Talk Rx: A Prescription for Connection, Health & Happiness – Part 2

Dr. Neha Sangwan

Welcome to Part 2 of our podcast with Dr. Neha Sangwan.

Dr. Neha Sangwan, CEO and founder of Intuitive Intelligence, is an internal medicine physician, international speaker and corporate communication expert. In her new book, TalkRx, Dr. Neha Sangwan reveals practical yet profound communication tools that will strengthen your relationships, reduce your stress, improve your health, and save you time! Dr. Neha Sangwan was a featured presenter at the 2015 Emerging Women Live Conference.

In today’s episode, Neha and I speak about:

  • Desire: being able to articulate and get to the core of what we desire
  • The importance of clarity and the positive expression of what we want
  • How to change conversations with people who are not clear with their desires and the skills to do it
  • Vocalizing what we value and acting in alignment with these values
  • Neha’s 2-Step Decision Making Tool
  • Rewriting History, the importance of being vulnerable and how “Truth is Always the Answer”

 

Here is Part 2 of my conversation “Talk Rx: A Prescription for Connection, Health and Happiness” with the honest and wonderful: Dr. Neha Sangwan.

Subscribe to the Emerging Women podcast on iTunes.

Transcript:

Chantal Pierrat: OK, welcome back, Neha!

Neha Sangwan: Oh, it’s so good to be here again.

CP: Now, you are visiting your parents right now. What state are you in?

NS: New York.

CP: You’re in New York, OK. Are you on Long Island?

NS: Oh no, I’m in Buffalo. I live right outside New York in Williamsburg, but my parents live in Buffalo. So the whole family’s out.

CP: So this is a perfect opportunity to practice a little TalkRx.

NS: [Laughs] Family is always the perfect opportunity to practice communication skills.

CP: And you have—you said it’s your parents’ wedding anniversary?

NS: Yes, their 50th.

CP: OK, all right. Now’s the time. [Laughs]

NS: That is so true.

CP: Well, in our first part 1, we talked about your five-step process, which I think you call the i-Five?

NS: Yes, the i-Five conversation.

CP: The i-Five conversation. Maybe we should just quickly summarize the five parts, just for the listeners that might be coming in for the first time, even on part 2. And then we can dig into the part 2 of our podcast.

NS: Sure. The whole premise of the i-Five is that it’s five steps to having not just conversations, but honest conversations. And I think that’s where people get a little stuck. So I’ve broken it down into five parts, and the first part is your body. Basically, how our senses help us pick up information from the external world while we are simultaneously getting information from our internal world, like our heart racing, [our] stomach turning, all of that stuff that also is giving us information. And sometimes those two things are not in sync, right? So I’m saying “yes” but my stomach’s dropping. So that’s the body section, which is, how do you take in data from the outside world and inside world and have it sync up, and when it doesn’t, what do you do?

That data takes us to the second part of the i-Five conversation, which is your thoughts. So if I am in room and I’m talking to you, and my eyes tell me that you just get up and leave in the middle of a conversation, that’s data that I would pick up. I’ll make up a thought about it. I’ll decide that it means you’re not feeling well. I’ll decide that it means you don’t like me. I’ll decide all sorts of things. So the second step is around the thoughts we make up once we’ve observed the data from our body.

And then, depending on which thought I believe—if I think that you’re not feeling well, it leads me to step three, which is an emotion. So if I think you’re not feeling well, I might feel an emotion of concern or worry for you, for your health, how you’re feeling. Now, if the thought I made up was that I don’t think you like me or thought that our conversation was very interesting, then the emotion that might come next is disappointment, sadness, feeling upset.

So you start by picking up data in your body, second is you create thoughts around what it means. The third step is, depending on which thought you commit to or believe, you have an emotion. And the fourth step then leads you to have a desire, a want. I might want to get up and leave the room and see how you’re doing. I might want to run out of the house and say, “Oh, I don’t want to have this conversation anymore.” I might get curious, I might want to get curious, like, “Hey, what happened?” So it leads to step four, which is desires.

