eye out for the next snake in your path. Those are the things you got to worry about in order to actually make it in the long game. Horses, you know, that’s the game is making? 

Heather Pearce Campbell  07:11

Totally. And this, you know, the reason I launched this podcast actually was because COVID was literally, when I had the idea for it. I’m in Seattle, we were ground zero for COVID. And I thought nobody is talking about what is about to hit millions of small businesses across the United States and around the world, and what this impact will have on small businesses. And so I just really wanted to create a place where we were having conversations about mindset about longevity about long term perspective in the business building path. And especially for folks who are very mission driven, and also conscious entrepreneurs, they want to build a successful business, but part of it is so that they can have tremendous impact for good, right. So we’re talking to folks who are on a mission to build successful businesses, and have some altruism in there where they have something that they deeply, deeply care about as their significant impact in the world. So, and I believe those things can go hand in hand. And I think we’re seeing evidence throughout the marketplace that impact, including social impact oriented businesses can be even more profitable and more successful than many.

Hesha Abrams  10:49

And how it’s done, though. That’s the big key is how, you know, the restaurant business is highly dangerous. I mean, 90, whatever, some crazy percentage, 97, or 98%, of all new restaurants fail. And that’s because people get a good idea, or have a good recipe, but they don’t know how to do the business part of it. And I say that with business. It’s so important to know your strength and your weakness, and you get support for your weakness. So let me tell it, can I tell a story, please do this is not in the book, by the way, Holding the Calm: The Secret to Resolving Conflict and Defusing Tension, and this is afterwards and actually heard it on NPR is hidden brain. But it has so much application to what we’re talking about. Now that just came in to me to share this with our listeners. So there was a couch company that sold bespoke customized couches, for 20 to $30,000 for a couch, okay, custom fabric piping, they can choose the size, the arms, the legs, all this kind of stuff, people would go through with their designers clicking away designing, having all the fun. And at the end, a huge percentage of them wouldn’t close the sale. They were flummoxed what could be happening. And so what the human brain does is we operate like a car, we put more gas on it, or we put a brake on it. Most entrepreneurs, you’ve got a fire in your belly, or you would not be an entrepreneur. So what do you do? You step on the gas? So this company, more sales, more marketing, more social media spending money? Because I spend money to make money, right? Didn’t change the doggone thing? Finally, somebody was smart enough to say, let’s hold the calm. They didn’t say that, of course. But yes, yeah. And let’s put the brakes on. Let’s diagnose what the barriers are and what’s going on. So they had somebody called every single person who had gone up to the point of sale, and didn’t complete it very politely, you know, as a survey, you know, ask them why they didn’t do it. You want to know the number one overwhelming reason why people that could afford a 20 to $30,000 couch did not complete the sale. They didn’t know what to do with the old couch. Oh, man. Now the solution is so easy. You buy a new one, take away the old one, no problem, no need for sales, no need for money, no need for nothing. It’s absolutely brilliant. And it is one of the things we do and holding the calm is it can take 1000 people to build the building. And one more on a stick of dynamite and everything he built his last. So paying attention to not having conflict. And I named the book the book titles a little longer than I would like and I did it on purpose. It’s Holding the Calm: The Secret to Resolving Conflict and Defusing Tension. So why did I add that little corollary there? Because 100% of conflict, 100% of it starts with tension, starts with tension. And the tension can be around or it can be that’s ugly tension. That’s really bad too because you don’t you can’t diagnose you don’t know what the heck is going on.

Heather Pearce Campbell  14:58

Right and for those of you who are not critical, right, those of you who are not watching the video, it reminds me of my sister who’s in sales and is a master at reading body language. Right? So how should just folded her arms and kind of sat back like put distance in between right and made a more of a closed off face? And it’s critical too yes, and even in business because one of the things I talk about regularly is looking for red flags scenarios and red flag clients, right? It’s these little things that are signposts along the way, like, ooh, something’s not quite on track, or I just got a signal that’s a little weird, somebody’s unhappy with something, right?

