Strategic Conversations, Part 2 - Root of All Behavior

Strategic Conversations, Part 2 - Root of All Behavior

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This is part two of a five-part podcast series on leading Strategic Conversations so you can improve your results and relationships at work. Check out the first episode here

In this episode, I explain what's at the root of all behavior. When you understand what drives people's behavior and what drives your behavior, it is so powerful, because now you know how to influence yourself and others. 

What drives your actions? What drives the behavior of your negotiation counterpart? 

You'll learn: 

1. What emotion is and the role it plays in driving our behavior 

2. The difference between neutral circumstances and thoughts, and how we become biased 

3. The thinking that generated $50K then $100K in income for me 

If you enjoyed this and would like to learn more about my six-week coaching program, please apply here to set up a quick consult over Zoom. 

Full Episode Transcript

Hello! Welcome to Episode 63 of Born to Thrive with Jamie Lee. I’m your host and coach, Jamie Lee. I specialize in helping women in male-dominated industries who love their jobs but hate office politics.

And I help them become bolder, braver, and better paid.

This is Part Two of a five-part podcast series that I’m doing on how to lead strategic conversations at work to improve your results, your reputation, and relationships.

And, in case you missed it, I highly recommend you go back and listen to the last episode, which was the first part in this five-part series. I talked about how to plan your strategic conversation with a future focus.

This is so important - so important - and many of us miss this part.

It’s important because, when you have future focus, you know what you want for your future and you want what you want from a place of abundance.

And what I mean by that is that, right now, you know you have enough and it’s great...and you want more.

And you appreciate that. You appreciate where you are and you want more and it’s this great feeling of abundant desire, rather than I don’t have enough. I’m a victim and I need more.

And when you’re in that scarcity mindset, it’s not great. You don’t feel great and so then you don’t have a great future focus.

So I wanna encourage you to really think and create your future focus that drives you to come to these strategic conversations with a feeling of calm, with a feeling of confidence, with a feeling of appreciation. Because, when you’re feeling this way and you’re future focused, you become more present in the now.

It’s so cool.

Today, I’m so excited to talk to you about the root of all behavior.

The root of all behavior.

It’s like this secret to the Universe. It is the secret to the Universe.

When you understand what drives people and their behavior and what drives your behavior - why you do what you do - it is so powerful because now you know what you can do to influence your behavior in a way that influences other people’s behavior.

I mean that’s the endgame of negotiation. That’s the endgame of strategic conversations, isn’t it?

So, first, you have to know how...well, before you know the how, you gotta know the why and that’s the part we’re gonna talk about.

And then you influence yourself first before influencing anyone else’s behavior.

So many of us don’t know why we don’t take action, why we don’t ask, why we hesitate to ask for what we want because we don’t understand what’s at the root of our behavior.

So, when I say this is like the secret to the Universe, is it a hyperbole? I don’t think so!

It is not. The root of all behavior is the why behind negotiation experts all agreeing that empathy, listening, and curiosity are the key skills and attributes of great negotiators.

Because, once you understand the root of all behavior, then you can get to it.

Okay, so the first thing I want to establish for you is that feelings drive all behavior and now, if you’re an engineer, a scientist, you’re a logical, rational-minded, technical person and you’re listening to this and you’re like That’s nuts. Feelings don’t drive my behavior! It’s data. It’s information!

Hold your horses there for a minute if you’re thinking that.

Because, when I say feelings, I’m talking about the vibration in your body that you experience as emotion. I’m not talking about the brain chatter that a lot of people associate with what they feel like.

And, when we are driven to take action after we consume specific information or data, we are being driven by the emotion of certainty, the emotion of having authority, the emotion of being right.

So, there are only five things. And feelings are right in the middle of those five things that just happen to explain the root of all behavior.

So what are the five things?

First, there are neutral circumstances, things that happen in our world that we can prove to be true. You have a conversation with Steve on Wednesday or you got an email from a colleague on Thursday. You can print that email and you can prove it in the court of law. You had a phone conversation and there is a log of that phone conversation. It happened.

So, circumstances are neutral, provable, they’re factual.

And this is important. I want you to really pay attention to this.

