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About this Episode


In this podcast episode, Karlee and guest Keita Demming emphasize the transformative impact of effective conversations. Their chat delves into strategies for productive financial discussions with your loved ones and navigating negative communication spirals. Keita emphasizes the significance of understanding the underlying requests behind criticism and how to reframe conversations for more productive outcomes.

Listen now to hear Keita’s two key takeaways for you to remember to practice having better conversations in your life!

Show Notes

  • Karlee and her guest, Keita Demming, discuss the importance of having better conversations, with a focus on conversations around money within couples.
  • Keita emphasizes the significance of changing conversations to transform relationships and organizations.
  • They delve into how people can have more effective financial conversations, particularly among couples and stress the importance of understanding goals and priorities before seeking financial advice. Keita suggests that couples need to be clear about what they want in the long term and align their financial decisions accordingly.
  • Keita touches on the evolving role of financial advisors, emphasizing that the future of financial services might shift from transactions to coaching, focusing on understanding clients' goals, and helping them make informed decisions.
  • Keita and Karlee discuss the importance of effective communication, particularly in the context of financial discussions between couples. They explore strategies for having better conversations, especially when discussing sensitive topics like money, and how to shift from criticism to Joint Problem Solving.
  • Karlee talks about finding your ‘Money Type’ and describes each type.
  • Keita emphasizes the significance of understanding the underlying requests behind criticism and how to reframe conversations for more productive outcomes. He also touches on the concept of asking short, powerful questions to elicit meaningful responses.
  • Keita shares insights on the dynamics of conversations, the power of understanding different perspectives, and the role of inquiry in facilitating meaningful discussions. He emphasizes the need for awareness and the ability to adapt in conversations, especially in situations where power dynamics are at play. The concept of "conversation is the action" is highlighted, underscoring the role of conversations in shaping the future.
  • Keita also discusses a synchronicity experience involving ladybugs and his new yoga practice.
  • Karlee shared more of their conversation post-recording, where Keita offers advice for handling negative communication spirals by practicing Joint Problem Solving and interrupting the typical pattern by Doing Something Different.
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Episode Guest

Keita Demming, Ph.D

Director of Development & Innovation, The Covenant Group

Keita is an award-winning educator and coach who is working to transform companies into places and spaces that are idea-driven and people-centred.

He and his team at The Covenant Group have built the online coaching platform “Coach on the Go” that acts as a virtual coach for entrepreneurs and business builders. At the core of their developmental work is the belief that building any new training programs or workshop starts with people.

As a Trusted Advisor and Thought Leader in design, strategy, and innovation, Keita strongly believes that the more we learn from others, the more likely we are to find our own journey a little bit easier.

One of his proudest personal achievements is the community he helped grow around TEDxPortofSpain, part of the popular TED Ideas festival and one of the most successful TEDx events in the world.

You can visit Keita’s podcast, Disruptive Conversations with Keita Demming, where he unpacks how people who are working to disrupt a sector or system think.

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Host: Karlee Vukets

Featured Guest: keita Demming

Produced by: Karlee Vukets

Editing: Andre Stewart @ Mixed by Dre

Branding: Leon Murray & Cathy Jones @ Bold Move Studio

Intro Graphics: Craig Mazerall Designs

Music: Night Moves by Ivy Bakes

Karlee’s Photo Credit: Olivia O’Young Photography

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Karlee: Welcome to Leave Room for the Magic, a podcast that invites you to embrace the wonder, beauty, and messiness woven into the fabric of everyday life. In this show, we'll bridge the gap between the practical and the spiritual, providing inspiration, tips, and tools from our featured guests. So without further ado, let's go make some magic.

Hello, my loves. Welcome back to Leave Room for the Magic. I'm really looking forward to our guest today, the fascinating Keita Demming. And we will be sharing today some wisdom about how to help people have better conversations, around money. As a trusted advisor and thought leader in design, strategy, and innovation, Keita strongly believes that the more we learn from others, the more likely we are to find our own journey, a little bit easier.

He is described by his clients as helping people become better business people and better people in business. He is an award winning educator and coach who is working to transform companies into places and spaces that are idea driven and people centered.

As a high school dropout turned PhD, he now uses education and coaching as a tool to help clients thrive professionally and personally.

Keita, welcome to Leave Room for the Magic. It's such a pleasure to have you here.

[00:01:17] Keita: I'm excited for this conversation and I've been listening to your episodes so far and they've been great. So thank you for having me in this space and hopefully we can create some magic.

[00:01:27] Karlee: I hope so too. Well, Keita, I wanted to take a moment publicly to say a big thank you for all your help behind the scenes on this podcast. As the audience would have found out in my last episode I had wanted to do this podcast for about seven years. And even without a name, a title, or a concept, Keita sat down with me as I picked his brain on all the technical aspects of starting a podcast, like back in 2001.

So, Keita, thank you so much for helping make this dream a reality, and I'm very grateful for your time and your wisdom. So, thank you.

