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Mastering the Ability to Work with (Almost) Anyone – with Michael Bungay Stanier

Guest Interview

Hello beautiful souls! Today, Michael Bungay Stanier (thought-leader, speaker, and best-selling author including the book How to Work with (Almost) Anyone) joins me as we dive into his insights on all relationships and how to bring greater understanding between all parties involved. Michael begins by prompting a thought-provoking exploration of the risks versus price we pay by staying silent in situations. We discuss how to manage what’s within our control to embracing opportunities to grow our connections with others. Tune into this fun yet insightful conversation that offers practical solutions for helping your own relationships get stronger.

To learn more about Michael Bungay Stanier and his work:
His book How to Work with (Almost) Anyone is available at BestPossibleRelationship.com
[IG] Mbs_works


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Julie Jancius (01:45): Welcome back to the Angels and Awakening podcast. I’m your host and author, Julie Jancius. And friends, today we’re here with the author of How to Work with Almost Anyone, Michael Bungey Stainer, welcome to the show.

Michael B. Stanier: Oh, thank you. I’m so happy to be here.

Julie Jancius (02:05): Yay. Okay, so I can’t believe I’m talking about this, but sometimes you just have to be raw and vulnerable. I have an issue that I have been working through lately and, Spirit’s just kind of been bringing up and as soon as I saw your book come out, I was like, oh my gosh, I have to– this is the book. Yes. Maybe he knows the solution to this.

Michael B. Stanier: I do. I know everything. I’m omniscient. Just let me know what it is. I’ll give you the exact perfect answer. Maybe not, but I’ll do my best.

Julie Jancius (02:39): Yay. Okay, so I have a really hard time, obviously, like, I’m a speaker here, easy to speak here. It’s so much easier to talk to another person. Even though 65,000 people might listen to this. You’re not seeing them in front of you.

Michael B. Stanier: They’re not even listening. It’s just between you and me. It’s perfectly quiet.

Julie Jancius: Yes, it’s perfectly quiet. And what happens is when I am in more deeper friendships or family members or even partners, sometimes you feel different things come up, right? Where sometimes it’s easier to be silent and not say anything, than to say, oh, that really hurt my feelings. Or, no, I don’t agree with you on that. I really feel this way. I’m wondering, what is that? And how do you actually work through it?

Michael B. Stanier (03:39): I have some thoughts and opinions on that because I always do. But I’m curious to know what you already know. So what do you think it is? How would you interpret this yourself?

Julie Jancius (03:51): Honestly? Okay, so I’m going to say it like this. every single time I’m watching a movie and there is a really height, like they’re at the top of something, I get sweaty palms. It physically affects me. And when I am going to have these conversations or face to face, because it’s easier to text somebody something or leave a voice. But if I’m face to face with somebody, my hands start sweating and clamming up. It feels heavy in my chest. I’m having this actual physical sensation. And I know that I had this a lot as a child because I wasn’t allowed to have my own opinions. I wasn’t allowed to talk back. And when I did, I was shut down. More so around my dad.

Michael B. Stanier (04:44): So if that kind of those physical feelings, which are a great clue, one way of thinking about that, it’s probably your amygdala, that little part of your lizard brain kind of moving you into fight or flight or fix. Those are the three responses most people have heard of fight and flight. Another relationship, writer Terry Real says the third one is to fix. It’s like–, oh, I’ve got to jump in and save it and solve it and fix it. So you’re kind of in that kind of reaction mode to danger.

Julie Jancius: Yeah.

Michael B. Stanier: Which of those three modes do you think resonates most with you? Is it fight or is it flight, or is it fix?

Julie Jancius: Flight. I can’t get out of there fast enough.

Michael B. Stanier (05:28): Right. Exactly. So one of the things that you can be aware of, which is, like, it’s my body telling me that something’s at risk here, something’s dangerous, and it’s responding in a certain way. And because your body kind of leads your brain, your body’s kind of giving you the hint as to what it thinks you should be doing so that you stay safe. So the first thing I’d be asking or be curious about is, Julie, in those situations, what do you feel might be at, risk?

Julie Jancius: The loss of the friendship.

Michael B. Stanier: Loss of the friendship, exactly.

Julie Jancius: Or loss of the relationship.

