286 – 🌩️ Effective Conflict Resolution with Joshua Mauldin

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In this episode, we get to talk with design director and conflict resolution expert Joshua Mauldin. We discuss the most effective techniques for conflict resolution, how to establish trust, and employ empathy. Joshua explains when we should use a third-party mediator, start a conversation with safety checks and lead a talk with facts. Additionally, we dive into disaster recovery. The approach of creating a shared purpose in building alignment.

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[00:00:37] Brian Hinton: Welcome to Thunder Nerds, I am Brian Hinton

[00:00:39] Frederick Weiss: β€¦ And I am Frederick Weiss. Thank you so much for consuming the Thunder Nerds. A conversation with the people behind the technology that love what they do. And. Good. And speaking of doing tech good, our sponsor Auth0 is helping us do just that.

[00:01:01] Brian Hinton: Yes they are.

[00:01:02] And we’d like to think Auth0 is this season’s sponsor. They make it easy for developers to build a custom secure and standards-based unified. By providing it as a service to try it, go to Auth0.com today. Also, they have both a YouTube and Twitch channel under the username Auth0 with some great developer resources and streams.

[00:01:27] And lastly avocado labs. It’s an online destination that their developer advocates run, where they organize some super great meetup events. And remember to check out Auth0.com.

[00:01:40] Frederick Weiss: Thank you so much, Brian, I really appreciate it. And let’s welcome our amazing guest today. We have speaker director of design and author, Joshua Mauldin.

[00:01:53] Welcome to the show Joshua, really appreciate you joining us today.

[00:01:56] Joshua Mauldin: Thanks. Uh, I am pumped to be here, especially after that opening theme.

[00:02:07] Frederick Weiss: a lot of people say that you’re not the first, probably the third, but yes, that’s, that’s what we’re going for. Right on the money

[00:02:13] Joshua Mauldin: you hit it.

[00:02:13] All right.

[00:02:15] Frederick Weiss: So, Josh, hi. How have you been first off? Uh, you doing good? A family. Okay. Friends. Okay. Everything going all right with the, uh, with the vid hitting, hitting home.

[00:02:26] Joshua Mauldin: Yeah, so the folks are doing well. Uh, they’re, they’re fully vaccinated trying to just stay healthy. They both work in a hospital, so we’re just very happy that they’re fine.

[00:02:37] Uh, I’m doing good. Picked up some odd hobbies that don’t involve screens like restoring watches and clocks, which is kind of a fun thing. A nice, yeah.

[00:02:48] Frederick Weiss: That’s cool. Well, why don’t we start off with a little bit of context about you for the people that might not know Joshua, so you a director of design?

[00:02:57] What does that mean? And what is your day to day like and what do you do at

[00:03:01] Joshua Mauldin: atrium? Uh, it’s Artium actually, the last one I said the first

[00:03:06] Frederick Weiss: the time I became a survey. You’re

[00:03:09] Joshua Mauldin: right. You’re right. Uh, instantly my parents work at atrium, so. That’s what was, that’s what I

[00:03:14] Frederick Weiss: was. That’s what I meant because I was talking to your point

[00:03:16] Joshua Mauldin: earlier.

[00:03:19] Oh, rad. Okay. Yeah. So the day-to-day of me at Artium is. I run a team of designers. We work with clients to help, uh, build software, try to add a little bit more humanity into it and just help them build better software. So we’ve, I’ve got folks all across the country that, um, I’m working with and, you know, some days it’s me making prototypes another day.

[00:03:53] Frederick Weiss: Nice. I think we’ve all been there. Right? Brian.

[00:03:57] Brian Hinton: Absolutely. Why?

[00:04:00] Frederick Weiss: Oh, nothing, no worries. I sense a little, a little conflict there and which, which brings us to our main top. I guess we could jump into

[00:04:13] Joshua. We’re here to talk to you about conflict resolution. I think first off you could tell us what exactly is a, what does conflict

[00:04:21] Joshua Mauldin: mean to. So really it’s about a disagreement in viewpoints. It’s like when I think the thing a and you think thing B and neither one of us want to go to the other thing and, you know, there’s the unhealthy kind of conflict where you have like, you know, verbal abuse and harassment and stuff like that, which is not the kind of conflict that I’m into.

[00:04:46] Uh, Actually, that’s a funny statement who would be, um,

[00:04:52] Frederick Weiss: well I think Brian, probably this

[00:04:54] Brian Hinton: guy, definitely. Yeah,

[00:04:56] Joshua Mauldin: yeah. Yeah. It’s just people, people trying to work out differences of opinion. And it’s really about not necessarily the things that you say or the viewpoints that you hold it’s really about managing the space in between those words.

[00:05:10] If that makes. Yeah,

[00:05:12] Frederick Weiss: absolutely. So it’s not so much about, I think what comes up in a lot of people’s minds right away is, um, uh, the negative points of view, right? It has, uh, a certain connotation to it, like, like backstabbing, um, gossip behind one’s back. And then people tend to avoid conflict because they bring their personal emotions to the table.

[00:05:36] With with conflict, but a lot of it is that, uh, finding a common ground and that resolution to that answer. Would that be

[00:05:44] Joshua Mauldin: fair? That’s entirely fair. Probably put better than I could. So I’m going to steal it.

[00:05:50] Frederick Weiss: All right. I like that. Do you mind providing us maybe some examples? Uh, just to start everything off of what, uh, what conflict looks like and how people could use some basic basic

[00:06:03] tools.

[00:06:05] Joshua Mauldin: So there, there are several examples. One being, you been working with someone who has a particularly malicious body odor that you really, uh, oh, all right. So it looks like I’m going to be mediating some conflict. Um, yeah. So it’s, you know, you’ve got some, some personal hygiene issues that you want to discuss.

