Mark Bowden has been voted the #1 Body Language Professional in the world for two years running. So now is the time to sit up straight!
BIO of Mark Bowden:
Mark Bowden is recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities on nonverbal communication, voted the #1 Body Language Professional in the world by Global Gurus in 2014 and 2015.
A sought after keynote speaker and trainer globally, Mark helps groups and individuals use their body language to stand out, win trust and gain credibility every time they communicate.
As the founder of communication training company TRUTHPLANE®, his business and political clients include Presidents and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and Prime Ministers of G8 powers.
Mark is a bestselling author of 3 books on the subject of body language and human behavior, with his first book Winning Body Language translated into five different languages. Presentation trainer for The Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA which is ranked #1 in the world by The Economist, Mark is also a member of the TED community having spoken mainstage at TEDx Toronto. Mark can be seen regularly on Canadian network CTV’s daily talk show The Social as the resident Body Language expert.
- Twitter @truthplane
- TRUTH & LIES What People Are Really Thinking by Mark Bowden
- Winning Body Language by Mark Bowden
- Asterix The Gaul series. (I am dyslexic and so first learned to read with comic books).
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (Douglas Adams defined the technological world we live in now — and it’s a laugh out loud book.)
- Quantum Psychology by Robert Anton Wilson. (A great book to help you irradiate the word “is” from your language and understand how many possibilities are in front of us.
Mike Domitrz: Welcome to The Respect Podcast. I’m your host, Mike Domitrz, from MikeSpeaks.com, where we help organizations of all sizes, educational institutions, and the U.S. military create a culture of respect. Respect is exactly what we discuss on this show, so let’s get started.
Mike Domitrz: This week we have a very unique expert with us. We’re going to dive right into this. Mark Bowden, he has been voted the number one body language professional in the world for two years running. So now is it time to sit up straight? That’s right, imagine that we can see you and your body language is being judged. We’ll get into whether that’s what Mark actually does or not in a little bit here. He is the founder of communication training company TRUTHPLANE. His clients include leading business people, politicians, presidents of Fortune 500 companies, and prime ministers of G7 powers. Mark’s highly acclaimed TEDx talk has reached millions of people. He has written four books on body language and human behavior including the most recent, Truth and Lies: What People Are Really Thinking, a global and mall best seller. We’re thrilled to have him here today. Please welcome Mark Bowden. Thank you, Mark, for joining us.
Mark Bowden: Oh, Mike, thanks very much. Great introduction.
Mike Domitrz: Oh, I appreciate that. You know, you and I first met … We were at an event where other speakers were, and we were sitting next to each other. We started diving into the perceptions of what body language means when trying to read body language versus the reality of what it means. Let’s get into that right away. When you talk about body language, what is it you’re referring to?
Mark Bowden: Yeah. I’m talking about nonverbal communication. Body language is a metaphor for nonverbal communication. There is no such thing as body language, though I’ve written books on body language and many others have, as well. It’s just a way we talk about the idea of nonverbal communication. What we do with our nonverbal communication is not a language. It doesn’t have some of the important elements of language. For example, it can’t do displacement, which is to talk about the past or the future. It’s not self-referential. It doesn’t talk about itself. Therefore, though body language is in incredibly powerful, it lacks some of the important nuance and power that verbal language has.
Mike Domitrz: Yes. That’s where you and I had the common ground, because a lot of people seeing that you and I are talking would think, “Mike, this goes against what you teach in your programs. You teach people body language in sexual intimacy is highly unreliable to rely on.” You and I were sitting there going, “Yes. Yes, it is. It is.”
Mark Bowden: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.
Mike Domitrz: Most people assume that a body language expert’s going to teach you how you can know exactly what someone’s thinking and what they want in that sexual moment. You were sitting there with me going, “Mike, I totally agree with what you’re teaching to audiences on body language.” We had this commonality, so let’s go there. Why is it so unreliable?
