About Allan Parker
Allan Parker is the Managing Director of Peak Performance Development Pty Ltd, a Sydney based consultancy company, operating both within Australia and internationally, in the areas of Negotiation, Organisational Change Facilitation, Training and Dispute Management.
His clients have included Microsoft in 11 countries, AMP, BNP Paribas in 4 countries, Macquarie Bank in 4 countries, NSW Bar Association, Deutsche Bank, 5 different Ombudsman’s Offices in Australia and New Zealand, The Royal College of Physicians, the OECD and United Nations.
Allan was a member of the Curriculum Advisory Committee to the College of Law & Business, University of Western Sydney, who were responsible for the design, development and delivery of the Masters of Dispute Resolution. In 2000 he was appointed Adjunct Professorship at the College of Law & Business, University of Western Sydney for his contribution to the field of Negotiation and Dispute.
Allan was a member of the High Level Consultative Committee at the OECD that was responsible for the development and ratification of Global Policy for Small to Medium Enterprise (2000 to 2004 involving 85 OECD Countries). More recently Allan moderated 2 meetings at the United Nations World Investment Forum in Ghana, Africa.
Lesson 1: Everything has its place 03m 29s
Lesson 2: Practice Detachment 07m 31s
Lesson 3: You hear more by being honest 12m 59s
Lesson 4: Endings are beginnings, except when they’re not 17m 13s
Lesson 5: When to step out or when to step in 22m16s
Lesson 6: All progress is incremental 24m 51s
Lesson 7: It’s not how much you read it’s how fast 31m 05s
Lesson 8: Agreement is always available 34m 49s
Lesson 9: Words produce predictable outcomes 41m 42s
Lesson 10: Would Could Might 44m 57s
Allan Parker: [00:00:00] Let me say to all of you listeners who run a sales function, nearly every sales function in the world does that. I get to December 30 and I’ve achieved my sales figures. And the first week of January is down, go to March. Same thing. The last two or three days I changed. I close deals. And I reached the target.
And when we do a competition model, which is how do I set a target and achieve it? The moment I achieve it, my energy system switches off and therefore the first week of the month, we don’t do good sales. But if I go, I want to sales curve this year, that goes up that way and does not have the average punter is going to go, oh you’re going to have some drops sometimes.
And I go, everything is impossible until it’s not.
Duff Watkins: [00:00:47] Hello, and welcome to the podcast. 10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn wisdom for the next generation. Here’s where we dispense wisdom. Not, not cliche is not platitudes wisdom to an international audience of rising leaders. Today. We talked to a guy that wrote the book on conflict resolution.
Actually, he wrote three and more, but we’ll come to that in a second. His name is Allan Parker. My name is Duff Watkins, and I am your host. This podcast is sponsored by the Professional Development form which helps young professionals of any age accelerate the performance in the modern workplace. And here on this podcast, you’ll hear honest, practical advice that you won’t find in any textbook, because it took us half a century to learn this stuff.
Today’s guest Allan Parker, runs an international consultancy, specializing in negotiation and dispute management. And when I say international, I mean, it. He works with the United Nations and he’s done work for the O E C D that’s the organization for economic cooperation and development. And basically, they build better policies for better lives all around the world.
And he’s worked for too many international banks and international companies to mention, I will mention, though, in 2019, he was awarded the order of Australia medal and they don’t give that to any schmocko. You got to be a very special schmoko and that’s Allen. They gave it to him for his contribution to business specifically and conflict resolution.
Alan, welcome to the show. Great to see you again,
Allan Parker: [00:02:10] A joy to be here. Thank you. Great to be back.
Duff Watkins: [00:02:13] You’ve been in business a long time, as I know. And, and do you remember your very first business lesson?
Allan Parker: [00:02:20] Yeah. Yes. I, I would say practicing clinician and I was asked to do a corporate business training and the consulting firm that I was asked to do it with
had offered me a fee per day. That was double what my income was for the week as a practitioner, as a therapist. And I, in that moment almost gulped and I thought to myself, breathe and look as if it’s normal and I’ve practiced breathing and acting as if it’s normal, thousands of times ever since Duff.
And if I could, another way of saying that is if I can hit the pause button, no matter what happens and never react and take a breath in. And if I look up and move my eyes about Duff, people will think I’m intelligent and thinking while I’m actually doing that and looking like I’m searching for something, I’m now breathing out to make sure that my lungs are completely empty of carbon dioxide so that I get free radicals out of my brain.
and then I breathe in again and speak
Duff Watkins: [00:03:28] and you got the gig, I guess.
Allan Parker: [00:03:31] that came from that moment afterwards. I thought, wow, that was, that was a cool thing to do. And it was one of those magic moments where our greater internal intelligence took over. And instead of me being mortified, I couldn’t have said the figure.
You know, if they’d had said to me, ask me for this amount of money. I don’t think I’ve got the words here.
Duff Watkins: [00:03:53] Excellent.
Allan Parker: [00:03:54] And it only took me three months for that to be normal. And how quickly things that seem daunting, get to normal,
Duff Watkins: [00:04:01] the new normal, the new, yeah, I like that. Yeah. I will let us, let us progress to your 10 lessons it took you 50 years to learn. Lesson Number one, everything has its place.
Allan Parker: [00:04:13] I’m the fourth of nine children, death, 11 of us in a four-bedroom house. And my mother and father had a term. If you’ve used it, put it back. If you haven’t put it where it can be washed. And if we, that the place worked really well, but it only took two or three of us not to do that before everybody’s going where the soap or where’s the towel, or where is it?
