Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Behavioral Scientist and Professor on Emotional Intelligence and Engagement
Disruption of the status quo and unprecedented levels of stress have led to teams on the brink of burnout: what’s the solution? In this Art of Sway episode, behavioral scientist and University of Michigan professor Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks shares his advice for using emotional intelligence and engagement to create more rewarding and effective work environments.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks is a Behavioral Scientist and the William Russell Kelly Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan. His research and time spent with organizations around the world have helped him uncover unique perspectives on how to shape emotional landscapes, craft innovative solutions, and foster rewarding collaborations in a complex and globally interconnected world. His work appears in the New York Times, the TEDx series, and National Public Radio.
In this episode, you’ll learn some of the best strategies for battling burnout in 2023, including:
- How to successfully lead the ‘emotional landscapes’ of work teams
- “Same storm, different boats”: the power of honoring individual experiences
- How to leverage existing emotional intelligence: what are we already doing to build rapport?
- Why more effective engagement reduces employee attrition
- The downsides of Zoom: why the illusion that we have face-to-face contact creates disfluency
- “Ping pong and free soda don’t seem to be cutting it anymore”: how leaders can prioritize true fulfillment over perks
Want to learn more from Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks? Sign up for his free online course available through the University of Michigan: Reigniting Employee Engagement.
Episode 21: Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks Transcript
Danielle Wiley: Welcome to The Art of Sway. This is a podcast that brings you inside the world of marketing through the lens of influence. I’m your host, Danielle Wiley. Each week, through candid conversations with industry insiders, we will uncover how influencer marketing is making an impact across all consumer buying habits and is changing the way we talk to each other. Let’s dive in.
Danielle Wiley: Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks is a behavioral scientist, mediocre songwriter and musician, and business school professor at the University of Michigan. He delves into the complexities of designing and driving change with an eye toward the role of emotional intelligence and engagement in the process. His research and time spent with organizations around the world have helped him uncover unique perspectives on how to shape emotional landscapes, craft innovative solutions, and foster rewarding collaborations in a complex and globally interconnected world. His work appears in the New York Times, the TEDx series, and National Public Radio. Sanchez-Burks is also the instructor of a Coursera course entitled, Emotional Intelligence: Cultivating Immensely Human Interactions. This popular course is free for anyone, and to date has been taken by over 20,000 people. Sanchez-Burks earned his PhD in social psychology from the University of Michigan and has held visiting appointments at universities in Singapore, France, and Turkey.
Danielle Wiley: Hailing from San Francisco and raised in Los Angeles, he currently resides in Ann Arbor. Sometimes things just fall into place. We were looking for someone to come on the podcast to discuss burnout, and boom, Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks showed up on my TV screen. We have since met for a fascinating hour of chitchat over coffee at a local cafe, and I was thrilled to have him come on the podcast to discuss all things emotional intelligence and engagement, especially within the workplace. I could have talked to him for hours. Enjoy.
Danielle Wiley: Well, first of all, I’m just glad you agreed to do this because I kind of emailed you as a stranger out of nowhere and invited you and you didn’t think I was creepy or anything, even met me for coffee.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Well, sometimes creepy and interesting could be… No, I’m very grateful, very happy to have this conversation and have me on your show.
Danielle Wiley: Awesome. Well, so the reason I had reached out to you, we were kind of brainstorming people we’d love to talk to for season two and topics that would be interesting to cover and someone, a very pivotal, amazing person on our team, Amy, had the idea of talking about burnout. And then lo and behold, the next day, I’m having my coffee watching the local morning news, but I was drinking my coffee and watching it, and you came on to talk about the four-day work week and burnout issues. And so I creepily emailed you right away. And we met for coffee, and I wasn’t scary at all and you agreed to be here. So just to get started, I’d love to… Well, first of all, it’d probably be great to set the stage and why you are any kind of expert on this at all. So maybe we can take a step back and let you kind of explain who you are and how you got there, and what you do.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Sure. So I am Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks. I’m the William Kelly Russell professor here at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. I’m a behavioral scientist by training with a cultural anthropology bent, and I’ve been studying the ways in which people relate or don’t relate to one another in professional context for most of my career. And over the last three or four years in particular, I’ve been trying to understand what are the ways in which organizations can reimagine how they design ways to engage people in their organizations. Obviously, there’s a lot going on in the world and has been going on in the world that has not just disrupted, but almost reset the way in which people are thinking about their lives and very interested in these topics. Like you, I spend some time in the Bay Area. I was born in San Francisco, grew up in Los Angeles, but have been based here in Ann Arbor for a couple of decades now.