Mark Bowden: Well, because you read body language at an instinctual level with your instinct, okay? Your instinct isn’t in it for anybody else. Your instinct is in it for you. Your instinct doesn’t care about truth. It doesn’t care about accuracy. It only cares about its prediction around what will be most beneficial to you right now. Not tomorrow. Not yesterday. Right now for you. It’s going to make a prediction, which means it’s not seeing the truth. It’s just making a damn good guess at what’s going on with somebody else in relation to you. Even if it’s not in relation to you, your instinct makes it about you now, and basically works out, “Is this a good proposition for me? Is there a benefit here, or is there a risk?” But I’m going to say it again, it doesn’t care about accuracy. It just cares about things like keeping you safe, passing on your genetic code, working out who are friends to you, or who you should be indifferent to. That’s all it’s concerned about. Does that make sense, Mike?
Mike Domitrz: Yeah. Well, that’s what we talk about, so I love that’s. Because I tell people all the time your point about, “It’s not about accuracy.” What I’ll explain is, “Look, you’re sitting next to somebody in a sexual situation. They put your hand on your leg. Your ego is now choosing all that interpretation. It doesn’t mean it’s accurate. It means it knows what it wants.” So when they touch your leg, if you want them sexually, you go, “Oh, their body language is telling me they want me.” Not necessarily, but that’s what you want to believe, so that’s the story you’ve written, because that feeds you.
Mark Bowden: Here’s the thing. I totally agree with this. That when you read other people’s body language with your instinct, what you think their body language says, says more about you than it does about them. It’s more accurate around what you are thinking and feeling, rather than what they are thinking and feeling. Look, so I’m sitting next to somebody. They put their hand on my leg. Now that could mean all kinds of things. Could meal all kinds of things. The possibilities are almost endless.
Mark Bowden: But what do I instantly think? Number one, I think it’s about me, something to do with me. Why? Because it’s my brain that’s decoding this. I maybe think, “Okay.” My instinct says, “Okay. They’re attracted to me.” Well, that possibly says more about my wish that they’re attracted to me, rather than they are attracted to me. Hey, maybe they are attracted to me. Maybe they’re not. I’m now gambling around this. My instinct is throwing some dice and playing roulette.
Mark Bowden: Now, throwing dice and playing roulette is great to do so long as you’re happy with what you could lose, okay? I mean, don’t gamble with things that you don’t want to lose. So I got no problem with gamblers. I just want people to really understand that they are gambling here and to understand what they might be gambling with. Does that make sense, Mike?
Mike Domitrz: Yeah. Yes. Because in the situation we’re describing, they’re gambling with another person’s boundaries.
Mark Bowden: For sure. For sure.
Mike Domitrz: Right? If you’re going to touch them or do something sexual with them, you don’t have the right to make that gamble, because that’s not your body you’re gambling. That’s their body you’re gambling with. So, no, I think we’re on the exact same page.
Mark Bowden: Right. See, I think that’s really powerful, Mike, because what you’re saying is is that when I use my instinct to read body language, in some cases, especially this sexual one here, I’m actually gambling with somebody’s rights.
Mike Domitrz: That’s correct.
Mark Bowden: Well, I might not want to do that. That’s maybe a casino I don’t want to show up to.
Mike Domitrz: Exactly right.
Mark Bowden: So, now, I’ve got to start making choices about how I read body language, the process that I use. To be honest, in this sexual situation where I’m potentially gambling with somebody’s rights, I might want to suspend all judgment on the body language that I’m reading. If this is the gamble that I’m making, I might want to suspend all judgment, which means, hey, I might be right. Maybe they are attracted to me, but I’m going to suspend that judgment right now. I can always come back to it. It’s still my judgment, but it’s a judgment. It’s a theory of mind. It’s a theory about somebody else’s feelings and intentions, and we are not mind readers. We’re instinctual body language readers, and our instinct is in it for us, not in it for their rights, okay? I’m going to suspend my judgment. I can come back to it. Now, I’m going to think again. I’m going to start investigating this. I would say, and I think you’re going to agree with me, Mike, is that the best way to investigate this is with my verbal language.
Mike Domitrz: Yes, yes, yes. That’s all we teach all over the world is, “Look, if you have any guess, just confirm with words. It’s not that difficult.” That language is understandable. I can clearly understand yes or no. I do not have to take a risk, like you said, in the casino. We’re out of the casino now, and I get solid answers, because there’s no gambling on the yes, no. I know exactly the interpretation. As long as, obviously, there aren’t other factors, alcohol, drugs, and other things going on. So this has been a great example.