Michael B. Stanier (06:01): Yeah. so it’s like, okay, here’s what I’ve learned. Here’s what I think might be true, which is, if I do say that hurt me. If I do speak up, if I do ask for what I want, what’s at risk might be the loss of the friendship, and that might be true. That’s a possibility, let’s say. But let me ask you this. What’s the price you pay for not speaking up? What’s the consequence of you staying silent, of staying small, of staying kind of not kind of presenting and kind of asking for what you want or who you want to be? What’s the price you pay there?

Julie Jancius: I don’t feel like the people closest to me know me fully, and that doesn’t feel good.

Michael B. Stanier (06:46): Right. So, ironically, there’s a kind of loss of friendship. I want these people to be my friend. I want them to know me and see me and hear me and kind of get the full Julie, and they’re not getting it because you’re trying to- it’s the way we work. I don’t want to lose the friendship, so I’m going to act in a way that somehow makes me lose the friendship.

Julie Jancius: Yeah, I totally see that.

Michael B. Stanier (07:15): So in a situation like that, what do you want? what do you want for yourself?

Julie Jancius: I want to be able to have hard conversations without feeling like my chest and my throat and feeling like I’m going to cry and feeling just completely flooded with overwhelm.

Michael B. Stanier (07:34): I hear you. So, again, I’ve got some thoughts on this. But even as you hear yourself speak, and as somebody who’s done thinking about who you are in the world and how you interact in the world, my guess is you’ve already got some wisdom around this. So if you were coaching you, what would you be saying? What would you be reflecting at this stage?

Julie Jancius (07:57): To really give it a try and see how it goes, and that as you do things, you just become more comfortable with them and that you see that you can do it.

Michael B. Stanier *08:12): Yeah. I’ll build on what you’re saying because I think there’s a lot of truth there. The first is you can’t actually control what you think or how you feel. It all happens automatically. That’s your body just reacting. What you get to control is your response to how you think and how you feel. It’s like, I wish I didn’t feel anxious. If your body’s anxious, your body’s gonna feel anxious, and you’re gonna have that kind of that hit in your brain, in your body, and in your gut. It’s just going to happen. But you get to practice noticing it, practicing going, that’s my body responding to it. It’s not the truth. It’s not everything. It’s just my reaction in that moment. And you get to say, even with my body responding like this, what would I choose to do?

Julie Jancius: Yeah.

Michael B. Stanier (09:07): And then the second thing I build on, Julie, is to say, you also get to practice and figure out how to practice this safely.

Julie Jancius: Yeah.

Michael B. Stanier (09:18): So my guess is that when you’re talking about this in certain circumstances, you’ve probably got two or three or, I don’t know, ten different people. Some of them are like friends, some of them from your spiritual circle. Some of them might be people on your team, different people in different contexts. And for some of them, there is a lower risk in speaking up and asking for what you want or acknowledging what was true for you. And for others, it feels like there’s more risk. so part of it’s like, you don’t have to solve all of this all at once. It’s going- Okay. What’s the thing I could do that would be a step forward, like an experiment almost. That might move me towards being braver and asking for what I want or naming what is going on. And, who might I do? With and in what context? So that if it doesn’t work or if it becomes too hard, the consequence of failure is less significant for you.

Julie Jancius: Yeah.

Michael B. Stanier (10:16): And then of course, there are some tools I can teach you that could help kind of get ready for this. And if that’s helpful, we can talk about that. But that’s where I’d be starting, which is like, first of all, Julie, you know a bunch of this already. You already got it. You’re like, you know what it’s like, I see it and I’m weighing up the choice to not speak up. And there are prizes and punishments to that. And then if I speak up, there’s prizes and punishments to that. And I’m feeling that actually I need to start speaking up because, the win of speaking up is starting to outweigh the potential danger. The potential risk.

Julie Jancius: Exactly.

Julie Jancius (10:55): And so what ends up happening too, or the way that I have seen this unfold over the years, is that I really, truly believe that some people’s brains are really fast processors where I have a lot of people in my life who can just think on a dime when you’re in conversation. And for me, it doesn’t work that way. I’m a very slow marinator and processor. And with my spouse, he knows that I have to maybe hear him out and he can have something completely worked through. And just– now he’s waiting for me to catch up to where he’s at. But then I have to step back from the conversation, maybe for a day or two. And then I have these AHA moments and then I come back and then this has to happen maybe two, three, four times before we’re on the same page again. And it’s just kind of our process. But I think that’s the process with some friends too, and I don’t want that to be the case. Like, I don’t want to annoy people, I don’t want to frustrate people with my process.