Hesha Abrams  15:38

And how do I fix it. So this is the analogy to use the next book I write, I have to call it spaghetti sauce. Because everyone’s gonna love this analogy. Everyone has dropped spaghetti sauce on the kitchen counter, you take a sponge and you wipe it up, it’s no big deal. You leave it overnight, you’re scraping it off with a spatula, leave it three or four months, and it’s old and moldy and nasty. That my friends is tension and conflict. And we all know we should wipe it up with a sponge. When it’s wet. We know that I know you’re upset with me, I should discuss it with you. But we don’t why? I don’t know how I’m afraid of you. I let sleeping dogs lie. Why would write indoors box, maybe it’ll go away. I don’t have time.

Heather Pearce Campbell  16:24

My human nervous system is just flooded. Right? Or I think so often, people shift into whether it’s fully fight or flight or just the initial phase of fear, like oh, what will happen if and they just shut down, it’s easier to try to walk away, or just hope it’s gonna go away, then just go with it. And it never…

Hesha Abrams  16:47

Never. Think about anyone that you’ve had a long term conflict with in your family or a neighbor, you remember that nasty thing they said, or the thing they didn’t do, or they didn’t keep their word, you remember that it’s like a nut squirreled away for the winter. And the whole point is we know we could take care of it. Mana, you that’s one of the things about Holding the Calm is the way I wrote the book is I did 20 tools in 20 chapters, each one with a bunch of stories and anecdotes, and stems to make it easy. So you pick one or two and say, here’s how I’m gonna handle it. And it makes life so much easier because you aren’t afraid because you go oh, well, I can just do that. And it makes it. The beauty is like one of the things with a couch story. There was a guy named Daniel Kahneman and Arman Torski, they were psychologists, and they got a Nobel Prize in Economics, for proving that the human being is not a rational consumer. And some crazy percentage of the time like close to 90%. It’s not that we’re trying to win. It’s that we’re trying to not lose it. Just imagine going into a negotiation with anybody – an employer, supplier, contractor, anybody, and you’re thinking they’re trying to win the whole thing when problem solving and all that kind of junk. 90% of the time, they’re not trying to win, they’re trying to not lose. And if you think of it that way, it completely shifts how you’re going to approach it, and what your gimmies are going to be and how you’re going to handle something. How can you let them not lose means you can still win on stuff you need to do because you are aware of that. And in the book, I give a couple of stories about that. Then instead of saying to someone Yeah, and with the finger pointing at you, I’ll say that reminds me of a story. And all my stories are one minute or less. And they’re ones I use hundreds and 1000s of times. So I know they work. And you tell the story. And then people will go and then they draw their own conclusions and their own understanding of it. Now it becomes theirs, as opposed to you being Mr. or Mrs. Smarty Pants and you telling you could be 100% Right? Doesn’t matter. They don’t listen that way. They don’t learn.

Heather Pearce Campbell  19:19

Now, so many good examples in that little short blip. The not losing part, right. It’s so interesting because you even think about human buying behavior. And so often it’s to avoid or stop pain, right as a stronger driver than even driving towards a positive outcome. From the standpoint even of attorneys who have to engage clients or customers, right, that I’ve learned through talking with 1000s of small business owners so often what keeps them from getting legal support in the first place? Is the fear that the attorney we’ll take advantage of them right? Again, this whole you’re writing thing…

Hesha Abrams  20:03

Don’t worry about that because the attorney has a self interest. Also, the attorney has billable hours, the attorney needs to make money. And so in that first meeting, you have to assess whether there’s a commonality of interests, values. And if you go in and say, I’m so angry, I want to crush them into the ground and I want to go after them like this. You can, that’s totally okay. You will pay for that. Yeah, if you go in and say I want a problem-oriented solution, I want to diagnose and I want to figure out what we can do and get out of here, net net, to where less time and money I’m out of here, you’re going to attract a different kind of lawyer. And I’m not saying either one is better or worse. There’s times when you need a mercenary, there’s times when someone’s coming after you hard. And the best defense is an offense, you need to be able to do that. But then how do you control the attorney? How do you manage it? What do you do? Holding the Calm techniques are fantastic with that, because it’s human beings. And I’ll tell you, I may be mediating with big, big people. I mean, I meet a big huge companies all the time. And you know, some guys weren’t at $10,000 suit. He’s got a $25,000 Rolex on his arm. And late at night, you know, we’re talking about his idiot brother in law, or his kids coach that won’t let something happened sort of asking for my advice of how to make that…

Heather Pearce Campbell  20:07

Safety problems, safety problems.