And people were always looking for stuff. And every now and again, my mother would go, okay. Let me say it again. Everything has a place. Make sure it goes back because that saves all time.
Duff Watkins: [00:04:51] Yeah. You were making the point earlier that if I spend all this time looking for my phone, looking for my car keys, looking for my book, looking for this, looking for that really, it’s kind of a waste of life.
Allan Parker: [00:05:02] If we were to add up that amount of time across a week or a month or a year, we’d be horrified. And I don’t know you. I know I’m fortunate. I was the fourth of nine. I was the only introvert I learned how to be extroverted. I was the only introvert, and I was the, the obsessive-compulsive child.
So, I ran around being tiny and fixing up and putting everything back, not to do anything else, but you know, so that my mother didn’t, so it was a really attentive nerdy little kid, and it really serves me well, in fact, let me give you an example. You, you spoke to me earlier about five or six years ago. I had very nasty experience with viral meningitis.
I had what’s called lingering meningitis, which meant I had the meningitis virus in my brain for 11 months and 16 days, which meant I had headaches that whole period of time. And during that year I had over 40 migraine headaches. And if I’d woke up with a migraine headache, I woke up blind and on 11 occasions, I woke up blind in the year.
And Duff, I got up showered, shaved got dressed and got myself out of the apartment downstairs right outside the building was a taxi rank. And I got into the taxi. Now in that time, my site was usually coming back. Cause I’d medicated. Every time I got in that taxi, I had on exactly the clothes I thought I had on.
Because everything’s in order. And I could, you know, I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do. I knew where everything was. I never had to go, where are the black socks or where are the gray socks, or now that’s obsessive by most people’s standards. But it just saved over a lifetime, it saves years.
Duff Watkins: [00:06:39] It reduces the friction in life. I’ve heard people do that as well. President Obama made the decision. You said, you know, to save time, to wear either a dark or to wear a dark suit, you know, that was all, but two things. It reminds me of one, a famous basketball coach, John wooden in the USA. He used to tell his players, if you don’t have time to do it right, will you have time to do it over?
And I think about that, but mostly I think about the way my wife puts it. Take put back. If I remove anything from her presence or she loans me anything, take, put back means I put it exactly back where you found it.
Allan Parker: [00:07:17] I think if, if I were running a large retail business, I’d want to, as my inventory manager.
Duff Watkins: [00:07:22] tell you what if I put it back, life is a lot more harmonious. I can tell you that.
Allan Parker: [00:07:28] I use. You use harmony and friction? the word I like to use is, it reduces noise and every time I’m looking for something and I’m running late, that increases the amount of adrenaline and cortisol. anxiety Yeah, anxiety. Yeah. And I don’t know if you’re aware, but Cortisol actually kills hippocampus cells.
And the hyper campus is the piece of the brain that every piece of memory goes through. And the hippocampus decides if it’s short-term memory or long-term memory, and it actually kills the cells in the hippocampus, allow me everything I can do to reduce adrenaline and cortisol.
Duff Watkins: [00:08:06] Lowering anxiety in general is a, is a very good idea. All right. Lesson number two, practice detachment.
Allan Parker: [00:08:14] Yes. And a curly one, I debated whether I’d put this one in, because it really highlighted. Well, I’m
Duff Watkins: [00:08:19] saying that when somebody gets angry and loud in like, say you’re negotiating or a business deal or whatever that you need to detach from it,
Allan Parker: [00:08:27] not, not get caught up in the news.
Yep. I just, I would say, no, I didn’t say ever while they were alive, but my, both my parents were alcoholic and my father was violent and I was fortunate enough to be the kid that had the glasses and I, at about seven years of age thought I don’t need to get upset about this, like everybody else. And one night I was standing there thinking I don’t need to get caught up in that.
And I walked straight in between him and my mother and he stopped. And I did that dozens of times and years later when I, I facilitated two meetings at the world investment forum in Ghana, in Africa for the United nations. that’s seven or eight years ago, I think. And I remember finishing and we got a unanimous agreement in those meetings.
And I remember getting back on the plane and sitting down and just having this moment of my goodness. I did it. We succeeded. We, we got agreement and I, was reflecting and thinking, what, what was it in that event? But in all of the large conflicts and things that I’ve been involved in, what’s my greatest asset.
And, and I thought it’s the fact that I am always composed. And I mean, always. If I’m in a room with a group of people, I choose composure and not to get caught up in the heat or the tension of the presenting conflict. And I sat there thinking I actually know where I leaned that, and I think I practiced it. You know, in fact, one of the great moments of my life was the last couple of weeks before my father died.
He and I had a heart to heart, as you often do at those times. And I said to him, I’ve often thought you had some sense of guilt about what happened. In our childhood. And, and he sort of shook his head and I said, I really want you to free yourself of that. And I said, you know, you you’re aware that I did the United nations meeting and I couldn’t have done that without the ability for me to stay outside of other people’s experience and allow people.
And I’d take it further now because I’d been practicing it for a long time, but I allow people to have the space. To do what they need to do and express what they need to express. And me not have to take responsibility for it may not have to participate in it may not have to engage in it but just simply be there and hold the space for them to do what they need to do.
And the lovely gift that gives me is I don’t very often get disappointed because human beings do what they do.
Duff Watkins: [00:11:03] They certainly do what you’re describing, but both you and I have a working knowledge of neuroscience. And what you’re describing to me is a reframing is the common word, but I like with your parents, it was literally a repositioning of yourself in the conflict.