Michael B. Stanier (12:07): Well, there’s two solutions I can think of. One is change your process. Unfortunately, that’s really hard because you think at the pace you think you work through it at the pace you work, there’s probably some things you can do to speed that up a little bit. But you’re probably not going to go from, I need two days to kind of work through this and get my AHA to I can just do this in the moment. Sort of getting some amazing brain surgery. I don’t know, maybe, but I’m like, feels a bit risky, and I’m not sure anything’s going to happen. 

(12:45) So if you can’t change your process, or at least you can only adjust it in a little bit, well, then what do you do? And the heart of this new book, How to Work With Almost Anyone, the idea is move from passively hoping that your relationships, your working relationships and other relationships are going to kind of play out and be a little more active about how you manage them. And the key idea in the book is to have a conversation about how you interact together, how you work together, before you get into the stuff that we’re actually doing. So one possibility for you, Julie, is know, with your friends just going, hey, look, you probably figured this out about me already. I’m figuring it out as I go along. But I’m like, it takes me a little bit to get to figure this stuff out. So if something’s going on between us, and what I would like is to kind of be able to come back to you in 24 hours or 48 hours to kind of go, oh, wait, can we have part two or part three or part four of this conversation? Because I want to be complete, because I want this to be a really good relationship, and I know that you’re, like my spouse. He figures it out really quickly, and he’s like, good, okay, I’m done. And I’m like, we’ve learned that we need to do it like this, so maybe would it be okay if we did it like this as well? Because the reason I want to do it is I want this to be a really good friendship or a really good working relationship or whatever it might be. It’s like, I’m really committed to that. But to do that, you need to know how I work. 

(14:28) And this is the kind of key idea of the book, which is to say, look, most of the time, we just hope people guess how we work, and we hope that our guesses about how other people work, are the right ones. And if I had to guess, Julie, I’m like, you and your husband didn’t your spouse didn’t just kind of magically figure this stuff out, and you kind of wordlessly transmitted it to yourselves as you were dating. You’re like, no, it took us two years of misery and kind of misunderstandings and kind of a little bit of conflict, and why are you taking so long? Why are you not taking so long? Kind of getting through this before you’re like, wait, I think I know how we work, so why don’t we both know how we know? So you know that I know, and I know that you know. And you know that I know that you know that I know that this is what’s going on. And it’s that understanding, that mutual understanding of what processes best support us, that give you a chance for less conflict, less heated conflict, faster resolution of conflict, but not just that, but also the kind of, like, amplifying the best of who you are together as well.

Michael B. Stanier (16:42): Let me ask you, then, of all of that, what’s really landed with you? What’s felt most useful?

Julie Jancius (16:50): Really being active in my relationships and saying, hey, here’s my process, and establishing that ahead of time, knowing that relationships are this give and take and they flow and that they’re going to flow in different ways. And so if I establish that premise from the beginning, then it’ll be easier to work through.

Michael B. Stanier (17:18): There’s a great quote. I think it started with The Stoics, but other people have used it. Maybe the Navy Seals have, maybe James Clear, but it’s something like, we don’t rise to the challenge. We sink to the level of our preparation, we sink to the level of our systems. And of course, what we always hope is that when we’re having a hard time with somebody or there’s a misunderstanding with a spouse or with a work colleague or with a friend, somehow the best version of us shows up. And we’re kind of all sweetness and light and understanding and wisdom and enlightenment. And that person doesn’t always show up. Like, never, because your brain is in Amygdala, lizard fight or flight or fix mode. So that person is not going to show up. So having those systems allows you to go, oh, we figured this out. When this is happening, here’s how we try and act with each other, because we’ve pre planned that, and it gives us a better chance of minimizing the risk and amplifying the reward.

Julie Jancius (18:21): Yeah, 100%. How much do you think that people are really showing up fully being themselves? Because as you dive into the spiritual realm and the world of self help, you really have to know yourself. And we’re constantly peeling back these layers to get to know ourselves further and further. How much are people showing up more surface level in their relationships? And how much are people really allowing themselves to be seen?

