Top iTunes Business Podcast

47+ Million Downloads

SPI 761: The Best Communication Tips for Creators with Charles Duhigg

When we talk and truly connect with someone, our body responds in a powerful way. In fact, we are hardwired to love this feeling of being heard and understood! So how do we unlock and apply the science of communication in content creation and business?

Today, I have the honor of interviewing a hero of mine! Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer Prize winner who has sold over three million copies of his incredible book, The Power of Habit. His newest release, Supercommunicators, is a deep dive into the practical, emotional, and social conversations our lives revolve around.

In this episode, Charles helps us uplevel our skills. We’ll learn about becoming great one-on-one communicators and connecting better with large audiences. We also explore the value of asking more questions and showing vulnerability. Charles uncovers the quiet negotiations we’re always engaged in and shares the exercises we can do to start having fruitful conversations.

Listen in because this session will teach you how to figure out what other people want and make yourself understood in any context. Don’t miss out, and enjoy!

Today’s Guest

Charles Duhigg

Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and the author of three books: The Power of Habit, Smarter Faster Better, and Supercommunicators. He has been featured on This American Life, NPR, The Colbert Report, PBS’s NewsHour, and Frontline.

Duhigg, who previously wrote for the New York Times, was part of the team there that won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in explanatory journalism for The iEconomy, a series that examined the global economy through the lens of Apple. Duhigg has also received the George Polk Award, the Gerald Loeb Award, the Investigative Reporters and Editors Medal, the Scripps Howard National Journalism Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and other honors. While a reporter at the Los Angeles Times, Duhigg reported from Iraq about American military operations.

Duhigg is a graduate of Yale University and the Harvard Business School and was — for one day — a bike messenger in San Francisco. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.

You’ll Learn


SPI 761: The Best Communication Tips for Creators with Charles Duhigg

Charles Duhigg: We are hardwired that, when we see vulnerability, to like and trust the other person more. So when I’m talking on my platform and I’m communicating to a hundred thousand people, my instinct is to present myself as someone who has all the answers, someone who deserves to be talking to a hundred thousand people, somebody who is an expert. But what we know is you will be a more effective communicator, you will inspire those people to listen to you more if you admit those parts of yourself that are vulnerable.

Pat Flynn: Every once in a while here on the SPI podcast, I have the honor and privilege of interviewing a hero of mine. And today’s guest fits that bill. This is an author hero of mine. You’ve perhaps heard me speak about The Power of Habit before. In in particular, a chapter in that book called Small Quick Wins or The Power of Small Quick Wins.

And that is something that I often talk about, something that I incorporate, something that I teach, in fact. If you wanna help affect a person’s life, start by changing their day first, is a quote that I say. And his new book, Supercommunicators, is incredible. The idea of unlocking the secret language of connection. And as we at SPI focus more on community, As you out there are focused on building relationships or gathering clients or even with your platform that you have speaking to dozens, hundreds, thousands of people at a time, how can we become the best version of ourselves as a communicator? And Charles Duhigg is here today to talk exactly about that and some very specific and tactical strategies that you can use and implement even right away that work not just in your business life and with your clients but also with any relationships that you might have.

We distill the different types of approaches that you might have to a conversation so that you can all be on the same page when you’re speaking and just begin to understand each other better. So this is session 761 of the Smart Passive Income podcast. And I’m truly honored to have our guest, Charles Duhigg on the show with us. Author of the brand new book, which I highly recommend called Supercommunicators. Here he is.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host. If he could, he’d do high school all over again just to be in the marching band again. Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: Charles, such an honor to have you on the SPI podcast. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Charles Duhigg: Thank you for having me on. I really appreciate it.

Pat Flynn: And I need to tell you in front of everybody listening right now, just you’ve been so immensely helpful for me and our brand here as well. We talk a lot about small quick wins in in front of our audience and that definitely comes from The Power of Habit in your first book. So I just wanna thank you so much for all the work that you’ve done there and and all the impact that you’ve made to me and and the people listening to the show.

Charles Duhigg: That is so nice of you to say.

It’s so gratifying to hear because and and anyone who’s listening who’s written a book, I know, can appreciate this. You, like, sit at this computer for 3 years, and you’re like, is anyone gonna read this? Am I just wasting my time? And so so when when you hear that people actually do read it, it’s really enormously meaningful. So thank you.