And, uh, that composure, I mean, it’s a very Zen phrase to talk about practicing detachment and it sounds like you’ve been practicing it for a long time. I’m still working on it, but it’s essential to practice so that you don’t get sucked into everybody else’s drama.
Allan Parker: [00:11:37] If I get, if I get caught, let’s assume it’s your stress or anxiety or panic or agitation or anger?
20% or 25% of our entire energy that we have it available for our body gets used between our ears.
Duff Watkins: [00:11:50] The brain is a glucose hog. I know.
Allan Parker: [00:11:53] it just in fact, I took the chat down. I did a, I did a class on neuroscience, an introduction to applied neuroscience for learning yesterday. And the first thing I did was say to them, I want you to know the most important thing I know about neuroscience, and that is oxygen is the primary chemical that you require to think.
Well, and stay alive. cause we don’t have oxygen, you know, we’re blackout in four minutes, we’ll be dead in five to six. So, it’s pretty important. And the other thing to use your term oxygen burns glucose, which produces brain energy. And it also has a byproduct like anything that burns. It’s got a bright byproduct called free radicals.
And those free radicals get transported out of our body and out of our system through carbon dioxide, we breathe out and it’s why exercise is such an important factor. In keeping well, mentally, physically, and emotionally,
Duff Watkins: [00:12:50] oh, this is where I get to mention that you used to be a scratch golfer and that you’ve run 16 marathons in 11 ultra-marathons, including two races that were 24 hours long each. Okay. I just had to work that in.
Allan Parker: [00:13:04] What a good memory.
Duff Watkins: [00:13:07] Oh no, I’m reading my notes. Of course.
Allan Parker: [00:13:15] You brought up running 24 hours. If you’re running 24 hours, you’ve got to run the last 16 hours out of your body in a helicopter detached disassociated, watching yourself run.
Otherwise, it’s hard work.
Duff Watkins: [00:13:30] Oh, otherwise it’s hard. Okay. Yeah. I’ll just jot that down because just, just in case the next time I feel like running for 24 hours. All right. Lesson number three. Explain this to me. You hear more by being honest?
Allan Parker: [00:13:44] Oh yes. I, I don’t know if I, I don’t know if you do know this about me. I had a particular eye condition at birth, and it meant I didn’t read until I was 33, zero.
So, as you can see, I grew big and became a very good listener. And because I couldn’t get information through my eyes, I paid a lot more attention and I, I feel one of these twice a day. By note taking. So, I’m a good listener, prodigious note taker. It means that two things will happen. One is I don’t get caught up in my own experience, responding or reacting to you because I am staying out of your experience and providing you the space to talk.
And while I do that, because that’s, which is on my peripheral vision, it means I have no internal mind chatter. Now, anyone listening to this can practice this one. I can have a conversation with you. And if I look at the light from the window here and the door going into that room there, and I pay attention to my peripheral vision Duff that switches off my auditory temporal lobe function.
And I don’t mind chatter. Now that means I’m going to listen extremely astutely. And I’ll start to notice that every now and again, You distort something either overstated or understated or leave something out now I don’t put you up about it, but that’s an indication that it may need to be clarified or checked out.
Part of my weird background as a forensic linguist. And I used to teach interrogation soft interrogation skills, and listening for a statement, a statement that has a subject and no object tells me that something’s missing.
Duff Watkins: [00:15:29] Does that mean you have a good bullshit detector? Allen?
Allan Parker: [00:15:32] I have a, most people have a, an internal visceral bullshit detector.
I actually have an auditory linguistic bullshit, bullshit. The other thing is the more honest I am, the less my memory is jangled taxed. Cause every time I tell you a Porky, I’ve got to remember to tell you the book and keep it inconsistent the next time. So, it’s taking up unnecessary brain energy to keep track and people will pick me up and be inelegant about.
Going well, that’s not true, that’s not correct. I don’t agree. And now we spend inordinate amount of time arguing like one of those ping pong matches backward and forward that go nowhere. So, it’s reducing noise again.
Duff Watkins: [00:16:13] Okay. We’ll clarify. Where does the honest bit come in? So, you said you hear more by being honest. What do you mean by honest?
Allan Parker: [00:16:20] Oh, well again, because of, uh, a linguist, honest honesty, in linguistics is referred to as a nominalization, which means it’s an intangible noun. So, you can’t touch it. That water bottles are tangible noun, and I can touch it so I can video tape that, or you can hold onto it and we don’t have ambiguity about what it is, but the moment that we go for a nominalization.
And it’s one of the greatest problems in the corporate business world. We overused nominalizations all the time. It’s about honesty. It’s about integrity. It’s about trust. It’s about leadership. It’s about strategy. It’s about vision. It’s about collaboration. It’s about integration. It’s about elevation.
It’s about engagement. It’s about accountability. All those words, abstract nouns, and everybody makes up their own meaning for it. We have conversations and we think we agree with each other, but I have no clue when we’re going to discuss accountability, what that means to you and what it means to me.
Duff Watkins: [00:17:22] So, so, uh, again though, so where does the honesty come in?
Allan Parker: [00:17:25] We are dishonest because we’re ambiguous an ambiguity means our mission and omission means, deceit by omission crash course in forensic linguistics and an investigation indirectly,
Duff Watkins: [00:17:38] I needed an update in forensic linguistics. I was falling behind.
Allan Parker: [00:17:43] You got to have it. You got to be an obsessive-compulsive nerd.
Duff Watkins: [00:17:47] Well, I’m close enough. I’m close enough. Alright Lesson number four, everybody knows that endings are new beginnings, right. But you’re saying endings are beginnings, except when they’re not.