And then step five is, when you’ve integrated body, thoughts, emotions, and desires, you take some sort of action. And so that’s the fifth step. So is that clear?

CP: Yes. I think it’s great to just summarize that. What we want to talk about is the last two of those, because I think especially with women, it’s so hard, when we get to that desire. What do we actually want? We can spend a lot of time in the awareness zone about our bodies and our thoughts and our feelings, and then when we get to what we want—and I don’t know if this is just millenniums of not being able to articulate what we want or not having the freedom to do so, or that we’re just naturally just so geared and wired toward the other that that is just a hard thing for us to nail down.

So I would love to start there, and hear what you think and what kind of actions we can take in practices to get to the root of that desire, and really, fully articulate what it is that we want. What are the outcomes?

NS: Yes, I mean, I think it’s really, really important, because if people don’t know what they want—I mean, there are a lot of people who spend time really upset that someone else hasn’t given them what they wanted, even though they never told them what that was. I’ve definitely been guilty of dating someone and wishing that they would do something or show up in a certain way on Valentine’s Day, or whatever it is, but, by the way, I never articulated that that was something that was important to me. So I think it’s not only knowing what you want, but it’s also having the confidence to say it out loud and really be willing to express it and get clear within ourselves as well as with each other.

So, yes, let’s definitely start there. The premise around desire is really—they’re based on what we value. That’s a great place to start. A really simple way that I do this is have you bring to mind somebody that you really admire. Because people will say, “I don’t know, ‘value’ is such a big thing. I don’t know what I value, I value a lot of things.” Well, you may value lots and lots of things, but it’s important to come up with your top five, your top 10, so that there’s a way you can at least guide your decisions, whether you know it or not.

So I would have you just bring to mind someone you really, really admire. And you don’t have to tell me who it is. Can you bring someone to mind?

CP: Yes.

NS: OK, great. So just tell me three qualities about that person that you really admire.

CP: They’re super creative. They’re modern, at the cutting edge. My person is Martha Graham, [she] is one of my idols. And she’s uncompromising but graceful at the same time.

NS: Wow. So what’s incredible about that is she’s this vision in the world, for you, of someone you admire and value. But what you’ve just done as well is, really quickly and easily, pinpointed some of your highest values. So these are probably principles that you are the most proud of yourself when you show up as super creative, as uncompromising but graceful. The words that you use to describe someone else—you might as well use that for women, right? We’re so other-focused, let’s use that and help us get clear about what we value most.

CP: Yes. Love it.

NS: So I just think of that as a really simple exercise that people can begin getting clear about what they want. Another one is: women, I think, are very clear about what they don’t want. The brain is hardwired to avoid pain and seek pleasure, so we’re really clear about the times when we felt burned or we felt rejected or we felt like we didn’t get what we wanted. Those are blazed in our memory. Or we got feedback that didn’t resonant—not that it didn’t resonate, but it felt like it was more critical.

So people will say things like, “I don’t want to lose my cool.” Well, when I ask them what they want, they say, “Oh, I don’t want to get sick.” “I don’t want to go to another wedding alone.” “I don’t want to end up in my career and not have made a difference.” Do you see what I mean? I’ll ask them what they want, and they will list all the things that they desperately do not want.

CP: OK, yes. Guilty of that myself.

NS: [Laughs] So I think the next step would be, once people getting really clear about what they value, then it will help lead them to what they want, and as they begin to craft what they want, start thinking through: are you clear about what you don’t want or what you do want?

So let’s take a couple of those examples, and let’s just turn them around. So if I say, “I don’t want to lose my cool,” well, what I might really be saying is, “When I’m disappointed, I’d like to be able to express myself clearly.” Because you can’t really stop yourself from getting upset, but you certainly would hope that if you are disappointed, you could articulate that clearly. Or, “I don’t want to get sick.” So if we flip that around, it would be, “I want to be healthy.”

CP: Now, tell me, what is your view on switching that around? Is the value in the absolute clarity, or is the value in leaning more towards a positive articulation of the value? Do you know what I’m saying? Or is it both?

