Our non-verbal communication is as much or more important than what we verbally communicate. We may display mannerisms that our gut instincts pick up as just off, but a trained FBI Behavioral Analysis can pick up on these signs faster than you might expect. Today’s guest is Robin Dreeke. Robin is an accomplished executive coach, bestselling author, and professional speaker with an impressive background. As a Marine Corps officer and retired FBI Special Agent, he served as Chief of the Counterintelligence Behavior Analysis Program where he honed his skills on recruiting spies and behavioral assessment. Robin has translated his expertise into his unique interpersonal communication strategies that focus on recruiting allies in business.“Vulnerability is actually the willingness to show your shame. Shame is a powerful emotion that dictates a lot of what we do in life.” - Robin Dreeke Click To Tweet
- [1:23] – Robin shares his background and previous roles in the Marine Corps and FBI.
- [2:45] – Robin has not been a victim of a scam, but there have been many attempts and close calls.
- [6:02] – We establish normal patterns of behavior and tempo.
- [7:52] – Be wary of things that deviate from normal patterns of behavior.
- [10:19] – If we’re trying to find something wrong, we miss a lot.
- [14:07] – Robin explains why he looks for openness, honesty, and transparency in a nice even tempo.
- [15:42] – Underneath “why” is the “what” and the “how.”
- [17:30] – Vulnerability is the willingness to show your shame.
- [20:17] – Words are extremely powerful.
- [22:24] – The more time spent with someone, you will be able to learn their natural tempo and behavior patterns.
- [24:34] – The techniques Robin talks about aren’t just applicable to criminal interviews, but even just personal conversations.
- [26:07] – Master manipulators are on a timeline. Usually they’re not patient.
- [28:52] – Sales people can also use these techniques to push the tempo out of your comfort zone.
- [31:31] – Robin only vets people based on in-person interactions now.
- [33:12] – Robin compares reality to shows like Criminal Minds.
- [35:43] – The actions that people will take are predictable.
- [37:52] – Some people have the tendency to find something wrong with everyone and everything.
- [40:08] – Focus on having a great conversation with other people.
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Robin, thank you so much for coming on the Easy Prey Podcast today.
Chris, it’s an honor and a pleasure. Besides, I love your look in your background.
Thank you. My wife has done an amazing job making my office look nice, because otherwise it would just be a gray wall if it were me.
That is a great, loving critic.
Yeah, she is. Can you give myself and the audience a little bit of background about who you are and what you do?
The dime tour of my background is simple. I am a former United States Marine. I am a retired FBI special agent. During my time in the FBI, I was a counterintelligence agent. I recruited spies. I was a member of the Behavioral Analysis Program. I served as the Chief of the Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program, where we strategize human engagements, recruiting spies, double agent ops, all the rookie, spooky spy stuff.
I was an instructor at the Counterintelligence Training Center for years teaching all the same stuff. I retired in 2018. Since then and before then, I've written three books. I'm a keynote speaker, coach, podcaster, all that kind of stuff.
All that fun stuff. I had a question that I try to ask as many guests as possible. Have you ever been the victim or near-victim of a scam, fraud, or something like that?
A victim of a lot of attempts. It's funny, a lot of attempts that don't go too far. The one that actually made it far enough for me to react to, and this was a number of years ago, probably around 2009 or 2010 when I was an instructor at the training center at Quantico, I was giving a class at the Marine Special Operations Command at Camp Lejeune.
I'd gotten a Facebook Messenger message from my daughter. My daughter back then was a teenager. She's a grown daughter now. She's a beautiful nurse, labor and delivery. She delivers little babies.
I'd gotten a text from her on Messenger. It's one of those typical ones. “Hey, dad. This strange picture of you popped up on Facebook. You might want to take a look at this.” That freaked me out. Being a persona on social media, having a public figure and everything, and also being FBI currently at the same time back then, I freaked.
I pulled over. I clicked the link. As typical as, “Hey, your Facebook page is locked. You have to go to this website. Unlock it by entering your username and password.” I did that. As soon as I did that, that's when I really freaked. I said, “Oh, my God. What did I do?”
I pulled over the side of the road when this happened, literally, right on the highway and stopped. I reset every single password I had, whether it was the same password or not, and nothing ever came of it.