Allan Parker: [00:17:59] again, a couple of ways of saying it. If I just finished a 24-hour event, if I’m not already preparing myself for the next event, I’ll have a slump.
So, if I have a brain that goes this is the end. And let me say to all of you listeners who run a sales function, nearly every sales function in the world does that. I get to December 30 and I’ve achieved my sales figures. And the first week of January is down. Go to March same thing. The last two or three days, I change I close deals and I’d reached the target.
And when we do a competition model, which is how do I set a target and achieve it? The moment that I achieve it, my energy system switches off. And they followed the first week of the month. We don’t do good sales, but if I go, I want a sales curve this year, that goes up that way and does not have the average punter is going to go, or you’ve got to have some drops sometimes.
And I go, everything’s impossible until it’s not. So that’s the first bit is keep things going. The other is that we’re about to see off a colleague who’s just retired from our organization and they’re about to leave and we’ve got a goodbye session for them. If at that session I have had the person who’s going to replace them in working with them for the last month.
So that the handover is done easy quickly, and simply from the person who’s leaving with this massive knowledge, the person who’s coming into the role is already in the organization and known. And then that person is at the farewell and it’s a farewell and it’s a greet. And the farewell needs to be a celebration.
Farewell needs to be acknowledgement. The farewell needs to be us elevating that person to wherever they’re going next, give them great feelings and experience to take with them to their next role, whatever they choose that to be.
Duff Watkins: [00:19:49] Okay. Well, let’s go back a second. So how does a person in sales, how do they keep that thing going up?
I mean, Every salesperson out there listening to this would love to hear some insights about that.
Allan Parker: [00:19:59] You mentioned, we both have an interest in, I call it a passion in neuroscience, and you then talked about reframe. Very, the first step is a very simple reframe. And let me take you back to my 24-hour events.
24 hours cross the finish line and it’s on a 400-meter track, by the way,
Duff Watkins: [00:20:17] So are you just going around in a circle for 24 hours?
Allan Parker: [00:20:20] Change direction? Every six hours? Yeah. Otherwise, your adductor muscles tighten up. Yeah, I feel I crossed the finish line and did two more laps.
Duff Watkins: [00:20:31] show off.
Allan Parker: [00:20:32] I know, because my goal was to run through.
Not to tell everybody cross that finishing line and every single person collapsed on the ground. And said to their body. That’s all I could do. And I would never do that to my body ever. So, I ran two extra laps to go. I didn’t go to it. I went through it. The impact on my internal belief system about me is massively rewired because my experience is I did it and I did it easily.
We live in this world who has to, we’ve got heroic narcissism going everywhere. People win gold medals and then tell you what a struggle it was. And I go get someone who cares.
I am sick of hearing privileged people talk about this struggle. I am sick of it Duff.
Duff Watkins: [00:21:25] Go on. You’re preaching to the choir.
Allan Parker: [00:21:31] I cannot believe how many people. In extraordinarily capable areas have to go how tough it was to get there.
Duff Watkins: [00:21:39] I think a lot of things that I see the way I see it Alan, is trying to persuade people to de hypnotize themselves from beliefs that they have. Ingested imbibed or whatever. And that’s just a, uh, it seems just hard for some people, but really, it’s no different, no more difficult than walking through a doorway.
Allan Parker: [00:21:58] I just love you.
We can look the judge. yeah, I’m sure. You know, I was a clinician, I’m, I’m a trained medical hypnosis practitioner. I haven’t practiced it for a very long time. However, I watched the corporate business world and all of its ambiguous. Nominalizations. That are meaningless. The average punter goes, I’m not quite sure what they need but I’ll have a go.
Duff Watkins: [00:22:24] Corporate speaking bullshit is what you’re.
Allan Parker: [00:22:26] And it’s got worse, doing a lot of my scientific research in schools at the moment, because I think, I think our best bet. You know, I have very few regrets about my life. I’ve been gifted extraordinarily, but I’ve, I’m more and more as I get older, more and more work with schools so that I can influence early childhood development and teens through their teen years. because that’s where our best chance of change comes.
Duff Watkins: [00:22:54] Let me roll on to Lesson number five, and you’ll have to explain this to me when to step out or when to step in.
Allan Parker: [00:23:01] Yes. And three times in this now, twice in the interview, you’ve asked me a question and I’ve said, oh, I have to deal with that two ways.
That was me going, oh, I really want to get into this one with the others I wanted to get in, but it wasn’t, I didn’t have the passion. On it and I just noticed that the two, when I said, oh, I’ll have to break it down into two parts, which is my clever way of saying to you on that. And a little bit more time on this one.
And, you know, going back to my situation with my father, somehow rather as a seven-year-old, I decided to physically get in and emotionally stay out and massive skill. The world is experiencing a level of anxiety, panic, and depression at a rate that we’ve never ever seen before. And I would say to you the primary cause of that.
Is people get caught up in stuff that they should stay out of. I have a friend who’s very neat and tidy, and she’s got a wonderful teenage son who I think is a delight. And he has a room that looks like a junk heap and she, for years and years has been going on about the junk heap. And I kept saying to her, close his door and stay out of the room.
You’re the only one getting upset about this and what you are doing Isn’t working. Have you noticed it hasn’t improved? So why don’t you leave that one and go and invest your time somewhere better.
Duff Watkins: [00:24:18] I’m going to, I’m going to jump in here because this you’re taking me back to a podcast. We did several years ago.