NS: It’s really both. It’s both, because when you can envision something, and you can envision it clearly, you will move in that direction. And in the craziest way—I find, and this is my own belief system—I just find that the universe comes together to support me in that. So the clearer I get, the more miraculous my world becomes, as soon as I set my intention on something.

So yes, I think it’s a little bit of both. I think it’s important to—when I say, “I don’t want to get sick,” all I’m really focused on is “sick.” “I don’t want to get sick, I don’t want to get sick.” When I say, “I would like to feel strong in my body, I would love to be able to run five miles three times a week, I would like to win a race,” whatever it is, there’s a bit of guided imagery, imagery that really helps align your entire physiology and your beliefs in that direction.

It’s used in the Olympics a lot, with how divers basically have a perfect 10 dive. Well, they don’t do it by hoping everybody else is messing up or worried that they themselves are going to mess up. What they do is they keep envisioning, over and over again, what a perfect dive, what little splash in the water, feels like, looks like, would be like, until their body creates it.

So I think it’s a bit of imagery. I think it’s a bit of getting really clear on the vision. Because I can say, “I don’t want to get sick,” and even if I have low energy and I’m kind of functioning, I’m not really sick, but I’m not this picture of health either. So the better I can articulate and describe it specifically, the clearer it will take me to my goal.

CP: Right. Now, in terms of creating with another in a courageous conversation, how would having more of the positive articulation of your desire be more effective in making things smoother and more harmonious?

NS: Yes, so this is really important. So getting clear about what you want is in a few different categories. The first is, if you and I are having a conversation—and let’s say you’re my sister, and when you and I come together, I tend to get defensive, because at the beginning of the show we were talking about family. So the first level of want is how I would like to show up in this conversation. Let’s say every time we talk about where the family is going to vacation or whatever it is, you and I tend to disagree.

So I come in, I’m closed, I’m defensive, and I’m guarded. My first level of want in a conversation with somebody else is, how do I want to show up in this conversation myself? So this time, I’m hoping for a new outcome, so I will show up as open, curious, and honest. So I want to be honest, compassionate, open, and curious. So that’s the beginning of how you set the stage, which is taking accountability for yourself.

Now, the second piece is, when I know what I want—let’s say that I highly value warm-weather vacations, because one of my highest values is play, competition, and athletics. And so when the family is together, I feel really connected to everybody when we get to golf, when we get to walk on the beach, and we get to play tennis.

Now, if I understand what I value, and what I want, which is a warm-weather vacation because it allows me to feel really connected to the family and stay engaged rather than go in my hotel room and work—which is my default that happens when I don’t feel as connected and engaged—then when I’m negotiating with you, or having a conversation with you, it’s really important that when I say, “Hey, can we go south for our vacation rather than going skiing or something else?” If I’m asking for whatever it is, I have the room to negotiate, because I’m very clear about what is underlying it that’s important to me.

So if you suggest something else, I can find a middle bridge of creativity and expansiveness where you and I can meet if I know that what I really want is connectedness on this trip, when I know I want some way that we can play together. I may have ideas of it being on a sports field, some sort of sporting event. I would say, “The most important thing to me is we get to play, that it’s like a game, that we all feel connected. Can you help me think of others ways that that could be possible in the scenario that you’re suggesting?”

CP: Exactly. Now, here’s my question: so here we are, doing our work, and we’re getting clear on our desires and we’re getting super specific and positive and we’re articulating. But we may not be speaking with somebody who’s going through the same program. How do we find out what they’re desire [is] and if they’re not clear. Because I find myself often in that situation, where we’re talking with somebody who doesn’t have the communication background—or who hasn’t read your book cover to cover—and is not putting these practices in place, and their desires are murky as well. Is there a way to bring that out, or are there clues and signs to get to a knowing at that level?

NS: Yes. So I say several times in the book that it only takes one person to change the outcome of a conversation, and that person is you. And the reason is, curiosity is going to help the other person get clear, like me saying, “I’d love to have a beach vacation or do something here with the family,” and somebody else is really, really committed to doing something else, if I can notice that I’m reacting in my body, that I have these thoughts that, “She’s just doing this to make me mad,” whatever it is, but if I’m really aware of what’s happening for me, what I do is, I shift into curiosity, and I say something to you like, “What’s important?”