Mike Domitrz: Now, what you do, then … Because then people are probably sitting [inaudible 00:08:50] “Well, then, Mark, if it’s so unreliable, why are you teaching people about body language?” So let’s go there. What is it that you do when we’re talking about nonverbal communication?
Mark Bowden: Well, there’s two areas that I primarily work in. The first one, and the most important one, is not about reading body language, because I know how fallible that is. I know we’re all on the whole, apart from the experts, working with our instinct. That’s really important, because your instinct is in it for you, and your instinct doesn’t care about accuracy. It’s in it for your safety or your benefit today, which means if I know the signals to send you, I can trigger your instinct into feeling a certain way about me and about my content.
Mark Bowden: So in the world that I primarily work, which is the one of communication, I’m helping people all over the world stand out, win trust, and gain credibility every time they communicate by using their body language on purpose to give a very specific impression to a specific group of people, and get the results that they want from them. This is what we call influence and persuasion. That’s really the world that I primarily spend my time in. And I’ve done the most innovative on, “What does the body have to do in order to get another human being to trust it and to feel that it’s credible, even before you’ve opened your mouth?” So there’s area, Mike.
Mark Bowden: The other area is in this area of reading body language. My most recent book, Truth and Lies, coauthored with Tracey Thomson, is about how to read body language. But, actually, to be more accurate, it’s a book about critical thinking disguised as a book about reading body language. What it actually teaches you is a critical thinking process, so you can think better about other people through their behavior. It comes down to what we were talking about there, Mike, which is every time you think you know what somebody is thinking and feeling … And it’s going to feel very true for you. You’re going to look at somebody else, and you’re going to go, “Yeah, I got them. I know what they’re thinking. I know what they’re feeling. It’s so obvious.” Well, here’s the gamble. You are either absolutely accurate right now, absolutely inaccurate right now, or something in between.
Mark Bowden: Now, do you want to take that gamble? In some cases in a lot of our life, take the gamble. It doesn’t really matter. You’re not gambling with anybody’s rights. You’re gambling with, “Does the person want a cup of tea or a cup of coffee?” Doesn’t really matter. Not going to make any difference. But if you’re gambling with really valuable stuff, then you maybe they think about this a bit more carefully. At that point, the first step within the critical thinking process is to suspend judgment. Hope that makes sense, Mike.
Mike Domitrz: It does make sense. Let’s go back to the first part where you’re teaching people how to project the body language that will create the outcome they want. Is that based on our history of human beings that there’s certain reactions we see, body language signals, eye movements we see, that we hereditarily have that reaction to?
Mark Bowden: Yeah, it’s absolutely that. It’s about our instincts and our reflexes. Look, just like, Mike, if I get you to step into a freezing cold shower, I bet you can’t stop yourself shivering. You’re certainly going to hunch up your shoulders, and tuck in your elbows, and try and sustain your heat. Everybody on the planet, male, female, any other idea of gender that you’ve got, doesn’t matter where you come from on the planet, doesn’t matter what race you think you are, or whether you were born down by a lake, or up on a mountain, or on an island like me, or on a continent. It makes no difference. You will respond in very similar ways. And it’s the same for the nonverbal communication.
Mark Bowden: If I hang out, for example, Mike, in your peripheral vision just beside you, enough so the sides of your eyes can see me, and I start making very rapid movements there, you will step away from me really quickly. Yeah. You’ll step away, because when fast movement in peripheral vision, we have an instinct to step away and step back from something, so that it comes into our fuller vision, and we’re out the way. This is our instinct for when insufficient data around what’s happening, especially in peripheral vision. Better to be safe than sorry. Keep distance, yes? That’s our instinct. We have an instinct for liking seeing somebody with open palm hands. This is a signal of no tools, no weapons. If we see somebody, and we can see that they have nothing in their hands to harm us, we will trust them more than somebody when we can’t see their hands.