[00:06:29] You’ve got someone who is constantly talking over someone else in a meeting or interrupting them for even interrupting. You know, this is just him

[00:06:39] Frederick Weiss: for our audio listeners. Brian is pointing at me.

[00:06:44] Joshua Mauldin: Uh, also listeners, I’m pretty sure that Frederick is pointing at himself through a mirror. That is offstring right.

[00:06:50] And hypothetically, if you

[00:06:52] Frederick Weiss: look at that in an existential way, that is, it goes back to Brian. So I get it well said, but keep

[00:06:59] Joshua Mauldin: going. Yeah. So really it’s, it’s just about like, Hey, I’m, I’m getting interrupted a lot in meetings or I can’t come to an agreement with someone. With this user, flow or user journey should look like, and we’re just butting heads.

[00:07:16] Well,

[00:07:17] Frederick Weiss: you talked about a mediator. When do we, when do we actually need a mediator? Is that something to when, uh, you know, HR gets involved and we need, you know, like for example, I, I could say, and again, hypothetical, oh, Brian’s talking over me in that Monday meeting? Um, and I had enough, like, do I, do I see.

[00:07:39] To, uh, address him and resolve this conflict or do a w w when is there, uh, the opportunity that arises when I should get that third party,

[00:07:51] Brian Hinton: I’ll say I prefer that you, uh, come to me directly and let me know. I had no idea. It was interrupting you, Frederick

[00:07:57] Frederick Weiss: every Monday morning meeting, which is completely fictional because we do not work together, but Josh.

[00:08:04] Joshua Mauldin: Sure. I actually lost the question, uh, in the, in the banter, I was like, kids, I’m going to turn this car around. Um, once you get a mediator. Yeah.

[00:08:13] Frederick Weiss: When is it appropriate? And when should someone not think about doing that?

[00:08:16] Joshua Mauldin: So if, if you don’t feel safe having this conversation yourself, it’s always a good idea to get a mediator, but also a mediator can just be someone else in a group setting, jumping in and.

[00:08:28] Hey, this is the fourth time you’ve talked over. Stephanie, if you do it again, we’re kicking out of the meeting. Joking, not joking. Um, for more serious things, you, you may need to like grab a, grab a manager, grab HR. But really the preferences for people to be able to resolve these things, uh, between themselves.

[00:08:49] I think back to an episode of Ted lasso when there were, there are a couple of players, right. That show, I will fight anyone. Um, so there, there are two players who were having an issue with one another. And when the coach asks Ted, like, aren’t you going to do anything about this? Now we’re going to let them work it out.

[00:09:10] Um, and the, the reasoning behind that is, you know, if, if you get a director or HR involved, the magnitude of it increases and the severity of it will increase just by necessity, bringing in someone. Yeah, that

[00:09:23] Frederick Weiss: makes a lot of sense. I have the same experience with the Gilmore girls where Ari was the photographer and then Paris really didn’t want her on the newspaper.

[00:09:32] So they worked it out. They didn’t need a mediator. And they came to a common goal, which is they want to make the paper better, uh, within the school of the fictional story, the Gilmore girls, and they worked it out and they, the conflict was successfully resolved.

[00:09:49] Brian Hinton: It’s not, it’s also not about, uh, Like the conflict between people at that at the level we’re discussing, it could be conflict with, you know, when you mentioned design, like the two different people have two different opposing views.

[00:10:03] Uh, how do you mediate that without stifling the creativity?

[00:10:08] Joshua Mauldin: I can approach this in two ways. One is the person talking to person and then also. This is when an adult has to step in. Um, so person to person it’s, you really need to figure out before you have this conversation, what is the goal that you’re trying to achieve?

[00:10:26] Like, what is it that you want in this? Always keep focused on that and always trying to understand what the other person’s goal is. Um, a lot of times we have the same goals, but we end up inadvertently stepping on each other’s toes. Um, sometimes that can cause a little ego bruising. Sometimes it can, you know, if you hadn’t slept well the night before it can, it can cause a little unnecessary tension.

[00:10:48] So figuring out what it is that both of you need to succeed is the way to resolve this between each. Now there’s another situation in which you might need to get a mediator involved. Uh, you, you’ve got, let’s say design and engineering, uh, engineering doesn’t want to do the thing that the customer wanted.

[00:11:12] You validated through your testing and, and all those things. Uh, and if the two of them can’t work it out between one another, sometimes it’s both of them make their cases to the mediator, but ultimately the mediator’s goal is going to be to ask those questions that were really hard for those people to ask each other.

[00:11:29] What, what do you really need? What are you trying to accomplish here? What’s your end goal? And let’s find a way forward.

[00:11:34] Frederick Weiss: That makes a lot of sense. I think this goes to the, um, one of the things that I saw you talk about in your, uh, YouTube videos is the pyramid of how to construct effective conversations.

[00:11:45] So. Others input conclusions, facts, real, not opinions and psychological safety. And I think, uh, psychological safety plays a big part of this. Yes.

[00:11:59] Joshua Mauldin: Yeah. It’s that’s, that’s why it’s the, the base of, of this. Like it underpins every conversation that we’re going to have with one another. And if you really want this to be a success, then psychological safety is definitely a thing you have to have for everyone involved.

[00:12:15] You can have these conversations without psychological safety, but the risks and tension are probably going to be much higher than they normally would be. Um, there will be situations where you have to do this. Uh, it’s not ideal, but really if you can let the other person know that you’re here, just to try to find a way forward together.

[00:12:36] It’s, you’re, you’re not there to, to steamroll them or things like that. That can go along with. And there’s some really small, subtle ways that you can start to build this as well. Such as if I come to you, Brian, and I ask you like, Hey, is this a, is this a bad time? Are, are you super busy? And you have the option.