Instead of me saying, “No way, this is what I want to do,” and digging in, what I do is I get really aware of myself and then I say, “Wow, it sounds like you’d like to do this,” whatever it is that they just said, “help me understand what’s important about that to you? What is it that would make this a really meaningful experience for you?” And as soon as I’m aware of myself and I shift into curiosity, I can actually ask the questions like, “What do you value about that? What did you really enjoy about the last time we did X, Y, and Z?”

So there’s a way that I can show up [with] curiosity in order to help this other person figure out what’s happening, or in a conversation with somebody else if I realize that I heard what they observed and what they thought and how they’re feeling, but they haven’t told me what they desire or what action they’d like to take. Me, as the person understanding these five steps, it’s to say, “So tell me what you want and what would you like to do next?”

So you even knowing the framework allows you to know. I mean, if somebody knows underneath wants is what someone values, then when you’re listening to the other person, listen for what they value. “Oh, it sounds like it’s really important that we’re around your high school friends. It sounds like it’s really important that we’re at a ski lodge. What it is about a ski lodge that is really important to you?” Whatever that is, you want to just get curious and be able to listen deeper for values. And then even if the other person doesn’t know how to use this framework, it is incredibly powerful because you, as the person who does understand communication on a different level, you can ask the right questions to bridge you.

CP: Right. Beautiful!

NS: One more thing I was thinking about: you were asking, how does knowing what you want help you in conversation? So let’s just say that the whole idea of you and I going on a hike together came up. “Hey, would you like to go on a hike?” And let’s say you say, “No, Neha, I’m not really sure if I can go on a hike this weekend because I have company coming over and something else is going on. I can get back to you later.” Well, if there’s something in me, in the clarity of knowing what I want, I have to get really clear in that moment. I can either feel rejected and say, “Oh, Chantal doesn’t want to do this with me, I knew it,” and come up with a whole bunch of stories, or I can get really clear about what I value and what I want.
Do I want, a) to go on a hike really badly and see some beautiful new hike that I haven’t been on, is that what I value the most? Or, b) do I value spending time with you? And if I my greater intention is to spend time with you, because I haven’t seen you in a long time, and my deepest desire is not about the actual hike, it’s about spending time with you, then my next question in our conversation can be, “You know what, Chantal, it sounds like that’s going to take quite a while. I really miss your friendship and spending time with you. What if I came over and helped you get ready for whatever you were doing? I would be really willing to help you go grocery shopping, come over and [help you] get the whole place ready. I love that stuff.” So I can change the conversation if I’m really clear about what it is underneath it that I value the most.
CP: Right. That’s super powerful, and especially, I think, again for women, really getting clear about desires, and like you say, values. Because the values are in the moment and they’re specific, but they’re actually—aren’t they tied to a larger set of values? I remember just going through this with the Steve Covey Habits program, and just really taking time to identify the metavalues. Is that what you’re talking about? Or are you talking about in every moment, figuring out—

NS: So, it’s both, right? My highest values, my highest five values, are love, integrity, service, beauty, and play. Those are my overarching values. But how I define each one of those, there’s a whole cascade of values that go under each one of them that makes it unique to me and that I use on a day-to-day basis.

So I had a lot of resistance around valuing beauty at the beginning. I was like, “Oh, that is so superficial! That’s not something that would be one of my highest values.” Except I spent one week and just defined everything in the world I thought was beautiful, from nature, to my hair being well done, to a child being honest at dinner—all the things I thought were beautiful. By the end of the week, it was so clear to me that beauty was one of my highest values, but it was how I defined it.

So there’s a day-to-day component, and then there’s the overall component of it. And it’s a deeper discussion, for sure. In the beginning, the way you figure out what you value is [like] how we did that exercise on who you admire and why. That’s an easy, quick way. Another way to do it is, think back on some of the most meaningful experienced in your life, when you were the most touched. And as you tell those stories to somebody, or as you journal about them, pay attention to what made them so important. That’s a quick way to do it.