[00:02:00] Keita: No problem. And you've done a very good job.

[00:02:02] Karlee: Thank you. All right. So, Keita, can you please kick us off today by sharing your intention for our conversation today?

[00:02:11] Keita: Oh, so I like this. I came from a yoga class this morning, which is new for me. which I don't love. And I had to set an intention there and now I'm setting a new intention, which is pay attention to the request. And I could talk about that more.

[00:02:33] Karlee: Yeah, please do.

[00:02:34] Keita: As we talk about a conversation. So talk about that more now?

[00:02:37] Karlee: Yeah, if you'd like to. Yeah, I'd love to hear a little bit more about that. Awesome.

[00:02:41] Keita: We're going to talk about better conversations. Specifically on this show, we're going to talk about better conversations around money. I'm, in general just interested in how do we have better conversations in different fields. So in my day job, I do better conversations around strategy. Today we're going to go talk about better conversations around money because there's some principles that I think apply across the board, no matter what kind of conversation you're having.

And the reason I use that as my intention is that Esther Perel, who if you don't know her is a phenomenal, relationship therapist. I don't know how to define her, she's just like next level. She said something that really transformed how I think about conversations, and let's say your partner or a loved one criticizes you, tells you to pick up your laundry…you always do this…whatever the case may be. Your goal is to listen for the request behind. So what she says behind every criticism is a request. So how do you listen to that request versus listening to the criticism, which I think is a second order kind of listening, which is the first piece of having better conversations, is learning to listen better and really listening to what the other person wants.

So that's why I chose listening to the request as my intention for today's conversation.

[00:04:16] Karlee: I love that.

Well, thank you for sharing. I'll share a little bit of my intention for today and, Keita, I find our conversations are always so enlightening. So I'm very excited to have one here today. And my intention, as people know, I'm a certified financial planner and I think, helping people having… when we talked about what kind of better conversations should we talk about, instantly we're like, obviously finances, and hopefully people can take something away from this.

I find money is such a taboo subject for a lot of people and a lot of couples. And if we can give some people a set of tools to be able to have better conversations around their money. It can be one of the most stressful things in people's lives, especially in a relationship. And and my intention is hopefully people will take away some tangible, actionable things that they can apply to their financial lives and their relationship. That's my intention for our conversation. Wonderful.

So before we continue to elaborate on some of the stuff you already talked about you have described that you have an odd obsession with helping people have better conversations. Before we dive into the tactical and practical, I'd love to hear where that passion of yours came from.

[00:05:36] Keita: Ooh, that's a big question. Like, I think like many things in life, there's a series of experiences that then shape what you think is important – where do you focus? And for me, the number one thing that happened is, actually I've... It's not a plug for my book, but this is my book…

[00:05:59] Karlee: You're allowed to plug your book. I love to plug your book.

[00:06:02] Keita: It's not a plug for my book, but, I just wrote a book that's about strategy, and one of the key themes in that book that I write about, which is what I believe in, is that organizations are conversations and not machines.

So this is an idea that I have stumbled upon many years ago, and I have used that in my work as a professional, is why I sort of double clicked on coaching, and coaching has become my frame for using, because I think if you change the conversation in organizations, you transform the organization. And that's how my work has evolved.

So out of that, I then became obsessed with how do we change a conversation in an organization?

So then what is a conversation? What makes a conversation work? What's the anatomy of a conversation? And that's kinda where it began.

Where I kind of doubled down on it was one day we had a client who had come in. We're based in Toronto, he's based in the US, and Trump had just been elected and we're walking for dinner and it's me and a colleague and he says I can't wait to make Trump president. I can't wait for Donald Trump to make America great again. And I'm like, okay, cool. And I said, I have one question for you. And this is just me having…I just read a book about conversations and me experimenting with other things. And I, and there was this one idea I was playing with, and I said to him, what year was America great? Yeah. And he said, oh, I never thought about that. And he said, like, 1952. And my colleague was like, what are you talking about?

1952, the tax rate was… this is what was happening in the US and da da…and went into debate mode. And I said, I don't want to go down there. Let's use 1952 as an example. You see that I'm a black male, and if you're listening to this on audio, I'm clearly a black male from the Caribbean. You see that I'm a black male. What was 1952 like for somebody like me? And he was like, Oh my God, I've never thought about that. I'm like, so is that still the year that America was great? And he's like, you know what? I need to think about that. So I'm like, so what year was America great? And then he paused and like, man, you've really stumped me.

I need to think about that. And then we went and had dinner and had a great conversation, etc. And what I realized in that was that I had more of an impact on him. By not trying to prove him wrong, by planting a seed of doubt, and by getting him to question his original belief. So, one of the things I just read about was this research that says, people change their minds for one of four reasons. The original belief, confidence in the data supporting that original belief, the new data, and the new belief.