[00:12:59] Yeah. Come back later. Uh, yeah. So you, you, as the other person have the ability to opt into this conversation or opt out of it and ask. The question that prompts a no response around, like, are you busy? Is this a bad time respectfully of the person’s agency, which is really great. Um, and it goes a long way towards building psychological safety because they’re bought into the conversation.

[00:13:25] And a lot of folks can just begrudgingly, you know, if you ask like, Hey, do you have a sec? Uh, most people are going to begrudgingly say yes, but they probably have a billion other things. They’d rather be.

[00:13:37] Frederick Weiss: Well, can you provide a example of say the wrong thing to say something, somebody might say, you know what, I’m having problems talking to hypothetically, uh, some, you know, hypothetical name like Brian, I’m having problems talking to Brian.

[00:13:52] Whenever I approach him, you know, it seems like there’s some kind of weird tension or he gets angry. Like what, what are the, the, maybe the, the wrong things that I might be.

[00:14:02] Joshua Mauldin: Uh, one is leading with your opinions and conclusions. Like, Hey, you, you were a total jerk back then just by speaking over me all these times, uh, I really want you to stop, like your brain is going to stop immediately after I called you a jerk.

[00:14:19] And you’re going to go in to defensive mode and try to try to just get this conversation over with and stop me from. Um, another thing that you really want to avoid is starting with things like Y um, because that triggers our defensive mechanisms. Um, you, we have a lot of chemistry that is going on in our brains, uh, that really, while society has evolved over the last several millennia, uh, our brains are a little slower.

[00:14:47] So like we tend to perceive these conflicts between one another, the same way that we would a stranger coming from. Another tribe to steal arm or food. Uh, these are definitely not the same things, but according to our brains, it’s about the same. So if you, if you ask someone, I’m sorry.

[00:15:07] Brian Hinton: No, I was just going to say, not to mention when you go in aggressive like that with emote, leading with emotions rather than logic.

[00:15:14] Um, you’re not doing yourself

[00:15:17] Joshua Mauldin: any favors too, right? Right, right. And sometimes that’s going to happen. Like I’ve done it a few times and I teach this stuff to people. So it’s, it’s pretty natural. But if, uh, if you can go in and ask someone, what led you to this? How did we get here asking those kinds of questions keeps that very logical part of your brain engaged so that you can have this conversation.

[00:15:40] Whereas if I asked you, why were you such a jerk back then? Uh, that is the least veiled jab I can think of. And the conversation’s not going to go well as a result,

[00:15:53] Brian Hinton: have you ever failed at meditating?

[00:15:57] Joshua Mauldin: Uh, let’s see. Most of my, most of my conflicts happen one-on-one um, but I have been in a couple of situations where I got outward agreement on something.

[00:16:11] And then the moment that this conversation ended, things went right back to, to where. So I kind of count that as a failure because the outcome wasn’t really achieved. It was just tacitly agreed to, and then definitely ignored. What, uh, what happened

[00:16:28] Brian Hinton: after that? Like how do you, if you fail initially, what’s the vet

[00:16:32] Joshua Mauldin: steps.

[00:16:34] So I tend to look at these kinds of things like gardening. Uh, you want to make sure that the soil is fertile. You keep it watered and. You’re not going to be able to have every conflict get resolved. You’re not going to be able to have everything go smoothly, but it’s really about playing the long game and being open to these conversations.

[00:16:55] So temporary setbacks, you know, sometimes that means you just try again another day. Um, there’s some times when you have to take a more aggressive stance to these kinds of things, you know, if you were a director or you’re leading something, Sometimes it’s got to be all right. I understand where both of you are coming from.

[00:17:14] I, I understand what the trade-offs are. We’re going to do thing a and I realize that doesn’t please everyone, but I can be transparent about my reasoning, but the decision is final. I

[00:17:27] Frederick Weiss: think I read in Forbes sometime at the beginning of this year, if people are, um, three times less likely to. Imagine the perspective of the other party, if they feel like they’re in a situation where they’re in power of the other person, uh, like, like if they’re a supervisor, a manager, et cetera, they don’t tend to feel obligated enough to have that empathy.

[00:17:58] And it’s, it’s all about empathy. When you say.

[00:18:01] Joshua Mauldin: I would certainly agree with that. And this, this kind of healthy back and forth between supervisors and people who report to them. It’s, it’s really, it’s really modeled by the leaders. So if you really want both sides to see other people as humans, then you as a director are obligated to ask people for feedback.

[00:18:23] I’ve started to build this culture of feedback at, at the company I’m at now, I’ve done it at places I’ve been at previously. And it’s really like, you give your director feedback, like, Hey, what could I have done better here? And this is kind of tricky because the power dynamics do come into play. But if you, as a director are modeling that it is okay to give feedback and that it’s safe to give feedback.

[00:18:48] Then the whole organization. Not to mention your relationship with this other person is going to be much. It

[00:18:55] Frederick Weiss: makes sense. Another thing that, uh, I wanted to talk about is you have this whole thing about preparing for conversations. Uh, so conflict resolution for people who hate conflict resolution. So you have these four points, which are.

[00:19:11] Checking yourself. Don’t assume that intense, uh, use empathy as we just discussed. Don’t demonize people. Um, so getting your facts in line, uh, forming conclusions, how, how did something make you feel? Um, how did it impact you or your team and then setting goals? So writing down. What you want to get from a conversation before you have that interaction might help the outcome be beneficial for both parties,

[00:19:42] Joshua Mauldin: right?