I do think we change. I joke and say I change every decade. It seems like I fine-tune it every decade, five to 10 years. And I think as I’ve gotten older, it’s changing less and less. Just a personal—but I think if people aren’t clear, it won’t take them long, because you’ve just got to think about some of the most meaningful people and experiences in your life. I actually wrote a whole list of my values. It’s by no means comprehensive, but it’s a good start. But in the whole section on desires, I call it the Values Vocabulary List to get people started.

CP: Right. So now we have desire, we have our values, and another thing I think women struggle with is actually putting that into action and asking for what they want, and you spent a lot of time on this in the book. Both men and women may have this, but I know that women struggle with actually vocalizing and [worrying], “Are we being too demanding? Hey, I don’t want to impose on somebody. I have this internal desire that I’ve recognized, now how do I actually develop the courage to ask for it?” And I’m curious to see if you can talk a little bit on that.

NS: Yes, I think once you get clear about what you value—there’s something I call the Two-Step Decision Making Tool, which is essentially that, when an idea comes from within you, or from outside of you, someone presents an opportunity to you or asks you to do something, or you come up with your own idea, either way, if you know what you value, your top values, take your hand and spread apart your fingers, do it horizontally, and then put another hand and then put it vertically right on top of that, so it looks like a little filter, I call that your Values Filter Test.

So the first question you ask yourself when someone asks you to do something, or you want to ask someone to do something, is, “Does this pass my Values Filter Test? Is this opportunity or desire? Is it something that I would align with?” And I think sometimes we actually miss that when we get caught up in the moment, whether it’s love, whether it’s an opportunity, whatever it is, we don’t really say, “Does this pass my highest values test, highest values filter?”

The second question—so if the answer’s “no,” then you don’t do whatever this is. You’re already done. But if it does pass your highest values test, then the second question is, “Does it give me energy or drain me of energy?”

CP: Oh, such a good question!

NS: Yes, because this is where women get in trouble. Because if it does pass the Values Filter Test, but it drains them of energy, then I put that in a “maybe” category, because that’s more obligation than inspiration. And if it passes their Values Filter Test, and it gives them energy, now you’re talking inspiration. Now we’re in a different realm and it’s time to take action.

It’s not like you always have to do everything that completely inspires you. It’s true that living life, there are somethings that are obligations that probably don’t give you that much energy that need to get done. But pay attention to how many decisions in that arena you’re taking on. If you’re filing all of them, and saying, “Yes, it passes my Values Filter Test but drains me of energy,” and you see that a majority of your decisions are going there, you’re going to have the answer to why you’re feeling low energy.

So how do you overcome that fear to taking action? One of the most important things is paying attention to self versus other, and that whole obligation piece of it is oftentimes when it’s for someone else but not really for your own heart. It doesn’t inspire your own heart. So the Two-Step Decision-Making Tool is how I start to decipher that for myself where it can get confusing.

And if people don’t know whether things give them energy or drain them of energy, you have to pay attention to your own physiology, your own body. For me, I know because I can feel—it kind of moves through the middle of my chest into my throat and into my head. I can feel an energy of excitement. It’s like a tingling feeling, and I know that, “Wow, I’m really jazzed about this.”

And the draining almost feels like the lower half of my body [is] sinking. Almost like quicksand, a little bit. It feels like my stomach starts sinking and I say, “Yes,” yes is coming out of my mouth but that sinking feeling’s happening inside. And that’s the draining for me, but each person will have a unique way.
CP: I feel it in my heart. I feel a very big weight in my heart. I know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s so good to identify that.

NS: Yes, you have to. You have to know that. And just spend one week paying attention to all the interactions, people, tasks, places that you go that give you energy and that drain you of energy. Just keep a little tally of it, and by the end of the week, there’s some serious patterns. [Laughs]

CP: Got it. OK.

NS: The other thing you were asking about [was], how do you overcome the fear of actually taking action, once you decide what it is that you want to do? And I think the most important piece to this is, a lot of people want to look perfect, like their whole life has been about making sure that the whole world thinks that they’re perfect.