Mark Bowden: It’s really simple, basic. I mean, basic instinct stuff. The interesting thing is is you can’t stop yourself responding to it. I could even tell you what I’m doing to influence and persuade you, and because your instinct is not connected to that smart brain, that neocortex, the instinct keeps on responding to the images that I’m playing. So, yeah, it’s absolutely stuff within the fight and flight system, the freeze system, the faint system. A system that is just designed to keep us safe for our benefit, and it’s not a social system. It’s not concerned about the others around us.
Mark Bowden: There is a social mammalian brain that does respond to nonverbal signals, and I do use those signals now and again when I’m trying to talk to a specific group. But in the main, I’m working with these basic instincts.
Mike Domitrz: The person who’s listening going, “All right, so you help people shift their body language or use it differently to get the outcome they want,” how do you counter the person who says, “It sounds manipulative”? Like, “People are being intentional and manipulating me when you’re in front of me by using their body language a certain way.”
Mark Bowden: Yeah, absolutely. That person would be right. It’s manipulative. Absolutely it is. Here’s my counter to that. Well, I’m manipulating people on purpose. You’re doing it by accident. I’m being conscious of it. I’m making it a choice as to the outcome that I want for my client, or my client wants, yeah? We’re going to go and get it on purpose, rather than going, “Oh, we got it by accident. Sorry. Did we hurt some people along the way? Yeah, sorry. We were just doing this by accident.” We’re going to do it on purpose, so that when somebody comes to us and says, “Hey, you manipulated me, and I don’t like that.” We’re not going to go, “Oh, sorry. That was an accident.” We’re going to go, “Yeah, absolutely. We did it on purpose.” When they come to us and say, “Hey, you manipulated us, and we did something that was better for us, and thanks for that,” we’re going to say, “Yeah. We weren’t doing that by accident. We were doing it on purpose, because we care about you. And we care about your life.”
Mike Domitrz: Any person who wants to influence others in some way is manipulation.
Mark Bowden: Yeah.
Mike Domitrz: You’re creating an atmosphere that tries to bring results that help better other people’s lives. The one example I could give for people maybe listening to think about is … Well, let’s say myself, who’s a speaker, had some behavior on stage that I was unaware of, that created a separation, a barrier, between my audience and myself. Therefore, my message of teaching respect all over the world was not getting through to a certain percentage of the audience. You were able to catch that and go, “Mike, you’re doing this one thing that if you just removed this one thing, it would open up that door.” Yeah, that’s being very intentional. Now, people argue whether it’s manipulative. Some people think manipulative’s only for the harm, but you’re saying, “Hey, no. It’s intentional direction, is the word manipulative. It could be good or bad.” Well, that could help a lot of people if I make that one body language change. So I think that’s brilliant what you said. Yeah, anything could be used for bad, but what if it’s used for good to positively impact the world?
Mark Bowden: Right. It’s simply a tool, Mike. It’s simply a tool, like language is simply a tool. Look, understand language is manipulative. Of course it’s manipulative. It takes a very complex world, and it puts it into simple terms and arranged in such a way that we’ll believe the language is true. For example, if I say to you right now, “The dog has a bone in its mouth,” you’ve got a picture of a dog in your head with a bone in its mouth right now. And that dog doesn’t exist, and the bone doesn’t exist, and I made it happen in your head. Now, look, if you’re fearful of dogs and I don’t know that, I accidentally manipulated you into a state of fear. If I know that you are afraid of dogs and I give you that image, understand now I’m maybe being harmful on purpose. But if I know you love dogs and dogs get your good feeling with you, and I start talking about dogs that actually just don’t exist and I’m making them happen in your head, I may be making your life a little bit better.
Mark Bowden: Language is manipulative. The word manipulation, it comes from mani, meaning from hands. It means to move with your hands. That’s one of the way we are incredible on this planet, because our hands are so dexterous, and we have such a big neocortex to move those hands. The ancient Egyptians, their god of language was the baboon, Thoth. The reason they made it a baboon is the baboon was the nearest animal, the Egyptians thought, to having hands like a human that could manipulate like a human. They totally understood all language is manipulation. Look, I just did it to you just then. All language is manipulation. The moment I used the word all, your brain goes, “Oh, okay. All language is manipulation.” That may not be true, but I’m manipulating you right now.