Danielle Wiley: It’s a good place to be. We were saying that especially in the winter, it’s a great place to get work done because it’s kind of gray and cold, and what the heck else is there to do with oneself?
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Yes. It’s sunny today. If there were some balloons in this sky, we might be able to see them.
Danielle Wiley: It’s true. So when we were chatting over coffee, one of the things you were talking about was engagement, which I think is kind of an interesting way. I guess that would be the opposite of burnout because if you’re engaged in what you’re doing, there’s a lower likelihood of being burnt out. Is that the theory?
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: I think that’s right, in the sense that people… All of the global surveys we’re seeing, surveys in the US, the data is basically indicating that people are not just particularly stress, but they’re experiencing anger, sadness at higher frequencies and greater intensities than before. And it speaks to the fact that people appear to be almost sort of at their capacity of what they can take in terms of additional stressors. And one way in which that can manifest itself is burnout or almost burnout. People might look like they’re having it completely put together, but all it takes is just one small trigger, and then it’s really hard to keep it together.
Danielle Wiley: I’m sure it’s not as easy as one, two, three tips, but what are some things that we can do to decrease burnout and increase that engagement?
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Yeah. It is a really good question. It has been a challenge forever, one might say, in organizations, but it’s now particularly important, one, because people are at risk for this, people are able to change jobs, organizations are trying to get things done. A lot of it comes down to the basic need to recognize the humanity of others. The fact that we find it very hard to appreciate things we cannot see. So things like people are feeling not respected, things like people are feeling, they need more flexibility for loved ones or ones who are sick, we can’t really see those things, and so we underappreciate the importance of those, so we’re less likely to acknowledge them. And taking other people’s perspective is hard when we’re just trying to manage so much on our side. And so trying to, what I like to call, sort of recapturing these immensely human interactions can go a long way. We can talk about multiple ways to actually deploy that, but it does begin with humanizing what have been seen as very impersonal, quote unquote, “professional” type of relationships.
Danielle Wiley: So what’s an example of that?
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: I’ll give you two examples. I was inspired from two people I worked with. It was amazing. This one woman, she said, “Okay,” after we did this sort of long workshop on what does this look like and the barriers and how to overcome them, and she said, “JSB, actually, here’s what I do. I listened very carefully when I’m on the Zoom calls or regular telephone call, to what my direct reports care about. Aside from the business side of it, what do they care about? And if I hear clues, I try to translate those into behaviors.” And she gave two examples. One was one of her employees talked about missing travel they used to do regularly to Australia. I think they had some family in Australia. So she did some Google research, or ChatGPT research, and what was sort of the favorite chocolate? Found out it’s Tim Tams.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: So when this person actually hit one of their KPIs, they got a box of Tim Tams. Even though it wasn’t a huge expense, it was just so meaningful because the boss had recognized that. And this other fellow had a similar story in that he had a COVID dog. During the pandemic, he got a pet. He’s not the only person, right? And the dog was just barking during a call with his boss. And the next day, Amazon delivered a big bone from his boss for the dog. And so there was sort of a tongue in cheek like, maybe this will shut the dog up, but it was like, this is life. It’s okay. And he’s like, “I love my boss.” It was these tiny symbolic gestures that could not have happened unless you were truly attuned to the other as a person, and then didn’t just acknowledge that in a superficial way, but translated it into behavior. And I think those are two wonderful examples of humanizing relationships, even when distant by space and working hybrid.
Danielle Wiley: No, my business partner is very good at gestures like that, so I feel like, thank goodness for her, we’ve got that a little bit covered.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: You outsource the humanity component.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: That’s okay. You have a culture keeper.