Hesha Abrams  20:36

People, I don’t care you have, you’re wearing a $10 T shirt or a $10,000 suit, bumper car, he goes all the way. And that’s why I wrote this book, because I want people to have access to how to handle this stuff.

Heather Pearce Campbell  21:42

All right, let’s pause for a moment and hear from today’s sponsor. Are you an entrepreneur who is on track to make a million or more in revenue this year in your business? If so, your business is likely facing a host of legal issues that are right for support. And if you are like so many of my clients at this level, you are likely tired of taking unnecessary risks and a DIY approach to legal support in your business. You’re ready to tackle the mess of legal documents, six legal gaps that you have. You want to take care of your IP, your clients, your business, and avoid unnecessary conflict and risk in the process. If this is you, and beyond just being an entrepreneur, you are a catalyst and are committed to your mission and your impact in the world. I invite you to get in touch. You could be a fit for my catalyst club, a small business legal support program that I designed for my high level clients. Just like you, you can find out more at legalwebsitewarrior.com. Just click on the Work with Me tab to learn more about the catalyst club and other ways that I support my clients, a fabulous group of world changing entrepreneurs, I might add, you’ve done the initial legwork in your business. And now you want to soar. And you know that you can only go as high and as far as your legal foundation lets you go. So get in touch today, hop over to legalwebsitewarrior.com, click on the Work with Me tab. And if you have any questions, get in touch through the Contact link on my site, I look forward to connecting it would be a joy to support you on your path.

Heather Pearce Campbell  23:25

You’ve got phenomenal experience, right? You’ve got endless stories that are demonstrations of like how these principles work. What point did you reach where you were like, Okay, I’ve got to write a book. Can you talk to me about what actually spurred this book into action?

Hesha Abrams  23:42

Easily. I’ve made literally 10,000 speeches in my life. That’s not an exaggeration. And every time I would make a speech, people always go, Oh my God, you gotta write a book, you got to write a book, who had time to write a book, you know.

Heather Pearce Campbell  23:56

I’ll just squeeze it in here. 