The second thing that’s really important to understanding the root of all behavior is that we have thoughts about those neutral circumstances and these thoughts are our opinions, our assessment, our interpretation, our judgments and our brains are hardwired for storytelling. We have verbal brains.

If you do speak language, if you do want to understand and communicate language, that is, we have a brain that is just constantly spewing out thoughts, judgments, assessments, opinions, interpretations.

Thoughts are not circumstances. Circumstances are not our thoughts.

Take, for example, I just coached a client who happens to work in a growing tech startup and she’s responsible for this new marketing project and she felt that it was a fact that no one has a clear idea how to execute this project. Those were her words. “No one has a clear idea how to execute this project.” And she felt that this was a fact.

It felt factual. It felt like a circumstance.

But, in fact, it’s her brain’s interpretation of a neutral circumstance called project. There’s this project, right? We can all agree that there’s a project they’re working on and it’s her assessment that no one has a clear idea.

This is a subjective assessment because somebody else could have a completely different thought that the project is going really well. And, in fact, in the same breath, she told me “The project can be executed if we had x, y, and z.”

So, in fact, she had an idea of how to execute the project, so this is really funny.

It might seem like I’m splitting hairs about circumstances and thoughts. This distinction is important. This is really, really important because of the way our brains have evolved, our brains are constantly judging, assessing, opining at the strategic conversation, at the negotiation table.

And we feel, because we’re so close to our thoughts, and for so many years we have thought that our thinking, our assessment, our opinions, our observations are facts, we are going to be biased.

We are going to be biased by what we think because, as humans, we are all biased. There’s nobody who’s not biased by what they think.

This is important and thinking is important because it creates the third thing that lies at the root of all behavior: our emotion.

Remember, I said feelings drive all our actions and emotion is experienced as a vibration in the body, right?

When you feel sad, you feel this energy drop. For me it’s like at the pit of my stomach. I feel the energy drop in my spine and my stomach and sometimes I feel like crying, sometimes I feel like holing up and not seeing people.

When I feel mad, I feel like punching somebody. When I feel mad, I feel like stomping. It’s an emotion that has a vibration in the body and it makes me want to take action, which is the fourth thing, right?

What we do is driven by what we feel.

And sometimes we don’t take action when we feel a certain emotion.

Take, for example, if you feel anxious because you’re thinking Oh, I can’t ask for what I want because then they’ll say no and I can’t deal with rejection. I can’t deal with rejection.

If that is the thought you have in your mind, you may feel anxiety and in order for you to push this anxiety aside, you might not take action. You might procrastinate. Now, I know this because I’ve done this myself for many, many years before I learned how to negotiate for myself and started teaching it to other women.

So the result you create is the sum of all these actions or inactions is the result of your thinking. The result will prove your thought to be right. And the result is the fifth thing in the root of all behavior, right?

So let me give an example.

And, first, to recap: first, there are neutral circumstances that are provable, factual.

Second, there are thoughts, our interpretation, our opinion, our assessment, our observation of neutral circumstances.

And there is the feeling that is generated by what we think.

And number four is what we do or what we don’t do because of the emotion created by the thought.

And, finally, the fifth thing is the result that we have.

I want you to think about this framework and think about the money that you make.

For me, at one point in my career, I made $50,000 while working at a hedge fund. And then a year into the job, I found out the going market rate was $100,000.

And that was a tough wake-up call that I had to figure this out.

I had to learn how to negotiate, learn how to communicate, learn how to engage in strategic conversations, lead and influence other people, so that I can improve my results and not shoot myself in the foot like I just had by earning $50,000 at a hedge fund.

So what was the thinking that had created the result of me making $50,000 at a hedge fund?

I was young, I was fresh out of college and I had the thought that I’m not supposed to ask for more. I’m not supposed to ask for more.

And the feeling that was created by this thought was kind of a fear.

I had the fear of messing up. I had the fear of Oh, I’m doing this new job and I’m a newbie, I don’t know, I shouldn’t ask questions, I should just keep my head down and just do good work and then they’re gonna reward me.

I had the thought that I’m not supposed to ask for more. I had the thought that They’re supposed to reward me and the feeling, one of the feelings that was created by this mindset was one of fear.