Pat Flynn: I can relate to that. I’m in the middle of my next Book right now too and and I can attest to that. So the fact that your first book did so well and it still is being pushed out and people are talking about it and and continue to share it must feel wonderful, but I’m curious, what was the origin story for this new book? You know, you wrote one book. It was a success.

What made you go, I need to write another one right

Charles Duhigg: now?

Yeah. It’s It’s a good question. So it this book, Supercommunicators, is about the science of conversation and connection and kind of asked this question, why do some conversations go so well and we really bond with someone? And then other times, even though we want them to, conversations will just fall apart.

And and for me, this kind of started because, yeah, I’m a journalist, and I I write now for The New Yorker, and I used to write for The New York Times. And so I thought I was someone who was good at communication, And I quickly discovered that I am not good at communication. And, like, one of the perfect examples of this is something I think probably everyone can sympathize with, which is I would come home from work after, like, a long hard day, and I would complain to my wife about my boss or my coworkers, and nobody appreciates me. And my wife would make these very practical suggestions. She would say, you know, why don’t you, like, invite your boss out to lunch and you guys can get to know each other a little bit better?

And instead of hearing what she was saying, I would just get even more frustrated and I’d be like, you’re not listening to me. I want you to support me. Why why did you take their side, right? Did exactly the wrong thing.

And and both of us would walk away from this conversation frustrated, even though we wanted to connect with each other. And so I started calling all these researchers and asking them, like, why does this happen at home or with my kids? Why does this happen at work? Why do managers who want to help their employees be be better oftentimes get their own way and and communicate so ineffectively. And what researchers told me is that we’re actually living through this golden age of understanding communication.

For the first time, Because of advances in understanding sort of brain science and psychology, and they said, here’s the mistake you’re making. We tend to think of a discussion as one thing. Right? We’re talking about one topic. But actually, a discussion is many different conversations.

And in particular, there’s 3 kinds of conversations that most of all tend to happen. There are practical conversations where we’re trying to solve a problem. There are emotional conversations where we’re just trying to express to each other how we feel. And there are social conversations when we talk about who we are in relation to other people in society. And the thing that they said is, if you’re not having the same kind of conversation at the same moment, then you can’t communicate.

So when I came home and I was upset, I was trying to have an emotional conversation. And my wife was responding In a practical mindset, with a practical mindset, with a practical conversation, she was giving me good advice. And both of them were legitimate conversations, but because we weren’t matching each other, we didn’t really hear what the other person was trying to say.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. That makes sense that being on the same page is is is often a phrase we hear about communication conversation and so this could be relevant obviously at home like in your example, but in the business world as well, which is where most of my listeners come from as entrepreneurs.

And so, in the world of business, I mean, there’s negotiation, there’s a manager or director with their team, there’s the visionary with the integrator in that conversation, and and and that has to mesh well. And oftentimes, we’re not, like you said, speaking of the same category there, or as they say, speaking the same language, how does one self identify as someone who is maybe poor at communicate. How do we begin to admit that maybe it’s either our fault and not necessarily the other person’s fault? How do we even get Just better at at that.

Charles Duhigg: Absolutely.

Well, so the first thing to recognize is there is no one who is born a great communicator. Right? Some people just learn certain skills either through intuition or through experience or from someone teaching it to them. But any of us can learn those skills. Any of us can become super communicators.

And in fact, our brains have evolved to make us into super communicators. We just have to kind of tap into those instincts. And to answer your question, the first thing that happens well, particularly in a business setting. So one of the chapters in the book is about Netflix. Right?

Because Netflix at one point a couple of years ago was in the middle of this huge, huge internal civil war. One of the senior executives had used a racial slur during a meeting in kind of a a way that he didn’t intend to be offensive, but many people took offense. And this started tearing the company apart. And and we’ve seen this happen in companies, right?

We know how hard and how dangerous this can be. And so Netflix had to try to figure out how do we come together to make this an opportunity to get closer rather than to get pushed apart. And what they did is the first thing that they did is they said, look, when we have conversations, let’s start by identifying what kind of conversation we want to have. So you mentioned negotiations. Right?

Oftentimes, when we go into a negotiation, we think that we are in a practical mindset. We think that we’re gonna have a practical conversation. But as all of us know, oftentimes, underneath all of that practical negotiation are some really serious emotions. And if we don’t acknowledge those emotions, if I don’t say, look, that’s a good proposal, but I think you’re trying to, like, pull one over on me, and so I’m gonna say no just because I think you’re a jerk. If we don’t acknowledge and elevate those emotions and have that emotional conversation, then we can’t really have the practical conversation.