So what I did was I asked him a question that got him to question either the data or the confidence in his original belief. And I didn't, he, up to that day, he doesn't know where I stand on it or anything, but I got him to have the conversation because, number one, you can't change anybody else's mind, they have to change their minds. And I have a colleague who does a lot of conflict stuff and she doesn't like this term. But I talk about you have to plant seeds of doubt around their original beliefs. And then you have to pull back and let them come to their own conclusions.

So for example, if anybody has siblings here, you might have an experience where you're debating with your sibling or your partner or whatever, and six months down the line, they are talking to somebody else and making the same argument you were making, that they were arguing about with you about six months ago.

And you're like, what? I told you that... six.... and you know… and what happens there is that in the moment, because people have put forward a thesis or an argument or whatever, from an ego perspective, most times it's very hard for them to rear back and say I was wrong, but if you did a good job of demonstrating to them that their beliefs needed to be revisited, they revisit it in quiet, in a subconscious way and they change their beliefs.

[00:10:29] Karlee: Okay. Right.

[00:10:30] Keita: So often, you might lose the argument today only to win the war six months from now.

[00:10:36] Karlee: Interesting.

[00:10:37] Keita: And those experiences really made me double down on thinking, okay, how do I help people have better conversations in work, in life, in around money, et cetera, because I believe there's some principles that if you follow, they can help people have better conversations.

[00:10:57] Karlee: I love that. I love that. Let's start with you know, let's dive into a really easy topic, which is financial conversations amongst couples. Let's start there. I think I'd also love to, at some point, Keita, also talk about how do people have better conversations if you're not in a relationship with your financial professional and stuff like that as a, you know, consumer or a client.

But let's start with the household. So what are some I guess, common things that you've seen or observed or kind of know through the industry? Cause I know a lot of your clients are financial professionals that you're helping them have better conversations with their clients.

What are some of the things that you see people often fight about in their financial lives as a couple in a relationship?

[00:11:50] Keita: So just for the audience, I spend most of my time working with the financial advisor, who's then working with a couple. So I don't spend a lot of time with a couple. So what I'll do is I'll talk about how I work with the financial advisor and then that would give the audience ammunition to know how the financial advisor might… In fact, very few financial advisors are doing what I coach them to do, except the ones that are my clients, to be honest.

So for example, I think, I think, and this probably applies to like most things in life. One of the first things we teach financial advisors that you're not selling insurance, you're not selling wealth management, that's not what you're doing. You have to figure out what does this person want? What do they really, really want? And then demonstrate to them that given the path that you're on, you're not going to get what you want. And once you lay that out for people, then you say, okay, so now you're at a fork in the road. You can choose option A or option B. Option A takes you to where you want to go. Option B takes you to where…keeps you on the path that you are on right now, but doesn't give you what you want 5, 10, 15 years from now. So what are we going to do? The person obviously says, I'm going to take option A because whatever. So in order to take option A, we need to make some changes. What changes are we willing to make? Right?

Now, what people are often fighting about is a lack of clarity around the goals because most couples before they even get in front of the financial advisor, and this is I'm just third party. I'm not spending a lot of time in front of couples. What I hear from my clients is that most people are coming in front of them and they haven't even figured out their goals, as a couple, where they want to be in five years from now. Do we want to have a cottage somewhere? Do we want to have a house in Florida? Do we want to be working 50% less? Do we want to have kids? Like, they haven't figured out some of those details. And a big part of the advisor's job ends up being.... a good advisor's job… is beginning to help them think about what, what that life is going to look like, and where finances enable the life that you want.

So, I believe that in financial services, it’s built on the premise that you're in a world of advice. I think financial services is going to evolve into a world of coaching for a number of reasons, and I don't need to get into that, but once it evolves into a world of coaching, it becomes very client centric.

So another way of saying that is that traditionally financial services has been a world of transactions, so the idea is to sell people insurance. Sell, sell, sell. I think that world, that world is changing and financial advisors have to spend more time with their clients figuring out what are their real goals, what are their real wants, goals, needs and wants for them to figure out.

So, for example, one of my favorite memes is so where people talk about AI and that AI can write code, etc. But the challenge with that is in order for you to get an AI robot to write you your own, write you software, you have to know exactly what you want. So I have a friend who designs software. He's like, my job will be fine because most clients have no idea what they want.

So my job is not going to be, I'm not going to be disrupted by AI because AI can't help you figure out what you want. You need like a real human to ask you some, what I call disruptive questions, that get you to really rethink, like, do I want this? And sometimes if you get what you want. You realize this is not what I want.

[00:15:47] Karlee: Right.

[00:15:48] Keita: So that's a messiness of life that a lot of people don't take into account. So for me, work with your partner and have multiple conversations around understanding what you want. So for example, I have a difficult decision to make in the next week or two and my wife is traveling the next week and last night I went and said, Hey, I need to make this decision. I want to get your input so that when I'm in conversation with this person, I'm not thinking, hey, I got to go back and talk to my wife. I just said, hey, here's what I'm thinking. How do you feel about it? And what she said to me is like, I just trust what decision you make.