[00:19:43] Yeah. I th I find that, you know, this reflects how conflicts have gone for me. And I’m very much a, a planner. Like I want to think out things, I want to explore potential ripple effects of my decisions. And so this more contemplated approach before having a conversation is definitely beneficial. And I’ve seen it work very well for other people.

[00:20:09] It’s not always going to be like that. You don’t always have a chance to, to plan everything out in advance, but just thinking about like, okay, am I going off like kind of half cocked here? It just, you know, shooting my mouth off. Like, did I have anything to do with this? Like, these are really good questions to start asking yourself, and there’s this great Alvarez.

[00:20:32] That I really like to keep in mind, that’s called Hanlon’s razor and they’re different variations of it. But the theme is don’t attribute to malice what you can attribute to an oversight. So yeah, someone may have crossed a line, maybe they didn’t mean to, uh, it’s probably more that they just missed something.

[00:20:56] There is a chance that someone is actually malicious and just manipulative, but more often than. It’s someone just didn’t see the impact of what they did. And on that note, it is really important that we separate both the intent and the impact from each other. Because like, one of the things that I say a lot is like, I can make a really terrible joke.

[00:21:18] And like, if we’re in a room together, I feel such shame about this terrible joke that I made, that I run out. And then as I’m running out, I step on your toes. Um, I didn’t mean to, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt. You know? So like these are, these are things that you still have to deal with. W what about

[00:21:36] Brian Hinton: on your, on your end from you?

[00:21:38] I mean, we’re talking about resolving other people’s issues. Um, what about you being the mediator and the emotions and the stress and all of that that you have to deal with? How, how do you cope with that in yourself?

[00:21:50] Joshua Mauldin: That really, he took a little bit of training, but way less than you might think. Um, one it’s, it’s a lot easier to have that third party involved because you’re a little more new.

[00:22:02] Um, you’re not experiencing the personalization of this, this disagreement. So it’s much easier for you to say, okay, you’re trying to do things. They’re trying to do thing B let’s figure it out. Um, but sometimes. Conflicts do get really tense. I’ve I’ve had, uh, I’ve, I’ve been involved in really hard conversations between, uh, other directors and people that report to me.

[00:22:29] And I was obviously very invested in, in this conversation going well. So there was a little stress on my end for that, but it’s really where mindfulness and focusing on your breathing and focusing on the outcome that you want. Is probably the best way to go. And I’m toying with this idea and I haven’t worked it out yet around like ways to just really remove your emotion from the mediator situation and position.

[00:23:00] I haven’t really worked it out fully, but the idea is just to try and be as you know, logical, if then statement as you possibly can. Um, We’ll see where that goes.

[00:23:14] Frederick Weiss: Do you mind diving into that a little bit more? Uh, could you explain that?

[00:23:18] Joshua Mauldin: Sure. So I think a lot about like, I can be very invested in getting one outcome and by me being invested in that outcome, I tend to, I would probably get a little tense if things seem to not go my way.

[00:23:36] So if you can remove the emotion from it, like, okay, we’re thinking. About this outcome that we’re trying to get, which is, for example, we want to build this thing that our client has paid us for. And we need to stop these, these two parties from bickering and being at loggerheads with one another. Um, if you just think like, okay, what is going to get us to this goal?

[00:24:04] Let’s go do that. Or in, in more personal situations, like, okay person A’s problem is they feel like they’re not getting the same amount of respect as person B’s friends, because person B doesn’t talk over them or interrupt them. And so. You try to find a way of making sure that you don’t have person a feeling really unsafe.

[00:24:34] And it’s not really about having a compromise with each other because that’s kind of like a recipe for both people being equally miserable, um, in situations like where someone’s safety feels, uh, threatened or just general respect. Like it’s, it’s pretty clear which way you need to go, like person. You just need to sit down and we are going to start like raising our hands when, when we want to talk in meetings or something.

[00:25:04] Frederick Weiss: Well, isn’t a lot of it just about emotions. Things are emotionally charged and there’s misunderstandings. And sometimes people have a bad day kind of like, um, and there’s things that are just not, um, not intentional, like, like the example you provided, where you walked out and you stepped on someone’s toe, you know, it was not intentional.

[00:25:26] These are just. Very simple miscommunications of random events. And, and if we could just sit down and have a civil conversation, everyone would see things clearly. Right?

[00:25:41] Joshua Mauldin: Usually. So there’s a little bit of calculus involved in like, do I want to have this conversation right now? So you have to think about yourself.

[00:25:50] Like, am I really hungry that I get enough sleep last night? Is it the end of a long day or a long. Um, are things okay at home with me or the other person, if that’s the case, like maybe let it cool off a little bit, unless it’s absolutely critical for the success of everyone involved. Um, so you tend to be a little more calculating about exactly when you would want to have this, just so that you time it so that you can have the best possible outcome.

[00:26:19] Um, and that’s part of the reason why I’ve constructed this framework so that we can. Just try and make it as safe as possible, where like I’m not coming at you Friday at six o’clock when everyone else is going out for happy hour or things like that. Um, and you know, there, there’s so many other things to consider.

[00:26:40] Like I could go on for days about this kind of stuff. Know, can we start with some political safety? Okay. Here we go. We have days it’s a, it’s a weekend experience. Thunder nerds. Right? Okay. So, and, and that’s really why you want to lead with facts after psychological safety, because like, if you can recount to someone else, what, uh, what a security camera would have seen in this situation like this very detached, factual.

[00:27:10] Oh, I saw that you did, you, you didn’t raise your hand or like I saw that you spoke over this person a few times. Um, then you talk about the impact. It’s much easier to have this conversation, I guess it, it, doesn’t presuppose that you have reached your conclusions in a, I really want to focus on like, Hey, this is what I saw.