Michael B. Stanier (18:55): Yeah, well, I think there’s two things going on with that, because the answer is it depends, of course. Some people are doing a great job at that. Some people are doing a lousy job at that. Most people are somewhere in the middle. So there’s probably a bell curve in terms of how we’re doing it, showing up. But I think there’s two levers, two kind of ways to kind of think about it. The first is, are you doing your own work? Are you figuring yourself out? Because, there’s a way that we can, stay, a little removed from the whole of who we are. And for me, I’m a big fan of this idea of, look, I want to understand me in all the kind of messy, complex, ugly, beautiful, brilliant aspects of who I am. The psychologist Carl Jung said, I’d rather be whole than be good. And I love that, because there’s a sense of know, for many of us, we’ve been taught to be good boys, good girls, good men, good women, good whatever. And we’re like, we’re playing that game. This is what I think I need to be to be good. And Jung goes, it’s actually, like, how do you integrate all the aspects of who you are? Another great quote from him is the gold is in the dark. How interesting is that? so there’s this work that we can be doing to go how do you understand what drives you? How do you understand where your ego takes you? How do you understand the games you play? How do you understand the patterns that you’re part of? How do you understand when your lizard brain gets triggered, and you move into fight or flight or fix? What does that behavior look like? And what’s the sort of behavior that triggers you to behave like that? And how do you keep seeking? 

(21:07) You know, that great quote by the author who wrote man’s search for meaning, which is like, between stimulus and response, there lies freedom. So when something happens to you, if you can take that beat and decide how to respond rather than just react, that’s freedom that’s you choosing to show up in the way that you best want to show up the best version of you. And so, there’s basically an endless– it’s like, this will last you from today through to the end of your life in terms of the work, if you want to do it. And we all have our ways of doing it. Some of us have coaches, some of us do journaling, some of us go on retreats, some of us find our spiritual teachers. Some of us read self help books and do the exercises. Some of us find the podcast that we want to listen to. But it’s like, keep doing that work, because if you think you’re done that’s, just more evidence that you haven’t done your work yet. There’s still work to be done.

Julie Jancius: Yeah, the more you know, the more you know, you don’t know exactly.

Michael B. Stanier (22:08): It’s like one of the gifts of getting a little older, which is like, oh, man, I know nothing. I barely know anything about anything. I may as well keep trying to figure out who I am on this planet and what work I’m here to do. And that’s what you could control. you can control that. 

(22:30) But then there is, what’s the context that you’re playing in? And then you’re like, how am I choosing to show up? What choices do I need to be making to be safe and to be successful in those different contexts? And those, of course, can be in relationship contexts and they can be in work context, and they can be in friendship contexts as well. And so now you’re thinking about what masks am I putting on? What games am I needing to play to show up here? And part of the language– What happens when you talk to people of color is about code switching, which is like, I need to be a different type of person in a different context, because that’s the way I get accepted and that’s the way I feel safe, and that’s the way I don’t get kind of rejected as part of that.

Julie Jancius (23:20): Yeah, explain that to people because, that’s a word that’s been coming up a lot lately that I’ve been seeing. Code switching. So you could act differently in front of your partner than you act in front of your child, than you act in front of your friend or your boss or coworker.

Michael B. Stanier (23:39): So the way I understand it and I, may be getting this wrong, but the way I understand it, when you talk to people of color, they’re like, I need to code switch, because if I’m at work, I need people to see me behaving in a certain way so they don’t get threatened by this person who I don’t quite understand. I need them to be– And often what you’re doing is you’re covering. You’re kind of like, I’m turning aspects of myself down. There was a research from the consultancy called Deloitte, and they talked about coverage, which is another kind of term in this. They did research for young people and for them, coverage was, can I bring my full self to work? And they talked to Gen Z folks and they’re like, 70% to 80% of people said they couldn’t bring their full self to work because they’re like, I need to play the game. I need to be seen to behave. 

(24:35) Yeah, so now you’ve got these choices around and it kind of gets a bit of a head game, Julie, because you’re like, well, how much am I making up that I need to behave in this way to be accepted? And that’s kind of why you need to do your own work. Because you’re like, how much of this is my stuff? And then, how much of it is like, this is what this organization or what this relationship is asking of me or expecting of me, how much of that is okay? Because there’s one way where you’re like, you know what? I’m not willing to work in a place that insists that I behave in this way. It has me kind of have to damp down the full expression of who I am. And then, of course, for some people, they’re like, I don’t have any choice. This is the job I’ve got, and this is the only job I’ve got. So I need to play this, so that I keep my job. But there’s a price you pay when you’re hiding back the sense of who you are. Yeah, it’s a really good question. And it’s like all these layers of up kind of peeling back the onion about how to fit in and how to be your best self and how to try and influence the culture or the context so that you can be your best self. It’s complicated.

