“Our fears imagine our enemies. Most of the time our enemies are not our enemies, and we create ill will when oftentimes there's goodwill.”
Today, on one of our most quotable episodes, we explore the dark side of community with Dr. David McMillan. Things get mildly scary as we discuss cults, tribalism, and division. You’ll be relieved to know that there’s plenty of hope!
Dr. David McMillan, a clinical community psychologist with over 40 years of experience, gives us the tools we can use in our personal relationships, communities, and society at large to heal division and find ways to work together. As the author of Sense of Community: A Definition and Theory, the most influential research on psychological sense of community, Dr. McMillan is a treasure trove of knowledge.
We start with the experience of living in an urban commune that sparked Dr. McMillan’s interest in studying communities. We then dive deep into the science to learn about mirror neurons and digital communities from a clinical perspective. We also talk about celebrating differences and valuing opposition, building goodwill, and the dangers of shutting down the debate.
Dr. McMillan might describe himself as grumpy, but we have a lot of fun in this episode. Did Leonardo da Vinci paint himself into the Mona Lisa? Is Utah snow better than Colorado snow? Have you accidentally started a cult? Listen in to find out!
Dr. David McMillan
Dr. David McMillan has been a practicing clinical and community psychologist for more than 40 years and is the author of several books in his field, as well as many articles. He’s the founder of the Nashville Psychotherapy Institute and co-director of Compose, a program that treats family violence. He has served as an adjunct faculty member of George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt Nursing School and Fisk University.
He received his PhD in clinical psychology from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University where he was a Kennedy Center Scientist. He completed his clinical internship at Palo Alto Veterans Administration, a Stanford Psychiatric teaching hospital.
If he were a child today, Dr. McMillan believes he would have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD: he was full of energy and loved sports, but he hated school and had significant reading problems. But he believes these challenges have helped him understand the struggles of families and their children as a practitioner.
His family relationships have also been instrumental in making him the psychologist he his today. His grandfather suffered from psychosis and depression, and his father had serious anger problems. Through them, Dr. McMillan learned compassion for people who struggle with their emotions, which inspired him to write Emotion Rituals. His 36-year marriage to Judge Marietta Shipley was what led him to write Create Your Own Love Story. His six-year younger sister, Betsy, was born with Downs Syndrome, and Dr. McMillan was her primary caregiver for thirty years until she died at fifty years old.
Dr. McMillan wants you to know that, like you, he continues to work to transform his pain into personal wisdom. He looks forward to participating in this process with you.
In This Episode
- Sense of Community: A Definition and Theory
- Living in an urban commune and how that shaped Dr. McMillan’s interest in communities
- Community or cult, a fine line?
- When communities lead to tribalism and division
- The value of acknowledging that there is no single right answer
- How couples therapy applies to relationships within communities
- Mirror neurons and catching someone’s emotional flu
- The science of relationships and being positive petty
- Digital communities from a clinical perspective
- Sense of Community: A Definition and Theory
- Get in touch with Dr. McMillan: [email protected]
- Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson [Amazon affiliate link]
The CX 045: Your Enemies Are Not Your Enemies with Dr. David McMillan
Jillian Benbow: Hey! Just a heads-up, this episode contains some explicit language. Some enthusiastic nouns and verbs, and it may not be appropriate for younger audiences.
Dr. David McMillan: Certainty and knowing ends the conversation. So if I know the conversation's over. If I put a question mark, instead of a period at the end of a sentence, then that keeps the conversation open. Most of us need the guarantee, the I-am-right place, the person who knows the answer, but certainty is deadly and keeping the mind open, and keeping the conversation going with a question mark is what will make us be able to work together.
Jillian Benbow: Hello, and welcome back to the Community Experience Podcast. It must be Tuesday because we've got a new episode. And today I'm talking to Dr. David McMillan, a clinical psychologist that studies community psychology. In fact, he is a national leader in the theory of sense of community. And really he's focused on the elements that work together to produce the experience of sense of community. So this is marrying two of my favorite things, psychology and community. We have a fantastic conversation about community from this psychological perspective. How do people come together and do something together as a community?
How do you get through conflict? How do you find a common ground to work on a common purpose? Just so many, so many things. We talk about process agreements, about the value of building goodwill first before looking for differences. It's fascinating, the research is fascinating. You can read his theory of sense of community on his website. He has a ton of research and papers and articles. If this is the kind of thing that you like, the multifaceted community experience. So listen in, and I'll see you at the end to talk about some key takeaways. But I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
Jillian Benbow: Welcome to this episode of the Community Experience Podcast. I am your hostess with the mostess Jillian Benbow. And today I am talking to someone who really knows what they're talking about because they're a doctor. It's Dr. David McMillan, and he is a doctorate social psychologist. And this is going to be very fun, because we can talk about the science behind community and people gathering and connecting. So welcome to the show David.
