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Charles Duhigg: How to Unlock the Secret Language of Connection

By February 22, 2024No Comments
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Episode #815



Conversation matters—but it only matters if you understand the nature of conversation itself.

At its core, conversation is about fostering more profound connections with others. Emotional connections thrive on embracing vulnerability and the capacity to remain present and non-judgmental. But how can we improve conversation to better connect and solve the problems we face—from the intimate to the existential?

Here to talk us through how to be better communicators is my expert in residence, Charles Duhigg.

Charles is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of the acclaimed The Power of Habit, a sensation that spent over three years on the New York Times bestseller list. He holds degrees from Yale and Harvard Business School and has made notable contributions to the Washington Post, the New York Times, and The New Yorker. A regular contributor to This American Life, NPR, and Frontline, Charles is here to discuss his newly released work, Supercommunicators, which is all about the neuroscience and psychology that shape our interactions and connection with others.

Evolution has hardwired instinctual cues regarding communication in our brains. When we connect with vulnerability during conversations, we listen more attentively. Reciprocating that vulnerability instinctively builds trust and strengthens connections with others. Consequently, improved communication fosters increased connection and happiness. 

“The goal of a conversation is not to win, it’s simply to understand what the other person is trying to tell you.”


Charles explains that conversations aren’t confined to a single topic. Instead, a conversation encompasses various discussions. He emphasizes that we participate in one of three conversations every time we speak: What is this really about? How do we feel? And, who are we? Supercommunicators excel at discerning the essence of a conversation, skillfully aligning with the other person, and inviting them to reciprocate. Because when we match, this allows us to engage in the same type of conversation.

We explore the importance of connection in conversation, discovering that a successful dialogue centers on understanding the other person’s perspective without aiming to persuade or win. Our discussion delves into the practices of looping for understanding and the matching principle. Additionally, we address actionable steps for navigating challenging discussions, emphasizing the significance of physical mirroring and emotional matching in effective communication, and so much more.

Given the polarity of discourse worldwide—particularly online—there’s a particular urgency to the topic. Elevated acrimony and a lack of understanding or empathy drive many of our issues. As Charles notes, essential conversations are difficult. As such, there’s a particular retreat—so acrimonious that we’re too reluctant to begin those conversations. In the face of these challenges, Charles’s insights offer hope to navigate complex discussions to understand one another.

For those who prefer a visual experience, the conversation is available on YouTube. As always, the audio version streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Communication is a superpower, and we all seek better connections with others. This episode will leave you with practical tools and guidance to impact your everyday conversations, making it a must-listen.


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