Danielle Wiley: I forbid. I’m actually being humane. And one of the things that really interests me is the difference in the generations in terms of speaking up for what they need and expectations of what their work life is like. I think being a Gen X-er myself, work is work, and sometimes it’s a slog, but I feel like Gen Z has this different expectation, and it’s more of a whole life like, “This is part of who I am and it has to kind of fit in and I have to feel fulfilled.” And I kind of love it, and I think it’s going to help the workplace overall and help humanity overall, but have you seen that? You’re a professor so you have a lot of Gen Z in your world.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: It is very interesting. So the executives I work with are hungry for information about what it will take to engage, to reduce burnout, to reduce attrition, because ping pong and free soda doesn’t seem to be cutting it anymore. On the other hand, they’re struggling to get these very same folks to say what will provide fulfillment, what would reduce burnout. They just move with their feet and switch or kind of carry on, but they’re not so vocal about, “Here’s what we want.” And it’s unclear they know for sure. I think there’s a lot of introspection happening right now. There is the Microsoft dataset that came out that identified a is it worth it index. Is it worth it to pour myself into this? And it didn’t have an alternative of, “I’d rather do X,” but just, “I’m not sure how much I should put into this. What do I want to do?”
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: And that makes sense. There’s a bit of disorientation, or fog, some people say about this. And it’s frustrating because people do want to engage and reduce burnout and help one another, but it’s not necessarily clear what people want. Obviously, fair wages, and we see how that’s sorting it out, which is wonderful. But on the other side, in terms of fulfillment or reducing burnout or engagement or relationships, it’s less certain. I think there’s going to need to be a heavy dose of creative imagination applied to this context in the same way we would try to innovate in any other domain.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. I’m seeing a lot of just kind of, artificial sounds negative and the wrong word, but a lot of people setting up specific processes to try to incorporate more of this whole person and sharing and feedback into the day to day. So asking a personal question and kind of like a round-robin at the beginning of a meeting, or I met with a very interesting woman yesterday and she told me that she has this Calendly links and she has one set up specifically called feedback, and it’s a 15-minute feedback meeting that anyone on her team can do, and they have to check off, give feedback or receive feedback. And I feel like no one would schedule that with me if I did that, but I think her-
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Nothing speaks like deep human connection like a standard operating procedure.
Danielle Wiley: Right. And then someone else I’m very close with posted some kind of exercise from Brené Brown, which was kind of similar to the asking the personal question at the beginning. I tend to ask a fun one like, “What’s the best gift you got over the holidays, or what are you most looking forward to cooking for Thanksgiving?” Something like that.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: But this was more like, “What’s one thing you really need personally right now?” I don’t know. I guess it makes it a little bit easier to know that you should send the Tim Tams or whatever they’re called.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Well, that’s the thing. You can’t know exactly on that. It has to be dynamic. The way the stories you’re telling, it reminds me basically of every episode of The Office I’ve ever seen.
Danielle Wiley: Or Silicon Valley. It sounds very sad. As I’m saying it, I’m like, this is bad.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Here’s how we’re going to do this. Well, part of it is people are just like, “I have already so much in my own personal life. And now I’m a leader, and now I’m trying to do mental health support, subjective wellbeing support for others. I don’t know how to do that. Can we just focus on KPIs?”
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: And that’s not in their wheelhouse, but it is. It’s this time where if we have interdependencies, which is what you have in organizations, for better or for worse, we’re going to have to invest in trying to make these connections. But it’s not clear. We’re at the point where you can take an off the shelf, start off your morning meeting with, “What kind of tree are you today?” or something like this. It has to be a little bit more authentic. In some ways, the stories I’m hearing, the ones that resonate with me are the ones where people try to figure out, what do they already do naturally to build rapport or trust? What have they done? That sort of helps bring ease in a situation? And then just try to leverage that rather than get advice from somebody of, this is the thing to do. So for example, the idea of build a stronger human connection, well, there’s many different ways to go about that. You could ask follow up questions so it doesn’t seem like you’re checking off the box.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: That Alison Wood Brooks out of Harvard shows has a really profound influence on building rapport. You could take what people say as sort of one surface level indication, and sort of have in the back of your mind that maybe there’s more to the story, but look to clues from that person. Do they want to dig further? Do they not want to? And let them have some agency in this line of inquiry. There’s great work coming out of Chicago and Berkeley on how it’s so hard to appreciate things we can’t see, and there’s so much in people’s lives that they don’t want to make public. I remember in the early days of COVID, people are embarrassed when they got sick. Now it seems like you had to have been sick. And so-