Dr. David McMillan: I'm a clinical community psychologist.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, I'm sorry.
Dr. David McMillan: Not a social...
Jillian Benbow: I messed it up immediately.
Dr. David McMillan: The social psychologist will be insulted.
Jillian Benbow: Oh no, no, no. Well, why don't you tell us just a little bit about how you got into studying community through clinical psychology?
Dr. David McMillan: I always wanted to see if I could replicate life in a small town in a city. So when I came here to graduate school, I lived in a commune for a year and a half and I loved it, it was great. In psychology, I wanted to study communes. So I began to try to understand what it was about small town life that I love so much. And I've developed a sense of community theory and I wrote about it. And it's now in the field has over 10,000 references, it's the famous big theory in academic community psychology. And I love that I birthed that child and it's going well.
Jillian Benbow: That's amazing. And correct me if I'm wrong, let me pull it up. So it's on the internet for anyone to read and it's on your website, and it's Sense of Community: A Definition and Theory, and it is juicy.
Dr. David McMillan: Good.
Jillian Benbow: You go into all sorts of things that I'm like, "Yes."
Dr. David McMillan: It's easier to watch the community podcast, that's a YouTube video I think. Google me and sense of community and there's a TED Talk I did some years ago and it's about 20 minutes. I come up on the stage and I fall flat on my face on purpose, and that makes a lot of noise, and it creates what my theory calls a shared valent event or a dramatic moment. And that bonds me and the audience and it starts building sense of community, so that started out my speech.
Jillian Benbow: That's really smart, it doesn't surprise me that you had an immediate lesson onto the stage.
Dr. David McMillan: Yes I did.
Jillian Benbow: So let's backtrack a little because you said something that perked my interest, you said you lived in a commune.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. I did.
Jillian Benbow: Can you elaborate on that? What's a commune to you? Tell me more.
Dr. David McMillan: It was simply a big house and there were eight of us in the house, and we each were responsible for a meal and clean up, and we ate dinner every night together. We shared expenses. Each one of us had a different career plan, most of us were in graduate student. And so we just loved and laughed together and played together, it was a wonderful time.
Jillian Benbow: That sounds fantastic. The word commune can mean a lot of things, so I wanted to make sure I knew exactly because...
Dr. David McMillan: This was an urban commune.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, that's cool. My friends would tell you, I love the similarities. There's a line between community and cult that I find fascinating. I find it absolutely fascinating. In fact, a friend of mine who works in community as well, former colleague. We joked about starting a podcast called Cult or Community, where we could describe something to each other and the other person had to guess which it was. Because at some point a community becomes very unhealthy and gets into the...
Dr. David McMillan: Boundaries are always important.
Jillian Benbow: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Dr. David McMillan: And by the way that was the problem for this commune, it was a King Arthur and Guinevere and Lancelot story.
Jillian Benbow: Uh-oh.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. Exactly was. And then when Guinevere and Lancelot ran off together, the commune fell away.
Jillian Benbow: Fell. Arthur's kingdom-
Dr. David McMillan: Boundaries.
Jillian Benbow: ... fell apart. Boundaries are so key in all things, especially community and human relationships, right?
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. Right.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. So that's fascinating, so you kind of had while you were in school, the lived experience of creating those relationships inside commune house, and then of course with the tragic love story at the end. From that point on after you graduated and continued in life, were you still focused on that intention of finding that small town experience in cities? Was that what you were studying and looking into?
Dr. David McMillan: Well, that experience kind of burned me and I don't know that I've ever recovered, but I'm still fascinated about it and I still am interested. I still write journal articles about the theory. Right now the theory is proving itself about how dangerous community is, and how tribalism can apply to sense of community. And we can hate each other using sense of community. So my theory is a good theory, but it doesn't mean that it's... it's not moral, it's just a tool. And anybody can use it for good or bad, but it's still a theory and it's very useful.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Well, and it's so prevalent right now. I think we've been seeing this and it's kind of back to the cults. We've been seeing this happen over time on the political landscape, and the global landscape of this us versus them, that is getting out of control. And I like to think about we've created a society where like in sports. Depending on what football team you like, you're going to have rival. Sports aren't my thing, so I'll get teams wrong. But everybody hates the Patriots except for the Patriots, and there's something fun about that. It's like, "Oh, they lost ha-ha," or whatever. And then you advance that to the political landscape of the United States today. And it's kind of, again, it's that us versus them, but now it matters because it's our humanity.