And so one of the first skills that someone should develop is sort of twofold. Number 1, To just as they go into a discussion, to remember to ask themselves, pay attention to whether this seems practical or whether this seems emotional or whether this seems social, and meet that person where they are. Get on the same page with them. And number 2, to develop the habit of simply asking. When someone comes to you and they and they want to negotiate or they’re having a problem or your your employee comes and they’re upset about something, to say to them, look, do you want me to solve this problem, or do you want me to listen to how you feel about this problem? And we actually use there’s this phrase that’s used very often in schools that I use at my home, which is, do you want me to help you? Do you want me to hear you? Or do you want me to hug you? Those are the 3 different kinds of conversations.

And oftentimes people say, look, I don’t need your help right now. I just want you to hear what I’m saying.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. That’s my wife tells me that all the time, actually. No, but it’s so true.

If two people or if if you, the listener, are here and you’re like, okay, well, I wanna have a conversation and I wanna Something done. Right? There’s there’s logic, there’s practicality to this decision that I need to make, but I know there’s emotion involved with the person I’m speaking with or the people I’m speaking to. Does that mean, Charles, that, okay, we gotta first talk about the emotions first. So let’s, like, quote unquote, get that out of the way before we get to brass tacks and start making decisions on this thing, or do we make the decision in the realm of emotion, which, you know, could be a pro or con.

Yeah. Yeah. So I’m looking for the practical approach to the answer here, I guess, you could say.

Charles Duhigg: So I think the first thing to do is to engage into what psychologists refer to as a quiet negotiation, which is it might be that starting with emotions is the right place to start. Like, we gotta get those off the table.

We gotta, like, Clear the air before we can talk about practicalities. It might also be that both people are like, we know there’s emotions here, but we wanna put off talking about those because we’re not ready yet. So the the best way to do that is to start with this quiet negotiation at the start of a conversation, Which is what we all often naturally do. We usually start by asking some questions. Right?

And questions are the best way to figure out what kind of conversation we’re having. Now what’s key is to ask what’s known as a deep question. And a deep question doesn’t mean it’s, like, intimate or personal. It means that it’s asking you to tell me about your values, about your beliefs, or about your experiences. So when I come into the negotiation and sit down, instead of saying, how’s your day going?

I might say something like, What do you think is gonna be the best part of this conversation? And that’s gonna push the other person to reveal something. Right? Like, they’re gonna say Really think about it. Yeah.

They’re gonna think about it, and they’re gonna say something like, think the best part is that I’m gonna, like, wipe the floor with you, and I’m gonna win this. Okay. I know you’re in a practical mindset. Right? Like, you’re, yeah.

Or they might say, I think the best part of the of today or this conversation is gonna be when we come to to a mutual agreement and we can walk away feeling like friends, which case you’re you know You know where they’re coming from. They’re coming from a more emotional place. It or it might be a practical place, but I have more information now. And at that point, I can say to you, let me answer you that question for myself. Here’s the best part I think of what this negotiation’s gonna be.

This is what I’m looking forward to. And at that point, what we’ve done is we’ve set our temperatures at the same level. We now have opened a line of communication by asking a question that allows us to try and figure out what the other person wants. And that’s the goal of a quiet negotiation is to figure out what the other person wants, to explain what we want, and to figure out how we will make choices together. In the book, I sort of explain this idea through the story of this jury.

So this is a in the 1980s, this guy was arrested for carrying a gun as a felon. And there’s only about 7 trials in the history of the United States where they’ve let a camera inside the jury room, and this is one of them. And one of the jurors was a super communicator. He just sort of knew how to communicate really well, and he got everyone to come around a decision. And the way he did that is not by browbeating them or trying to manipulate them.

It was by asking them, what do you want out of this? Do you want justice? Do you want to take someone bad off the streets? Do you wanna increase public safety? Do you wanna show compassion?

Once we give someone else a chance to say what they want out of a conversation, then we’re at a place where we can say, okay, how do we make these choices together? And that’s what’s important.

Pat Flynn: That’s beautiful. Now, what I’m hearing is that there’s a lot of tactical things that could potentially be put into place to become a super communicator. There’s some intuition that comes into play, which can only come with really practice and just kind of doing this.