She said on this occasion, on other occasions, she's like, okay, this is where these are the kinds of things I want you to think about. So be prepared. The more prepared you go into that conversation, the better. So I hope I answered that in a way that's helpful for folks who are getting in front of advisors.

[00:16:47] Karlee: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the goals thing is definitely an initial one that you know, speaking of somebody who works with a lot of couples, is an important one, lack of clarity around goals and having that conversation. And sometimes the best, you know, place to have that is when you set aside the time and you're having it facilitated so that there's kind of that third party in the room, right?

[00:17:12] Keita: I'm going to tell a story that's super, super awkward. And I don't even know if it's appropriate to tell the story, but when we had our son, I was amazed at how many people, you end up telling you're pregnant, before you tell your loved ones. So, for example, you go out for dinner and you tell a random waiter, hey, she's not drinking tonight because she's pregnant.

Yeah. And your parents don't know yet though, like your best friend doesn't know yet. Like I was amazed about that whole experience. But the experience that really blew my mind was we had a midwife and midwife  asked us. Are we.... are you going to have your son circumcised? And I had never even... it wasn't a question we talked about or hadn't.

I'm like, but we haven't had this conversation. And then my wife was, I probably shouldn't be telling the story, but, she was like my brothers are not circumcised so why would I do that to my son? I'm like, well, first of all, I didn't even know that. I didn't need to know that. And we ended up having this really awkward conversation in front of the midwife.

And sometimes you have that situation where the professional asks you a question that you didn't even think about, right? And I just took the time to talk to my wife and say, okay, we've never had this conversation. Let's have this conversation. Yeah. I hope her brothers are not mad at me for talking about that, but, I apologize.

[00:18:40] Karlee: That's what just comes up in these conversations. Right. But that's like real life. That's real life. And oftentimes it's finances too. There's... there's a lot of like family stuff. You learn a lot of things from family. Like for example, I find that when I'm talking to a couple, the beliefs they have on do they lease a car or buy a car or pay cash for a car comes directly from their parents, which is always fascinating is, is typically where I see the most like inherited financial behaviors.

[00:19:09] Keita: Right. So, for example, in that, so I have two questions for you. Okay. When you are in front of a client, how often are they clear on their goals?

[00:19:18] Karlee: I can get some clarity within like a year or two. I do my goals with my clients in kind of three time zones, zero to two years, three to ten and ten plus. The three to ten is kind of hazy for a lot of people as it, you know, it's going to be because life happens and life adjusts.

But oftentimes people haven't had a conversation beyond ten years about…especially cause I work with younger couples and, you know, where they're… how they want to do retirement has not been talked about in the early stages of their relationship. You know, what's the… and it's not even, what does retirement look like, cause that's going to change when you're so young, it's going to adapt and change over time. But you know, are you the type of person who wants to, you know, take a big R retirement? Where you're in moving out to the countryside and never working again and just taking up hobbies. Or do you want to do a little R retirement where you go crazy if you weren't working on something? Like that conversation I often have with them and have with those couples when I first meet them.

[00:20:25] Keita: Right. And then, so, so the second conversation I was going to have is… second question I was going to ask is like, when you encounter those people who have very different beliefs about leasing cash, borrowing money, or whatever. That is where that framework around…where did you get that original belief… where did you get… where does that original belief come from? Because it's super important. How did you first come to believe? That becomes super important, because even just asking somebody says, hey, it's better to lease! You say, how did you first come to believe that? …My dad told me…. Okay, how can we have a better source for that?

Like your dad's great, but can we have…is there a different way for us to find… and that's a very different way to have the conversation. If you know what I mean, yeah, because then the advisor has a belief of which one is best or better, the spawned spouse has one, the other spouse has one, and then say, okay, so how do we get some data that tells us which is the best approach.

[00:21:31] Karlee: Right!

[00:21:34] Keita: Right. So I think here's another principle that I think is super important in better conversations and especially around money. Is joint problem solving. So in most situations where you're having a conversation with somebody else, if you present your solution, what often happens is they will reject that. So let's pick a scenario and say okay, you and I have spent too much money on going out this year. Like, we've had too many dinners this year. And I go to my significant other and say, okay, so we spent too much money on dinners this year and going out or whatever. What are some things we can do to reduce this bill?

And then she comes up with ideas, I come up with ideas, da da, and we come up with a plan. Versus me saying, hey, we spent too much money on going out this year, we're only going out for dinner once a month this year, and we have to be very strict and very firm on it, et cetera. That second approach? Just feels...