My husband would disagree, he takes football very seriously. But I would say, "It doesn't matter, it doesn't matter who wins the super bowl really." It matters to a few people who make money off of it, but it doesn't matter in the sense of our society or the greater good of humanity. However, where we're going now as a society it does matter. It's scary that people are becoming increasingly more like, "This group is bad and we're going to use fear tactics to divide and make you really dislike these people, because they don't believe the same thing as you."
Dr. David McMillan: Well, one of the principles of sense of community has to do with trade, and there are four types of trade. One is consensual trade, which just means, "Well, you agree with me? I'll agree with you and we'll agree. And that makes us both feel better because it builds our self-esteem." But this is immature trade silly, childish trade. The healthy trade is the next trade, which is called complimentary trade. And that's when you have a rod, I have a pole and the two of us together are more than the sum of our parts, and that's where wealth is built. But to do that, a community has to value and appreciate differences. And sometimes communities can't do that, and those communities become poorer and poorer and poorer. So if you value differences, that's one thing. And then the second thing is that we all need opposition in order to play football, we have to have a team to play against.
And when we have a team to play against, they bring out the best in us and we bring out the best in them. And then we both get a lot, we gain from this experience of trying to find what the weakness and the strengths of each other are, and we become even more and better. But that to do that, you have to have an agreed upon set of rules, and those sets of rules and the sacredness of those rules are so important. So our constitution and the sacredness of our constitution, and the being able for government to pass from one person or one set of rule to another, so that there's no violence, that's part of the process.
And if we can't do that and we lose that, our constitution and our government and our democracy is gone. And then instead of growing and becoming more wealthy and stronger, we become weaker and weaker because we have to agree with each other. It all has to be the same. And when it's the same, it becomes dead and it becomes sick.
Jillian Benbow: Absolutely. I'm curious because that's where we are. When thinking about sense of community and just your own experiences and observations. Because I think this happens not only in what we're talking about, government, it happens in several types of communities get to this point. What are your thoughts on how these communities can self correct, or try to get back to that healthy version of themselves that they once were.
Dr. David McMillan: One is to agree that there's no right answer, there are a bunch of right answers. And the right answer is the one that we can agree on for now. And we're not going to agree on that in the future, it's going to unravel, entropy takes everything away from every... So we're going to have to renegotiate what we agree on again and again and again. And it's this process of renegotiation, this respect for each other, that we can find some overlapping place where we can agree on an answer, then we can go forward. It's important to remember that only God knows the truth. We all know our truth, but we don't know the truth. And we can argue over the truth until health freezes over, it's a waste of time. What we need to do is figure out what we can agree on right now and forward, at least for a little while. And then when we can't agree anymore and then we have to renegotiate.
Jillian Benbow: I like that a lot. I think you have to establish a sense of trust to get people to start having the conversations, to find that common ground to agree on, that tenant of agreement. And then you also have to have I'm assuming like something in place to acknowledge when that agreement is no longer serving and it's time to find a new one.
Dr. David McMillan: Well, this is true in relationships too. And I'm a couple's therapists and I work with families and couples, and these same principles apply to those too. Really sense of community is another word for love and it has the same elements.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. That makes sense. So I'm curious, you work with couples, you do therapy. Do you find you're talking about community in those couple relationships a lot? Does it come up often talking to these individuals, just talking about how they can better deepen their sense of community with each other and what that looks like?
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. We're talking about love and how to love each other and how to be able to be loved. I'm not really great at being lovable, but that's my job and I'm working on it for the last 30 years with my wife. And she says I've gotten some better and I'm still working on it, it's a work in progress. I don't think I'll ever, I know I'll never get there. And that's a great thing, I'm glad to have the project.
Jillian Benbow: I like that. It's true. It's always a work in progress. So I'm curious and back to the analogy, or the relationship between working with a couple versus just a community. Is there anything you find that where it's just not going to work? Whether it's a community, a couple where they're trying, but it's just not going to work. So whether it's community that needs to maybe everyone go their separate ways, whether it's a couple in a relationship, is there any very like, "Oh yeah, it's this nine times out of 10."
Dr. David McMillan: Well, yeah, there's a guy... oh, what's his name? I've forgotten his name, but he wrote these four laws of the apocalypse. And he can predict a divorce after listening to a couple for five minutes. After five minutes, he can tell you with 90% predictability who's going to get divorce and who's not, it's amazing. And you can see that in couples when they come in, it's how they talk to each other, it's their tone of voice, it's the way they respect or disrespect each other. It's all in the small things. It's not in the big things. It's how you treat someone as you go through your day to day brushing toothbrush. With a toothbrush and taking showers and getting through the day and cooking supper. It's these small things that make a relationship, the big things, people handle those.
Jillian Benbow: Now I'm wondering if I would be willing to have that person observe my husband and I, like, "Well, what would he think? Would we pass." It's kind of terrifying.