Hesha Abrams  23:57

It’s not gonna happen. And then right at the beginning of COVID, I had to have a hysterectomy, and knock on wood, thank God, everything turned out fine. But I was grounded for six weeks, I went, Okay. And the book just poured out of me. And what I wanted to do is what do I do for normal people that need to know how to solve tension, problem, solve, resolve conflict, prevent conflict, that’s easy and accessible, that you don’t need a master’s degree. You don’t need some PhD, you only take a Master’s class and something. What can they do? That’s a quick two hour read that can make their life richer and better that they can do right now. And that’s what I hunted for when I found a publisher is they all want to charge a lot of money and make hardbacks I said, No, no, I want this like 15, 16 bucks. I want a paperback I want to read. I want to easy for people so that you can use these tools right now. Why do you why do we not have that? It’s kind of like we’re caveman or cave women shoving food in our mouth. I don’t want to say here’s a fork, isn’t it? Here’s chopsticks, you know, like, you can do this. And I’ve done this 1000s and 1000s of times. And now at this stage of my career, I mean, I only deal with really big stuff. So I’ll have somebody say, I want $500 million. And the defendant will say, here’s 50,000, go pound sand. Now, I settle those all the time, how do I settle them? It’s not because I’m smarter than all the fancy pants in the room, I deal with the top top people. It’s not because I’m more clever, or I’ve come up with something that they didn’t have. It’s it. I know this game. I know human beings. I know how to move it around. I know how to get the temperature down. I know how to raise the temperature up what needs to get done. You know, chapter one of the book is speak into the ears that are hearing you speak to an introvert the same way you speak to an extrovert. You don’t speak to a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner. And I give a quick, easy way in the book of how to know what that is. It’s minor adaptations. Sort of like, I love The Five Love Languages. That book I thought that was just fantastic. It’s like that for business. Yeah, interpersonal communications. And I would talk to you differently than I would talk to somebody else. But what does that require? First of all, I got to stop. I have to seek Heather attention, I have to look at Heather, I have to see what’s important to you. What are you trying to not lose? What are you trying to win? Even though your mouth is telling me this? It doesn’t. It’s not how you’re acting. So it seems to really be important. So I come at you with curiosity rather than hostility. And now I’ve got the neuroscience of the bias of reciprocity working for me, because I do a little bit about neuroscience of the book I kind of neuroscience for Dummies is how I looked at it. Easy, but how do human beings relate? Why is it that they’ll have mediated and even get it settled, and they’ll come to me and I get it settled? I have a different approach. I try it differently. I give people what I call a wild way out with dignity. I help people that everyone listens to the same radio station. WII FM. What’s in it for me? Yeah. People will say, how do you do that? I follow the money. If somebody says it’s a matter of principle. I know 90% of the time, it’s about the money. So what does that mean? So what does the money represent to you? Yeah, I’ve settled a case with a Man of the Year dinner, or a charitable contribution. Because all of a sudden, that became more significant, right? I had a case once this isn’t even in the book. Just thinking about it now, where these two guys have been business partners together for like 30 years, they were like brothers. And each one of them had helped the other one cheat on his taxes. One of them helped him cheat out his wife when he got divorced and hide assets. I mean, not level of Oh, my God was happening. Yeah, so a huge real estate empire $30 $40 million. So we get all that divided. And we were down to the last turn, remember the last $100,000. And it was just, it’s $100,000 out of like a 30 $40 million estate, that whole deal is going to fall apart over it. So find they hated each other so badly. So finally, I turned to one of them. And if I had said, Let’s make a charitable contribution and be altruistic for Shaw, but I did, because I looked at what’s the self interest is I said to the first guy, you hate his guts, what if we made him donate $50,000 to charity that you choose that, you know, he’s gonna hate. And the guy was like gleeful gleeful, did the same thing on the other side. So that 100 grand was given to charity, but it was done where I’m going to make you give $50,000 to, you know, whatever. And then the other guy had to do the same thing. And they got their pound of flesh out of it. Now, other cases do, it’s more altruistic, and it’s kind and some loving, wonderful thing could happen. But that’s not reality. You have to speak into the ears that are hearing you putting information into the vessel in front of you for who that person is and what they want. Because that’s just pragmatism, you know, wanting everyone to be the way you are is why we have flat foreheads because we are heads against the wall.

Heather Pearce Campbell  29:33

Well, and I think, you mentioned a couple of things, because I’d love for people to have kind of some signposts to watch for right. It all starts with tension, right and paying attention to that and not running from it hiding from it, trying to shove it under the rug. I think the listening and the curiosity piece can really get bumbled, what gets in the way because I feel like you don’t get past square one, right? If you’re not willing to engage in the dialogue and really listen whether you’re actually just physically listening or really listening for the deeper things, which I think takes time and skill to develop, right? 

Hesha Abrams  30:08

Or you’re even pretending to listen, that even honestly has value. Let’s say I hate you so much. And you’re saying such stupid stuff. I can only pretend to listen. Yeah, okay.

Heather Pearce Campbell  30:20

Right. It’s better. Yes, it works. What gets in the way of that for people? Is it that the tension is already so high? Is it that there’s some internal dialogue going on that they’re just blocking everything else out? Can you share with us and lit? Like, what do we need to know about that listening piece?