[00:27:33] This is how it made me feel. Am I missing something? Th this depends on the situation. Like some are pretty clear cut and you don’t need to be so hand wringing about it, but I’m talking about normal situations where you have conflict. Um, I, I hope that that kind of starts to answer that question a little bit.

[00:27:56] Like you start with safety, you talk about the facts, you talk about how you interpreted them and see what you might be missing or how you can get to where you need to.

[00:28:05] Frederick Weiss: No, th I think that’s, that’s really, really helpful because a lot of times we’ll, um, we’ll project our own insecurities onto people, you know, like, oh, you know, Brian thinks I’m stupid because I made this comment about, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

[00:28:20] But in fact, that’s fine. Doesn’t care. It’s not even in his head that has nothing to do with the conversation we were having. Brian was just having a bad day because he didn’t get his morning. Right. It’s a lot of these things are about, like you said, the appropriate time to have these conversations and have these, um, the safety checks, which brings me to the next part of the conversation I’d like to discuss is disaster recovery.

[00:28:45] So you talk about, you know, the safety check, um, add contrast, uh, I’m not saying, uh, correctly or misunderstanding, uh, things, et cetera, et cetera, or creating a shared purpose. Uh, the pullback. Um, I love this fact that I read in one of the things that you, uh, you put out there where you said, like, if, if you’re, uh, if you have some kind of thing in your mind, before you go into one of these conversations where things might get heated, you could say something such as, I can’t talk to you until you lower your voice, and that will allow you the opportunity to leave a room or exit the zoom conversation.

[00:29:28] What have you.

[00:29:30] Joshua Mauldin: Yeah. So this, this whole idea of doing safety checks is like, okay, things are getting really weird. Do I want to try and write this situation? Who do I want to get out of it? And so we’re really good at perceiving emotions, especially when we’re in real life with one another. It’s a little harder over zoom, even more difficult when it’s just audio and the most difficult one that’s over.

[00:29:57] But if you can pick up on tone on body language and things like that, you can really start to tell things are getting weird. And a lot of times I’ve seen that if you can’t like a lot of these things happen just because of misunderstandings, like we’re just missing each other. And so that’s where the contrast comes in.

[00:30:14] You know, I’m not saying you’re bad at your job. I’m saying that I need you to consult with the team before making a decision that affects. That has helped in the like highest number of conversations that I’ve had in coach people through. Um, so yeah, there, there are lots of other aspects to talking about safety, recovering things.

[00:30:42] And a lot of this has really framed in what’s called nonviolent communication. And this, this was by an author a few years ago. Um, I got to give me a second to get his name because I do want to get it right, because it was so important. Um, Marshall Rosenberg was, uh, it was, this is a psychologist who coined this framework, but basically it’s framing things in terms of how you saw it, how it impacted you.

[00:31:13] And so it’s very clearly articulated. What the impact is on you and you still get to keep your, your agency in this and it’s less accusatory. And so that’s when you’re able to start to have strong conversations, have easier conversations, even when it’s kind of difficult, but, um, that’s, that’s where, like, I can’t talk to you until you lower, your voice comes in.

[00:31:39] And like, I, I don’t no one likes to be yelled at, um, But if you tell someone why are like, why are you yelling at me? Stop yelling at me? Um, that’s th that’s, that’s still like, it’s not trying to lower the temperature. Um, but if you’re

[00:31:59] Frederick Weiss: return, right?

[00:32:00] Joshua Mauldin: Yeah. Yeah. It’s just, it’s just a thing that escalates. And so saying like, okay, look, we can’t have this conversation until.

[00:32:08] Your voice lowers. It’s not until you calm down or until you stop yelling at me because those are, those are a lot more concrete

[00:32:18] Brian Hinton: triggers. Yeah. Triggers. I like what, uh, the, like the description of nonviolent communication. Uh, I just looked up when I looked up the book, not a technique to end disagreements, but rather a method.

[00:32:32] Designed to increase empathy and improve the quality of life for those who utilize the method. That’s nice.

[00:32:39] Joshua Mauldin: Yeah. Yeah. It’s adopting those things has been extremely beneficial for both my professional and personal life.

[00:32:49] Frederick Weiss: I also really appreciate what you, uh, discussed. I think I heard you talking about it on user for fenders, with Jason Ogle about.

[00:32:59] Uh, right now with all the video conferencing that we’re having it it’s, it’s sometimes it, it presents a challenge to read, uh, the other person with these low fidelity conversations. Right. A lot of times we, you know, we turn off our camera because we have to zoom. Um, or, or even just literally like, sure.

[00:33:20] We could see each other, but it’s not the same thing. Um, it’s not that same, uh, rich level of conversation. Right,

[00:33:28] Joshua Mauldin: right. Yeah. And you know, when you’re, and that’s why I mentioned earlier, like these things are best handled in person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have these kinds of conflicts. Like we’ve all had like tense exchanges over texts with people or over slack.

[00:33:43] Um, you just need to communicate. You just need to basically over-communicate like preemptively adding contrast to things because you have like, I have no control over how you read a message for me. You know, if you hadn’t had coffee, if it didn’t sleep well the night before, if things aren’t going well for you, you’re going to interpret this kind of stuff.

[00:34:06] Way more negatively. Um, in fact, our survival circuits, uh, how the us just by default filling in these gaps of communication. With negative interpretations because that’s what leads to our survival. And so the natural thing for humans is when something is kind of unclear, you basically just assume that the other person’s being a jerk.

[00:34:29] So correct that by using. Emoji sparingly, uh, don’t don’t send me like 10 poop emojis or something like, I’ll get it. Um, but you know, use emojis, uh, add contrast, um, you know, try to get ahead of like things that you might see as potential issues. Like, you know, you’re going to think, I’m saying that this is a terrible idea.