What is your favorite way that you might recommend somebody to practice becoming a super communicator. So

Charles Duhigg: there’s one practice in particular that I think is just wonderful. And and I’ll mention before I describe it, When we’re talking about it this way, it can seem like a lot. Right? It can seem kind of overwhelming.

Like, I’ve gotta, like, remember 20 things every time I go and open up my mouth. And that’s That’s not actually how communication works. The idea behind this book and behind kind of these tips is we all have an intuition on how to communicate really well. We all have the intuition to become a super communicator. Sometimes we just have to be reminded on how to let that intuition out.

And so it’s not like you have to do 20 things in every conversation. Rather, there’s a couple of things that if you practice them, as you mentioned, they become habits, and it happens automatically. And one of my favorite ways to practice this is this thing called looping for understanding. This is particularly useful when you’re in conflict with someone, when you’re having a conversation amid conflict. You know, you love Trump and I love Biden.

You love guns and I I hate guns. Whatever it is, you love the Jets and I love Anyone but the Jets. Sorry, Gary. So yeah. So what do we do?

How how do we have a conversation when we’re in that conflict? The first thing to to recognize is that listening is really important, but it’s often not enough. I have to prove to you that I’m listening to you. Because if we’re discussing something that’s hard, a hard topic, even if I’m having a conversation with employee where I’m giving them some hard feedback. They, they aren’t predisposed to believe that I’m listening to them.

They think I’m just waiting till they stop talking to say what I wanna say. So how do I prove to you that I’m listening? The way I do it is a 3 step loop. It’s called looping for understanding. I ask you a question about what you just said just to make sure I understand.

And then I repeat back to you in my own words what I think you just told me. I try and summarize as best I can what you just said. And then, and this is the third step and the most important one, I say to you, did I get that right, or is there something I still don’t understand? Now imagine for that you’re having a tough conversation with an employee Or you’re getting some feedback from your boss that you don’t appreciate and you say, look, it’s not my fault. It’s because of Jim and it’s because of the market and x y and z.

And your boss asks a couple questions and they say, let me say back what I think I heard you say. And they repeat what you just told them in their own words. Then they say, did I get that right? All of a sudden at that point, you believe that that person not only is listening to you, but that they want to understand. And there’s this automatic instinct that we have that when we think someone wants to listen to us, we become more prone to listen to them.

So if there’s just one thing that people practice, this looping for understanding, this trying to repeat back what someone said and then asking them if you got it right, this is the behavior that will basically unlock all of those instincts that make you a super communicator.

Pat Flynn: It’s like I learned a communication strategy a while back called mirroring, where you can just kind of repeat back what a person had just said, which kind of signals a little bit at least that you’re listening and then they can then continue talking and that’s how you can keep a conversation going. But this takes it to a whole new level and I really love it because it it it does demonstrate that understanding. And when a person asks for clarification, they’re curious. And that’s, yeah, really important, you know. And I think that What what what’s amazing about that and and where my head is going is this idea of I mean, it reminds me of a quote from Jay Abraham, an old school famous marketer who said, if you can define the problem better than your target customer, they’re gonna automatically assume you have the solution. I think as humans, that’s all we want. We want, people to we we wanna know that people are listening, and what a wonderful way, a very graceful way to do that. I I really love that.

Charles Duhigg: And we wanna feel stood. Right? So one of the things that we know from brain sciences is that when we communicate with someone, when we really connect with them, Like, our body changes. It matches theirs. So so our our pupils will start to dilate at the same rate.

Our breathing will start to match each other. You can look inside people’s brains, what you’ll see is that people’s brainwaves start to match. That’s what communication is. Communication is saying, I’m feeling something. Through my words, I’m gonna inspire you to feel it in a similar way.

Or I’m thinking something, and I want you to start thinking this idea as well. And it feels good. We’ve evolved to love that feeling. like, think about the last great conversation you had and how magical it felt, how good you felt afterwards. We are programmed to crave this connection.

And oftentimes, we can get particularly in modern the modern world, we can get in our own way of that connection. But when we remember to be curious as you pointed out, one of my favorite phrases is if you feel furious, get curious. Because if you’re arguing with someone and you just start asking them questions, it’s gonna get better. But we love to be understood. And when someone shows us that they want to understand, that they’re trying to understand, they make us feel better.

And they also make us wanna understand them.