It's just another good example of, hey, when we're emotionally attached to the things that are going on our lives, and we don't have time to run it through what I call loving critic like your wife and my wife, we can fall prey to these things because we have our own confirmation biases that play into this. That's why when something, or someone, or an event deviates from a pattern of normal behavior in which we normally see in any way, that's when we should stop, take no action, and do a deeper dive before we do take any action.
Let's talk about this a little bit. Was the interaction from your daughter within the normal pattern of what she would say? You're in a place where you're on social media, where something concerning wouldn't be appropriate for you to be concerned about. Is that what triggered it for you?That's why when something, or someone, or an event deviates from a pattern of normal behavior in which we normally see in any way, that's when we should stop, take no action, and do a deeper dive before we do take any action.… Click To Tweet
There's a few levers of influence that were at play here. Cialdini has a great book, Influence. One of the levers was curiosity. It definitely spiked the level of influence and manipulation through curiosity because that's what most of these social engineers, the dark hat ones, will play upon to inspire you to take action. It played on that one.
What I should have recognized faster than I did was it was a deviation from my daughter's pattern of behavior. My daughter has never messaged me on Messenger before, it never made sense. At the moment, I'd given myself my own confirmation bias because I wanted to look, because curiosity overrode cognitive thinking and said, “It must be so bad because despite the curiosity and spite fear that we want to react to fear and curiosity at the same time to take action.” This is what really transpired, but it was a major deviation from her pattern of behavior.
The first thing I did before I started resetting things is I reached out to her through my cell phone and said, “Hey, did you just send me a message?” She goes, “What?” I went, done, clicked, and I just went right back in. I dove in and changed everything up before any damage was done.
That's what we always do. We do this every day with everyone around us. We establish normal patterns of behavior. Most importantly too, not just patterns, behavior, tempo. We can really see the tempo of the world around us and the environment around us.
A great example. I'm sitting in my home office here, and I've got a bay window here. Outside here, I have a butterfly bush. We’ve got a nice little pool there, and my neighbor's on the other side of our fence. They have a bunch of bees, honey bees. They're raising honeybees.
One day, I went outside to cut the grass, and I have a swarm of honey bees on one of the branches of my butterfly bush. My wife is freaking out, “Oh, bees, bees, bees,” and I'm just sitting here watching the bees. I called my neighbor and said, “Hey, come get your bees.”
Everyone's just freaking out. He said, “How come you're just sitting there not freaking out?” I said, “Well, are you watching their tempo?” He said, “What are you talking about?” I said, “Well, they're not agitated because the tempo they had before I was walking around, the tempo they have now is exactly the same. Their baseline has not shifted to agitation, so we're fine.”
Granted, I don't want to go slap them around, because if I'm changing my tempo, it's going to impact their tempo. But again, that's the universe around us. That's the environment around us. If we can let go of our agenda, do the most important thing that is be present, and we see what is rather than what we're trying to see with our own confirmation biases, you take in a lot more data.If we can let go of our agenda, do the most important thing that is be present, and we see what is rather than what we're trying to see with our own confirmation biases, you take in a lot more data. -Robin Dreeke Click To Tweet
You're not trying to see anything. What you're doing is you're just seeing what's out of tempo, what's out of sequence, what's out of place. When they came up with that great statement years ago—“If you see something, say something”—what they're really saying is look for deviations from what looks normal in this environment, both tempo-wise, object-wise, behavior-wise. You can only see that if you're not trying to see something, only when you're taking it all in.
Would that be the gut feeling that you have when you're talking with one of your friends and you're like, “Something's off, something's wrong”? So you start asking them, “Hey, so what's wrong?” And they're like, “How did you know?” Is that our subconscious picking up on a tempo or pattern?
Hundred percent. Again, I'm a very general guy. I don't have a 50-pound brain. It's more of a practical application side of it. What we're seeing is we're picking up on incongruences between language and nonverbal behavior. In other words, the things they're saying might sound right, but it's in congruent with the emotion that they have while they're saying it.What we're seeing is we're picking up on incongruences between language and nonverbal behavior. In other words, the things they're saying might sound right, but it's in congruent with the emotion that they have while they're saying… Click To Tweet
In other words, they might be trying to use words that are about us, but their intention is self-centered about them. In other words, they're trying to take advantage. They're trying to hide something. They're not demonstrating my three core behaviors for trust. It's openness, transparency, and vulnerability.