[00:34:54] What I’m actually saying is that I think this has a really big impact on, on the product. And it’s

[00:35:00] Frederick Weiss: interesting. You bring that up because I think I also heard you say on, on user defenders that people interpret emojis, just like, like if they see a smile emoji they’ll end their minds they’ll have the same emotional connection to a, like, as an actual human smiling.

[00:35:17] Yeah,

[00:35:18] Joshua Mauldin: it’s just powerful. That’s a fascinating thing that I read about. And it was actually initially written to discuss emoticons, you know, before we had emojis, like, you know, just the colon and right. Parentheses, like, yeah, we, we, we get it. We kind of understand where the other person’s coming from. Um, and emojis just really increase that level of fidelity in communication.

[00:35:42] It’s a nice.

[00:35:44] Frederick Weiss: Why don’t we actually talk about it? Cause we, we, you touched on it briefly, but you, you developed a framework for conflict resolution. What does that look like? What does this framework? And I, I believe you also have a book on the way about this.

[00:35:57] Joshua Mauldin: Yeah. So working on the book, um, taking it slow with the publisher, just making sure that we get all the bits, right.

[00:36:04] Um, so no, no release date as of yet for that one, but it’s, it’s gonna come out one way or the other singer later, um, So as far as the framework itself, um, I, I really just wanted to see what the common parts of really solid conversations are. And I stepped back and I thought about, you know, the things that I needed in conversation, the things I’ve seen, other people need in conversation.

[00:36:34] And so that’s, that’s where this framework came from. Um, safety. First, you talk about the facts you talk about. The impact of those things. And then you open it up to the person. I think there might’ve been another question in there that I, I didn’t process.

[00:36:52] Frederick Weiss: I was talking about your, um, uh, the framework you actually built for conflict resolution.

[00:36:58] And, uh, you know, you go out and you speak about this all over the world. Um, what, what actually made you get into this? Like why, why this subject, how, how did you get onto this point? Obviously we’ve all had conflicts, but. I guess one, how did you get into this? And what was that conflict that, that lit that fire for you to go?

[00:37:21] You know what, um, I’m, I’m in all of this, this is what I’m going to really talk about.

[00:37:26] Joshua Mauldin: Yeah. So I grew up in the south and we’re all super nice down there. We don’t want to rock the boat. And so my parents were also very clear on like, we. We don’t want to fight in front of our kids. So really I didn’t, I didn’t have like a really good model of going and having conflict with people.

[00:37:51] And so it was more of a lifelong study. Um, And really the thing that just like galvanized my desire to do this was like I was dropped into some wild situations when I started consulting. And I noticed that I was just getting wrecked. Like my stomach was a massive eye. There were muscles in my body that I didn’t know to Twitch that were twitching.

[00:38:17] Uh, it was just, it was not a good situation. And so I realized. You know, this is really hurting me and I need to figure this out. What is behind all of this stuff. And so that, that led me to do a ton of research, get a lot of mentoring, uh, go through some training. And then that’s, that’s where the framework came from.

[00:38:40] Um, I think specifically there is an incident when I was at a consulting gig where we had a PM who was doing their own. Uh, we’re on the same project. We had an engineer who treated the designs that the client had approved, that we tested, that we validated, uh, they were like, she’s just kind of suggestions.

[00:39:04] I’m just kind of go do it my way. Um, and you know, we’re also having to work with a client who was changing their mind from time to time. So. I, it, it felt so chaotic. And I was like, how can we write this? What can we do to get on well together? And so that’s, that’s the thing where I was like, okay, I gotta figure this out.

[00:39:29] I gotta get some training. And then I came back and we got it figured out. It was, it was kinda magical.

[00:39:39] Frederick Weiss: I love that, you know, I was thinking about, um, doing an actual live conflict resolution with you as the mediator between Brian and I, do you mind trying that out? I

[00:39:50] Joshua Mauldin: let’s go and see.

[00:39:52] Frederick Weiss: Okay, here we go. So real situation, Brian, how come whenever I text you, you take forever to write me back.

[00:40:01] It’s like, I feel like you’re ignoring me. You don’t appreciate what I say. And I’m just trying to have a conversation with you and it makes me want to text you less because I don’t feel like you value my opinion. Now you go, Brian.

[00:40:17] Brian Hinton: My phone is muted most of the time. That’s why

[00:40:22] pretty much the only answer I have.

[00:40:25] Frederick Weiss: So what do you do with that, Josh?

[00:40:28] Joshua Mauldin: Uh, I would dig in and say, okay. Fredrik it seems like you have an expectation that Brian respond immediately to your texts. Am I, am I missing anything here? Is there something you want to add to this? I would

[00:40:46] Frederick Weiss: like him to respond within three days.

[00:40:50] Joshua Mauldin: Okay. So I would ask Brian, how often do you check your messages? How, how important is this to you? Do you have another method that you are more reachable by, or that you prefer.

[00:41:07] Frederick Weiss: Nice. Okay. So, so immediately Brian’s not wrong here and that’s not what I was expecting or thinking of, but I like where you’re going with

[00:41:17] Brian Hinton: Twitter.

[00:41:18] Twitter’s the way Frederick, I don’t pay, I have badges hidden on my mat on my messages, so I don’t even see them most of the time.

[00:41:27] Joshua Mauldin: Okay. So

[00:41:29] Frederick Weiss: pretty like conflict.

[00:41:30] Joshua Mauldin: Yeah. It’s pretty easy for the two of you to see like, okay. He needs quicker responses to urgent matters. And Brian doesn’t care about his phone.

[00:41:42] So you two just found a way to get in touch with each other quicker, with a better response rate. And neither of you are wrong. Neither of you were jerks. And in fact, Ryan I’m with you I’ve needed all my notifications on my phone. Even text messages.