Dr. David McMillan: If you refer to each other with pejorative words or you stonewall and don't talk, then you're going downhill pretty fast.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah.
Dr. David McMillan: Well, and you said the word trust, respect and trust, and goodwill. You've got to assume that that person intends well and most people do. Our fears imagine our enemies. Most of the time our enemies are not our enemies, and we create ill will when oftentimes there's goodwill.
Jillian Benbow: Ooh, I love that. It makes sense too. I know it myself, I can create scenarios in my brain that are nowhere near reality. But they start off with an insecurity, or a reaction of defensiveness that I predict is going to happen. And so then I'm like, "Well, then this person's going to say this, so I'm going to do this. But no, they're-" And I go into this whole scenario and I have to catch myself and be like, "This isn't real."
Dr. David McMillan: And by the way, those emotions they're contagious. So when you walk into a room with a negative set about someone, they can feel it in your face and then they respond in kind, and then you respond in kind and it gets worse and worse and worse. And then the relationship has a momentum and the momentum is downhill.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. It's amazing, isn't it? And different people I think use different terminology for it. I've heard a lot of people say reading each other's energy or reading the room. And the energy often comes from this more metaphysical thinking people versus mill... not millennials, what is my daughter? She's a zoomer, a zillennial, I don't even know. She'll be 13 in two days, she's a preteen. They talk about the vibe. Like if you catch a vibe, that's how they talk about it. Humans we perceive so much more than I think we are willing to acknowledge, because we live in such a busy society.
Dr. David McMillan: Our brains have what's called mirror neurons. And these mirror neurons see the emotion in somebody else's face, and they turn on that emotion in our brains and in our face. And that's how we catch the emotional flu of someone else. Our mirror neurons fire and so we pick up a vibe, that's exactly right. Your daughter's exactly right.
Jillian Benbow: Catch that vibe. Me being, I don't know, me being me, it is kind of fun, I will admit when you're aware of that. And you go into a situation and you see someone who has that, "Eh." Stank faces as I'd call it. I love nothing more than just going hardcore opposite and being like, "Hi." And like super bubbly and just totally catch them on the opposite and see if I can break it.
Dr. David McMillan: Yes. That's what you got to do. That's exactly the healthy thing to do is you go and you break the momentum, and you change it and you turn it and take it the other direction, and you keep going that direction until they catch your flu.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Take that. I'm contagious.
Dr. David McMillan: Exactly. Exactly. It's what Jesus said, "Just turn the other cheek. Let them hit you and give him the opposite back." Hey, it's magic, it's amazing.
Jillian Benbow: I've never thought about the other cheek in that way, but that's totally what that is.
Dr. David McMillan: It's aggressive. It's aggressive. It's an angry aggressive way to make a move and change the climate.
Jillian Benbow: And it's really fun.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. It's really fun. It can be really fun.
Jillian Benbow: And granted, I kind of do it from a place of being petty, but it's positive petty.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. It is. It is. And I think Jesus was a little bit positive petty too.
Jillian Benbow: Hey, I can get on board with that. I'm all for positive petty. Because it's kind of like, I want to be like, "Ha-ha, I'm going to prove you're wrong," but with the ultimate goal of everyone benefiting. It's not ill intent.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. It civilizes discourse, it makes everybody happier.
Jillian Benbow: Ha take that. I'm going to keep my positive petty.
Dr. David McMillan: You give the vaccine. You take the flu and give a vaccine.
Jillian Benbow: I like it. I like it. So talking about all of this and so much of all of our experiences is in person relationships. You think about even this, we're doing this interview online and we're not in the same physical space, which would be lovely. But we have this ability and so many communities, and so many people are then doing the same. They're going online and in many ways, I think it's great because if you live in rural Nebraska, and you just don't see the world the same way. Maybe your belief system who you are, doesn't align with that group.
Instead of feeling very isolated, you have the opportunity to find your people, to find the kind of people that appreciate you for who you are. And you can find your community without geography limiting you. And I've always thought there's something very beautiful about that. And that is part of why I enjoy working in digital community and helping people find those connections. But I'm curious from your perspective, what you think about these digital communities and can an effective sense of community as you define it, can that be found online, in an online community?
Dr. David McMillan: It's hard because what you just said is you bonded over similarities, and that's how everybody begins a bond is over finding things they have in common. And then when you find those things, you build on that things in common, but you don't build wealth and you don't extend beyond yourselves. And so if you can be together and bond over what you have in common, build goodwill, and then with that goodwill look for differences that can create wealth, and then value those differences and enjoy the wealth they create, then you really got something. But that transition from consensual trades, which means everybody's the same thing, to complimentary trades, to being glad that, "Hey, you're tall and you can jump and I'm short and fast. And because I'm short and fast and you're tall, we're the beginnings of a good basketball team. So I'm glad you're different than me."