Mark Bowden: It’s a tool. It’s just like a hammer. I can give you a hammer, let you learn how to use a hammer. You can knock in a nail, and hang up my coat, and make life better for me, or you can hit me over the head with it. I don’t know what you’re going to do with the tool. But you should have the tool, and you should use it on purpose.
Mike Domitrz: I love this. You work with, literally, world leaders. Like, we could name one of them, and everybody would know that world leader that I know of.
Mark Bowden: Sure.
Mike Domitrz: But I’m not asking you to do that, because I don’t know if you publicly refer to them or not, but you work … So for the person listening going, “How does this work for me? How does this work in my family relationships, my life relationships, my work relationships? Why do I need to stand out with my body language or be influential with my body language in my regular day-to-day life?”
Mark Bowden: Oh. Well, the reason is is because life is not easy. Life is not simple, and human communication is incredibly complex. That’s not complicated or simple. That’s complex, which means the way that got what you wanted last time will not necessarily be the way you get what you want the next time. Stuff changes all the time. When we’re hit by complexity, we can get upset, and confused, and tired, and hungry, and anxious. At that point, our body can start to leak signals to others that get them anxious, and confused, and tired, and worried about the communication that’s happening. So sometimes we have to think to ourselves, “This is getting complex. This is getting difficult, and I need to make this simple and easy for everybody. So I’m going to control my behavior right now in order to get a better outcome.”
Mark Bowden: Now, let me just give you an example of this with my family. I got a son and a daughter, yeah? Kids, and one is 10, and one is 13. The 13-year-old boy is almost as tall as me, but he’s still a little bit shorter than me. The 10-year-old girl, she’s a lot shorter than me. All of them have been way littler than me, and I’m 5′ 11 1/2″ so I am way taller than the average human being on the planet. I’m not massively tall, but on average I’m way taller than most people on the planet, so I have height dominance whenever I’m talking to most people. My kids, I have massive height dominance over them.
Mark Bowden: I’ve got to understand that their instinct gets triggered by that. That if I’ve got something important to tell them, and because it’s important, I start to deepen my voice unconsciously more. There’s maybe more downward intonation in my voice as I’m trying to get across this important idea, because I want their life to be better and have less risk in it. So I’m trying to reinforce an idea. Understand, because I’ve got height dominance, they’re not listening any more. I mean, they’re going to pretend they’re listening, but there’s this big, loud thing now talking to them.
Mark Bowden: What do I do? I manipulate the situation, and I lower my height. I maybe kneel down, so that my eyeline will be the same as my daughter’s, say. Now, she may even have height dominance. The moment that happens, it automatically changes my voice. I’m might stand a chance of getting some important information across. Between you and me, Mike, I’m totally manipulating it. Totally.
Mike Domitrz: What it reminds me of when we had our dog trained for an electric fence underground. We couldn’t have a fence where we were, but we wanted to create a safe space where she could run. The one thing they taught was, “Look, when you get down to a dog’s eye level, they were much more likely just to come, just to respond.” I had never heard this in all the years of having a dog. When I did the training, I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. I don’t need a treat. I don’t need anything. I just need to get down on my knee, look straight [inaudible 00:23:40] and say [inaudible 00:23:40] And she would come right there, because now it’s not this intimidating experience. But I’ve never thought of that at the human level. It’s so brilliant. That’s awesome, so thank you for that.
Mike Domitrz: I think how many of us could sit there and go, “Yeah.” How often has our simple position that we’re not aware of created conflict? Like we’re standing up and everybody’s sitting at the table, right? There’s power over that. I notice that if your kid’s sitting in their bed and you sit, that changes the whole conversation, next to them, than if you’re standing talking to them. It goes back to everything that you’re describing here, so that’s beautifully stated. I appreciate that.
Mike Domitrz: You help people with being more credible, to make sure that they have credibility. Why is that important to make sure that our body language and our messaging is displaying credibility?