If you're not having those behaviors, when they're sharing information, we're going to pick up on these incongruences. Where we fall into a trap sometimes and get ourselves and others in trouble is when we try to label what that incongruence is. “Oh, you're lying. You’re deceiving me. You’re manipulating me.” You start placing these emotional labels on people, which might be incongruent so their defenses go up, and then we get into conflict.
Meanwhile, what you should be just saying is, “That's interesting. That’s a little different.” Take a step back. Try to discover why you have that emotion, what behaviors you're doing, and clarify.
What you can do is you can question. “Hey, something seems a little off. I don't quite understand this. Please explain this more thoroughly to me.” If this is a good relationship, a healthy relationship, someone who's actually trying to build trust and be honest, open, and transparent, they should be able to give you an explanation that you understand like this, it's done.
They call it double-talk. After all their words come in, and you still have no idea what the hell they're talking about, that's when you back away and say, “We're done here today in this particular vector because something unhealthy is going on.”
You talked about the double-talk or the person has said a whole bunch, but they haven't really said anything. Are there key phrases that we might pick up on, or is it just they're talking around something and never really getting to the point?
Again, I’ve got to keep things really simple because if I tend to focus on what I'm trying to hear in a key phrase, I'm going to miss everything else. I don't try to see anything. I don't try to listen for key things or anything. I'm just trying to understand.
The core behavior that we should have as individuals is the great mitigator of most things in life if you're trying to create trust, if you're trying to detect someone, if they're trustworthy or not. Curiosity. If you don't understand what someone's saying, just be curious. Explore it.If you don't understand what someone's saying, just be curious. Explore it. -Robin Dreeke Click To Tweet
Here's a good thing to do. Just a keyword here to use is a “what” question. What forces people to be very specific? If you ask why, “Well, why is it this way? Why is it going like this? Why should I wait for this long? Why should I do this now?” Why inspire someone to give double-talk and subjective answers and information, which they can manipulate to serve their own needs?
A question forces someone to be very specific. Why do I need to take action on this now? They'll give all these reasoned explanations of all because blah, blah, blah. We give all the levers of influence in there, as opposed to what benefit to me and, specifically, what benefit to you is there for me to take action on this now? It forces them to be specific to you as well as to them because there's got to be a benefit in it for them to do it now, and I want to know what it is.
Now, if they're being transparent with that simple question, they should have a simple answer. It can be as simple as, hey, on their own, “Why this has to take place now?” “Well, I'm on a timeline. I'm on deadline. If I don't get this specific quota in, I'm not going to get this bonus. I'm not going to get promoted, whatever it is.” You know what that is? That's openness. That’s transparency. That, you can trust, because if they're willing to shed a little bit of light of what's going on behind the scenes of what can benefit them from, good. I trust that.
When they can tell me what's the benefit for me and why this is good on a timeline, or if they can say, “You know what? There really isn't much of a benefit for you to do it right now. It’s only for me, and I apologize for that. But you make the choice, and if it's not good for you, I'll move on.” That entire statement, entire conversation is completely about you. It's not about them. That is transparency. You know what they're doing? They're making you feel safe with who they are because they're not hiding anything.
I always love it when people I'm dealing with are open about their motivations for things. “Hey, I'm trying to get this close by the end of the month so I can meet my quota.” “Oh, awesome.” If I'm close to the edge, that might be enough to nudge me over to, “Yeah, sure, let's get that taken care of this month.” Whether I close it today on my side or tomorrow, it doesn't make a difference to me. But if it makes you happy, you're now ingratiated to be a little bit Cialdini again.
You know what can be really good there too? As soon as you said that, as soon as someone opens up, here's where you can do a little bit of a test to see if it's just a line or not. As soon as you said that, the first things that popped in my mind were, I got curious. “Oh, tell me about your company and the kind of quota system they have. What kind of bonuses do you get or not get based on those quotas? How long have you been with this company? Are you happy with the company? What inspired you all those years ago to get in this line of work that brought you to this company? Is that what you ultimately want to do?” These are all the kinds of questions that popped in my mind.