Jillian Benbow: It's like leverage each other's differences for the greater good.
Dr. David McMillan: Exactly. Exactly.
Jillian Benbow: I like that.
Dr. David McMillan: Who's the interviewer on 11 o'clock on NPR, what's her name? Terry. Terry Gross. You're Terry Gross. You get it. You get it. You get it quick. And you say it back better than I said it.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I like that. I like the idea of bringing our differences together to make something better. Because we all have our own life experience, we all have our own skill sets and ways of working around problems. Like how I problem solve is very different than say my best friend, but together problem solving we might be able to do it faster.
Dr. David McMillan: Oh, you could do so much better together.
Jillian Benbow: Right.
Dr. David McMillan: We need each other. We really need each other.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Well, and as an aside, I think humanity's in a crisis of we have to come back together and find the common ground. And it's much to your point of what's the one thing we can agree on, and we all need to be doing that.
Dr. David McMillan: Well, if we could agree, I think we could agree that we're all in trouble. The air is getting terrible. The water's getting bad. Our children are getting sicker. We're all getting crazier. We need to help each other because we're as a species, we're in trouble.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Just as a human living in the experience alongside everyone else, it's overwhelmingly scary.
Dr. David McMillan: It is. It is scary.
Jillian Benbow: It's like you get into the paralysis, fear based paralysis. And also even just a lot of things that are going on right now like Ukraine. I personally, and I know a lot of people share this process or this thought is I don't know what I can do. And I feel bad just sitting here watching it burn, you know what I mean? And we all have our ways to get involved, be it donating money or time, however it is. But there's just so many things right now, it just keeps piling up and I think a lot of us feel lost.
Dr. David McMillan: Well, early this month May 3rd, my wife was very involved in the local elections for judges and for clerks, and she helped organize voting registers all that stuff. And this is an election where one or two votes makes a huge difference. So if you want to make a difference, find these places where you can make a difference, and then put energy into them and that election was one of them.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, that must feel satisfying too, for her to like-
Dr. David McMillan: Oh, she was great. She did a wonderful job. She gave people lists of who to vote for. She thought through the candidates. She made a big difference. She was a political mover and shaker in that little election and I was so proud of her.
Jillian Benbow: Well, and it is a good reminder that it always feels like, "Oh, I have to go to the big, big, big thing over here." When in reality in your local and I'm talking like geographical, your physical local community is really where to start in a lot of things. We're learning about that a lot right now. Just how important school board elections are, and I think it's less than 10% vote in that, it's a very small turn... I think my community's an exception because we had very high turnout for that. But I live in a very small, very active community, so it's not the exception to the norm.
Dr. David McMillan: Oh good for you. Lucky.
Jillian Benbow: It's nice. I'm curious just to shift gears a little bit. So as we were talking about you get to this place and it's time to work together. We've gotten to the place where either we all just get along, or we're past that to the point of where we're all very divided, and so we need to find the agreements and get back together. What are your thoughts and specifically in digital communities of people, that aren't quite at that place where we are acknowledging and leveraging each other's skill sets or strengths. Do you have any recommendations on how people who want to get to that place? What are steps people can take?
Dr. David McMillan: Well, first you have to make some process agreements, and one is that certainty and the answer and knowing ends the conversations. So if I know the conversation's over, so if I put a question mark, instead of a period at the end of a sentence, then that keeps the conversation open. And if I'm willing to say, "I'm not certain, maybe I don't know," and I'm willing to listen, then I think we can find something together. But most of us need the guarantee, the I-am-right place, the person who knows the answer. And right now we have a former president who knows every answer. And so many people are going to say, "Whatever he says is right, whatever he says is right. He's certain and he knows, and I'm going to let him know for me too because I need this certainty." But certainty is deadly and keeping the mind open, and keeping the conversation going with a question mark is what will make us be able to work together.
Jillian Benbow: I love that. I'm curious your thoughts. So the people that do cling to they want the certainty and they stick to that and don't question, are there ways to help people like that maybe lean into vulnerability a little more and maybe open the dialogue.
Dr. David McMillan: I'm one of those. I like the answer I want to know. And when there's a question, my brain has an answer and my go-to is "I'm right. I'm right." And I go there automatically. That reflex of certainty and that need to know is in all of us. So we have to do the work inside ourselves, to unlock that and allow ourselves to wonder. The wonder and mystery that is the most precious thing we can have. And that spiritual openness to not knowing, to wondering, and to be amazed and to be open to being amazed, and to be a little bit humble, at least a little bit. I'm working on a little bit. I've still got a ways to go on a little bit, but I'm working on it. And if we can do that, we can work together.