Mark Bowden: Because we decide immediately on seeing somebody their likability, their intelligence, and whether what they may offer us in the future will be of benefit or risk to us. We do it immediately. We don’t know we do it, because it’s unconscious. But that bias that is created by their image, their behavior, their movement in the space, and the context around them, that bias is very long-lasting. It starts to inform even the way that we unpack their language. Look, when we’re listening to language, we’re not actually hearing the exact language. We’re making a prediction on what the words are and a prediction on what those words mean. Part of our predictive mechanism for what somebody said is their movement and the context that they’re in.
Mark Bowden: That’s why you and I, Mike, everybody listening, we’ve all had conversations, and we’ve repeated back what we’ve heard somebody say. They’ve said, “Oh, no. I didn’t say that.” We go, “No, you did. Look, this is verbatim what you said.” And they’re going, “No, no, no. I didn’t say that.” And you can sense from them that they totally believe they didn’t say that, and you can sense from yourself that you totally believe they did. Well, who’s got it wrong? You can’t both be right. Somebody has guessed wrong on what they said or what they think was said.
Mark Bowden: So we are unpacking this language all the time. One of our biggest indicators as to how somebody is going to think and feel about what you said and manipulate the words that you said, unconscious in their mind, is the movement that you’re making. So put the right movements around the right, let’s just say, product or service or idea. You can sell that product and service or idea better. It’s the packaging around stuff.
Mark Bowden: Now, ultimately, look, if you don’t then deliver great product or service or idea, people will be disappointed, so you can’t stop disappointment. But, certainly, you can put people in positions, by putting yourself in a position, that they are more likely to go with your great idea, or your great product, or your great service. Now, of course, if you actually think your product, service, your idea is terrible and duff, and you’re trying to make them believe that it isn’t, you are manipulating them possibly in a very negative way. Because you can’t fulfill that order that they’re going to give you. You can’t deliver on that.
Mark Bowden: But if you truly believe that what you have to offer is really beneficial to people, understand you are in competition, now, with people with not so good a idea, product, service, and they may be better communicators to you. So you’ve got a mass of people who are being, yes, disappointed by what they get delivered. But, ultimately, they buy from them first, whether it’s an idea, or a piece of leadership, or a product, or a service. That, now, ruins the reputation of your whole world and your whole industry, maybe, or your whole world of leadership. So I would say it’s your duty to manipulate people into getting the best for themselves.
Mark Bowden: I do this with doctors all the time. Because, look, the doctors know when you come in to see them and they say, “So have you been taking your medication?” And you say, “Yes,” they know you’re lying. They know you’re lying. You’re not taking it as you’re meant to take it. You’re not taking it the same time every day. Sometimes, because you forgot about it yesterday, you’re popping two pills in one day. That doesn’t work. There’s something called a window of therapy. If you do the two pills at once, that doesn’t make any difference. So they know that.
Mark Bowden: Now, some of them go, “I can’t manipulate people. I can’t influence and persuade them into taking their medication correctly.” I say to those people, “Okay. That’s fine. Some people will die. You’re happy with that. Okay. Good. For those of you that are happy to do some subtle things to influence and persuade people to take their medication, some people will live. If you want to do that, you can be that person. If you want to do the other, you can be that person. I frankly don’t care, but I know which one I’m going to be. I’ll be the one that will do whatever is necessary to get a better world for the people that I care about.”
Mike Domitrz: Yeah. I think this relates to parenting.
Mark Bowden: For sure.
Mike Domitrz: The parent that goes into an argument with their kid thinking, “We’re going to say this, because that’s just the way it is,” they don’t have a why. They don’t know why they’re saying it. The kid can tell. The kid can tell, “You’re just trying to over-barrel me, steamroll me, with no good reason. Just because you want me to be wrong, or you want to do it this traditional way. But you don’t even know why you’ve done this for 20 years, Mom or Dad.” You better know your why, because I think … I don’t know. You can confirm … that when you’re not conscious of your body language, it speaks a lot about what you’re uncomfortable with will leak out, right?
Mark Bowden: Absolutely.
Mike Domitrz: That it will show, I would guess.
Mark Bowden: Absolutely. We know, again from what we’ve said before, that it leaks out signals, okay? We know that those signals may be misinterpreted. But, ultimately, if you choose to create some signals, you can stand a much better chance of them not being misinterpreted, because you make them very clear and very simple, and you keep on playing them. You’re almost like you keep on saying the same word again, and again, and again.