Every one of those that focuses on you, I'm asking “what” questions, no “I” statements. As I'm asking these discovery questions, as I'm discovering the arc of their life, seeing the tempo, seeing the consistencies, what am I looking for? Openness, honesty, and transparency. If they continue on that train, and they're responding like this, and that nice even tempo, where you can tell they're not trying to contrive anything, that's more verification of trust. They're making me feel safe.
Also, there's some subterfuge. It's like, hey, that just means slow it down. We'll explore a little bit more. We have an expression. I'm a pilot. One of the expressions we have in aviation is, “No emergency takeoffs.” Don't be in a rush to get in the air because you know what? Every time you get in the air, you're going to cause an emergency landing or worse. No emergency take offs. Take your time. Let's do some due diligence. Let's explore what's actually going on here by just being curious.
I like the no emergency takeoffs. The part of me that wants to be confrontational and annoying to people goes, “Well, I can think of a couple of reasons for an emergency. But no, no, they aren't emergency takeoffs.” I like that. The why questions that you talked about earlier, do they offer the latitude for people to be more evasive?
Yeah, totally. Simon Sinek has a book, Start With Why, absolutely understanding the why. The overarching mission of everything starts up here. It's at that 30,000-foot level. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin talk about extreme ownership as well, understanding why, that big mission statement.
Under that big why is the what and how, how to execute that. That's where we're going to dive into when we really want to explore the nuances and the objective, specific sub-situations because there's no room for wiggle in the whats. There's just is, what is, in those things.
When you're allowing someone the latitude to use wordsmithing with asking why questions, artful negotiators and artful communicators can use their words in beautiful ways around you to make you feel like a million bucks. When you walk away, you ask yourself, “I wonder what they really wanted. I wonder what I really just lost. What did I actually get out of that? Those are beautiful words they used, but I didn't seek specifics because I didn't ask what questions.”
Got you. When it comes to the vulnerability aspect, how do we tell real vulnerability from fake, contrived vulnerability? I've had people in my life where they'll throw out stuff that sounds vulnerable, but it is the same thing that they've been vulnerable with in the past, which is a real vulnerability if you know where I'm going.
Yeah. It's a challenge, but it's fun. Truly self-confident because that's what you want to do. You want to work with someone who's self-confident enough that they can be vulnerable. What's vulnerability? Explore that a little bit. It's actually the willingness to show your shame.
Shame is a powerful emotion we have. It rules and dictates a lot of things we do in life. One of the worst things you can do as an interviewer, an interrogator, or a recruiter of anyone, is discover someone's shame, hold it up in front of them, and hold it up in front of others. It is powerful, distasteful. We're the worst at it ourselves.
For instance, when I was bringing people on the behavioral team, one of the questions I'd ask is, “Tell me about your strengths and how your strengths are going to impact the team in a positive way.” The other question I asked is, “Tell me about some of the things you're working on in life.” What I'm looking for is I'm looking for you to be open, honest, and full of honesty about what it is that you aren't so good at.
If you're willing to do that, be congruent with your nonverbal behavior, and then you're actually going to offer up the things you have in place to overcome those things, that's someone I can trust. If you're willing to be vulnerable, and transparent on the things that you're deficient at, then I can most likely trust you.
When I'm asking those discovery questions, say you're working with someone in the scenario we're just talking about, and you say, “Hey, give me an instance where you fell short of that quota. What did your boss do? What kind of things did you learn from that situation? Tell me about some of the challenges you faced along the course of your career so far that you learned from, that you're bringing to bear today, that you learned that you did worse yesterday.” That's a great story right there. I'll probably get it.
Granted, they're going to look at me and say, “You're wearing the hell out of me,” you're going to see really quickly whether you, as a salesperson, are going to be worth the time and effort or not. But if you're at all skeptical of this individual, that's what you do. You have to ask those questions to see how vulnerable, honest, and transparent they're willing to be.
As they're answering, what you're doing is, again, like we said before, you're looking for congruence in their nonverbal and verbal behavior. It's the tempo of the responses that should be congruent across that arc. As you start off a conversation, idle chitchat about the weather, where you're from, how we grew up, what our families are like and everything that people generally start as their baselines, what you should be hitting at that point then is that same tempo when you're asking these more revealing questions.
Got you. I actually have two questions. I'll ask the one first, and I'll remember the next one. Maybe it's not a question, it's a statement. Sorry. I like to reference when you talked about what are your strengths.