This was a life-changing piece of wisdom that I don’t even know if we recorded. We might’ve been off air, but you hear the phrase, people talk about letting go, let it go. Let it go. Just let it go. And you said to me, I’ll do you one better. Don’t pick it up in the first place and, and our producer, Robert Hossary was in the room and he and I have been talking about that for five years or six years, whatever it is now, you know, don’t pick it up and then you won’t have to let it go. You don’t ha you can, you’re free to embrace, to engage or to get the hell out and just don’t pick it up. And I got to tell you, man, I should have that tattooed somewhere on a body part. Don’t.
Pick it up and you won’t have to put it down. And I swear to God that that is some of the best, most accurate, most helpful psychotherapeutic advice I’ve ever heard, Allan and it’s so true.
Allan Parker: [00:25:19] Don’t get in, you go in, have an exit strategy to get out. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for the feedback.
Duff Watkins: [00:25:26] oh, I just had to share that with people because that was life changing.
It is life changing for me. All right. Lesson, number six all progress is incremental. This is you talking about running for 24 hours in a row,
Allan Parker: [00:25:37] In fact all change is incremental. You know, if we go to either neurology or biology, how well I do, you know, I’m about to be 69 years of age. I, I think I’m one of the, I think I’m one of the few 69-year old’s who has more body and brain cells being grown and ignited and used and utilized.
And then than the average one and, and I’m sure it’s because I exercise regularly, blood flow equals oxygen equals glucose. It was reducing free radicals. Yeah. Yeah, we’ve got to keep moving, I think.
Duff Watkins: [00:26:11] Okay. I’ll go ahead and say, I see a lot of people they’re looking for the big hit, the quick hit, the quick success, the fast money.
And, and if you adjust, do the work success basically is it’s incremental and it’s a step-by-step process. I mean, I remember a football coach. I read it somewhere and he said, he took over a program that was dreadful. This is American gridiron. And he said, first, you’ll lose by a lot. Then you lose by a little, and then you, occasionally you win.
Then you win by little and then you win big. And that’s how he ended up, you know, competing for national titles. But you know, most things. Don’t happen overnight. Success usually comes, you know, you become an overnight success after 10 years. I’ll go here. Here’s one I like to think of George Clooney has done rather well with this acting thing.
And he started, he was in a TV show, which I never watched some medical show, but he was in 12 or 22 unsuccessful. Pilots before he was in a show that even went to air and most people have no idea how hard musicians or actors or anybody in the arts or athletes. How, how much, how much failure, I guess they experience before something goes their way.
Allan Parker: [00:27:27] Yeah. In 2012, I wrote Australia’s first degree in negotiation and the.
Duff Watkins: [00:27:36] I should have said that to be taught at a university. It was a university course, never been offered in Australia. They went to you and said. You’re the man right there, right The course for us.
Allan Parker: [00:27:45] So I wrote that and one of the subjects was negotiating change in leadership and the framework for that course with six circles and that middle circle was your core.
You know, your real true essence, your goodness around that with the four DS where your dysfunction, your disorders, your decline, and your distress, and you needed to choose regularly when you were in your core or when you’re in your D’s and then outside the Ds were what were called the normalized zone near the day-to-day functional things that I do that I do every day.
Exactly the same and the habits and patterns that work that served me well. And because the world around us changes those norms that worked for me to get out of date. And I’ve got to be sure that I’m throwing out the out of dates, because if I don’t, they go into the decline box and I start to decline e.g.
I checked my shoe cupboard twice a year, but they decline and there’s nothing worse than me getting to a venue to do a presentation, look down and go, wow, I should run those out. Oh, go to the boot of most people’s cars similar outside the norm. And we got to prune. The processes to improve outside the norm.
Most people live in the zone called overload. They say yes too often. And they do incompletion too frequently and they get overloaded and then overwhelmed and then stressed. And they increased the amount of incompletions that they have because of the stress and anxiety. And that’s why half the world, when you say, how are you, they’re going to busy.
One of the things I love to do is go I’m hysterically occupied.
Duff Watkins: [00:29:23] Hysterically occupied, but are you productive or are you happy?
Allan Parker: [00:29:28] Outside that is the stretch zone and the stretch zone is where I make an improvement on everything, I do every single day tiny. But if I live in the stretch zone, I don’t ever get caught out by change around me because. I live in a constant state of change and improvement.
Duff Watkins: [00:29:47] and, and the stretch zone is your calling.
It is not the comfort zone. It’s adjacent to the comfort zone.
Allan Parker: [00:29:52] Yeah. It’s outside.
Duff Watkins: [00:29:53] So you’re going from comfort zone to something new. Yes. I mean, that’s
Allan Parker: [00:29:57] If I wanted to run the 24 hour. I’m going to train and train and train and train and make sure my heart rate, doesn’t go over one 10 because I train.
If I can run and train at one ten are going to be maximum performance. Cause I’ll have lots of energy. I won’t overburden my sugar and I’ll be fine to run a long period of time. Without any stress. However, when I’m training for an event, I have to every now and again, run at one 20 or one 25 to stretch the limit of what the system will do.
And if I do that often enough over a period of time, the next event I run in, I can run at one eight.
Duff Watkins: [00:30:36] And track. We’ll stick with that metaphor. It’s called interval training and it’s very difficult, very, but, but it’s brief.
Allan Parker: [00:30:43] discipline. Yeah. It requires regularity and frequency, but it’s, it’s a beautiful place to live a place of continuous improvement.
