Michael Slepian – The Secret Life of Secrets: How Do We Trust Others With Our Secrets | Brought to you by Babbel – https://babbel.com/passionstruck.
Michael Slepian Ph.D. is the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Associate Professor of Leadership and Ethics at Columbia University. A recipient of the Rising Star Award from the Association for Psychological Science, he is the leading expert on the psychology of secrets. Today we are discussing his book (which releases today), THE SECRET LIFE OF SECRETS: How Our Inner Worlds Shape Well-Being, Relationships, and Who We Are. His research has been covered by The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, etc.
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What I Discuss With Michael Slepian
In this episode, Michael Slepian joins us to discuss his new book, The Secret Life of Secrets, where he gives a masterclass on the psychology of secrets. Drawing on over a decade of original research, Slepian decodes the surprising ways secrets pervade our lives and offers science-based strategies that make them easier to live with. The result is a rare window into the inner workings of our minds, our relationships, and our sense of who we are.
Our secrets can weigh heavily upon us. Yet the burden of secrecy, Slepian argues, rarely stems from the effort it requires to keep a secret disclosed. Instead, the significance of our secrets comes from carrying them internally, without support from others. Whether we are motivated to protect our reputation, a relationship, a loved one’s feelings, or some personal or professional goal, one thing is clear: Holding back some part of our inner world is often lonely and isolating. But it doesn’t have to be.
- Why do families keep secrets and what was the secret they kept from Michael?
- How do you define secrecy?
- How is secrecy different from privacy?
- The 38 categories of secrets that people keep
- The secrets of Tony Soprano and Edward Snowden and why Michael uses them throughout the book
- How does the concealing of secrets impact well-being?
- Why chimpanzees help illustrate the birth of secrets
- Advice for how to handle secrecy with your kids and teens
- Groundbreaking hill slant research on secrets
- Importance of doing secrecy research outside of a lab environment
- Why keeping a secret has the potential to do more harm than good
- Why do some secrets hurt while others do not?
- Why do people fall into this unhelpful, negative thinking?
- How does secrecy impact us accepting ourselves?
- How to deflect direct questions in a conversation about a secret
- Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share? Drop us a line at [email protected]m!
- And much more…
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More About The Secret Life of Secrets With Michael Slepian
I asked Michael Slepian if he had tips for how to deflect direct questions in a conversation about a secret?
Michael explains, “This was a fun one, there are a lot of things you can do to deflect. The first thing is to never bring up the conversation topic. Do you have a secret about money? Never talk about money with anyone that can only get you so far because as everyone knows, you are not the sole arbiter of which topics are introduced into the conversation. What happens when someone asks you a question that you don’t want to answer?
One option is to just answer ‘I don’t want to tell you that or I won’t speak to that.’ Which is generally not a very good strategy. It’s very direct. It can be very efficient. But it might feel kind of weird or awkward or be perceived as rude even. So what can you do instead? That’s when we get to deflection. It turns out, there are so many different ways you can deflect in ways that won’t even be apparent that you’re deflecting. One of the best ways to do this is to just ask a question of your own.
Someone asks you a question that if answered would reveal your secret. You can quickly pivot and ask a question about the route and most people who will start answering the question in the conversation can simply move on. What you’re trying to do, essentially, is to give an answer that sort of pushes the conversation in another direction. If you can’t think of a question, you can just think about anything else that’s on your mind and just say ‘oh my God, I’m so hungry.’ Did you bring lunch today? Whatever it is, people naturally just answer the questions that are asked of them. And you can just push the conversation in a different direction.
This feels like this one wouldn’t work because it’s too easy. But it really is easy. If you’ve ever been in a conversation and you had an anecdote that you were ready to enter into the conversation, and then you realize you missed your chance. Conversations. Topics move so rapidly. If there are multiple people in the conversation, you’re fine. You can just stay quiet. Now, what if a question is asked directly to you? If someone says very clearly, I have a question for you to answer. At that point, if they’re really, really pressing you, a final strategy is to express gratitude is to thank them.
If someone’s asking you about something that’s kind of difficult for you to talk about that person is probably not trying to take you down. That person is probably trying to help you. And if you care about the relationship with that person, one of the most effective things you can do when someone asks you a question that you don’t want to answer is gonna be like, ‘Thank you for asking me about that. I really appreciate that you care about me to check in on me.’ But saying you are can be really helpful.
We don’t like to think our friends, our partners or our family don’t feel comfortable enough to open up to us. So what you want to do is signal it’s not the person asking, what’s the problem? It’s just the timing or that you need more time. And you could say thanks for asking, I really value our relationship, or it means a lot to me that you have asked me that. But I need more time to think about this, or I don’t want to talk about this right now. And that can really help.”
Thanks, Michael Slepian!
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Resources From The Show With Michael Slepian
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* Website: https://michaelslepian.com/
* LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelslepian/
* Columbia University: http://www.columbia.edu/~ms4992/
* Twitter: https://twitter.com/michaelslepian
* My interview with Tricia Manning: https://passionstruck.com/tricia-manning-on-how-to-lead-with-heart/
* My interview with Jordan Harbinger on Why Legacy is Greater Than Currency: https://passionstruck.com/jordan-harbinger-on-why-building-your-legacy-is-greater-than-currency/
* My interview with Sarah Fay: https://passionstruck.com/sarah-fay-pathological/
* My interview with Admiral James Stavridis: https://passionstruck.com/admiral-james-stavridis-to-risk-it-all/
* My solo episode on why micro choices matter: https://passionstruck.com/why-your-micro-choices-determine-your-life/
* My solo episode on why you must feel to heal: https://passionstruck.com/why-you-must-feel-to-find-emotional-healing/
About Today’s Guest Michael Slepian
Michael Slepian is a professor of management at Columbia Business School. He studies the psychological effects of secrecy, the development and formation of trust, and deception detection. He maintains the KeepingSecrets.org project at Columbia University.
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