Pat Flynn: The conversation we’re having right now, Especially for entrepreneurs, it’s so amazing, especially if you think about even things like sales calls or coaching calls and the one on ones that you might have with the people in your audience. I’m curious, Charles, about how you feel about the relatively new revolution of people having literally a platform to speak from And the idea that, okay, we’re no longer in a one to one conversation where we are reading their body language or where we can literally be just as curious as we just talked about and ask a question to an individual because we’re speaking to dozens, hundreds, tens of thousands of people at a time. How does a person with a platform become a super communicator?

Charles Duhigg: It’s a really good question.

And it’s it’s interesting. Right? Because as little as, like, 50 years ago, except for the most elite media figures. This wouldn’t have been a question. Right?

The average person didn’t have to think about how do I talk to a thousand or ten thousand or a hundred thousand people. So what one of the things that we know from research is that when you begin to scale that way, when you don’t get a chance to have a one on one back and forth, the basics of communication become much more important. In particular, vulnerability becomes much more important and much more powerful. So one of the things that we know is that we tend to feel close to other people when they allow themselves to be vulnerable and then when we reciprocate that vulnerability. There’s this in the book I describe this thing called the fast friends protocol, which some people might be familiar with.

It’s It’s like the 36 questions that lead to love. Right? And and these scientists came up with these 36 questions that if you ask each other back and forth, people feel very close afterwards. In fact, some people end up getting married afterwards. You know, they start dating first and then get married.

It’s not it’s not it’s not quite that fast. But what’s interesting about it is that the reason why those 36 questions work is because they’re questions like, tell me about your mom and your relationship with your mom, or when’s the last time you cried in front of another person? Or what is your biggest dream? Each of those questions, they ask me to be a little bit vulnerable. And we are hardwired that when we see vulnerability, to like and trust the other person more.

So when I’m talking on my platform and I’m communicating to a hundred thousand people, my instinct is to present myself as someone who has all the answers, someone who deserves to be talking to a hundred thousand people, somebody who is an expert. But what we know is you will be a more effective communicator, you will inspire those people to listen to you more if you admit those parts of yourself that are vulnerable. And if you think about the newsletters you read and the podcast you listen to, they probably specialize in that. Right?

They’re they’re people who don’t say I have all the answers. There are people who say, look, I’m as human as anyone else. I made this mistake. I went bankrupt. I was contemplating suicide. I way more than I wish I did, and here’s what I’ve learned about overcoming that hump that might help you. Vulnerability is how we create connection, particularly when we don’t get a chance to sit down and talk to each person.

Pat Flynn: It’s what we need to be focusing on as brand builders today to build that connection, to be relatable, to stand out, and also to counter a lot of the things that are becoming sort of just normal now, like AI and the things that do not have that human element and then right? Is is is a machine gonna admit that well, maybe they’ll sometimes admit that they’re wrong, but not in an emotional kind of state that we as humans can relate to. Right?

Charles Duhigg: And and I think at the core of of vulnerability is authenticity. Right? Like like, you can’t really fake vulnerability. I mean, you can try and fake vulnerability, but it people see through it pretty quickly. And and you’re right. AI can’t be authentic.

And and when people try to pretend at vulnerability, when they’re not authentic about it, you can hear the tinniness. Right? It turns you off. And and I think that’s the key is when I’m thinking about Writing to my I have a newsletter that goes out once a month about sort of how to use social science to improve our lives. And when I’m writing about myself and I’m writing that newsletter, the thing I’m always thinking is, What is the most honest thing I can say?

What is the thing I would say to my wife or to my kids? Because I know that that authenticity is its own form of vulnerability, and I know that that vulnerability will inspire other people to listen to me and to want to share with me.

Pat Flynn: Thank you for that. Speaking of sharing might you be able to share where people can go and grab that newsletter? It’s definitely something I recommend people check out.

Charles Duhigg: Absolutely. If you go to my website, CharlesDuhigg.Com or if you go on Substack and you just search for Charles Duhigg or the name of the newsletter is The Science of Better, and they can find it. I don’t even I don’t know. I haven’t tried to Google the Science of Better, but maybe with Science of Better newsletter, maybe we’ll come up there.

Pat Flynn: I’m sure it’s there. But we’ll have all the links in the show notes for everybody, and, of course, everybody’s gotta check out Supercommunicator just coming out yesterday as of the publication date of this recording. So congrats on the book. I know although a lot of work has been put into it, a lot of work continues after it’s published to keep it going, and and that’s why we’re here. And I want like, I’m just so grateful to have you on the show.