I think it’s really what most of us are chasing. We just go, with absolute respect, but we go setting these big goals. And I think if we didn’t go quite as long timeframe and set goals or have your timeframe, but set goals, each week. If you set a big goal out there, you’ve got to get motivated to get there.
If you sit little ones, achieve them and complete them on time. Every time. No exceptions, no excuses. You build the magical ingredient called momentum and you don’t need to get motivated.
Duff Watkins: [00:31:23] Well, I mean, I got to say it works for me. I have a little book that I keep a daily track every morning I review it.
What did I do yesterday? How was my progress? There’s a lot of pluses and minuses in there. So, you’re not the only obsessional person there, Alan.
Allan Parker: [00:31:37] I’ve known We were good buddies.
Duff Watkins: [00:31:41] Okay, Let me roll on to Lesson number seven and you’ll need to explain this to me. I’m very interested, It’s not how much you read it’s how fast. Now this interests me. I’ve taken one, two, three speed reading courses and, uh, very helpful, very useful, back when I was in university. So, I’m curious as to what you mean by this.
Allan Parker: [00:32:02] Duff I ran a course in neuroscience yesterday and I taught them how to move the phobia. It’s the size of a pinprick in the back of the retina in the eye.
And it determines when you’re looking at something, how much of it’s in focus and how much of it’s out of focus. So, if you were to pick up the page, a book and you look at the book straight away, and I asked you how many words can you see in focus? The average person will say between three and five or six.
So, the, I actually don’t read across the line. It does what are called iterations. All I need to do to read faster is increase the number of words I can see in each iteration. Now I’m going to do it to show you two ways. If I put my hands, there and you look at my face. It’s in focus to you. And yet the flip charts on the wall behind you are out of focus.
Can you see that now? Watch, I’m just going to widen my hands and notice that the flip charts are now in focus, that’s just me manipulating. Your phobia. And once the phobia is exercised and opens up wider. You’ll see more.
Duff Watkins: [00:33:14] by the way. That’s what anxiety does it constrains your attention? Narrows it down.
And now, now that you mention it, when I took those three speed reading courses, we spend hours, hours of exercise, I mean, hours, and it’s all about moving along the text to basically, so that you were taking in big chunks of. Uh, words and letting your brain sort it out. I mean, you didn’t, you don’t have to do it.
Your brain does.
Allan Parker: [00:33:41] Yep. See to read celebrity word by word. And what we need to do is learn to read phrase by phrase. And then if we can train that piece of the eye, that determines how wide we see. In fact, if I was with you now, I show you the book. This is the piece of paper I did with the group last night.
If I hold that piece of paper, there like that. Yeah. And I bring it back here and you’ll notice that your focus changes when you go through there. And that’s all I need to do. Cause when I come back here, I can see all of you when I go to there. I can only see the green line and back here I can see.
The whole screen with you and me in it. Now that’s the thing that needs to happen in the brain to be able to see more so that instead of jumping four times across the line, I jumped twice.
Duff Watkins: [00:34:32] And it’s not that hard. I just want to say when I did these courses, my best and you’re testing or reading comprehensions for listeners.
So, I was able to read Aristotle’s poetics. 2000 words a minute with 80% comprehension. In fact, Alan, I was so good. I would just go down to the library and I’d walk along the stacks and I could just point to the books and I would absorb the information. That’s how good I was. And I’m telling
Allan Parker: [00:34:57] you now that is available to all of us Duff. They Got you into a room and they moved you.
And what they were doing with moving your eyes over and over and retraining your eyes and the ocular muscles behind your eyes. We’re actually being exercised in a way they have never been before. And the more we exercise the eye, the stronger the extraocular muscles get. And the smoother and the faster the I can move.
Duff Watkins: [00:35:25] All it takes is practice fewer biology and practice. Yeah. All right. Lesson number eight agreement is always available now a negotiator would say that,
Allan Parker: [00:35:38] oh, I’m going to answer that in a very unusual way. And I I’m, I’m going to touch wood and declare my humility. And this is actually my 39th year of consulting. I have no track, no idea of the number of large complex multi-party multi-stakeholder negotiations that I’ve managed. It just, I wouldn’t have a clue lost count, the largest negotiation I’d managed had, uh, 10 million people in it, and we consulted to them for four years to get them to come up with the recommendations.
So, the 1200 world leaders that ratified the policy in 2004. Now that was done purely because I designed a process that instead of sending out and asking people for their views. I didn’t ask people about what the problem was. Now. They told me about what the problem was, but then we started going and what are the needs?
And we got the needs. And then we went, what are the collective needs? Now once we started asking what everybody needed. We started getting a lot of commonality and all of a sudden, we go, well, They’re all agreeing. They want to, they want a voice. They all want to be heard. They all want to be understood.
They all want to be respected. They want to be treated fairly. They’re wanting to blah blah and all of a sudden, you’ve got all this agreement that arrives. Now the problem is then people try and converge and go to a solution, but we didn’t do that. We just took the first two needs that everybody virtually, everybody said they wanted to voice, wanted to be heard and want to be understood.
Of course. It’s like, hello. And because this was an international meeting, very large scale. I suspect that may have been the largest public policy. Consultancies in the world, we then said, here are two needs that everybody agrees on. So, let’s start with the agreement. Let’s get you to generate what are the options available for us to fulfill the needs?
Not what’s the solution. How many options can we generate? So, we got millions of options back and it was, you know, there was a lot of work in December 19, though. Analyzing the data, but there was a lot of commonality in the options. So, we actually eventually through doing that process, we just feedback to people.