The thought that came to my mind is the opposite question that you're asking. What are your weaknesses? I liked how you phrased that. What are the things that you're working on? It seems to elicit a less defensive response from the person.
Words are powerful. Absolutely. I don't see things as right or wrong, good or bad, better or worse, or things that you are horrible at. No, things just are. There's a few things in the universe we can't control, and time is one of them. Every day, we're marching forward in it. Every day, we're facing new challenges.
Sometimes the tempo of that challenge is higher, sometimes it's lower. Just during these past three years, Covid was a high-tempo change. We all faced it. No one could avoid it. It faced us with great challenges that we had to move through because you have no choice. You're moving through them. All I'm trying to do is assess.
When you face these challenges in life that we all face every day, there is no harmonious day. Life would be boring because life is actually a series of dichotomies that we experience. You can't experience really great, beautiful times, be so excited, and so upbeat unless you saw what horribleness was. We can't appreciate beauty unless we see ugliness. Otherwise, we just have one flavor.
If you just have vanilla, then it's OK. But man, if you actually contrast it with chocolate, it's like, “Wow, I really liked vanilla, or, “I really liked chocolate,” because there's a dichotomy there.
Everything in life is a dichotomy. The more extremes we face, the more we can savor the positive one in our life. There's no good or bad. There’s just moving through an experience that gives us the reps we need in life and become masters of things we're encountering. There you go. My long narrative answers. I apologize, as always.There's no good or bad. There’s just moving through an experience that gives us the reps we need in life and become masters of things we're encountering. -Robin Dreeke Click To Tweet
I appreciate the long narrative answers. I've had interviews where the answer was “yes.” “OK, thanks.”
When it comes to patterns and tempo, how much interaction do you need with a person to learn what their patterns are, what the range of their tempo is? If you're interviewing someone or talking with someone, you don't know their whole life story, you don't know, in five minutes, what the arc of their life is. How much does it take to figure that out?
More is better, as in most things. The more data you have, the better you'll be at adapting to them. Every individual is different. Everyone's tempo is different, everyone's guards are different, everyone's shields are different. Some have shields, some have no shields, some are open books, some are closed books. It all depends on that origin story. It depends on if they were hurt. It depends on the pain they felt or didn't feel.
I've noticed with people that tend to be in the behavioral area of life, most people that have taken a fascination with human behavior have been traumatized at some point in their lives, especially at the early ages because they felt unsafe. When you're in a situation where you feel unsafe at a young age, you become really attuned to your environment and the people in that environment because you become hyperaware of triggers of what fear looks like, of what unsafe is going to cause in your life.
You become a highly attuned reader of body language, vocal nuances, steps on the ground, when you hear someone walking towards your door at one time a day compared to another. We become really heightened to these things. It's discovering all these different patterns, but there's no golden rule—“Hey, it takes this long or this long.” It really depends on the individual.
What a great interactor and human behavior person does that has deep curiosity about others is you adjust your tempo. You don't force a tempo because it's not up to you. If you're trying to create trust and try to understand another human being, discover theirs. Be with them and theirs, and that's what being present is—hitting their flow state with them at their tempo and just enjoying the ride.
You'll find that the more time you spend being open to their tempo, being present, and exploring the words that they're sharing without trying to extract what you're looking for, their tempo will come into sync with yours. You'll both be in synchronicity.
I think there are good interview techniques in there as well, like conversational interview techniques, not necessarily criminal interview techniques or employment interview techniques, but just how you're interacting with people and being responsive to their tempo.
It's funny. All my years of recruiting spies, strategizing human source recruitment and stuff, for a while, I segregated. Hey, this is what I do at work. When I'm at home, I'm just this way or with my friends and family, but you just hit it right there. All these things are the same. Human interactions are human interactions.
The labels and meanings we put on things are completely meaningless. It's still human interaction. Whether I'm interacting with you because I have a job interview, or whether I'm interacting with you as a podcast, or whether I'm interacting with you because I'm trying to deal with a neighbor whose lawn mower is going off too early in the morning, it's all the same. How do I inspire you to feel safe around me, safe enough so that you'll share what it is I'm hoping you'll share, take an action that you think is in your best interest, and it is in your best interest and aligns with mine?
How do I have an inspired conversation, where you feel safe enough to take action and share information? Likewise, as you said earlier, as we reverse that optic to see if we're going to be taken advantage of, who's not doing that?