[00:22:45] Karlee: yeah, more like dictator, like, yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:22:50] Keita: But the principle is Joint Problem Solving. So all you have to remember in a situation like that, whatever it is, okay, is how do I Joint Problem Solve on this particular issue? And I don't want to teach… the last thing I do when I teach people is to teach you the questions to ask exactly. I want to teach you the principle and then you figure out how do I Joint Problem Solve in this situation, because then you have a million options versus the five questions that I gave you to Joint Problem Solve.

[00:23:19] Karlee: Right. Okay.

[00:23:20] Keita: Right.

[00:23:20] Karlee: I'm going to go back to the concept that you started with from Esther Perel behind every criticism is a request. I think this is the perfect time to talk about that. Because. One of the things that I believe a lot of people argue about is they start to critique other people's money styles and spending styles and saving styles.

Right? So if two people have different money habits, there's a really great free resource online called the Money Type Survey. And I can put that resource in the show notes for people if they want to go try it out and test it. And it essentially says there's five different money types and not all of them have gifts and pitfalls, but when you are a connoisseur money type and you like to spend on the finer things in life, so we'll call those the traditional spenders where people label themselves as the spenders in a relationship versus a saver.

And sometimes you'll have two people who might be the same money type of like two really good savers, but they had a hard time allowing themselves to kind of splurge and enjoy on a trip or something along those lines. So each money type has these gifts and pitfalls. So that often I, a free resource, it's not mine, but it's one that I appreciate and send a lot of clients to, so they understand each other's money types. But before people have that tool. Oftentimes if you've got a conflicting money type, you're criticizing each other. And so that can be a cycle that people, and I think couples get into around money that makes it difficult to have a kind of level conversation on money.

So if you could describe this behind every criticism is a request, you know, one concept we talked about is like, you're spending all this money in that scenario. How do couples, how can couples approach that if all of a sudden somebody has felt attacked for just being told, labelled the spender of the family versus the saver.

[00:25:20] Keita: So, for example, I go back and forth on this, but once you enter the world of how do you have better conversations, it immediately comes a question of how do you have, how do you have difficult conversations, right? And I would love the framing of difficult conversations because I think the conversations become difficult because we, like the example I just gave where people don't use Joint Problem Solving…

[00:25:46] Karlee: Yeah.

[00:25:46] Keita: …What makes it difficult is that, you're using an approach or technique that is not kind, or not generally trying to understand the other person's point of view.

Where I struggle with things like better conversations, so I really want to avoid the whole tyranny of the positive thinking piece. I'm not one to say like, let's not call it a difficult conversation, and have better conversations because there are times when you're going to have to have difficult conversations. But we can use tools that make the conversation better in those difficult conversations.

So I think there's certain tools that you use, if you use it, it will make that conversation completely different in one context versus if you use the tools that we are accustomed using, for example, criticism versus "What's the request here?" It makes a very, very different outcome. One could be a blow up, and one could be, man, you left me with a lot to think about.

Right? So that aside, I think the point that we're trying to get to is that the conversation itself is the action.

Conversation is the verb. So we create the future through the conversations we have. So if you're partner is a spender. Assume that there’s a good reason for them being a spender or doing that kind of thing.

You have a tool that demonstrates that this person values XYZ, and the good reason is that they have this value. I'm not a financial advisor, so I'm not gonna pretend to give advice here. I'm not one who believes you should be tighten up all the wallets and like save as much money as you can, et cetera.

And then when you're like 75 enjoy life that life is already shown us... I think there are people who believe they live their life very differently and you and I clearly have different money. What do you call it? Money types. Money types. But my money type is that life is short and we've got to enjoy it and we have to be responsible.

So I'm not a financial advisor, so I'm not going to give advice on that. I think in general, focus on real listening to understand what's in need or behind that person's action, trying to understand it first before getting into that criticism zone is likely going to give yield a better outcome than you being a dictator or whatever.

Let me say this another way. So there's a really, really great book that I read that talks about frames and in the U.S. that two dominant frames. One frame is, the strict father frame, which is with discipline and hard work, et cetera, you will be successful. And anybody who's not successful is because they're not disciplined and they haven't worked hard, et cetera.

That's one frame. The second frame is the nurturing frame, which is people get ahead because they've had love support, et cetera, and they become great, strong people moving forward. The challenge with the U.S., according to this author, is that people are talking from these two different frames, and you can't understand what's...

If I give you an argument, let's say I'm from the frame of the nurturing frame. Any argument positioned within that, you won't really be able to understand. So if I want you to understand my point of view, I have to shift it into the frame of the strict father frame for you to really relate to that. And that's another tool that, that one is more complex, but having the conversation within a luxury or within the frame of the other person, you are likely going to get more traction or less resistance if you're able to frame the conversation within the lens in which they see the world.


Now, in order for you to do that, you have to start with listening and understanding the other person's perspective, which is, questions, inquiry, not statements.

[00:30:22] Karlee: Right.

[00:30:23] Keita: So statements are less likely to get you where you want to go, whereas questions and questioning and really understanding where that person is going is likely to take you down a much better path.