Hesha Abrams  30:39

It’s partly but it would have giant is his ego. So in chapter two in the book, actually, chapter one and two, I talked about the amygdala. So let me just do a little one on one and amygdala for our listeners. The amygdala is two little kidney shape organs in the back of the brainstem. They are the primitive reptilian brain. It’s the fight, flight or freeze, and I see something in the road and it’s a stick or a snake or food, and I decide that in a nanosecond, which is a billionth of a second. That’s how quick it happens. And for some people, maybe it’s two nanoseconds, it’s that quick, my brain will look at you and go friend or foe. Yeah, yeah, that’s how quick it can actually happen. And so once the amygdala is triggered, what happens is the prefrontal cortex, which is underneath, literally the forehead, where the higher brain logic reasoning rationale stuff happens, goes into what’s called a refractory state, because we’ve shoved people in MRIs and we can tell that 20 minutes. So that means the prefrontal cortex goes dark, it’s bound up for 20 minutes. Yep. So if my amygdala is triggered, or if I can see that your amygdala is triggered, what do we tend to do give you more data, or facts, or persuasion, or arguing, it’s foolish to do that, it’s not only can they not hear it, what you’ve done is you’ve triggered more of a feeling of powerlessness in them, which makes the amygdala more activated. It makes the refractory state lasts longer. So as soon as you notice that someone’s amygdala has been triggered, back the heck up. I mean, literally used to be hearing in your brain, back up, stop all conversation, stop all pressure, do anything you can to make the person feel a sense of power. Because the act of that is always triggered when someone is feeling powerless, and powerless is even the bully. I’m going to dominate you. Yeah, that is powerless, because you’re not letting me dominate you. Why won’t you let me do what I want? It doesn’t matter if what they want is right, or ethical or honorable, doesn’t matter. It’s what they’re doing. So if you back off, and I may do something like, you know, what, are you hungry? Now, what would you like to eat? Where should we go? What should we order in? What’s the temperature like in here? Should we make a cooler? Do you want to get out of this room, take a walk, anything that the other person needs? Or wants? gives them a sense of power, can calm the heck down? And what do you have to wait 20 minutes? Nothing. It’s nothing, then you can circle back around to whatever data points you want, or discussion or wherever you’re trying to go. Just this one thing I’m trying to teach people will dramatically improve your interactions with everybody. Absolutely everybody. And it’s foundational to holding the calm. Because the reason I use that as a title is I came up with that for myself. If I have to interact with somebody might can get triggered. I’m human, like everyone else, you poke me, I’m gonna get annoyed and have a go. I’m holding the car. I’m holding the car, I’m holding the cop. Did that take two seconds? And it says to my amygdala, you have choices. You have options. You are not powerless. You have tools. What do you choose to do? Now from that place, I may make very different choices than I would make when my amygdala is crazy. And I want to cry or run or scream or, you know, do something like that. And then every interaction, the person who has the power is the person that can tame their own amygdala. Deal with yours. So I always tell people, there’s a bully or someone who’s a screamer or yelling. I mean, I can’t tell you the number of times someone will say, Oh, I don’t want them at the session or we can’t meet with him. He’s just or she or they’re just too volatile. I say I want them right next to me. If they have any say so, or any ability to sabotage what we might be doing. I want them right next to me, because I know I can handle them. And the person who is the worst is 90% of the time the most insecure. And all they need is validation, reassurance, being a part of the solution. And now all of a sudden, they become the architect of the solution, because that’s their self interest. That’s their ego. It’s not saying that you snap your fingers, and this happens, but now I kind of lay out a pathway for this to happen. You can do this, I mean, this can be done, you don’t have to be a cert to solve a performer. You don’t need to be a lawyer. You don’t need to have a PhD and hoo, ha, hoo, ha, you can do this. That’s the whole point of me getting this book out into the world.

Heather Pearce Campbell  35:41

What for folks that are listening, going? Okay, so I’m gonna recognize the early signs of fight flight or freeze, like calm things down, right helps shift that that feeling of who has the power, but for folks that are thinking like, Okay, I recognize fight, like if somebody is getting agitated or whatever, right? You can sense some of those. What about for somebody who’s just getting quiet? Or is in the freeze or flee state? Right? How do you because you may not recognize that initially?