All these things that we're talking about what a good healthy relationship looks like, it's easy then to do the reverse and say, “This is what unhealthy people do.” They're not open. They’re not accommodating. They're forcing your tempo. I'd say that's probably the biggest thing you can do when recognizing someone trying to take advantage of you.
A hard time master manipulators have, and anyone that is trying to use the dark arts against you, they're on an agenda. They’re on a timeline. I'll say usually, not always because the higher performing ones are really good with this, if they're not patient. They're going to try to push the tempo out of your comfort zone. That's what you always want to watch. Watch for someone trying to push that tempo.
This is where it gets interesting. If you try to then slow that tempo down because you're trying to get more data by asking those curious discovery questions, if they're not accommodating your tempo, and they keep trying to push it, that's when we're done because they have an agenda that they're not being transparent about. That's unhealthy. That’s a manipulator.
Is some of that forcing the tempo, pushing the tempo, being done to solicit an emotional response or to keep you off-kilter?
It keeps you off-kilter, I'd say. It’s also meant to get you to verbally commit to things quickly, because once we verbally commit to something, we have a hard time backtracking because we want to validate our own thoughts and opinions, where we want to keep taking information that doesn't contradict things we've already obligated ourselves to.
Once someone gets verbally committed to something, it's very hard for us emotionally to back out of it. They're trying to push that tempo to get an emotional response to things by those levers of influence so that we have a hard time backing away.Once someone gets verbally committed to something, it's very hard for us emotionally to back out of it. They're trying to push that tempo to get an emotional response to things by those levers of influence so that we have a hard… Click To Tweet
What the manipulators fail to realize, though, and just bad salespeople try to do this as well to try to close the deal—you’ve just ruined referrals. What you just did is you left them with buyer's remorse. No matter how successful you were to get them to make that sale, that's one, and you just ruined the thing you might have gotten because you'll get a referral. As soon as you leave that taste of, “Well, they forced my tempo, they forced my hand,” you never want to see that person again.
I've definitely had a few sales experiences like that in my life, where I liked the product, but I would never go back to that salesperson ever again in my life because they made the purchase so miserable.
Yeah. We don't buy things, we buy a relationship when we're doing these things. The quick fixes to carnival tricks, as I call them. The carnival trick people that are trying to elicit information, get responses, will walk away cheering that they treated you like a tool that they were able to manipulate. Not good for you, but now you suck. You’ll never get a referral from me, and your business will suffer.
I remember one salesperson. Everything was a micro-commitment. Just every question was to elicit a “yes” response. I'm just like, “No, I don't like this interaction. This is clearly not a ‘normal’ interaction with a salesperson. You're using every technique on me.” It's so blatant that it was downright offensive, almost.
I wish I could remember exactly how Chris Voss does it, but Chris Voss and his book, Never Split the Difference, says to start with yes, start with no.
Get the person to give you a no.
Yeah. If you focus on no, you know where not to go.
What are you not willing to do?
Yeah. A lot of times in life, we don't know what we should do. If you get overwhelmed with trying to decide what you should do, it's a lot easier to reverse that optic. It's a lot easier to figure out what not to do.
In other words, if someone is trying to get you to do something, and you can't quite figure out what to do, reverse it. It's a lot easier to just say, “No, I'm not going to do this,” and then take it from there because it really simplifies everything.
I've had sales conversations like that. They're trying to sell me a product that I don't need, and they're trying to convince me that I don't need it. In my business, I don't need lead gen.
All right. Oh, my gosh. The emails we get as sole entrepreneur proprietors with all the software development and payroll, have any of you done any research on me whatsoever? Your ChatGPT is really failing you miserably.
That's always one of my complaints about interactions with people on LinkedIn is, you clearly didn't look at my profile if you're asking these questions, because you'd realize that you would have no reason to ask these questions.
Or I already have the service you're offering.
Or I completely don't need the service.
“Robin, you’ve got these three great books. Have you ever thought about making them online courses?” “Obviously, I've put it on my website, you fool. Thanks a lot.”
I think that's another thing with the scams: they don't really know anything about you. If they were a real government agency, they would have your previous tax records, your previous Medicare records. They'd have these things.