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: … it’s this subtle dance and we know how to do this, but we’re slightly out of practice, it seems.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. I think it’s hard. When you’re seeing everyone just on Zoom, I can’t tell you how many times it happens that someone just seems off in their little box on the screen and we’re kind of messaging behind the scenes, “Is she okay? What’s going on?” Or I am slacking someone during the meeting, like, “Everything cool? You look sad.” It’s very difficult when you’re in that Brady Bunch world of just the squares on the screen to pick up on those cues.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Part of the challenge is we have the illusion that we have face-to-face contact. Now I’m looking at you in the eyes now, which doesn’t seem like it. And when I do look at you in the eyes, of course, I’m looking at my camera.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: And because of that parallax, your image is not over the camera, and so we often walk away from these zoom calls with a sense of disfluency, a sense that that was a little bit awkward or disappointing. I thought we were having this face-to-face connection, and we’re not because it’s not possible to look each other in the eye. And when we are able to look each other in the eye, there’s a very subtle dance about, I see a reactions. And of course, what you pointed out is your reaction may be that you just realize your crypto position has totally tanked in the moment. And it wasn’t what I said, but I’m thinking it’s because of what I said, because I assumed your present in the moment, but no reasonable person who doesn’t have their hands shown would not be typing in multitasking.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: So there is an illusion of greater connectivity through video chat than there actually is. So I’m a big proponent of certain moments need to be intentionally camera off, where people can wander in their office, close their eyes and just listen, and then having these moments where people step back and have to be present, but only for a certain period of time because it is mentally taxing to be on camera, and then camera’s off.
Danielle Wiley: I think it’s just mentally taxing to see yourself all day. I didn’t realize the crazy faces I make in meetings, and I think I was better off not knowing. I tried for a while just turning my camera off in the meetings, which is possible, to hide your… Not on our podcast software, but in Zoom, it’s possible to hide yourself, which is hard to get used to, but I think it is good for mental health sometimes.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: It’s true. So even in this podcast, I just have another window just covering myself so I get to focus on you and the camera. But yes, you’re right. So there is an experience people are having where they feel as if they’re unable to have these very fluent, smooth interactions. And they could in real life, but the technology gives them a sense that, well, you may be a little bit more awkward than you thought. You’ve lost some of your moves.
Danielle Wiley: So technology and Zoom and the fact that so many of us are remote now is an obvious culprit, but what are some of the other ways that we’re kind of prevented from understanding each other and connecting, besides the technology?
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Yeah. So there was a wonderful expression going around the last few years, and I still haven’t been able to find the first person who said it, but we went through the same storm but in different boats. And I love this expression because there are people who’ve experienced tragedy, who still are. There’s other people who are embarrassed that they hung out in the Cayman Islands during the pandemic. There are people who are still struggling with social media that is bombarding them with their attention focused to negative political events, and others who don’t have that. And it makes it harder for us to figure out what is our common experience. And especially when we’re not together, we’re not having a common experience, like we would see our neighbor who walks the dog and is like, yesterday was raining. Great for us it’s not today. It’s hard to restart those ritualized regular interactions. You can’t, as you mentioned, just schedule a [inaudible 00:19:49] for that.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Let’s schedule a calendar, pretend we’re at the water cooler or the car. That’s just weird. Please, don’t. I want to get away from my computer. And so that makes it difficult. And I think the final kind of nugget on this is there’s some who are living a very analog in-person world, and there are others who aren’t. And there’s a little bit of, could be jealousy and awkwardness about what is going on here. You’re at home, I’m not, so I’m not going to prioritize you. And then people who are at home who’ve now really [inaudible 00:20:23] out their full on studio pad because they had to during the pandemic, like, “Ah, this is comfortable.” On the other hand, what do the kids say? The FOMO, fear of missing out goes larger. I personally have LOMO.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: I love missing out on meetings. Whenever I find out I’m not invited to a meeting, I’m so thankful.
Danielle Wiley: Larry David was on I don’t remember which talk show, but he was talking about how happy he is when anything’s… If you want to cancel something with him, it’s like the greatest. He’s like, “Thank you.”
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: I know. I wish I knew people who were people who canceled meetings on a regular basis.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. So one of the things that you talk about is people fronting when they present ideas that would be probably more helpful to present with some kind of humility, but they kind of put this front on, getting back to how the kids talk these days.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: The millennial.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, yeah. Something or other. Tell me a little bit about why is that a thing?