I have a saying, which is, “Everything’s renegotiable.” You can do a “take two” on anything. If I want to take a risk and go outside my comfort zone, and my physiology, my body, my heart’s going to start racing, I’m going to feel scared, whatever it is, knowing that I have the capacity to say, “Hey, Chantal, I really didn’t like how our interaction went yesterday, would it be OK if I tried it again?”

CP: God, I love it.

NS: It takes the pressure off. Why do we have to be perfect the first time out? First of all, we aren’t perfect. [Laughs] It’s such a funny rule to try and measure up to. But the peace around “everything’s renegotiable” has given me a lot of grace for myself.

CP: Right, I know. And you know what? I’ve done that too, which is why I appreciate the very last little few pages of your book, the old revisioning—what do you call it? Something about revisioning.

NS: Oh, like rewriting history?

CP: Rewriting history!

NS: [Laughs]

CP: It’s such a great example of that! We’re just using role playing, in a way—also, I love it to prep for conversations that require more courage, but also to redo and re-create the history. I’m always so open to that, and I think when I’ve done that to somebody else—my husband and I do this. “Hey, can we do this over?” And whenever he asks for it or I ask for it, it’s so lovely, and it creates such an intimacy.

NS: It really does. It’s almost like, if we knew that from our mistakes that we’ve made would come, in the take two of it all, the greatest intimacy and connection and learning and growth, would we be so afraid to go for it and make those mistakes? Because what comes afterward is so beautiful.

CP: Yes. And I think that’s the danger of some talk programs. I know there’s a few out there that are fantastic, like Nonviolent Communication with Marshall Rosenberg, and yours is certainly very comprehensive in a very different approach, but equally, in my view, very effective. But there is this—I’ve always felt like, “Oh my gosh, what do I do now? OK, now I have to say this.” I think to have that opportunity to just say, “You know what, I’m not going to get this right, and I’m trying this out, so hang with me and just be really open about it.” I think that that is just so lovely. And I really appreciate that angle in your book.

NS: You know, it’s so true. The answer is always the truth, right? So if I want to have a conversation with you and I didn’t like how something went, but I’m feeling awkward about it, me saying, “Hey, I’d like to try this again. I feel really awkward right now. In fact, my stomach’s turning, and I’m going to try it anyway, please give me some feedback on how I did.” It’s like the other person is so willing to give us this openness and grace most of the time, when we just share that we’re doing something that’s uncomfortable for us.

So I feel like the truth is always the answer. It’s funny, when I work in companies, that’s what I always say to them. They call me in and pay me money to basically get everyone in the room to say the truth, just say what’s on their mind and really say what’s up, but do it in a way that’s love and compassionate and connected, that builds a bridge to one another.

I think honesty has gotten a bad rap in this sense. People think it’s rude or it’s brutal honesty or whatever it is. I really believe that it’s what is causing a lot of addiction and disconnection and loneliness and depression in our world. That somehow we haven’t learned to listen to our hearts, speak the truth, and be able to separate what is ours and what is about our belonging to other.

And if we can get really clear about those pieces, it becomes much easier to sort through it and have an honest conversation. And do these take twos. Let’s do a do-over. It seems to me that if the world could do do-overs, wouldn’t it be an amazing place? Wouldn’t we just be all connected, learning, and laugh at ourselves a little bit more?

CP: Oh my gosh, that would be so fantastic. I can think of some political decisions that could use a do-over! [Laughs]

NS: [Laughs]

CP: And the world, oh my Lord!

NS: Yes! And the other piece about taking action is, when you do take action and you ask for something, making sure that you actually have an agreement. I think a lot of people do a “he-said, she-said” dilemma, because they don’t actually know what an agreement is. And I think it’s really important to understand that when you have a committed agreement to something, or when someone is just merely telling you that they think it’s a good idea.

CP: Exactly. So when there’s a suggestion coming up, to really clearly say, “Do we have an agreement?” and articulate that before the end of the conversation?