Hesha Abrams  36:13

Good. Once they stop talking. That means you’re talking too much if you didn’t notice it. Yeah. So I would say, you know what, I’ve been dominating the conversation. I’m so sorry. Should we take a break? How would you like what, which we discussed next? Because your opinion is actually very important to me. It matters to me. And I’m sorry that I’ve been talking too much. What did that just do to the other person’s amygdala? Right? Like instantly Friend or foe? Boom? Oh, no, no, no, you weren’t talking too much. I’ve just had a rough day or hired. Yeah, I’m tired. They’re not usually going to say Yeah, you were dominant thing, right? Timing in a relationship, they will. But not always, you know, in business. But this is what I just did there. So subtly, it was all about power, ownership, acknowledgement. But who really had the power in the interchange? Me, not the person who shut up and clammed up and who thought they were taking the power? Yeah, now all of a sudden, we get to change in a different direction. And we get to talk about it in a different way. And that’s the whole piece about speaking to the ears that are hearing you who’s in front of you what’s happening, and you’re cruising along, thinking everything’s fine. And then at some point, you’re gonna realize it’s not okay, stop. Remember the couch story? Stop. You know, I use another analogy, because analogies are how people think, you know, there’s a bomb in the town square, like Guy wattles out in his Michelin suit, he don’t just start cutting stuff. Looks, diagnosis, what do I have here. So in any interaction, you want to be able to do that. But you can’t if your amygdala was triggered, I’m holding the calm, I’m holding the calm. And let’s say you need a break. A bathroom break is a great escape, you know, people days would take a smoke break. I can’t tell you the number of cases I resolved on smoke breaks walking on people, you know, but I’m hungry. Let’s get some pizza, you know, or, I really need to go the bathroom. Now I can collect myself, how am I going to handle this? What am I going to say? What am I going. And in the book, I give people a ton of sentence stems. Because in the moment, you don’t always think of what to say, no, people put it on a post it note by your phone or computer, put it on a note in your phone. So that in the moment, you can look at it and go. So and then you can go into it. And I give a technique in one of the chapters called VUCS that I created, called Validate, Understand, Clarify, Summarize, it’s a four step process to handle any situation, anything at all. And what I teach people is they skip the validate and understand and they go right to clarify and summarize. And so the analogy I want to give our fine feathered friends who are listening here is don’t just jump into bed have a little Wine and Roses first. Right? It’s that way in love relationships, that were that are personal relationships, you know, validate and understand. And part of the reason I named it VUCS is because you can tell someone to go vote for themselves. And now that I’ve said that nobody’s going to forget it, are they?

Heather Pearce Campbell  39:38

Well, you know that those are hugely important steps in that process, as you know, not having read your book yet which I look forward to reading. Early on in my own legal career, I think it was maybe my second year I started studying alternative dispute resolution and ended up volunteering in Small Claims Court, basically for the duration of my law school experience. And so I gained loads of experience. And this was not by the way, like shuttle style mediation, which is what happens most often in the legal context where people are actually in different rooms, and somebody’s facilitating the conversation. This was face to face in the same little hot room in the back of the courthouse, trying to help two very mad parties resolve something on the spot. And the interesting part is, I learned in a hurry the importance of literally restating back to somebody, it seems like you’re really feeling blah, blah, blah, right, feeling the blank and validating what the other party could not validate for them, and vice versa. Right. And literally walking them through this process of restating in a way that both parties could hear and understand. You know, they’re validating their experience, and then looking for that understanding and essentially very similar process. And it was amazing to watch how quickly they would defuse it was like, Okay, I’m being seen, and this is happening in front of the party who’s hurt me, and they can hopefully hear it in this new way. Right? Because they’re both forced to listen there. It’s a forced process, and they could not continue on to the actual proceeding unless they went through this first. 