[00:42:01] Frederick Weiss: I love it. That’s perfect. I think that that conflict was resolved.

[00:42:05] Joshua Mauldin: Good job, gentlemen.

[00:42:07] Frederick Weiss: Thank you so much, Joshua. Well, why don’t we, uh, why don’t we go into the lightning round, Brian? You good with that? Yeah,

[00:42:14] Joshua Mauldin: absolutely. Let’s do. All right.

[00:42:20] Brian Hinton: Yeah. So the light lightening round is where we ask you a question, uh, in succession. Uh, you answer it. Fredrick asks the question, uh, fast paced, fast paced. So, um, my first. Is do you actually want to have pineapple on pizza?

[00:42:37] Joshua Mauldin: Oh my God. No, get out.

[00:42:41] Frederick Weiss: I love that. Joshua. Why do, uh, why did people call you a Gumby in school?

[00:42:49] Joshua Mauldin: I was double jointed and so I could jump rope with my arms. I was, uh, it was a very stretchy.

[00:42:58] Brian Hinton: Okay. You’re in the circus. Would you rather be the person with their head inside the lion’s mouth or shot out of a cannon?

[00:43:07] Joshua Mauldin: We got shut out of a candidate. That’s amazing. You get a lion’s mouth is just gonna be like real kind of like wet, nasty and Gingervitis in there.

[00:43:18] Yeah, dude, not into it. Like just let me, let me help you. Let me get you some floss. Let me get you some dental.

[00:43:25] Frederick Weiss: Josh. Who is your mentor when it comes to this subject of conflict resolution?

[00:43:32] Joshua Mauldin: I do not have a quick answer for that. Um, I have a whole stack of. That I read, um, there’s one called culture organizations, which really helps me understand like power dynamics in different cultures.

[00:43:47] Um, and I’ve read a lot about how to have conflict with people in different cultures. And most of those things are extremely stereotypical, which is something you want to avoid. Um, cultures and organizations is really more of a holistic approach and it’s more of a prototyping approach. Like these things might happen.

[00:44:05] So keep them in mind. Um, but yeah, that’s, that’s probably the most recent one that I’ve, I’ve been into

[00:44:14] Brian Hinton: please. What’s one pet peeve of yours that hampers your whole life to such an extent that if you could get rid of it, it would just increase your enjoyment of life, exponentially,

[00:44:26] Joshua Mauldin: uh, algorithms in my social media.

[00:44:31] Frederick Weiss: Well said, Josh, what is your favorite thing about yourself?

[00:44:38] Joshua Mauldin: Ah, I I’ve really been working for a few years on cultivating resilience and it’s just, that’s just, I feel like I’ve gotten to a much better place about it. And so, you know, situations change, I can roll better with the punches. I’m a little less brittle when it comes to, uh, addressing.

[00:45:02] Brian Hinton: What chore do

[00:45:04] Joshua Mauldin: you hate doing? Oh, cleaning my shower. Just like the legitimate, like it’s like, it is the most intense cardio that I will do. And like, I’ve done like the like cardio strength, workouts, where you like have a hammer and you just like hit it on a tire for awhile. Like I could do that longer than I could, like intensely scrub.

[00:45:26] Frederick Weiss: Just got to spray the scrubbing bubbles. They take care of it. I saw the animation. Oh,

[00:45:31] Joshua Mauldin: right, right. Yeah. That’s for next. I’ve been, I’ve been knowing it this whole time.

[00:45:37] Frederick Weiss: Yeah. Hey, you know, live and learn. Right. Josh, what is your, um, rather if, if you couldn’t do what you’re doing now, uh, what, what else would you be doing for a career for the rest of your life?

[00:45:52] Joshua Mauldin: I think it’d be a therapy. Or a coach or a counselor or something. Um, I get, I enjoy listening to folks and like poking through things with them and helping them explore things. And so like, you know, that’s not that different from what I do with conflict resolution, you know, we’re working through hard things together to make real progress on ourselves and our teams and our products.

[00:46:17] They’re not

[00:46:17] Frederick Weiss: that different. No.

[00:46:21] Brian Hinton: So would you rather live where it snows all the time never stops or where the temperature never falls below a hundred degrees.

[00:46:33] Joshua Mauldin: So do I want to keep living in Los Angeles is the question. Um, I would, I would love to go and live where it’s nose all the time. It’s very cozy.

[00:46:44] You get your scarves, you get your cocoa, uh, you get your snowman. I think you’re up, you’re in the right place. We all agree with that. Good,

[00:46:55] Frederick Weiss: good gut. Josh, what are you, what are you reading for fun these days?

[00:46:59] Joshua Mauldin: Um, I just picked up this book called the French art of not trying too hard and it just, it really.

[00:47:08] It vibes with named man. Like we’re just a lot of times we try and force ourselves through a process or like, you know, if we want to get this outcome, we have to do all of these other things. And it’s just, it’s very intensive. And so this book is really espousing the idea of ease and grace and intuition.

[00:47:29] And I think that it’s really important for people who make things, because yeah, we can use this framework all the time. And we can make things very formulaic. Sometimes they work. Sometimes it has a little issue, but you know, we spend our whole lives cultivating this intuition, and it’s a shame that we discard it in favor of a prescribed number of steps.

[00:47:58] Brian Hinton: So don’t answer this if it gets you in trouble, but what, if anything, have you.

[00:48:07] Joshua Mauldin: Uh, okay. So when I was young, uh, I ended up getting a gift from my youth group and it was just a, a bucket of popcorn, caramel cheese, and regular. Why would you require six? Well, dude, I was like seven, so I was like, I have to figure out something to give my dad for Christmas.