Mike Domitrz: Yeah. I want to get into our listeners’ questions. We do something unique here. That is that we let our listeners propose questions for me to ask our guest. For those listening going, “How do I do that?” You go to our Facebook group. We have a Facebook group called The Respect Podcast Discussion Group. So The Respect Podcast Discussion Group. Every week I say who I’m interviewing the next week. Now by the way, for listeners, that doesn’t mean you’re going to hear them next week. I could be interviewing them six months in advance. But it lets you see who’s coming up, and then you can go on their websites, check them out, and ask questions.
Mike Domitrz: Here’s a question we got, Mark. Somebody went on your website, and they said that, “Hey, on Mark’s website, it says that we are designed, as humans, to be indifferent to each other.”
Mark Bowden: Yeah.
Mike Domitrz: This person said, “But, Mike, that goes directly against what you say in front of rooms, which is, ‘We are built with empathy. We actually do care about other human beings. We do want to do the right thing.'” So they’re asking, “Hey, how do those two messages go together? Mark saying we’re indifferent. Mike, you’re saying we’re built with empathy.”
Mark Bowden: Yeah. Those are not different ideas for me. We’re built with empathy. Do you have it switched on all the time for everybody?
Mike Domitrz: Right.
Mark Bowden: Right? Yeah, of course we’re built with … We’re social mammals. We have to have empathy. Do we switch it on for everybody all the time? Mike, I know you travel all over the place, certainly all over the U.S. and I know you’ve been into Canada. My guess is you’ve been all over the world speaking.
Mike Domitrz: Yeah. We work all over the world, yes.
Mark Bowden: Absolutely. So you’ve been through many, many cities in your life. You’ve passed by literally, in some cases, thousands of people in just moments, minutes, yeah?
Mike Domitrz: Yes.
Mark Bowden: Do you have empathy for everyone there, or are you indifferent to the majority of them? You just kind of pass through them, and your brain goes, “No. Don’t need to know about that person. No concern for them. No concern for them. No concern for them.” Because if you had empathy for every one of them, you’d have to stop, and you’d have to go, “Hey, man, tell me about yourself. I’ve got so much empathy for you. Oh, actually I can’t … I’ve got to talk to that … Oh, and there’s that … Oh, there’s that …” It would be some mass meeting where you’re trying to have empathy with everybody. You are, by default, indifferent to the majority of the 7.6 billion people on the planet, unless they send you, immediately, a strong signal otherwise and either sustain that signal or build that trust over time.
Mike Domitrz: Oh, I love this, because this is actually really congruent, because here’s where I refer to empathy in my work. I say that if you see someone in a dangerous, vulnerable situation where you could help, is that your responsibility? That’s where audiences are like, “Well, yes, because they’re in trouble,” and there’s the trigger you’re referencing.
Mark Bowden: Right. Right.
Mike Domitrz: When the trigger activates and says, “There’s danger over here,” now I, as a human being, am built to have empathy for you, because you’re in danger. So I go from indifferent to completely empathetic, because that’s what I’m built to do in that moment as a human being.
Mark Bowden: If you were passing through a city, okay? You pass by many, many people, but there’s one and you get this gut instinct, you get this kind of funny feeling in your stomach, and you go, “Hang on. There’s something up with him,” or, “There’s something up with them or her. Something’s going on.” You may stop and go, “Oh, I don’t want to butt in here, but is everything okay?” You may do that. Now, they may go, “Yeah. No, fine. Everything’s fine,” because maybe they were just a little bit anxious about something that’s happening in their life, and it’s not immediate, and the panic came across their face. You just clocked that. You saw that for a moment, and you got triggered, and this moment of empathy happened. But what about the other 7.6 billion? You’re not hanging [inaudible 00:34:31] them, because they haven’t triggered you at that point, to be social, to have empathy. If that was happening all the time, you would be overwhelmed.