NS: It would be this simple: it would be as simple as you and I trying to, let’s say, go see a movie. So if we’re trying to see a movie, and I ask you, “Hey, Chantal, would you like to go see a movie?” and you say something as simple as, “Oh, I didn’t know that that movie was out already.” You merely acknowledged that I spoke. But you didn’t really give me a concrete agreement, right?

Now, if you said, “Oh wow, I’ve been dying to see that movie, ever since I saw the trailer last fall!” And I think, “Oh, she’s definitely coming with me.” Well, not true. You acknowledged that I spoke, and what you did differently here was you actually showed some interest that you might want to actually do this activity with me, but you haven’t committed to anything.

And then if I said, “Hey, would you like to go to the movies?” and I told you specifically which one, and you said, “Yes, absolutely. I’ve been wanting to see that. And I’m having company come over this weekend, so I need to make sure everything’s taken care of at home and the meals are cooked before I leave for a movie. So as long as all of that gets done, I’ll be there.” Now, what you said is “yes,” but you’ve given me all these qualifiers about why you might not actually be there. And you’ve given me the reason why, 10 minutes ahead of time, I would bet, you’re going to be the one who flakes on me and texts me and says, “Go ahead without me, I’m not done yet.”

Or, if I said, “Hey, Chantal, want to go see the movie this weekend, the new James Bond movie?” and you say, “Yes,” I bet you our weekend is going to be—I’m a busy woman, you’re a busy woman. I’ll bet you we’ll see each other at the gym next week and we’ll say, “Oh, we were supposed to go to the movies! We definitely got it on the calendar, right?” The only time we actually have an agreement is when you and I say, “We’re going to the Embarcadero Theatre at 1:00 for the matinee show this Saturday. I’ll meet you there.” And we have a “yes” and details confirmed.

It’s that clear. So anything before that “yes,” details confirmed, is still an agreement in negotiation. So even if you say to someone, “Hey, do we have an agreement,” and somebody says, “Yes, we definitely do,” but you haven’t set the time or place, you haven’t really put the details around it, you actually don’t have an agreement.

So sometimes when women ask for what they want, but they’re a little bit scared to put it out there—like, I’d really like to spend time with you, but I won’t nail it down. “I’d love to go away for a three-day weekend, I’d love it to be you and me, and I’d love for us to hang out and do what we used to do in college, go mountain biking,” whatever it is. Unless I’m really clear about what that is, it often leads to two people having a very different idea about what the action is and disappointment at the end, which is, you might bring two friends and I really thought it was going to be me and you because we were roommates in college and I really wanted to have a reminiscing weekend with me and you, but I never really said that.

So the clarity of what you want, and how you take action and really solidify the details, will determine how well it works for you. Listen, there’s always feedback and renegotiating. So if it doesn’t work, you get to say, “You know what? What worked about it this time for me was this, and next time, what I’d really love to do is this.” So it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t actually happen, but it gives you information.

CP: Yes, [and] I just think your whole approach is about practice, practicing.

NS: And I say to anyone who’s saying, “Oh, this takes a lot of time, it’s hard,” I say, “How many times a day do you communicate with people, from one-word answers to hour-long talks? An awful lot.” So being good at getting what you want because you’re a clear communicator—at whatever point in your life you decided it’s important, the rest of your life will exponentially get better. So it just depends at what point in your life do you want to invest in communication?

So for me, it’s just been personal freedom. I had such a hard time with this. I had all the education in the world. I didn’t get out of school until I was 31 years old, but nobody ever really taught me, really, what was going to give me connection and happiness, and really decrease my stress levels. So I guess I’d say the connection, health, and happiness.

CP: Yes. Once again, I feel like the work here is really about creating intimacy and harmony with people that we work with, people that we live with, and this is a very clear road map. Well, thank you so much for your time, Neha, and we’re looking forward to having you at Emerging Women Live in San Francisco! More TalkRx to be had.

NS: Oh, I cannot wait. I’m so excited!

CP: OK, well, we’ll see you soon.

NS: All right, thanks, Chantal.

CP: Take care, bye-bye.

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