Jillian Benbow: I love that. And it all goes back to we get so caught up in stuff. A lot of the stuff that is just we made up as a society, as a group of humans and in reality is like, "What even is this?" I find when I get deep into that, and I'm starting to spiral out a bit, going into nature getting away from technology. For me it's like I live in a mountain community, so it's very easy for me and I acknowledge that, to some people listening may not have the accessibility I do.
But even your local park, just grass, go put your bare feet and some grass and don't bring your phone, don't put it on social media, just go for yourself. As a lot of people say, it's very grounding. But I think what you're saying, it's a very similar thing. I can be sitting in the grass and the ladybug will crawl by and I go into like a childhood delight, because it's just magical. And allowing ourselves to do that in as many ways as we can being open to wonder, as you said, I think is so key.
Dr. David McMillan: I'm sort of a grouch and a grump. And wherever you go, you're still there. So if I bring myself to nature however beautiful it is and I sit-
Jillian Benbow: There's that grouch there with you.
Dr. David McMillan: ... in my grouchy grumpy self, then that ladybug is not going to touch me. It has to do with my willingness to be curious and to wonder, and if I've got the courage to not know and to wonder, and to ask questions and not know, then I can include everybody else in the conversation. But if I sit in my grumpy little stool and know, then I don't need anybody.
Jillian Benbow: And that dear listener is the ultimate is to choose your own adventure. You want to sit on the grumpy stool or delight in the ladybug and go down a thought like random, like, "How did it get here? How do they survive in the winter? What does this mean?"
Dr. David McMillan: I'm going to Portugal on Friday. You want to go?
Jillian Benbow: Yes.
Dr. David McMillan: Well, go in my place. Because I'm grumpy me and my-
Jillian Benbow: You stick to the stool.
Dr. David McMillan: ... and my wife has dragging me to Portugal and I'm becoming the albatross around her neck, as she drags me thing. Making her trip as unpleasant as possible, enjoying the fact that I can make her miserable.
Jillian Benbow: Oh boy.
Dr. David McMillan: And I don't want to do that, but that might be me. So my challenge is to go to Portugal and wonder about something. I want to know something about Portugal and I'm curious about Portugal. But I've been reading about Portugal and the only thing I can read about is the inquisitions. And I don't want to know a damn thing about the inquisitions. So I've got to figure out something I can do to get my energy up and my questions open, about what do I want to know about Portugal, so I don't become this albatross around my wife's neck.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. For the sake of your wife, I feel like we can workshop this.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. We need to. I need some help.
Jillian Benbow: Get off that stool. Oh boy. Oh boy. Ooh. Here's a fun fact for you.
Dr. David McMillan: Okay.
Jillian Benbow: The oldest bookstore in the world is in Portugal's capital.
Dr. David McMillan: Oh, really. Really. Well, I can go visit that in Lisbon. Okay. Thank you. That's great.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. The oldest bookshop in the world. Also Portugal is the largest cork producer in the world producing 70% of the world's corks.
Dr. David McMillan: I'm going to see the corks, that's on the list.
Jillian Benbow: Ooh. Are you familiar with the organization Atlas Obscura?
Dr. David McMillan: No.
Jillian Benbow: Okay. I will send you a link that you can look at after our call. I feel like you'll like them. They call themselves the definitive guide to the world's hidden wonders.
Dr. David McMillan: Oh boy, that's me.
Jillian Benbow: All right. There we go. So I'll send it to you.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. I don't want to go to the place everybody else goes.
Jillian Benbow: I understand that. I don't identify as a joiner, so I don't want to go to the thing... Exactly. With the exception of maybe the Mona Lisa, which was very small.
Dr. David McMillan: By the way, she's not that attractive.
Jillian Benbow: No.
Dr. David McMillan: Some people think she's Leonardo da Vinci in drag painting himself.
Jillian Benbow: Well, that's my new favorite theory and I am going to declare it as fact.
Dr. David McMillan: You look at Mona Lisa and see if you don't see a male face.
Jillian Benbow: See, now we both have homework after this. I'm going to investigate if Leonardo da Vinci... I almost said DiCaprio, Leonardo da Vinci was one of the original drag all stars, drag race all stars.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. He definitely was a drag queen.
Jillian Benbow: Hey, I love a drag queen, so that's great. And you can look at Atlas Obscura for fun, weird, quirky things to do in Portugal. And I really hope you see a ladybug in Portugal because then you'll think of this.
Dr. David McMillan: I do too. I do too. And I'll think of you Jill.