And that's why I always leave with that story of the guy, you make America great again story because I just asked him a question... and that completely changed the entire tenor of how he and I had a conversation and to be honest I was very afraid to ask that question because he's a client. He was a very important client, that could have gone any way. But I was able to do that and never tell him what I thought.

I've been in so many situations where people have said, hey, so what do you think about X? And it's some hot button topic. And I've been able to use questions and they were like, hey, you have such a great perspective on that.

[00:31:29] Keita: Sorry, I don't know if that's answering your question. The only thing I, the only other piece I would say is that there's a quote that I don't know where I got it from. I think it was a client of mine.. we were doing sales training, and he said, short questions can give you big answers. And if we're looking for answers, I think starting with a very short, powerful question can help us get a much better answer.

My favorite example of this is, so I have a mentor, she does a lot of like indigenous knowledge, and she studies like Irish kind of indigenous knowledge, and she's a white lady, Irish, etc. She's talking to a black woman from the south, who does a lot of, anti-black, racism work etc. I was sitting in conversation with a man, she said, the black woman from the South said, what happened to your people that was so egregious that they did what they did to my people? And that question was like, for me, it was one of the most like, talk about the con, the conversation we had at that dinner table that day was... wow!

[00:32:48] Karlee: yeah.

[00:32:49] Keita: And it just started from a conversation where, and what I loved about the woman from the South, from the American South, when she asked that question, she said to that person, your people have been hurt in some way for them to inflict that much pain on people.

[00:33:04] Karlee: The people, yeah.

[00:33:05] Keita: Help me understand, your hurt and your pain, that's what that question was about.

And the whole conversation was talking about Irish history and the pain that and what happened in England, Europe and all of that kind of thing. And it just ended up being an amazing conversation, right? Which is very, very different from a statement and an argument… Let me tell you!… Yeah.

[00:33:26] Karlee: Yeah. Here are the facts and that kind of thing. Yeah.

[00:33:32] Keita: Was that helpful? Did I answer that question?

[00:33:35] Karlee: Yeah.

I guess if you're on the receive… another question I have is if you're on the receiving end, right, if somebody… because one of the things I'm hearing in a lot of your examples is if you're trying to communicate, but if you're on the receiving end somebody's already stating their facts, or criticizing, or trying to convince you of something. If you're on the receiving end of that and you hear this criticism, so the behind every criticism is a request, right? So one of the things I just heard you talk about was, before you go to criticize, rethink how you frame it. So like understand your own requests rather than go to criticism first.

But if you're on the other side of that and your significant other is criticizing you about… and in this scenario, say spending habits … and it could be significant other, but any sort of conversation you're sitting on a receiving end of criticism, somebody making a statement and criticizing or trying to convince you something…. What are some of the questions that you could tee up around that?

[00:34:39] Keita: Yeah, I think, I think, I think we need to have some clarification here. So if somebody is criticizing me. My job is to listen to the request behind the criticism. So that's my job. So stop leaving the clothes on the floor. That person, the request is like they want a clean room or whatever that is. That's what's important to that. I have to listen for that.

To be on the opposite end is I am doing the criticizing. So if I have noticed that I've criticized the person. And the person is now getting defensive, etcetera, and the conversation is going down. My job is to then reel that back. My job is to say, help me understand, how is this behavior serving you?

Right? Because most people's behavior is serving them in some way. So, I put the clothes on the floor because I had a rush to that meeting. I had a rush to do whatever. And I didn't take the two minutes to put it… it's like next to the clothes basket … where you didn't put it in the clothes basket.


Why didn’t you just do…? You know?… What they assume that they had a good reason for, so that for you, you have to come back at it … and I'll lean into, there's a quote that is often attributed to the guy who wrote Man's Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl. Yeah. He talks about, between stimulus and response as a space and in that space is a moment to choose your response.

[00:36:21] Karlee: Like that.

[00:36:22] Keita: And conversations have two sides, you only own your side of it, you own your side of it, and I think as cliche as it is, awareness is key, so I'm aware that I just criticized that person and they're getting defensive, why are they getting defensive? Because I just backed them into the corner, that's on me.

I need to give them an out. Yeah. So that, and that's on me. Yeah. So what I love about that quote is that between stimulus and response is a moment to choose your response. So I've noticed that I've backed this person in the corner. I've noticed they're becoming defensive. Now my job is, okay, what door do I open next?

[00:37:04] Karlee: Right.

[00:37:05] Keita: So I can then choose to continue to defend and use but and say, like... this is why I'm right and this was your wrong, or I could jump into inquiry mode and really try to understand where is this person coming from, what's a good reason behind their behavior, et cetera. So I think it starts with inquiry. It starts with going back to Joint Problem Solving. I think there are certain principles you can use that you always end up doing like, you know what, this really gets me… when you put your clothes like next to the basket, not in the basket…. How could we come up with a solution that works for you and works for me?

[00:37:42] Karlee: Right.