This is what you’re saying, the options are, have we got correct? And then we started getting yes or no. And we got lots of agreement about what, the ones, were everybody agreed on. And then we just started putting that into phrases and comments of recommendation. Send him back out and got their feedback and adjusted it.
Now that took five years. It was called The Bologna Process run by the OECD.
Duff Watkins: [00:38:17] Now I want to tie in something that you, again, something else I learned from you in a previous podcast, it’s discover the fifth option. And as I recall. Anybody, any schmucko can get option. Number one, two, three.
Those are obvious that everybody sees though sees that anybody could get there. When you’re trying to resolve a conflict, when you’re doing a dispute and you got to be creative and you go down to level four, level five, that’s where it occurs. That’s where it happens.
Allan Parker: [00:38:49] You amazing. Did you write that down?
Did you, did you keep notes about podcasts? Or did you listen to it before we started?
Duff Watkins: [00:38:56] I listened to it and turned it into an article on LinkedIn. Yeah, but the, the point is that, you know, if it was obvious, everybody would arrive at it. So, you have to be, you have to exert yourself, use a bit of creativity.
And as you were just explaining, beautifully, I think generating, identifying wants needs generating options. And then it almost, it sounds almost as if it kind of became self-sorting. I know there’s a lot.
Allan Parker: [00:39:24] Oh no, it does. It does. I just did, uh, just before the shutdown, I was asked by the New South Wales government to make a twenty-four-year long dispute around rural and environmental and water allocation,
Duff Watkins: [00:39:38] 24-year dispute.
Allan Parker: [00:39:40] And it’s been going 24 years and it involves, it involves. At least the third, uh, directly involves at least the third, the population of the state and indirectly affects everybody in new south Wales. Yeah. I can’t even imagine how much time loss, productivity, loss costs and legal costs that could have run it.
I had no clue, but it was still going. I said to them that we can’t address the state at this point in time and give me the region. That’s the worst case. That you can find, and we’ll work as a case study on that region, and I’ll develop a process to get it sorted, to get agreement. And if we can get that process to work, we can then try it in other regions that are not as difficult. Duff the work that I’m doing when this new, online coaching to learn and learning to coach with neuroscience course.
I’m doing the pilot of that with three special schools for handicapped children. And if we can have what we’re teaching online work for, the teachers of a handicapped children’s school, and that means it works for the children. The learners, we can do it anyway. I always pick where’s the toughest place and with this New South Wales one, we got the toughest one.
There were in fact statewide, there were 311 stakeholder groups to tell you how big it was. In that area. We had over 20 stakeholder groups and I had 46 people in the meeting. I had three, three, one day meetings and the first day I just let them rave and get off whatever’s on their chest off their shoes.
And then when we came in the second day, I said, okay, there is no more talking about the past. We’re putting that back there. It’s finished. We’re going to let it go. We can learn from it. We’ve got to forgive today. We’re doing nothing else. But talking about what everyone’s needs are. And we spend a day exploring the needs and then avoiding back a week later and we spent a day generating options.
And at the end of that day, we had 26 unanimous options agreed upon, signed off on. Yeah.
Duff Watkins: [00:41:40] Okay. And, and that’s the point agreement is always available.
Allan Parker: [00:41:44] And I just said to them, you talked about disagreement and conflict in the first one we’re talking about needs and options in the second and third. And what the hundred needs you’ve come up with, which ones do you all agree on?
So given the process, we don’t do any argument or debate. There’s argument debate. We go, we haven’t got agreement. Throw it out and we’ll get something we agree on. Now that 26 went to the minister with a video of me explaining that process to the minister involved and they got sign off on, I think, three or four of those recommendations immediately.
Duff Watkins: [00:42:19] Fast time in politics.
Allan Parker: [00:42:20] And particularly when it’s been running 24 years.
Duff Watkins: [00:42:22] Yeah. All right, pushing on, Lesson number nine words, produce predictable outcomes.
Allan Parker: [00:42:32] I’m a forensic linguist. I can discuss that for a lifetime. Let me answer it in three ways. The most commonly asked questions in the business world in our busy rush pressured corporate world is a grammatic question. Grammatic question is, did you, would you, could you have you, is it, are they, would she. Requires yes or no, as an answer mathematical chance of disagreements.
50%. That’s predictable. Second question we ask is a negative grammatic question. Don’t you think it would be, aren’t we going to, isn’t it time shouldn’t we. Now they create confusion because, if I said to you, don’t you think we should finish on time? The answer is yes and no. If I asked that of 50 people and I go, how many of you think it’s yes. How many of you think it’s? No. I get half the room or two thirds of the room. The others are sitting there going. I’m not sure, but if you throw in enough of those questions, you’ll create argument and confusion. Next question that’s most commonly asked is a prosaic question. That’s a statement. That sounds like a question Duff.
You know what I mean? You know what I mean? It’s not a question. It’s a statement, inflect it at the end and you sound like it that’s the best you can do. You’re not serious. You’re kidding me. And you think that’s good enough. I suspect it’s all over don’t you. And they’re just beautiful. But when I’m under pressure and time short and I’ve got positional power.
Let me tell you they’ll come out of my mouth frequently. And the next one’s an alternative question. Would you like a or B and all you got to do to dismantle me is go no I think I prefer C, D, or E. So those four types of questions, which are the most common that we use in a rushed busy world all, have very predictable and unuseful outcomes.
But if I go broad, which is just simply what now with less than 10 words, I’ll never get disagreement, I’ll always get rapport. I’ll always get interested in. I’ll get good information.