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Yeah, so I’m doing a lot. So apropos of this need to be creative and problem solve and design more preferable futures, I’ve been doing work with a wonderful graduate student of mine on, what are some of the barriers to developing new ideas? Not just how do you help people be more creative, but also how do you help create the right microculture that allows imperfect ideas to be shared so that they can go in the trash more quickly, because most ideas are bad, or find a nugget to polish? And what we discovered is something that resonates with this, oh, ancient Japanese philosophy and art and design, which is wabisabi, this notion that there’s imperfection and impermanence, and it’s something to be appreciated. When we apply that in this context of creativity, it is just the case that all very brand new ideas that pop in our head are imperfect.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: I don’t know an example of something that popped into a head that was put into practice ever. And they’re impermanent in the sense that because it’s imperfect, it will change. So we’ve been working on trying to understand when people have new ideas and they’re sort of kicking them around, how come they don’t acknowledge they’re imperfect and that they’ll change? And what are the consequences of it? And what we discovered is that when we are presented with an idea by someone else, we’re trying to figure out, am I supposed to judge this? Have they fully invested in this? Are they so open to feedback? And if it comes across very polished, I give superficial feedback. Maybe I just try to reject it. But if it’s imperfect and it’s acknowledged as such, I’m more likely to say, “Oh, they need my help and give feedback.” So we did these surveys and we asked people, “When you present an idea, if you acknowledge it was not perfect, it’s not set in stone, would you get higher quality feedback?”
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: And people say, “Yeah, it’s much better to acknowledge that than to,” as you said, “front and just go into sales mode too quickly.” Well, what’s interesting enough is they people believe that this would be better for themselves and others. So then we said, “Do you do this?” And they’re, “Hell no.” They said, “We don’t do this because I’ll be seen as incompetent or less competent.” And so we’re shooting ourselves in the foot on one hand, not doing the things we know will help us, but I think bosses also have a huge role, leaders have a huge role in trying to create norms where humility and competence are defined as the same thing in these very early stages, so that we can get to a point, when it has to go to a higher up or a gatekeeper or a customer, we have invested in the right ideas.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Justin Berg over at Stanford published some wonderful research showing that if you ask people to pick the very best idea of all of their ideas they came up with, they’re usually wrong. And that means it requires other people to be involved much earlier on in the process to help which ones should you bother putting into a PowerPoint or into a 3D printer or to wire frame. Don’t put the burden on people’s shoulders to come up with ideas and to be able to select from those ideas which ones they should invest in.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. Being in marketing, I’ve been participating in brainstorms for many, many years. They used to all be in person, now they’re digital, which I do find pretty difficult. I feel like it was easier in the in-person days, to be throwing out, just throwing all the against the wall because, I don’t know, it kind of felt more active and more of an action verb type of… If you have to wait to raise your hand and you have the awkward over talking people, and I know there are some technologies now trying to help with that like digital whiteboards and so on and so forth, but I just remember being in brainstorms where everyone’s just throwing out a ton of ideas, and then you end up with a hundred. And we used to give out stickers and everyone would pick their top three and you’d see how many got the most dots. And then those, we would kind of dive into more and try to explore. That’s really hard to do remotely.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Yeah. Well you mentioned digital whiteboards. So we have a impact studio at the business school. And when the pandemic happened, I had to figure out how to do this digitally because we didn’t shut down. And it actually can be quite effective when you try to inject some of the analog in that. So for example, having a whiteboard where everybody can contribute, but you enforce silence. We’re all online, but you enforce silence and everybody has to contribute. You can see it. And then voting things like dots. I even remember creating little digital dots, and you put them on there, and then having conversations. So you had both one-on-one, you had silence, you have movement where you can see people’s mouse moving. It was actually wonderfully effective only when you didn’t let the technology dictate everything, when you tried to have the non-verbals. Because when you are brainstorming and I see excitement, I know to pause, let you do that, and then come in. And there’s this non-verbal dance that is really hard to replicate online.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: And thank goodness the technologists are doing as much as they can to help us. And we didn’t have the pandemic in ’07 or ’04, or whatever, but these are not necessarily humanists and we can’t outsource our, I wouldn’t say responsibility, but opportunity to really do what is needed to inject more of that natural human component in interactions. And it’s not going to happen fully remote. There’s just no chance. And sometimes more analog is better, like picking up the phone where there’s less latency, and I can walk around. You can imagine how many great ideas are not popping up because people have to sit down in front of a computer and talk to someone rather than just wander and pace back and forth.