Julie Jancius (25:48): 100%. Well, I think you said something so powerful when you mentioned that, quote, you’d rather be whole than good. And that’s very profound, because when you really are showing up as your whole self, which is really easy for me to do in business, when I’m talking to colleagues or peers, that I can just kind of ramble off the top of my head and talk for day– That being whole versus being good. My god, does it feel good to be whole?

Michael B. Stanier (26:22): it does. But for me, anyway, my m journey to try and get to that, it’s about acknowledging and embracing the messy, dark, ugly, unattractive side of myself. Now, I learned this by reading a book called The Dark Side of the Light Chases. it was written by a woman called, Deborah Ford, probably in the think. So it’s a little old and let’s call it a little Californian. So it’s a little kind of sort of self helpy woo ish. And so some people are going to love that, and some people are not going to love that. 

(27:06) But here’s the exercise that was mind blowingly profound for me. She asked you to think of somebody who kind of drives you nuts. Somebody who you get triggered by, whether it’s like they make me mad or they make me frustrated or whatever. And she says, just go to town and write down all the things about them that kind of get you upset and get you frustrated about them. So this is kind of fun in some ways. You’re like, they are money hungry, power hungry, petty, bitter. it’s kind of like, whatever it is for you, you’re like, just kind of keep generating it’s like, great. These are all the things about that person that is so unattractive about them and why they drive you nuts. But then here’s the powerful exercise. The inside is what drives you nuts about other people is elements of yourself that you’re seeing in them that you haven’t integrated into yourself that are not yet whole. 

(28:08) Here’s the exercise. And it kind of blows your mind. You then take out the they, are, and you substitute ‘I am.’ I am power hungry, I am mean, I am petty, I am bitter. And, oh, my goodness, the first time I did it, I did it with a boss of mine who I really was having a hard time with. And I was like, he is ambitious and he is all about the money, and he doesn’t care about other people. And then when I owned it for myself, I’m like, I am ambitious. And I’m like, you know, I’ve been taught not to show that I’m ambitious, but I am ambitious. There’s one part of me that is ambitious. And I’m like, I’ve been taught I don’t really want to be driven by money, but there’s one part of me that really wants to have money. I want to have abundance like that. And it was this process of owning it, which, ironically, meant that I was less triggered by that. And I had those elements of me integrated but not driving who I am. So I was like, you know what? I can own my ambition, and I can say I am ambitious, but also now not kind of act out in weird ways that are kind of driven by my unacknowledged ambition. 

(29:24) So that, for me, is this whole idea of how do you be whole rather than be good? It’s like, notice what drives you kind of nuts in other people. Flip it around and say, well, that’s me. I’m just seeing parts of myself that I haven’t yet owned up to. And then do the work to kind of say, what if that was true about me? What if that was me? And see how that shifts. For me, amongst, other things, it meant that my boss stopped driving me nuts. It just stopped being that person who triggered me.

Julie Jancius (29:50) : I think you just solved the world’s problems.

Michael B. Stanier: I can’t take any credit for– Like this is Deb Ford and her book The Dark Side of the Light chases and she’s got other good exercises. She and her work is Jungian. So it kind of draws on those insights from Carl Jung about the gold is in the dark, and I’d rather be the whole than good, so I’m just a messenger for other people’s. Great stuff.

Julie Jancius (30:13): It’s amazing, though, I think that that’s also what we’re here to do. There is so much great work that we’re all just building off of and giving credit to But when it comes to this, you’re able to actually do that and switch the way they are to I am. It’s the fundamental of all spirituality. It’s how we reduce our individuality and really come into oneness with other beings.

Michael B. Stanier (30:42): Yeah, there’s a sense of I think it works on these. Two levels. One is this kind of trying to complete yourself and kind of be whole and be fully expressed as yourself and be the full potential of who you are. But there’s also, in that moment, recognition of this kind of universality of all the mess and all the brilliance that you are. It’s just all the mess and the brilliance that everybody is. So there is that kind of bigger picture, I think, as.

Julie Jancius: It’S interesting because when we have people on the podcast, normally you’re just kind of seeking out spiritual teachers. Michael, I think you’re a brilliant spiritual teacher, when it comes to this work. I don’t know if you have that title, but wow.

Michael B. Stanier (31:29): I’m not sure I can claim that title. But I am very committed to trying to help people show up as humans in their life. And depending on the language you use, you’re like that question is, like, what is it? I’m a human being who’s spiritual? No, I’m a spiritual being that’s human. What are they? Aren’t they the same? So for me, I’m like, we’ve got all these forces in our life that kind of can be pulling us away from what it means to be as human as possible. And in my context, which is mostly in the world of organizations but kind of also in the world of self help and self growth I’m like trying to find ways to allow people to kind of keep moving towards that full expression of who they are as human beings.