Charles Duhigg: Can I ask you a question? Absolutely. So, I mean, you’ve done a lot you’re a great communicator. You you’ve done a lot of these podcasts and, like, I love tuning in and I love I love hearing how you draw things out of people in sort of unexpected ways. What have you learned?

Like, what makes you a super communicator? What what do you fall back on?

Pat Flynn: I’m and I’m curious your response to this. I actually treat my work and especially as a podcast host like I’m an athlete. I will go and replay, and, like, quote, unquote listen to the replays or like a like a quarterback watch the replays and see, here’s what I could’ve done better.

This is the play where I messed up. So let’s not do that the next time. Right? Or how might I more strategically get into this part of the story a little better next time. So I actually do treat my work very seriously in such a way where I’m I’m I’m an athlete and and I wanna perform and I wanna perform better than others for the sake of my audience and their benefit.

So that that’s the initial answer. And I’m curious what you think about that as far as, like, a super commuter strategy is, can we or do you have strategies for Improvement and and going back and correcting yourself and and course correcting as as we go.

Charles Duhigg: Absolutely. And I think what you just mentioned is one of the most powerful strategies. Right?

Because my guess is that when you go back and you listen to old podcasts or when you think through, like, how could I do that differently, one of the things you’re looking for are signals that you missed at the time about how the other person wanted to communicate Or how you wanted to communicate. Right? When you’re listening, you you notice, like, actually, he brought up this kind of, like there was, like, a little catch in his voice when he was describing this thing with his dad. And if I’d asked him more about that, I might have understood his relationship with his dad and how that influences the choices he makes today. We’re oftentimes when we’re reviewing our own performance, we’re looking for the clues that we missed, and we’re increasing our sensitivity to those clues.

And I think that’s really, really important and really powerful. Super communicators have a habit of doing that. They replay conversations in their mind, Not in a sort of obsessive way that brings them down, but rather in a scientific way where they’re saying, what could I have done differently? What can I do differently next time? The other thing that we know about supercommunicators, and and my guess is that this is part of your practice as well, is they just ask way more questions than everyone else.

In fact, they ask 10 to 20 times as many questions as the average person. But what’s interesting is you often don’t even pick up on the fact that they’re asking questions because the questions are things like, what did you think of that? Or, hey, that’s interesting. Why did you do that? Or, Hey, you know, like, what do you make of it? Or that’s kinda funny, isn’t it? These are all questions that are inviting the other person to jump into a conversation, to explain what’s going on inside their head. And sometimes the questions can be explicit. Right?

You’re really good at asking questions, and I find this is what as a reporter, I I’ve learned the habit of asking questions because people love when you ask them questions. They love talking about themselves. And so the more you do it, the more you invite them to let you inside their head.

Pat Flynn: Well, that part of conversation just is, like, high honors for me. So I I really appreciate that.

That that was a lot of making me look really good in front of the audience. So I I I appreciate that setup. But no, truly, like, I a hundred percent agree with everything you just said and especially for the listeners out there who are podcasters, who interview others. I always tell them just be genuinely curious. And I think through that, you ask questions, you become a super communicator.

And for the listeners of your podcast, they’re gonna appreciate that because that’s where the gold is. The goal you gotta dig for the gold and the gold is there and and I appreciate that. As we finish up here, Charles, I wanted to ask you because at SPI, we’re really focused lately on building communities. We have a community of our own with thousands of people in it who connect with each other and this is something we’re encouraging our people to do is to facilitate a safe space to bring their people together. Because when you bring people together in your brand, I mean, it just your fans will go and your community will go wherever you go.

Doesn’t what happens with tech out there, wherever you go, those people will go with you. So in the world of being a communicator, what’s it like to encourage your own audience to communicate with each other. Do you have any strategies for those who own a community, you have one yourself, to facilitate those safe discussions where there may be some conflicting views. There may be some arguments that might happen between people. Because when you have even more than 3 people in a room sometimes not everybody agrees. And so how does one manage?

Charles Duhigg: You got 3 people in a room. You’ve got 9 opinions, right, that are fighting with each other. So I think the most important thing you can do with a community is to create an expectation of what the goal of a conversation is.

Sometimes we think the goal of a conversation is for everyone to agree with each other. Like, either I’m gonna convince you or you’re gonna convince me or we’ll find some common ground that we can agree on. But that’s not the goal of a conversation. The goal of a conversation is to have a conversation where we understand each other. And we might both walk away disagreeing with the other person.