Jillian Benbow: I know. My goodness. I really want to talk about Portugal, but I will spare everyone our talk. I hope it is amazing. And that you just lose track of that stool, and you actually find yourself having a good time and your wife is kind of like, "What's wrong with you? Did you hit your head? Why are you-"
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah, she would say that, "What's wrong with you?"
Jillian Benbow: I appreciate that though because I was at my daughter's track meet last night with my husband. And one of the coaches, who's also kind of like a school friend, her daughter goes to school with my daughter. I've known her forever. She's just the most positive cheery, nice person. She's just so easy to get along with. And she was saying something to someone and I said to my husband, I was like, "What do you think it's like to go through the world just being that happy all the time naturally?" And he looked at me like, "What is wrong with you?" Because I was just like, "Oh my God, can you imagine just being that happy all the time? People aren't really like that are they?" And he's just like, "Yeah, they are you're just grouchy."
Dr. David McMillan: Well, some people are. They got a bit more happiness quotient than I do.
Jillian Benbow: Same.
Dr. David McMillan: And I really respect and admire them.
Jillian Benbow: Me too.
Dr. David McMillan: But there is something to be said for sadness and for lamentations, and for bitching about what's wrong with the world. There's that too.
Jillian Benbow: I think you and I have a seat at the same table.
Dr. David McMillan: I think we do. I bitch very good.
Jillian Benbow: Me too. Me too. It's fun. I did mention that I use petty positivity.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. You do. Keep it up
Jillian Benbow: As much as I can. Some may say passive aggressive. I would say no.
Dr. David McMillan: It's a bit. It's a little bit passive aggressive.
Jillian Benbow: A little bit, little bit just for fun though. Well, it is time to transition to our rapid fire questions, which have much to do with about nothing.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. You warned me about this.
Jillian Benbow: I did. I did. But they're very fun. I think you'll enjoy them.
Dr. David McMillan: Okay. We'll see. I'm going to be grumpy though I think.
Jillian Benbow: That's okay, you can bring a grumpy vibe. I won't let it affect me.
Dr. David McMillan: Good.
Jillian Benbow: Okay. So the first question, David, when you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Dr. David McMillan: Superman.
Jillian Benbow: Solid.
Dr. David McMillan: I jumped off of a garage when I was eight years old, to see if I could fly.
Jillian Benbow: How'd it go?
Dr. David McMillan: Didn't go well.
Jillian Benbow: That's when the grumpiness started, this is, "Bullshit." These comic books lie. All right. David, how do you define community?
Dr. David McMillan: Oh gosh. Well, there are four elements. You don't want to know this. I can go on for an hour... Let me see if I can do this. There are four elements to a community. One is membership. The second is influence. The third is trade and the fourth is a story, and mix all those stuff in a bowl and you got community.
Jillian Benbow: Ah, if we would've started with that conversation, I bet the whole interview would've just been about the bowl. Next time. One of these days.
Dr. David McMillan: We'll make cookies together.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Right. All right. What is something on your "bucket list" that you have done in your life?
Dr. David McMillan: Oh, I saw the five major animals in Africa.
Jillian Benbow: Ooh. And for the people who didn't pay a lot of attention in school, what are the five?
Dr. David McMillan: Okay. This is what they tell me in Africa. I saw the lion, the elephant, the hippopotamus, the leopard and the rhinoceros.
Jillian Benbow: Ooh and follow up question, which one was your favorite to see him live in person?
Dr. David McMillan: The lion, they were captivating, they were really fun and they on each other and they played. Oh, they were having the best time. It was fascinating, but it wasn't exactly fun to watch them take down a water buffalo. They just played with it for two or three hours, and then we left before they did it in.
Jillian Benbow: Oof. Geez. They didn't get the lesson of don't play with your food, I guess.
Dr. David McMillan: No, no. And the water Buffalo was mad and he was so mad, he started banging into our truck.
Jillian Benbow: Oh my God.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. I didn't blame him. I'd be mad too.
Jillian Benbow: No same. He's like, "Can you help me? Stop watching."
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Really.
Jillian Benbow: All right. On the flip side of that, what is something on your bucket list that you have not done, but hope to do.
Dr. David McMillan: Finish my next book.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, nice. How close are you?
Dr. David McMillan: I don't know. I think I'm close and then I read it and then I know I'm not close.
Jillian Benbow: Every author I'm sure is like, "Yep. I feel that." What is a book that you think everybody should read?
Dr. David McMillan: I'm looking at my bookshelf. Caste is a great book.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I haven't read that one yet, but I've heard great things. All right. And actually you didn't mention where you live.
Dr. David McMillan: I live in Nashville.
Jillian Benbow: Nashville. Oh, fun.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. In Green Hills.
Jillian Benbow: Nice. Okay. Well, if you could live anywhere else, where would that be?
Dr. David McMillan: Park City.