Julie Jancius (32:22): So how do you embrace that within other human beings? And there are so many different situations that I’ve heard of from clients and different people this last year where there are people within your life that are making decisions for themselves in their lives, whether that be your children or your parents or a spouse. And you can’t hop into another person’s body and make them puppeteer them to do what it is that you if only you could.

Michael B. Stanier: If only you could.

Julie Jancius (33:00): And sometimes we do see people who are maybe ambitious and we want to encourage and support that. And sometimes we see really big red flags on the wall, where, hey, you’re making a decision where you could come to me later on and be asking for me to help you undo this. And I don’t have the time or the energy or the resources to help you. How do you work with that?

Michael B. Stanier (33:24): Well, broadly speaking, I do the best I can. And mostly what I recognize is that, my job is to manage my side of the table. Their job and their responsibility is their side of the table. So I’m like, so what can I do? What’s my job here? And what I realize is often all I can do is understand what I can control and what I can influence and what I can’t control or influence. That’s always a really helpful start and then if what I’m trying to do with other people is to build an adult to adult relationship, which is kind of the language I use around how do you kind of build human to human relationships? One of the key lessons for me about an adult to adult relationship is you ask for what you want, knowing that the answer may be no.

Michael B. Stanier (34:26): So part of this is the power of you going– and this is kind of doing your work, which is like, what do I actually want in this situation? What do I want for myself? What do I want for them? Then it’s like having the courage, and the skill to be able to ask for that in a way that might get heard, it might not get heard. That’s their side of the table. They just might not be able to hear that right now. But all you can do is manage your side of the table. And then they might say, yeah, sure, I’ll try and do that. I’ll try and be that. I’ll try and make a different choice. Or they might not. That’s their choice. That’s their side of the table. I don’t get to control that. But you can say, but if this happens, the consequence of this, I don’t get to rescue you, I don’t get to save you, you don’t get to come and do this because that’s my side of the table. So for me, there’s so much going– what am I responsible for and what am I not responsible for?

Julie Jancius: Mhm?

Michael B. Stanier (35:27): And for me, my responsibility I think, is to the relationships that matter most to me. I’m like I’m trying to bring fierce love to that. So it’s like love meaning I want you to be the best version of who you are. I want you to feel seen and I want you to feel heard for who you are. Fierceness, meaning I’m not necessarily just going to be nice to do that. I’m going to bring a kind of commitment to speaking a hard truth or asking for what I want or holding a boundary. That’s part of what the fierceness is for me. My job is to try and bring that. My job is to have the courage to say things that I hope they’ll hear. My job is to try and figure out what I want so I can be clear about my request. And my job is also to go, but I don’t get to control whether they say yes or no or maybe to this. That’s their job. That’s their side of the table. So it is for the things I can control, try and do them really fully for the things that I can influence. And the irony is you can control much less than you think. Yeah, the things that I can influence is to try and influence the heck out of them. And what’s great is you can influence far more than you realize. And then for the stuff that I can’t control or influence, which is what they end up actually doing, is to let it go and go, that’s them, that’s their side of the table.

Julie Jancius: Yeah. Beautifully said. Beautifully said.

Michael B. Stanier (37:02): Well, let me ask you what landed for you in that? What felt helpful, really?

Julie Jancius: Just that you only have so much control. And if you really just come to the conversation and you say, listen, this is where I’m coming from. This is what I foresee, this is what I want you to know, and this is what I can do. And then you’re kind of on your own– is really, where I’ve gotten to with counselors, too, as I’ve worked with them in the past. And then it’s other people’s responsibility. I heard something, and it might have been 80 for Brady, the movie that came out where Sally Field, and it said to her husband, just because I am intelligent enough, just because I can do this for you, doesn’t mean that I should. And that was a really powerful thing to yeah, yeah. It doesn’t mean that I have know.