We might both walk away saying, I think I’m right and he or she is wrong. But if we actually understand each other, then we have formed a community. We have formed a connection, and that connection is the important part. And part of that, we didn’t really talk that much about social conversations, but one of the big things with social conversations that’s important is to acknowledge differences that exist, right.

Everyone has had their own experiences with life. They give them a slightly different outlook on what’s right and what’s wrong and what to do next and what’s funny and what’s not funny. And and the key is not to say we should all have the same outlook or I’m only gonna talk to other people whose outlooks are similar to mine. The key is to say, I wanna give everyone a chance to share their outlook because it’s interesting and to feel safe enough to share their outlook even if it’s not my outlook to understand where they’re coming. And so the number one thing I think we can do as community makers and community builders is to say to everyone, look, the goal here is not for us to agree with each other. The goal here is for us to understand each other. And as long as we achieve that, we have won.

We have succeeded. And as if we do understand each other, we are going to find some things that we share, and that’s gonna be the building blocks for us building this community that is diverse and filled with multitudes and is so much more interesting than just talking to people who are just like me.

Pat Flynn: I’m gonna take that clip and literally just paste that into our community because I think that is the perfect answer. I mean, it’s The idea of we don’t have to agree, and it reminds me of my CEO, Matt Garland, for SPI Media. He taught me this thing called not agree to disagree, but disagree and commit.

Yeah. We might not always be on the same page as far as what we think we should do as a company, but I need you to back me up with my decision even if you don’t agree with it. And that’s, like, hugely powerful. And so the idea of a community being, like, okay, I see you over there. I don’t agree with you, but I support you.

You know, I’m gonna be here. What an amazing way to cultivate relationships in a space and a way for people to wanna stick around and, of course, if we’re talking business and numbers, people often come for the content and they stay for the community. That’s absolutely right. And I think What you just said is is perfect. Charles, I wanna ask you one more question while we finish up here.

And this has been, again, a tremendous honor, and I’m just grateful to have you while I know you’re busy on this podcast tour. And the book, everybody should go check it out, the newsletter, everything will be linked to in the show notes. What is your dream? You know, you’ve published these books. You’ve become successful.

You have an email list, hundreds of thousands of people. Where do you go from here?

Charles Duhigg: I mean, honestly, like, my dream is to to continue finding important discoveries, important work, and bringing them and sharing them with people. I mean, what’s really interesting and the reason I started this newsletter is, you know, I read dozens of scientific studies every week. And some of these studies are just fascinating and contain such valuable gems of information, but they are so hard to read.

It’s like, you know, another language. It’s almost as if the the researchers want to obscure the takeaway. And so one of the things that I love is trying to figure out how do I take this really important discovery, like how super the skills that supercommunicators have, And how do I share them with the world in the way that not only the world can absorb them easily, but wants to absorb them. Right? So how do I find the stories?

The super communicators is filled with stories of communicators. And it’s how do I find the stories that make you desperate to finish that? And so if I can spend the rest of my life finding stories that we can learn from in ways that make us believe that we are more in charge of our life, that we can live the life that we want, that we can achieve our dreams because we can. That that would be a very satisfying life to me. That’s all I really want.

Pat Flynn: What’s the study that you’ve recently picked up on that’s fascinating to you that you’ve had to, like, put to the side because, you know, super communicators is the focus right now? But I’m curious to know where your brain is at as far as, like, those other things that that kind of are itching at you.

Charles Duhigg: So I’m writing a piece right now for the New Yorker about AI. So I’ve been thinking a lot about AI, But I don’t know how applicable it is yet to people’s lives. There was another study that I saw about this thing called anticipatory anxiety, which is when people get worried and anxious about things that might happen in the future that they can’t control, why does that anxiety occur?

Right? And we’ve all experienced that. We all know that feeling. And it turns out that one of the reasons why that occurs is because people feel comfortable worrying and they need something to worry about. And the way that we resolve it is simply to say to someone, you feel comfortable worrying.

You need something to worry about. But if you just decide you don’t need to worry about this, you probably won’t. That seems to actually work this magical power. But because anticipatory anxiety, we don’t often admit it to ourselves. We don’t go through that little ritual.

We don’t we don’t dismiss the concern. And so the best thing that we can do when we see a friend or a sibling or a coworker who’s in anticipatory anxiety, they seem to be worrying about something that’s gonna happen in the future, is to say to them, Look, is this a legitimate worry? Let’s let’s try and put you back in control. Let’s come let’s just game plan out what’s gonna happen and how you’re gonna respond to it. And once we’ve done this, are you worrying because you wanna worry?