[00:37:44] Keita: And then that person comes up with that solution. So the techniques are the same, but what it starts with is, did I notice that I put that person into a corner? Did I notice that I gave them a litany of responses that backed them into a corner with no way out? Any animal that's put in a corner with no way out is going to respond in a particular way. That's on me. I need to move to the side. And let them go through, and I will say, and this is where I get canceled, but I will say, I will say marginalized people are much better at that than people who are not, because we are always in situations where we might be right and we back somebody in the corner and they're 100% wrong.

But because they have the power, we have to learn to give them the out.

[00:38:35] Karlee: Right.

[00:38:36] Keita: That happens all the time.

[00:38:37] Karlee: And it's survival. Yeah.

[00:38:38] Keita: Please don't cancel me?

[00:38:39] Karlee: I won't.

[00:38:40] Keita: Not you. Anybody. Anybody. Please don't cancel me for saying that.

[00:38:44] Karlee: No.

[00:38:45] Keita: Like and, yeah, but you get what I'm saying.

[00:38:47] Karlee: I do. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. There's like a, there's a survival in it.

Like one of the things I've noticed is marginalized people will, can pick up a lot of energy in the room out of like survival, because they need to as well, right? So that's the, like, you're always sensing, are people feeling backed into a corner? Maybe not always, but anyways.

[00:39:12] Keita: No, but you're right about that. You're right.

If you are the dominance and you always have the power, there's no need for you to be paying attention to when power dynamics have shifted, when somebody is offended and somebody can like decide your career or future, there's no need for that because you have power. And that's a piece of conversations that I think is a survival mechanism where part of the reason why I’ve loved conversations is that I've noticed that me being able to have conversations, better conversations, and that's, I'll call it a white world, because that's the world I operate in, mostly white male world. I've become very skilled at having conversations with people where they don't feel threatened and people like, yo, I love talking to this guy. He has so many great ideas and I have not said any ideas, I've just asked questions.

That's a survival skill. So I think, and I think that's part of… I've never articulated that.. but that might be part of reason why I'm fascinated by conversations as well. Could be that I think like it's part of how…and I think it's true for women,

I think it's true for people of color, etcetera. And I think it's even true for white males who, especially those involved in sales, they get very good at picking up on cues and navigating conversations, et cetera. So I think conversations is absolutely crucial to any aspect you're in. I call it conversation is the action. That's why I say that you build a future with conversation.

[00:40:51] Karlee: Love that. Wonderful. Well, Keita I do talk about stories of synchronicity and I don't know if you have any off the top of your head that you can think of but whether it's something that happens. You know, when since I would say I like to share these stories so we can you know, keep amplifying them. And is there...

[00:41:13] Keita: Do you have a story of synchronicity?

[00:41:16] Karlee: Oh, do I have one today? Not today.

[00:41:23] Keita: Okay.

[00:41:23] Karlee: Do you have one?

[00:41:25] Keita: Well, I recently, I learned yesterday we have a friend in common.

[00:41:28] Karlee: Oh yeah.

[00:41:30] Keita: A client. I have a client who knows you. I won't say who the client is but I learned that yesterday. We'll talk about offline.

[00:41:40] Karlee: Is it somebody I had a coffee with last week?

[00:41:43] Keita: Yes.

[00:41:43] Karlee: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

[00:41:47] Keita: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:41:48] Karlee: Which was a great coincidence. And actually I met her through without naming names, but I met her through a conference where my mom and I were at. And there was an open single seat beside us, and so that was a moment of synchronicity. This wonderful woman sat down next to us.

[00:42:06] Keita: And she's now my client, and yeah, so. And she's like, oh, do you know Karlee? And I'm like, oh yeah, I'm talking to her on Friday.

And here we are. I think the only the synchronicity thing for me this morning, I would say is I have, I've recently found I have to have a knee surgery and I'm not one who's ever been into like Yoga and like that kind of stuff, but throw a kettlebell, throw some big weights, go for a run, play soccer, all day, every day.

So I took this private class, yoga class, where there's somebody who specializes in doing a type of yoga that helps you build those fine grained muscles, within 10 minutes, I was like dripping sweat. And pretty much every 10 minutes, a ladybug would land. The other thing is, we ended up doing it outside because she had forgotten the keys for her studio.

[00:43:05] Karlee: Yeah.

[00:43:06] Keita: So we ended up just finding a grassy park nearby and did it there. So within 10 minutes, I'm like sweating. It's hot and humid and I haven't, it's been, it was, I did it as early in the morning and we did it and I had to set an intention with her and she got me to set this intention. And then when I come into conversation with you, you then asked me to set an intention and I said two different intentions.

One was for the day and one was for this conversation. So I think that was the only piece around synchronicity where two people have gotten me to set intentions today. And then those ladybugs, which are supposed to give you good luck if you believe in that kind of stuff, were all over me this morning, so…

[00:43:53] Karlee: That's awesome. You're going to have to Google ladybug medicine after this. I always tell people if they see animals multiple times, Google. That animal medicine and see what comes up. See if there's anything that ....