[00:48:31] And so. I didn’t even change the, like, I didn’t put a different bow on it. I just, after I had been inside it and like opened one of the packages and I was like, Merry Christmas dad. And they were like, did you get this from youth group? And I was like, no, no, no. I went out and bought it myself. Uh, I was just doubling down on my bullshit and yeah, that’s that one.

[00:49:02] That’s a good one.

[00:49:03] Frederick Weiss: Well, Hey, you were seven. It’s all good. But yeah, that’s how

[00:49:07] Joshua Mauldin: I met 27. My bad,

[00:49:09] Frederick Weiss: no 27. Gotcha. Yeah, either way. It’s very difficult to give away popcorn. So, uh, I guess you, Josh, what, uh, what podcasts are you listening to lately for? Um, not just entertainment or for, uh, for learning purposes.

[00:49:25] Joshua Mauldin: So I enjoy, Adobe’s also nerds.

[00:49:30] Uh, obviously, um, I, I tend to keep my podcast listening a little more on the like entertainment side. So my, uh, I actually, I hear a lot of podcasts because my wife is listening to them all the time. Um, Smartlist has really hilarious. With Jason Bateman and will Arnett and some other guy. And I’m not quite remembering, sorry, other guy.

[00:49:53] Um, yeah, like mostly my brain hears people talk all day. And so it’s very exhausting to process a lot of like canned conversation. So I tend to prefer music or things that like song Exploder. I don’t know. I do a lot of reading these days rather than.

[00:50:14] Brian Hinton: So no one really that I’ve ever met enjoys waiting anywhere, but where’s one place that you don’t mind waiting till you’re like it’s okay.

[00:50:29] Joshua Mauldin: Like, Hey,

[00:50:30] Brian Hinton: let’s help this guy.

[00:50:32] Joshua Mauldin: Okay. So here it is. Here’s why, because like we talked earlier about, you know, this hypothetical conflict where you turned off all your notifications. Um, I am making my phone as dumb as humanly possible while still being able to live in the modern world. And so, like, I don’t have notifications, I don’t have social, I don’t have email on my phone.

[00:50:53] And so it’s like, I’m able to just like, hang out and be. Uninterruptible. So waiting is pretty much good. I love that. I just wrecked your question.

[00:51:09] Brian Hinton: Yeah, you did. Yeah,

[00:51:12] Frederick Weiss: I think we’re, we’re probably, we’re getting, uh, we’re getting at the end here, Brian. I’m sorry. Do you have one last one of these

[00:51:18] Brian Hinton: one, one last one. So why is count Dracula? A terrible project.

[00:51:25] Joshua Mauldin: I don’t know. I’ve always been able to count on him. No,

[00:51:30] Brian Hinton: that’s good. But it’s because he always avoids the stakeholders.

[00:51:34] Joshua Mauldin: Oh man. This guy, like, he just, he does it by the number. Like he’s the most reliable person out. That’s true. I love it, Josh.

[00:51:45] Frederick Weiss: We’re right at the end here. I want to ask you two things first. Uh, where would you like people to find out more about.

[00:51:53] Joshua Mauldin: I come join me on Twitter. Uh, I’ve also got some things on my personal site, uh, before warrant, if you follow me on Twitter, there is a lot of dumb jokes.

[00:52:04] Frederick Weiss: Gotcha. Love it. And the last question,

[00:52:11] words of wisdom. Uh, do you have any parting words of wisdom for our audience?

[00:52:19] Joshua Mauldin: Yeah. I would say that if you can see conflict as something that you can embrace and learn from and have the discovery mindset, things are going to go much better for you, for your team, for your company, for your product. Um, it’s, it’s, it’s the thing that keeps me going this discovery mindset.

[00:52:42] So look at cultivating that you won’t. I

[00:52:46] Frederick Weiss: love it. And I think the last thing that we agreed on before we started the show was you were going to play us out. I see your guitar back there.

[00:52:54] Joshua Mauldin: Wait, what we agreed

[00:52:55] Frederick Weiss: on this? Yeah. So go ahead and grab it. And same whatever song you want. We’ll wait for a second.

[00:53:03] Joshua Mauldin: Um, well, here we go.

[00:53:07] I I’ve got my, I’ve got my air guitar right

[00:53:10] Frederick Weiss: here. Oh, you’re going to do an air

[00:53:11] Joshua Mauldin: guitar. Gotcha. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. So I guess we’re going to go with, uh, what are we going to go with? Reluctantly crouched at the starting line engines pumping and something in time, the green light flashes the crowds, something, something, and this guy goes to the distance.

[00:53:30] We did it boys. We did it.

[00:53:32] Frederick Weiss: Nice, well done. Beautiful performance by Joshua Malden. Joshua, thank you so much for being part of the show and joining us.

[00:53:43] Brian Hinton: Yeah, thank you for spending Saturday with us. A time is valuable. So thanks for joining us. And I apologize for Frederick.

[00:53:54] Joshua Mauldin: I

[00:53:54] Frederick Weiss: apologize for Brian. Apparently

[00:53:57] Joshua Mauldin: I apologize that my bad karaoke skills. So I’m going to go work on that. I

[00:54:01] Frederick Weiss: think you karaoke was on point in your air guitar for audio listeners. You got to go back and watch because he was hitting him. He was hitting the courts. That’s

[00:54:09] Brian Hinton: right. Flying all over the place. It was amazing.

[00:54:13] Frederick Weiss: What was that? That was Kate, right?

[00:54:15] Joshua Mauldin: Yeah, it definitely was.

[00:54:17] Frederick Weiss: Yeah. Nice. Nice. Thank you everybody for joining. Really appreciate it. And we’ll catch you next time. Thanks all


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