Duff Watkins: [00:44:23] Get that to me again, Alan, what were those words?
Allan Parker: [00:44:27] We, see people use the term open into questions. Okay. No throw that out.
It’s not true. Duff. Could you talk to me about X.? Could you talk to me about X? The answer is yes or no, but it’s a question that’s used at the beginning of interviews to get people, to talk. So, the literal meaning of the word and the nature, and the reception of the question are quite different. And when, where, who, and which are all closed into questions, when are we finishing?
You’ll give me a time. Where was that? who was it. Now those are narrow WH questions, which are halfway between the two narrow WH question I can use when I want to change the subject. So we go, what now? What now? What now? Well, I get the information I want, and I go, So, Duff how did, how did that come about and who was that?
When? When did it happen? And now I can go fascinating. I’m just wondering, and now I can take topic anywhere I want. They’re just some Quick examples. Oh, let me throw in What Would, Could, Might, Would.
Duff Watkins: [00:45:33] I was just about to say, I have a note here, that you said the most powerful words in any negotiation, anytime, anywhere with anybody would, could, might.
Allan Parker: [00:45:46] You are so good. Since I’ve spoken to you uh, I’ve published three books, I’ve written nine.
you got to be careful with books because if you, the minute a book comes out, everybody thinks that’s what to do. But I wrote Would, Could, Might about two years ago and I think it’s getting close to time to think about publishing it, but it was, Would Could, Might the art of speculative thought, what could, would, might we have three of the most powerful words in English?
How would, could, might we is a turning point in every negotiation. And now if you’re saying something and I think I need to disagree, but I don’t want to disagree explicitly. I can use one of the following words. So given, if the thing that’s fascinating about that is, and I’m just wondering, or I suspect, or if I may Duff.
Let me add something to that. Now, if I use any of those words, I can add extra stuff on to you and I’m building on what you’re saying, not creating a contradiction, the 24-year dispute, the big mental shift reframing. I did. Whereas I really like you I’ve done work with Dr. Stephanie Burns in the reading space.
I read the five pieces of legislation that were in the dispute and there was one particular piece which was very contentious. And so, I went through it and I, with a highlighter pen marked every time the word except was used. And then I tabbed the page, I didn’t even read the what it was that I put a tab on the page, and I walked into the room with the hard copy of it in my hand.
With the tabs. And I said to them, I’m not going to ask you to read this, nor am I going to ask you if you have, but I want you to know. I have, and every piece of those papers, that’s sticking out of that book. And there was 300 of them indicates that the word except is on that page. I wrote the word except up on the board.
And I said, what do you think that means? And somebody said, well, it means there are exceptions. And I said, yeah. And if there’s exceptions, what is it? There’s choice and there’s options. And there’s alternatives. They’d read the contracts and the policies and the legislations looking for the points of contention and disagreement.
All I did was because of my linguistic knowledge, I went looking for the word, except because I know the options are there. So, when I say to them, what are your needs and what are the options? They get stuck. I’ll get them, but I never have but, but the fact that I said to them, every one of those pieces of paper means the word except is there.
And that means there’s an option that just opened up their whole brain to, we’ve got to explore the options and they did.
Duff Watkins: [00:48:30] All right then. Well, let me conclude with a final question for you. We’ve been talking about things you’ve learned. Let me ask you about something. That you’ve unlearned. What have you unlearned lately?
And by that, I mean, something you absolutely positively knew to be true then, but now you realize not the case.
Allan Parker: [00:48:50] My, my brain goes back to meningitis actually for really good example, because I’d been a runner for 50 years. And when you got meningitis and you know, five to eight or 10 headaches, 24 hours a day for three, three and a half years, it turned out.
And you can’t run. And I couldn’t cycle, you know, I’m a runner. I probably have seven or 8% body fat. Now I’ve got legs that when I swim, they just drag along the bottom of the pool. And so, I decided I had to learn not to run and stay sane. So, I decided that I’d go swimming and learn to swim. And that would allow me to learn not to run.
Cause I just mentally, I didn’t know what I was going to do.
Duff Watkins: [00:49:35] Just like somebody took away your best therapy and then you say, well, what do I do?
Allan Parker: [00:49:38] You know, people often say to me, do you meditate? No, go. I know I run in a helicopter above myself watching myself.
Duff Watkins: [00:49:45] That’s a yes.
Allan Parker: [00:49:47] SO it was a great it’s a great achievement because I am, I’m built to run, and I’m not built to swim. And I’m now at the point, in fact, I did 20 laps 20 minutes before we started, I now enjoy swimming and through a little bit of technique. I can actually keep my feet near the surface of the water.
Duff Watkins: [00:50:09] Yeah.
That’s another thing we share. I mean, swimming is the hardest thing I do and then some, the most frustrating, but, but I learned to enjoy it. Well, let us finish there on this note, folks, you’re listening to the international podcast, 10 Lessons It Took Me 50 years to learn. This episode is produced by Robert Hossary and sponsored by the professional development forum.
PDF provides webinars, social media discussions, podcast, parties, everything you want, everything you need to know, you can find them online https://professionaldevelopmentforum.org and best of all, it’s all free. Now, before you go, Alan, the three published books that, that I know that you have are Switch On Your Brain , The Negotiators Toolkit and Beyond Yes Negotiating And Network. Listeners, you can email us. We’d love to hear your comments. Email us at email@example.com and I will find a way to get you Alan’s book and that’s all from Allan Parker, our guest today. So, we thank you listener. You’ve been listening to 10 lessons that took me 15 years to learn. Please join us for our next episode.