Jillian Benbow: Oh.
Dr. David McMillan: Park City, Utah.
Jillian Benbow: You big winter.
Dr. David McMillan: Oh, it's great. Well, I do sort of live there because I have a little condo, and we rent it out in the winter and we go to the summer to there, and we stay there six to eight weeks. It's great. It is great. Beautiful. The climate, the air, it's just wonderful.
Jillian Benbow: It is gorgeous. I've never skied there. I've only been there summer. I live in Breckenridge, Colorado so I can relate.
Dr. David McMillan: Oh gosh. Well, I'm sorry. The snow in Utah is lighter. More fluffier than Colorado snow or any snow. It's the best snow. If you haven't skied on Utah snow, you don't know what skiing is.
Jillian Benbow: I'll disagree, but that's okay.
Dr. David McMillan: I figured you might.
Jillian Benbow: Actually, I've never skied in Utah, so I can't actually debunk that. It may be true. And you know what I have family at ski Park City and live over there, so I have no excuse.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah, absolutely. Bring you out there.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. And final question, how do you want to be remembered?
Dr. David McMillan: Remembered is just enough and that's not going to happen. I'll settle for finishing my next book.
Jillian Benbow: All right. Well, David, this has been fantastic. Thanks for taking the time. We can't wait to hear how Portugal goes
Dr. David McMillan: The oldest bookstore, I'm going to look for it.
Jillian Benbow: Yes, yes. Where is the best place anybody listening that wants to learn more about you? Where should they go?
Dr. David McMillan: DrDavidMcMillan.com.
Jillian Benbow: That's so simple. And do you do social media or no?
Dr. David McMillan: Nah, not really.
Jillian Benbow: Nah. Okay. Send them to your website. Hey, it's a boundary.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. But I got lots of stuff on DrDavidMcMillan.com.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Including that paper we were talking about the Sense of Community.
Dr. David McMillan: Yeah. And if anybody wants to email me, they can at my address [email protected]
Jillian Benbow: Perfect. All right, well, thanks again for joining.
Dr. David McMillan: Thanks for having me.
Jillian Benbow: I really enjoyed this. All right. And that was the interview with Dr. David McMillan. I say it all the time, but what a delight. It's kind of fun to have someone who is an expert in psychology come on and talk about the psychology of humans building community. Everything we talked about, I think is just the kind of stuff that as an individual listening, being a part of the conversation is just things you can think about, take with you and ponder. I always think there's a lot of value in that. How can any of these theories, these ideas, how can they be used within your community? Be it a digital community, be it your local community. It's always a fun kind of thought process, a curiosity to go down like, "Well, how can I make this work for me and the situations I'm in."
I really like that so much of this sense of community has to do with building goodwill and how important that is. I think it's easy to forget. And in other episodes, we've talked to people about building trust so that people participate and whatnot, and it all seems to come together, it's all related. So the idea of building goodwill in any community as a starting point and starting there, and then growing together and creating process agreements, and being vulnerable and working through potential conflict, it's so key. And in society I can see where we need to take a step back and find what is it do we agree on. For example, gun laws, gun regulations, hot topic. How many steps back can we all take until we find a place to agree?
And it seems like it's really a lot of steps back, but maybe it's not. And maybe we get the politicians out of the conversation, I think it'd be faster.
When I think about it with digital communities and the communities we run, I think there's a lot of ways to build goodwill that involve having new members come together with more veteran members and be welcomed. To just be like, "Hey you belong. Even though you just joined, I'm a founding member, but I'm here to support you. Welcome."
I think there's a lot to say about just making people feel like they belong in a sense of building goodwill. Maybe it's having something we like to do about once a quarter, just have a town hall with our communities, where we talk about the bigger things going on in the business. But we also have the opportunity for people to share ideas. We ask open-ended questions about things we're considering and making people feel very town hall style.
So I'm not going to go on ad nauseum detail about this episode. Psychology is amazing. I definitely recommend going to Dr. David McMillan's website and looking at the studies he's published, and been a part of i go check out those studies because we can all talk about our opinions and community and anecdotal things we've seen, but an actual psychological study of how community ticks, that's the foundation.
So go check it out, let us know what you think. Hit us up @TeamSPI on Twitter. Also, if you've made it this far and haven't done this already, we'd love it if you would give us a five star review wherever you listen to podcasts. It helps us grow and help more people get talking about this wonderful thing called community. And on that we will see you next Tuesday.
You can learn more about Dr. McMillan's work at his website, DrDavidMcMillan.com. That's Dr. David M-C-M-I-L-L-A-N.com.
Your lead host for the community experience is me, Jillian Benbow. Our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our editor is Paul Grigoras. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Theme music by David Grabowski. See you next Tuesday!