Mark Bowden: Now, having said that, there are some people out there who are incredibly sensitive to all these signals, and they do get overwhelmed by it, because they’re not using that filter system of being indifferent to the majority. It’s a very small amount of people who are like this. They need a lot of help to navigate the world, because it’s extraordinarily overwhelming to them. So I’m not saying that all people of the planet are built for indifference, but the massive majority are. Our primal programming is learning that we can ignore the majority of stuff on the planet. The key is is what are you going to pay attention to that’s going to help you live or cause you to die? That’s what your instinct is doing. That’s what it’s in for. You’re going to live or die. Hope this makes sense [inaudible 00:35:42]
Mike Domitrz: Yeah. It makes total sense. Very logical.
Mike Domitrz: Mark, you’ve been amazing. I want to make sure anybody who’s listening right now can find you. It’s truthplane.com, just like you fly in a plane, truthplane.com. Twitter @truthplane. And, of course, your two books Truth and Lies: What People Are Really Thinking, by Mark Bowden. Then Winning Body Language, by Mark Bowden. You also got into comic books yourself with Asterix the Gaul series, because of being dyslexic.
Mark Bowden: Yeah.
Mike Domitrz: I appreciate you sharing that. We’re going to have all the books that Mark recommends in the show notes. Once again, we recommend everybody to go on Facebook. Share with us your favorite part of this interview with Mark at Facebook. Just simply go to The Respect Podcast Discussion Group, or just go to TheRespectPodcast.com.
Mike Domitrz: Mark, I want to thank you so much for joining us.
Mark Bowden: Mike, it’s been great being here. Thanks for all the work that you do. I know you do incredible, important work across the world, so thanks for keeping on doing that. Appreciate it.
Mike Domitrz: I appreciate that. Thank you.
Mike Domitrz: Before I answer this week’s question of the week, I’d love to ask you a question. Would you please subscribe to this podcast? The Respect Podcast with Mike Domitrz. By subscribing, you can make a huge impact. Now, you might be wondering, “Mike, how does my subscribing to your podcast make a huge impact?” Well, here’s how. For every person that subscribes, it raises the rankings of the show in the search engines. So for people who care about respect, like yourself, when they’re doing a search for podcast, they’re more likely to find this show, providing an awesome opportunity for us to spread more respect around this world. And all you do is hit Subscribe under your podcast. Plus, the second benefit is by subscribing, you automatically get every episode right into your phone or whatever device you are listening to the podcast on. It happens automatically. So subscribing also makes your life easier.
Mike Domitrz: Now, let’s get into this week’s question of the week. Oh, and by the way, you can always ask your questions of the week by joining us on Facebook in our discussion group. It’s called The Respect Podcast Discussion Group. Go there on Facebook and ask whatever questions you would like me to answer and/or address in this segment of the show, and then listen to each episode to find out when your question is included.
Mike Domitrz: This week’s question of the week is, “Mike, if I’ve been with someone a long time, do I still need to seek consent before engaging in sexual decision
I mean, we’ve already done this in the past. There’s already a trust and understanding.”
Mike Domitrz: Well, let’s go right into this. Look, you could have done it a hundred times in the past, but that doesn’t mean this Tuesday that they want that to happen. And your partner always deserves to have a choice. All partners do. You always deserve to have a choice. So, yes, consent should always be present. Always. It is a requirement. It’s not an optional add-on. No, it’s a requirement. Now, how you choose to engage in those conversations of consent, you two can discuss that, like, “What are ways that you’d like this or not like to have this discussion?” So that you can make it fun or that it fits your two personalities. That you can explore. Once again, that requires conversation, listening, and honoring each other’s boundaries. So, so important.
Mike Domitrz: Do you know what I would love? I would love to hear your answer to this week’s question of the week. Would you please answer what your answer would have been if you were asked this question today on the show? All you do is go to our Facebook page. We have a special group where we have these discussions called The Respect Podcast Discussion Group. So The Respect Podcast Discussion Group, and share with us what would your answer have been to this week’s question of the week? And take a moment, post us a new question for future episodes. What question would you like to hear me answer on an upcoming episode? That’s all done on Facebook in our special group, which is The Respect Podcast Discussion Group. Can’t wait to see you there.
Mike Domitrz: Thank you for joining us for this episode of The Respect Podcast, which was sponsored by The Date Safe Project at DateSafeProject.org. Remember, you can always find me at MikeSpeaks.com.