Hesha Abrams  41:33

But part of it too, was that the person who’s upset is don’t tell me I’m crazy. Heather gets it. Yeah. So if Heather gets it, I’m not crazy. I hope you’re listening to Yeah, it’s subtle is that is to the ego, somebody else just listening and validating what they say, they can still think you are completely crazy and totally wrong. And what I would give our listeners a quick cheating, easy way is if you can repeat back everything they said. It’s called mirroring or reflective feedback. It’s obviously the better thing to do. But let’s say you can’t, let’s say someone droned on for 15 minutes. And yeah, what they’ve said, Right? All you have to do is repeat the last three or four words that they said. And then he didn’t eat the pie. And then he didn’t eat the pie, you get 80 to 90% of the value of the whole reflective feedback. And all you got to do and I urge all of our listeners, try that to day to day, just listen to somebody say anything. And at the end of it, repeat the last three or four words. And they’ll go, you got it? That’s right.

Heather Pearce Campbell  42:43

Isn’t it amazing how much we want somebody just to hear us. And the other thing that I think is really important is distinguishing, because clearly, you don’t always have the benefit of a mediator in the room, right. And you have learned how to do that for people. But if you’re the individual in the heated discussion or the tense situation, or whatever it is that needs to be diffused understanding that you can acknowledge somebody’s viewpoint without agreeing with it is huge. Being able to say, you know, if I were in your shoes, I probably feel the same way doesn’t mean that you agree with what they’re saying or agree with what they want. The second you can do something like that doesn’t have to be like that. Oh my gosh, the people just they dropped so much of the fight. Like okay.

Hesha Abrams  43:38

Would you like me to give you a couple of different scenarios? I did was very skillful. And there are times when you can be skillful, because you’re not so threatened and challenged. And what I’d like to do is to do the advanced class, when either you’re not so skillful, or you’re so pissed off, you can’t Yes, you can’t. You’re so angry. I cannot say to you, if I were in your shoes, I would feel that way. Because if I were in your shoes, I would not, and I think you’re acting ridiculously or unethically or forcibly. So what do I say, then? What you say to somebody is, I can see your passion. I can see your commitment. I can see your dedication, I can see how important this is to you. All of that is true that you can say that. And the trick I’ll give to our listeners, if you need if you’re dealing with someone really advanced class here. Can’t stand the sight of them. Like it’s just so hard to deal with them inside your head. Ask yourself one question. Would this person pull my kid out of a burning car? And if the answer to that is yes, which 95% of the time it’s going to be? Yeah as you just did a paradigm shift for your amygdala, to where, okay, maybe there’s something redeeming about them, we a little, maybe something that creates the opening into which you can do the skillful stuff you just talked about reflective feedback, mirroring, paradigm shifting all the cool, wonderful, you know, techniques, so much of the stuff that we have in holding the calm, but you have to get to that place. It’s hard when, you know, the stakes are high, and it’s not all Kumbaya, you know, let’s put our hands around each other and sing and run through a meadow, because it is not real life, you know, off the cake is fattening. And broccoli is not, you know, be the other way around. Dang it. When I die, God and IRA, I can have a conversation about that.

Heather Pearce Campbell  45:48

We got it all wrong. God, I know. One thing that you said the very beginning that I want to wrap back around to because I feel like it’s really important, and especially right now in the time where I know, because personally it’s happened. There are millions of people around this country who have lost friendships, have lost family members, personal dynamics have fallen apart, the ability to relate has broken down. And, you know, it’s so painful. And I think so apparent to so many people how badly we need skills in this department. And you said you don’t start in the middle going direct on right, you start around the edges. And I don’t know if this is the same thing, what came to mind for me, and I know, I’ve got to be respectful of your time, because we’re bumping right up against the hour. So I’ll try to say this quickly. But there’s a concept called multiplexing, where you meet a person, and you’re able to connect on more than one point, right, which strengthens the relationship. And I thought, you know, with any human, it seems like we should be able to multiplex, which let’s pretend we have a major disagreement on a major connection point or topic or whatever it might be. But surely, there are a little bit like the car example. There are things outside of that direct head on point that that we can agree on, right? Regardless of…