The only people I generally will get and respond to is someone from the firsthand introduction at this point. If it's not a firsthand introduction, where someone's been vetted by someone else, getting in the front door is really challenging.
The most important thing that we all need to have in life is a bucket of no. If we do take one more thing on, another thing to do is make sure you discover what you're going to say. If you're going to say yes to one thing, you have to pick one thing you need to say no to because you've got only so much bandwidth. Once that bandwidth is gone, you're going to start building resentment towards individuals, things, and projects. Once resentment starts taking seed in you, it's a horrible road for a while, so you figure out how to get rid of things to get rid of it.
That's one of the challenges of entrepreneurship: when to say yes, when to say no. Way more things you should say no to than you think you should.
Yup, focus of effort. One thing and do one thing really well.
I'm curious because you spent time in behavioral analysis, Criminal Minds. I'm sure there's a CSI effect in the terms of juries these days. I think that CSI should be able to answer every single question, produce definitive results on everything within five minutes, and cases shouldn't take months, weeks, years to happen.
Have you seen much of that with criminal minds? Hey, there is some good behavioral analysis coming out of that that's interesting. Clearly, they've condensed their stories down to the nice and convenient—let's take care of this over one hour—but what is the reality like?
Yes-ish. It's a good show that's based on a lot of reality. But like you said, condensed timelines, definitely resources that are not available most times.
That doesn't even really exist.
Yeah. There's a lot of behavioral units inside the FBI, the BAUs, Behavioral Analysis Units. Those that are profilers that do the Criminal Mind stuff. My program is a behavioral analysis program, so I did the behavioral side of counterintelligence. I was more on the normal side of human behavior, not abnormal. I knew who I was going to interact with. I wasn't profiling because profiling means you don't know who you're looking for.
There's always these different nuances. But no, I had a lot of United Airlines and American Airlines miles. I never flew in a bureau corporate jet anywhere. My office did not look anything like those. It's about as boring as it could possibly be. Just stacks of papers and books everywhere and an outdated computer that you couldn't keep up with the rest of the world because it's government contracting that gave it to you.
It all came down to relationships. Garbage in, garbage out with anything in life. You have good people, good information flow, great relationships, you're going to get a lot of information. The more information you have about individuals and behavior, the better output you can suggest. Again, human beings and motivations are pretty universal.
If on the Criminal Minds side, you start dealing with psychopaths and sociopaths, which start edging away from the ability to have empathy, then it's leaving behind a skill set is better way to put it, of trying to use those things for poor and empathy as levers of influence for a conversation. They just don't exist with a psychopath. That's pretty much the only thing. Otherwise, human behavior is human behavior, garbage in, garbage out, good stuff in, good stuff out.
OK. When you're recruiting spies, are you trying to find people that have legitimate concerns with corporate spy? They're concerned with the way their company is working, and they think their company is doing harm? Are you trying to work with someone like that, or are you trying to work with someone who's a company loyalist and, part of the vernacular, flip them?
A lot of different motivations people have for taking the actions they're going to take in life. All the actions that people take are really predictable. Here's the predictable thing for all human beings: All human beings, in general, are going to act in their own best interest in terms of safety, security, and prosperity, for themselves and those they care about from their individual perspective. That's the key at the end, from their individual perspective.
You cascade on top of that. We're all categorized in one of two categories. Some of us are wound collectors that are seeking retribution against people, places, and things that have wronged us. We keep a scorecard. The other half of us see the world as just a set of circumstances, and we're just going to keep working and solving the problem. And we see the world optimistically.
There are two different personality types. Both have betrayed countries, betrayed companies, and all these things. Here's an example. Robert Hansen, who recently died, the FBI spy that betrayed the United States and cooperated with the Russians voluntarily, was a wound collector. He sought retribution over systems in a government that he thought wronged him because they didn't pay him enough money, they didn't value his input, so he's going to seek retribution.
On my side, luckily, I worked with mostly Russians in my career, and I recruited Russian intelligence officers. I didn't work with wound collectors. It was an interesting dichotomy. Most of them had challenges, priorities, and pain points in their lives, like education for the kids, health care for the elderly parents, a better way of life, not under an oligarch that is destroying their country. That was a wound collector.
Putin is a wound collector seeking retribution against the world for all the wrongs they've done to Russia. I didn't work with wound collectors. Think about this thought experiment here.