[00:44:06] Keita: I swear it was five ladybugs this morning. No joke. Like, I don't know. It was like a little party that I was doing my yoga in or something like a ladybug party.

[00:44:13] Karlee: Oh my goodness. Okay, cool. Well, yeah, after this and Google it and you can let me know if there's anything that pops out for you on your ladybug medicine today.

Well, if you know, you mentioned your book earlier, I do love to promote what my guests are doing. And so please share, I know you have an upcoming book but share how people can follow along with you and what you're doing. It's for the audience.

[00:44:39] Keita: So for people who want to learn more about the work that I'm doing and follow along, go to there you'll find about a book that I'm releasing in November and I'm getting quite a great response from it, thankfully, and lots of things are happening where I share with people. That piece is going really well. And I think because my name is Keita Demming is this one in the world, you'll find it pretty easily.

And if you have questions around conversations and learning more about how we apply this within the real world, especially within business, feel free to reach out. Cause I love talking about this and I love helping people design all kinds of conversations because I genuinely believe that conversations is where the action is.

[00:45:26] Karlee: Wonderful. Well, thanks for joining me today and this great conversation. I really appreciate it.

[00:45:31] Keita: You're welcome. And thank you for having me.

[00:45:32] Karlee: Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks everybody for joining us and sticking with us today and I look forward to seeing you next time. Until then. Bye!


Hey, my loves. Thank you so much for keeping with us today. I had a great time talking to Keita and I hope you found some takeaways that you really enjoyed. Now I've learned my lesson on podcasting here because I stopped recording and Keita and I had this incredible conversation after we stopped recording the interview and there were two key takeaways that I wanted to share with you.

So I'm going to try and synthesize that conversation and share with you what I took away from my post conversation with Keita.

So one of my preconceptions coming into this conversation with Keita is I thought he would arm people with scripts, of what they can say to their spouses when they get into these specific money situations, right?

I think I was trying to evoke that from him during my interview with him. Then what I realized in our post conversations, he said, when you go into a negative communication spiral with somebody, so you're going downward, the tension is starting to happen. Oftentimes we lose our mental facilities. That's when we go into a different part of our brain.

We go into the fight, flight, freeze, fawn mode and what happens is we're not thinking straight. Oftentimes we're getting heated. We are being overcome with emotions, whether it's anger, frustration, embarrassment, shame, guilt, whatever it is coming over you. And that can impair our ability to reach in and utilize a script that, you know, Keita and I would suggest. So he goes, I really try and arm people with just concepts so that when they're in those states, they can make a choice as you start to see yourself going into those negative spirals. Because what happens often in those negative communication spirals is you might go slowly into it at first, but the more and more it almost becomes habitual that you do it with somebody. You can snap all of a sudden quicker and further down into the, you know, all of a sudden the fuse gets shorter on either side and you're just further down on that negative communication spiral without a way out.

And so there is two things he really wanted to get across, and one of them he talked about on the podcast, and one of them he talks about post podcast, and I wish we were recording, but here we are. So the first thing he talked about to give people, you know, something to look to, and I'll just highlight it, is that Joint Problem Solving.

How do you then, rather than being against each other. Look for the requests and go into Joint Problem Solving mode rather than accusation and blame mode. Okay. Or criticism mode, right? What are those things? In every criticism is a request, a hidden request, so how do you look for those hidden requests and then Joint Problem Solve on those hidden requests together?

That was the first thing that I think he did a great job of explaining throughout the podcast. The second thing that he didn't talk about that I thought was super brilliant and made me wanna film this outro, was do something different.

So if you have a regular pattern and a habit that leads you down to this negative communication spiral, if at any point you remember, just do something different, that normally doesn't happen when we get into these fights. It doesn't matter what that difference is. Right? But if it's fight and flight, normally you'd fight until you get to the point where you flight and depart from each other. Maybe you stop and go for a walk together. Maybe you give each other a hug. Maybe you, do a dance and turn on a song and just do something different.

You take a pause and you say, we're going to pause this. You do a little dance party and you come back to it later. But doing something different, anything different. That's the key takeaway that when you're in the heat of the moment, that can sometimes happen when you start to feel yourself and all those emotions bubbling up, doing something different and Joint Problem Solving.

And if you can lean into those two things, it doesn't matter what the script is. So I wanted to share because I thought that was pretty a great way of looking at things rather than rehearsing a script and having a script that you're nervous to say to somebody. Because you could say the script and all of a sudden, the pattern and the habit starts to run down anyways.

So I love those things.

Keita, thank you for sharing your wisdom. Everybody, thank you for joining us today. I look forward to seeing you, you again in a few weeks. Until then, I hope you remember your magic. I hope you notice the magic around you, and I hope you have a magical time. Until next time, take care.

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