Are you worrying because you really should be worried? That seems to make the anticipatory anxiety go away.

Pat Flynn: That’s fascinating. I saw you kind of lean in toward the camera a little bit while you started talking about that. So it’s obvious that is it’s a little clue.

You talk a lot about clues in the book. It’s a clue that that’s of interest to you for sure. And I’m curious to see if there’s another publication much bigger down the road on on that because that is that is fascinating. You are a parent? Yep.

How many kids do you have?

Charles Duhigg: I have 2. I have 2. I have a I have a 12 year old and a 15 year old.

Pat Flynn: Oh, nice. I have a 13 and 11. So we’re kinda around right around the same age. Yeah. Yours is in high school, entering high school. What do you I often talk with a lot of my friends about, you know, the age and the era that the kids are growing up in right now and how I’m not envious of of that because of social media and the phones and just all that they have access to this overstimulating.

How are you encouraging your kids to become great communicators?

Charles Duhigg: So we play this game. I I and I will warn you, my kids hate this game, okay. but I make them do it. We play this game called Questions, which is I ask them a question and they really enjoy answering it and then they have to ask me a question and it can’t be like a dumb question.

It can’t be like, what’d you have for breakfast? It has to be a question that they’re actually curious. And the the reason I do this is because I wanna get them in the habit of asking questions. Right. We know that supercommunicators ask a lot more questions, and actually asking questions is kind of a superpower.

But many of us, when we don’t ask questions, it’s not because we’re not curious. It’s because it feels awkward to ask a question. Right? We’ve all felt that Where you’re, like, talking to someone. Why?

Why? Why? Yeah. Yeah. You you worry you worry that you’re gonna be, like, ask a dumb question.

Right? It’s gonna So so I just wanna get them in the habit of asking questions. And so we play this game in the car all the time. And what my kids complain when we start it, and then, like, 3 minutes in, they love it because they start asking me questions like, what’s the worst trouble you ever got into? Like, did you ever do drugs?

Right? Like, all these questions that Some of them I’m like, I really wish you didn’t ask me that question. But but it’s great because, like, they learn asking questions is fun, and it’s a good habit to have. How about you? What do you do with your kids?

Pat Flynn: I ask them to teach me something. Like, what did you learn in school that you could teach me today? And because, You know, the generic question is, how was school? Fine. And then that’s it.

Versus, I wanna give them the opportunity to know that they might know something that I don’t, and they could teach me and have the idea that they can impact somebody, even somebody older than them, somebody who, you know, is often supposed to have all the answers, may not have all the answers. So that’s that’s something that I’ve been doing since I mean, they were in kindergarten, you know, and the answers have changed. Like, I know how to color these 2 colors. And now it’s, like, ROman Empire…

Charles Duhigg: I learned that all men think about Roman Empire every day.

Pat Flynn: Oh, man.

Good. Dude, I could I feel like I could chat with you for several more hours about this, but I know you gotta get going. But I hope that we’ll have you back the show again sometime. It’s been a pleasure to speak with you.

Charles Duhigg: Absolutely. I would love that.

Pat Flynn: Best of luck on the book.

Charles Duhigg: Thank you so much.

Pat Flynn: Thanks, Charles.

Alright. I hope you enjoyed that interview with Charles Duhigg. Charles, thank you so much for coming on the show and providing value. You can just tell he doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk too. Did you hear how he asked me questions and allowed the relationship to build in that regard? I thought it was genius, and I just love everything he had to say.

And especially for those of us who are building communities, tremendous value. Absolutely. So be sure to check out Supercommunicators. We’ll link to that as well as his newsletter and his website on the show notes page at Again,

Do yourself a favor become a better communicator this year and pick up Supercommunicators. Thank you so much for listening and I appreciate you and I look forward to serving you in the next episode. Cheers.

Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!

Share this post

Smart Passive Income Podcast

with Pat Flynn

Weekly interviews, strategy, and advice for building your online business the smart way.

Get Unstuck in just 5 minutes, for free

Our weekly Unstuck newsletter helps online entrepreneurs break through mental blocks, blind spots, and skill gaps. It’s the best 5-minute read you’ll find in your inbox.

Free newsletter. Unsubscribe anytime.

Join 135k+