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, I remember I used to do some… My kids went to this crafting based after-school program in Chicago when they were little, and I remember talking to the woman who ran it who has an organizational psychology background, and also actually led some cool meetings for our company back in the early days. But when she would interview people to work at this afterschool center, she always insisted that they do a craft project together while they were chatting. So instead of just sitting across from each other and asking the typical interview questions, they would crochet or make a collage or color. And she said, it’s really hard to be dishonest and not open when your hands are busy. And she just found that it led to much better conversations, and much more openness, and she always got a greater sense of who that person was when their hands were busy as they were chatting, which is similar to walking, I guess.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Wow. Yeah, that’s really insightful. So it does take a lot of mental focus and energy to front, right? To go back to this idea too, to engage in self impression management, that takes energy. And we don’t multitask generally well. And so if you use up some cognitive resources on something that involves your hand or requires some dexterity, yeah, that’s interesting that it might sort of leak out the more authentic self, or at minimum, how you react to the fact that you cannot crochet.
Danielle Wiley: Right. True. True. Maybe she’ll just give you a crayon if you ever interview with her.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Yeah, I like this idea, interviewing by crayon.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. So we have quarterly anti-oppression meetings and we talk about DEI issues and just kind of come together for a couple of hours every quarter. We actually have our Q1 meeting tomorrow. But when you’re meeting with 30 people, there’s typically three or four who are the chatty Cathy’s and taking up all the space in the room, and there are some people who are just not comfortable speaking up in front of a larger group. And there are some digital tools that make that easier, where people can type in ideas, and you can have this, it’s not really a whiteboard, but kind of this bulletin board where people are sharing their thought, and we often do it anonymously. It’s nice that way because you kind of get over that phenomenon of just the loud voices in the room being the only ones that are heard. And I don’t know how that would happen in a world where it’s in person and you have to raise your hand and speak up, and if you’re someone who’s very shy.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Yeah, I love that. You can also inject these sort of, during break, here’s a prompt, and people light up the chat, having a separate private channel where send text messages or Slack channel messages here if you don’t want to do it on the platform, and then the moderator can go through those and inject them, but not have them in real time. In some ways, we have to figure out where’s your attention be? Well, maybe this is just my experience, but in most of my professional meetings, people are not on laptops. You’re there, you’re not on your phone, you’re on a laptop, you’re present. This just would be very taboo to be on your laptop and distracted, which we can do when we’re on Zoom. And there are ways to inject these using the tools we have. For example, all right, everybody off of… Turn off your screen and light up the chat for this prompt.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Let’s go out into a breakout room and do this. And then each breakout room is responsible for reporting out some key points. So if you had the loud ones in there, they’re distributed, and so you can get a little bit more democracy injected into those conversations. These are some old tools of the trade, just in general, and like a classroom. But you’re right, it’s even harder to interrupt, interject because of the latency and part on that. And so the spirit I love the most is this sense that we’re not going to ever get this right, so we’re going to constantly experiment. So for this meeting, we’re going to try this. And we are not going to have big feedback sessions, but we’ll get some feedback and we’ll try something else the next time. And that tinkering mentality I think is much appreciated, because there’s nothing worse than being locked in a tradition that you don’t like, that doesn’t work, that there’s no way it was perfect the first time.
Danielle Wiley: Well, and if you’re the boss or the professor, I don’t always trust that I’m getting the feedback I should be [inaudible 00:32:28], and putting a 15 minute Calendly is not going to fix it. But I could be totally stuck in something that I insist that we do, asking people what their favorite dish to make for Thanksgiving, and I insist on asking these silly questions at every meeting, and they could all think it’s the dumbest thing ever. I don’t trust that I would get that feedback.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: It would be very meta, not the company, or very ironic to have a discussion of Thanksgiving dinner at an anti-oppression discussion.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, true story.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: It’s like, is this done on purpose?