And because I was afraid, I didn’t ask for more. I didn’t research more. I didn’t try to figure it out. I just wanted to keep my head down. And that’s what I did. And that’s how I earned $50,000.

Fast-forward, several years later, I was working for tech startups in operations and I had read Women Don’t Ask, I trained, I hired a negotiation coach who specialized in training women. She became my role model.

And then I had a new thought about my salary. The new thought I had was that I will ask for what I want. And I had a future focus of one day making $100,000 and so I asked for what I want because, when I thought to myself on purpose, I’m going to do this, I’m going to negotiate, I’m going to ask for what I want, thinking that thought on purpose generated the feeling of courage that drove my action.

And I did sit down with the co-founders of this startup and I did ask for $100,000. I asked for a $20,000 salary increase.

The long and the short of it was they didn’t give it to me initially but, after fundraising, they did. They gave me a $20,000 salary increase. So, in the meantime, I asked, I kept believing that one day I will earn what I want. I continued to create value in that role and, as a result, one day, fast-forward a couple months later, they did reward me with a $20,000 salary increase and I got the salary of $100,000. That was really cool.

So, what does this mean for you?

How can you raise your self-awareness around what you are thinking about you, about the negotiation process, about the negotiation counterpart, about the potential outcome of this negotiation?

I want you to write it all down.

And don’t try to be more mature or more enlightened. Just write down what you think and what your brain is coming up with and then just observe, Oh, these are my thoughts.

And this is something that I do all the time. A thought download. Just write down all your thoughts - negative, positive, intentional, unintentional - and see what is the impact of the thinking that you’re having, the impact of your mindset around your strategic conversation and how is it impacting your emotions, your current actions and the results that you have now?

By the way, the results you have now, one of which can be the amount of money you make now in your job, is the result of past thinking.

So, think about okay, what was I thinking a year ago? Was I thinking I gotta do whatever it takes to get this job? Or I know my worth and I’m going to ask for that salary increase?

Just notice. Notice how what you were thinking in the past has created the result you have now.

So what this means is that what you think now will create the result you have in the future. What you think now about that conversation, about your counterpart, about the process and potential outcomes will impact the results you have later.

So you want to be really intentional about it, yeah?

Most of us don’t realize that our thinking is creating our results. Most of us feel like we’re at the effect of circumstances that are not neutral but somehow set up against us. I really did believe and feel this way before I learned how to shift my mindset, so to speak.

So, I have some parting thoughts for you.

What if everything about where you are in your career, everything about that upcoming conversation, everything about your counterpart is the way it’s supposed to be?

What if you are where you’re supposed to be?

Because, you know, the world changes depending on our perspective.

I could have a thought This is a great day and I can feel great or I can have the thought This is a terrible day and feel terrible, right?

It’s the same thing about your negotiation. So what I’m saying is how you think will impact how you negotiate.

And how your counterpart is thinking will impact how they show up and how they feel about the negotiation and the results they have from the negotiation.

How you think creates your results and this applies to your salary, this applies to your work, this applies to the relations you have at work. So I wanna leave you with this thought that maybe the first thing you want to do is just simply raise your self-awareness around what you’re thinking.

Write it all down and ask yourself why am I thinking this?


What emotions are driving your behavior?

What emotions do you want to drive your behavior?

What emotions do you want them to experience?

So, if you want to learn more on this topic, if you really want to start changing your own behavior so you do become bolder, braver, and better paid from a place of genuine self-confidence and real power that comes from within, I have an offer for you.

I have an exclusive six-week coaching program where we’re going to explore what’s not working for you, we’re going to explore your compelling vision, we’re going to explore your emotional mastery, we’re gonna explore how you can cut through the drama, we’re gonna explore how you can create conscious leadership and create intentional outcomes in your career. And one of those best be becoming bolder, braver, and better paid.

So if you want to learn more, you can email me at Come to my site, and I look forward to hearing from you and, next week, I’ll tell you more about how to engage in and lead strategic conversations.

Thank you and have a great week!

Strategic Conversations, Part 1 - Planning with Future Focus

Strategic Conversations, Part 1 - Planning with Future Focus