Hesha Abrams  47:18

Don’t even ask to agree, don’t even get to agree that’s even to highest standard. Just look for it. Look at all you’ve got to do and that will shift the filter and the paradigm inside you. As to let’s use abortion as an example. You’re a baby killer, Get your hands off my body. Whoa, that’s pretty polarized. Right? And so that’s a really important issue to me, and I’m trying to get you to understand and you’re just arguing with me, you’re not gonna get anywhere. But if I start with the YouTube boom, might pull my kid out of a burning car? Well, the answer is yes. What is good about this person, what do I like about this, forget that, put that off to the side, whatever that issue is, I’m guarantee you, you will find good things about them. And valuable things about them. But you know, look for, so look for them and speak to that. And then the magic of what happens I guarantee you is their position will soften. Because you’re not as stupid as I thought you were kind of sort of understand a little bit. And neuroscience has shown we have 183 cognitive biases. One of them is the bias of reciprocity. It just works. If I’m a monkey, I give you a banana, you’re gonna give me a mango. Okay, that’s just the kind of the way it works. And so I do for you, eventually, you’re gonna want to do for me, now there’s sociopaths, and there’s narcissists and all that kind of stuff, but we fling those labels around quite easily and quite effortlessly. So if you go into the 8020 rule 80% Good enough 80% of the time 80% of the people, your ability to work within the world will magnify and nobody’s going to say to you, for example, in my thing, you know, you bet holding the calm, or you have holding the calm techniques now, that just gonna say she just gets it. Yeah, you just makes things happen. She just seems to get along with people. That’s what they’re gonna say. And that’s where leadership happens. Client trust happens, relationships happen, and less problems happen. So you can be focusing on doing the good stuff and building your business rather than a cleanup operations.

Heather Pearce Campbell  47:25

Oh, yes. And on that final point, one thing that I will tell my clients all day long over and over is if you think because this is actually one of the buckets that I address in a framework that I teach and it is basically I call it dispute resolution but it’s communication. And it is money in your pocket. It is risk management, it is time back in your day to be building and not putting out fires. And for entrepreneurs and business owners, you need to be building, you need to be putting like funneling all that awesome energy into the good stuff and not have to be dragged backwards by the hard stuff. So give me the 10 second of one thing that you wish people knew most people knew that they don’t.

Hesha Abrams  50:22

Honestly, I wish they knew the techniques of holding the calm. And what I tell people is go to the website holding the calm, calm. I’ve got about 80 podcasts that I’ve been on, on every topic from kids and parents, to workplace to leadership to entrepreneur to vision. And I’ve got you sign up and it’s free. I don’t send a sell out the list or anything like that. And then once a week, or once a couple times a month when I think of something cool. I send it out to people. Because my goal in my personal goal in this is to just disseminate this message out into the world. You can be more powerful. You can handle this stuff. You can wipe the spaghetti sauce up when it’s wet. You don’t have to be dealing with pack I do do all the time. Well, I can be better. Do this stuff.

Heather Pearce Campbell  51:06

Yes, do it. Oh, I love this so much. If you’re listening pop over and get the links to connect with Hesha to find her book. We will share all of those things in the show notes at legalwebsitewarrior.com/podcast. Hesha, I’m so glad to know you. I look forward to being in touch. 

Hesha Abrams  51:22

You’re awesome. 

Heather Pearce Campbell  51:24

Bye bye.

GGGB Outro  51:26

Thank you for joining us today on the Guts, Grit and Great Business® podcast. We hope that we’ve added a little fuel to your tank, some coffee to your cup and pep in your step to keep you moving forward in your own great adventures. For key takeaways, links to any resources mentioned in today’s show and more, see the show notes which can be found at www.legalwebsitewarrior.com/podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and if you enjoyed today’s conversation, please give us some stars and a review on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast so others will find us too. Keep up the great work you are doing in the world and we’ll see you next week.