Danielle Wiley: We saved that for the pro-oppression meetings.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Yeah. No, right now, the only thing I’ve really kept over from the pandemic into my analog classroom, for example, are recordings. I used Loom. You could use Zoom, you could use YouTube. But basically, the students prepare their assignment, it could be a reflection or whatnot, and then they record it in one take. If they don’t stutter, they get less of a grade. Basically, you have to show that it’s imperfect, one take, and then record it, and then I get that, and that’s the assignment.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: And it allows me to see them and hear them as an individual, which I don’t get in a classroom. It allows us to communicate a little better. I don’t have to worry about them looking where I’m looking at the camera. I can watch it. I can re-watch it. The emotions come out. And I’ve just found this so fulfilling, and I’m so grateful and surprised and happy that the students also find this to be a better submission than an essay only. But so I’m thankful there for the technology to be able to allow that type of way of communicating and sending submissions. Right now, of course, with a million discussions on ChatGPTs, did they just get this? And now they’re reading from the script?
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: It doesn’t matter. Authentic stories you hear from people come out, and it’s wonderful.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: I guess the metapoint I had there was just simply using asynchronous technology as well.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: The old voicemail.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, it doesn’t all have to happen at the same time.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: You push the tape, you put rewind. Wait, that’s dating me. That was a voice recorder, a telephone. What did we call those machines?
Danielle Wiley: We were talking last week about getting up and changing the channel, if you want to talk about dating yourself.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: And why it’s called a clicker.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Yeah, we can talk about all the old school stuff on this.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. So I could talk to you about the workplace stuff forever, but we’re coming up on time. So this takes me to our last question, which we’ve been asking everyone, old school stuff, what commercial from your childhood still sticks with you today?
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: So it’s a bit embarrassing, but the first time I knew that I really wanted to go to Ireland, it was because I saw a commercial in which there was probably no Irish, nor was it probably filmed in Ireland, but it was the Irish Spring commercial.
Danielle Wiley: I thought you were going to say Lucky Charms.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Oh yeah. I didn’t associate Lucky Charms with Ireland. Maybe the Irish would find that… Thank goodness that I didn’t.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I remember the Lucky… Well, there was a pretty red-haired lady in the green hills, and there was singing. Wasn’t there? We can find the commercial and put it on the accompanying blog post to this episode so you can revisit.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Yeah, the Irish Spring
Danielle Wiley: I love Ireland.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Yeah, I remember watching… What was it? The Clio Awards, which are just so funny, all of the commercials.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: The sort of clever and witty, indirect way of conveying messages. Remember the Toyota one where it was a father and son. And there was a woman pulled over, and they were going to go help this person whose car down. And when they got closer, they realized it was a Toyota that had pulled over, and so they sped away. And the son is like, “What are you doing?” He’s like, “It must be a sham that. No Toyota would break down.” And then it was like a psycho killer something took off their [inaudible 00:36:29].
Danielle Wiley: That’s so funny. I feel like everything in this Super Bowl is going to be… Well, this episode will come out after the Super Bowl, so we’ll see if I’m… From what I’m seeing so far, it looks like it’s all nostalgia, almost all nostalgic.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: That makes sense.
Danielle Wiley: There’s-
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Nostalgia.
Danielle Wiley: … Breaking Bad, which doesn’t feel like it was 10 years ago, but it was. Clueless, someone posted there was something clueless coming up. There’s a bunch of old throwbacks to old stuff.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: I was in Los Angeles, and K-EARTH 101 used to play fifties music my parents would play. And now they’re playing eighties and nineties music. I’m like, this doesn’t seem right.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: I don’t want to hear U2 on a car commercial. It seems that’s supposed to be more rebellious than a Lexus.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, it is.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: But it’s also fun to-
Danielle Wiley: Well, this was awesome, and thank you so much for joining me, and I’m so glad I just reached out when I saw you because this was terrific. Really appreciate it.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: Yeah, it’s wonderful to be neighbors.
Danielle Wiley: Thank you.
Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks: I look forward to talking more. Thanks so much for having me on.
Danielle Wiley: To find Jeffrey on social? You should head over to LinkedIn where you can just search Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, that’s Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, B-U-R-K-S, to follow all of his brilliant insights there. Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. Please check back next Monday for a new episode featuring marketing conversations through the lens of influence. I am your host, Danielle Wiley, and this is The Art of Sway.