If you work with a wound collector, someone who's seeking retribution, they have a negative confirmation bias with everyone and everything they see. They're going to find something wrong with everyone and everything they interact with because that's their makeup, including you. No matter what you're going to do to them to solve a problem, they're going to find another problem and give it to you.
They're what we call the handling problem. People I worked with, the healthier ones, were the ones who were just working on a problem. They're trying to take care of their families, they're trying to take care of the prosperity in their way of life. They're betraying their country. But from their perspective, from their context, they were serving their countrymen and women in a much more honorable way by trying to get rid of maniacs that are running their countries.
Rationalizations if you want, but the motivation is the same on both sides. They're trying to solve priorities, challenges, and pain points. I was offering resources in terms of doing it. But the type of psychology that goes behind the two, that's where they diverge.
I didn't deal with wound collectors. Luckily, I dealt with pretty healthy people and good people that were trying to do good by themselves and for the mass of humanity at large, believe it or not.
Yeah. I was suspecting when you're talking about wound collectors that at some point, you're going to be the interpreted cause of a wound, and now you're at the pointy end of their experience.
Absolutely. There's been some that have been that way. They blame everyone around them for their circumstances, and they'll keep coming at you until they find somebody else to go at. Literally, that's the way they work.
Unfortunately, there's a lot of pain that causes that. That's part of this entire process too, of understanding human behavior. When you see a wound collector, when you see someone that is behaving in a way that's not conforming to good, healthy interactions and relationships, that's someone who's in a lot of pain.
Outside of any malformations and chemical imbalances, or my friend Kris Mohandie says, a broken brain, these people have experienced some severe trauma at an earlier part of their life, most likely, that caused a lot of pain. This pain is manifested in unhealthy ways outwardly when they're interacting with the world around them and how they see the world. People like that need a lot of help in therapy, there's no doubt.
Any closing thoughts before we finish off today? We've had a nice wide-ranging discussion.
Just focus on having a great conversation with people. It's interesting. A great way to, I think, inspire people to not want to take advantage of you, the easiest way to not be a victim is to inspire people not to want to victimize you. The way you do that is you make it about them.
You become a real person to someone. Don't be an object to something because when someone objectifies you, it's so easy to take advantage of you. When you make it personal, you go down the road where it's all about them by doing what I call the four keys of communication. Seeking their thoughts and opinions instead of sharing yours, talk in terms of their priorities, challenges, and pain points instead of yours, validating them with that beautiful non-judgmental curiosity about who they are in that arc of their life, and then finally empower them with choices.
When you do one of those four things, that reversal happens, it's all about them. Their brain rewards them with serotonin, dopamine, and most importantly, the longstanding one, oxytocin. When someone's oxytocin is flowing with you, the likelihood of them wanting to take advantage of you diminishes greatly. I'm not saying they won't, but that likelihood is going to diminish greatly. You counter manipulators by inspiring them to not want to manipulate you.When someone's oxytocin is flowing with you, the likelihood of them wanting to take advantage of you diminishes greatly. I'm not saying they won't, but that likelihood is going to diminish greatly. -Robin Dreeke Click To Tweet
Interesting. That's going to be a topic for another episode somewhere down the line.
The best way to not have an insider threat is to create an environment where insiders don't want to be. That comes from good, healthy leadership. I'm always taking this reverse optic on things saying, “Hey, you know how not to be a victim of a scam artist? Make it so they only want to scam you let go, not going to make them go to your neighbor next door.”
I like it. I like it. If people want to find out more about you, where can they find you online?
I'll tell you that in one second. The first, most important thing I want people to do is tuning in and listening to you right now is click “like.” Share this to neighbors and friends.
Chris puts a lot of time and effort into doing these episodes. It's out of love and care about each one of the listeners, and hopefully giving you tools to make your life and all those in your life better. Take the time to hit “like,” give it a review, and share it with your friends and neighbors. For me, peopleformula.com. Go there. All my resources are there, my YouTube channel, my podcast page.
Robin, thank you for such a nice call to action there. I appreciate it.
It's important. We put a lot of work into these things. These are not easy. These are labors of total love, so I appreciate you.
That it is, and I'm excited to be able to be in the position to do stuff like this. Thank you so much for coming on the Easy Prey Podcast today.
It is my honor and pleasure. Thank you.