Michael B. Stanier (38:01): One of the stances I try and take in the world– All of this stuff is aspirational for me, I mean, I wish I could say I was doing all of this perfectly all the time, but it’s not even close. but this idea of confident humility and so confidence is that sense of self. It’s just like, I know who I am. But the humility part for me, it’s about knowing that I’m standing on the ground with my two feet on the ground, and it means I have a really good sense of the best of me and also the less good parts of me as well. It’s like back to the sense of wholeness around. So for me, humility, which is the origin of that word, is kind of like grounded. It means grounded. It is a sense of, like, okay, if I’ve got a good sense of who I am, if I’m doing my work, if I’m trying to become smarter and more nuanced and see the world in gray, not just black and white. And if I getting clear about what matters most to me and what my values are, and therefore what I want to ask for, I can have that stance of confident humility, which is like, I’m not arrogant, I’m not brash, I’m not subservient, I’m not victimy. I’m just standing in that place of going, this is who I am. And now I’m going to ask for what I want and show up and offer fierce love to you, but I’m not going to abandon you and I’m not going to rescue you as part of that.

Julie Jancius: Yeah, that’s amazing. I’m not going to abandon you. I’m not going to rescue you as part of that. I’m just going to love you fiercely.

Michael B. Stanier: I wish it was as easy to stew as it is to say. But it’s like, that’s the work, right?

Julie Jancius (39:37): Yeah. But I think conversations like your book and just these conversations and podcasts, and really understanding this, we’re at this period within humanity where we’re not just getting little nuggets here and there of wisdom. We are in the floodgates of wisdom, and we’re able to make huge shifts. I think possibly our generations that are living today are able to make more huge advances within ourselves, personally, than any other generation who’s come before us.

Michael B. Stanier (40:17): When I think about the books that I write, I often use the phrase that it’s old wine in new bottles, because I don’t think anything I’ve said today hasn’t been said by other people in years and decades and probably centuries beforehand. I’m like, I’m just trying to find the right way for this wisdom to be talked about today. So I work really hard to get great bottles because I’m like, I want people to love the bottle, pick up the bottle, check out the wine, taste the wine. I want all of that. but it’s old wisdom for the most part. But I do think we’re also at a place where a lot of us have access to that old wisdom in a way that we might not have had earlier on. So there is this opportunity for growth.

Julie Jancius (41:04): Yeah, that’s been a profound lesson for me this year is, I’ve joined some different writer circles as I’m writing a second book. And, in the past, I have always felt like, don’t read other people’s work because you don’t want to copy anything. But really, all of the book, coaches that I’ve hired and these teams that I’m working with, they all say the same thing, which is read, read, consume everything out there that’s in your line of work and what? You want to write about, because that’s what humanity has been doing since the beginning of time, is just taking the wisdom that has come before, seeing where the holes are missing. Because you’re working with thousands of people every year and you see it, you’re like, oh, my goodness, if they just had this one missing link over here. And this one missing link over here it would change everything. And that really is a huge thing to understand.

Michael B. Stanier (42:11): Yeah. For me, as a writer as well, but I’m a reader. I went to university and did a master’s degree in literature. I’m literally married to a woman who has a PhD in literature and a library degree. We spend a lot of time not talking to each other, but hanging out, reading books together. And it’s kind of our love, it’s our silent love language, which is like, we’re just hanging out, reading books together. And for me, there is wisdom in reading in the sphere in which you’re writing and teaching, because you’re like, who are my teachers? What can I learn from them? There’s always kind of nuance and development around that. But for me also, I’m really interested in reading around that in adjacent spaces to what I write on. Actually, my wife is reading a book on owls at the moment. I’m like, Owls have nothing to do with well, actually, I read a book the other day by a guy called Ed Young and it’s called something like an Immense an Immense something. And it’s about how animals sense the world. And this is a weird diversion, but for me, I’m like I always thought animals are like they’re basically the same as humans, but 10% more or 10% less of everything. It’s like bats, they have good hearing, so probably 10% better than me. Dogs have good smell. Probably 10% better than me. I don’t know. And, when you read this book, it kind of blows your mind in terms of how animals experience the world randomly. Like, an octopus really doesn’t have a central brain, but each one of its arms acts as its own independent brain. So it’s kind of like it has like eight and a half brains working the octopus. And I’m just like I don’t even understand how that works.

Julie Jancius: I don’t get that either.

Michael B. Stanier (44:01): But that no, you like the giant clams that you might have seen your big shells with kind of thing. They’ve got these kind of blue dots on the flesh around the shell. Those are eyes. The giant clam has like thousands of eyes. Or, a whale, a whale’s pupil. You can imagine how big a whale’s eye is. But a whale’s pupil, when it kind of narrows it it focuses into like a figure eight so it can actually look behind it and look in front of itself at the same time. I know there’s like, all these random, weird, brilliant facts about how animals experience the world. And for me, and perhaps this connection to humanity and spirituality is like there is so much that is invisible to us and so much that is unknown to us and so much of the world that we don’t even get and don’t experience. And this kind of doing this work to go keep remembering just how vast this whole experience is. And that actually at, our best. We’re only seeing a small part of it. But what’s the work you can do to open yourself up to more than that?

Julie Jancius: Yeah, that’s incredible. That’s incredible. I love that. So as you were writing your book, you know how writers– you think you’re going in one direction, but then spirit comes in and maybe takes you in a completely different direction and it’s really just this process of channeling through so much information. What downloads or big AHA moments just kind of fascinated you through your process.

Michael B. Stanier (45:35): Well, one thing that’s fascinating was I started writing a completely different book. This is my my 8th or 9th book. So I’ve written books before, and for the first time in my life, I’m like, I’ve actually got two or three books. I can see in the future that I want to write. So I was like, I’m going to write a book on how change happens. So I started writing it, and lo and behold, I didn’t want to write a book about change at all. I wanted to write a book about how to build the best possible relationship, relationships that are safe and vital and repairable. So that immediately was a big surprise to me. I’m like, I did not expect to be writing this. 

(46:14) And then for me, one of the things that I did writing this book, which I haven’t done before, is I kind of was on my third or my fourth draft. And for everybody who’s listening who hasn’t written a book, it’s basically a miserable experience. You have an idea and you’re like, okay, I’ve got an idea. And then you write a first draft, and the first draft is terrible. I mean, it’s like, you can’t get your words out. The thing that’s in your head doesn’t translate to what the words you’re putting on the page. You get lost. The idea that felt so clear in your mind when you started writing kind of just falls apart. And you’re like, is there anything here at all? Then you’re like, what am I doing? Why did I think I could write a book? Who am I? Maybe I’m stupider than I thought. That’s just the first draft. By the time you get to the fourth draft, you’re like, all right, maybe there is an idea here, but I hate it. It’s a terrible idea, and I hate myself. And by the time you get to the 7th draft, you’re like, okay, I don’t hate myself anymore, but I’m really bored of this idea. And so it’s why authors always look so exhausted when they get their book launched into the world. Because I’ve just had two years of turmoil as I tried to get through this book and write this book. 

(47:30) But one of the things I did this year was, for this book anyway, was for, maybe the fourth draft. I invited 200 people to be early readers of it and to kind of leave feedback and commentary on it. And it was kind of a big success and a big failure. It was a big failure in that I just realized I can’t read 200 people’s feedback. It’s too much. It’s too overwhelming. It’s like, everyone’s like, put a comma here. I don’t know what this word is. There’s all this kind of small feedback, which both was a bit demoralizing and not that helpful either.

Julie Jancius: Yeah.

Michael B. Stanier (48:06): What was really big for me, Julie, was I noticed that the comments were like, really? There was a lot of them over the first 50 to 60 pages, but then they kind of dropped off. I’m like, people aren’t reading the whole book. So it made me actually restructure this book so that I put all my best ideas in the first chapter. It could be that somebody picks up this book and they only read the first chapter. That may be all they get. So I need to give them as much as I can in the best possible way in that first chapter. So if nothing else, they get some of my core ideas right from the start. And so I’d say that was kind of the key download, which is like, I need to not hide the good stuff towards the back, but put the very best stuff right at the front so that people go, this is going to be helpful, and hopefully carry on reading it.

Julie Jancius (49:01): That’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. Michael, I just love your work. and I just love your book. It’s amazing. It’s called how to work with almost anyone. And we will put the link in the show notes, but it’s amazing. Thank you so much for the love that you bring into this world. Thank you so much for being you and for consolidating old wisdom and bringing it to people in a way that really translates to modern times and is easy to integrate into your everyday life.

Michael B. Stanier: This was such a lovely conversation. Thanks for having me.

Julie Jancius: Of course. Oh, where do you want people to find you? Your website?

Michael B. Stanier (49:44): Yeah. So if they want stuff about the book, including watching me run a conversation, bestpossiblerelationship.com. So there’s freebies there, but the more general website is MBS.works.

Julie Jancius: And are you on Instagram too?

Michael B. Stanier: I am, yeah. @MBS_works.

Julie Jancius: Perfect. We’ll put all of that in the show notes. Thank you so much.

Michael B. Stanier: So nice. All right, take care.

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