You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 44. Today, we’re talking all about the energy you bring with you and zero-dollar conversations. You ready? Let’s go.
Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.
Hi, how are you? I hope you are doing well. I hope that your new year is still off to a good start. We’re about halfway into the first month, maybe a little bit more by the time you listen to this. Hopefully things are going well for you. A little life update from me, things have been pretty busy over here.
As the year’s gotten off to a start, I finished the enrollment for The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. And now, I’m finalizing all the fun arrangements for that. I’m going to be in Charleston in a couple of weeks, with everyone, and I cannot wait. I love planning everything that goes along with this event, the menus, the venues. I didn’t mean to make that rhyme, but there you go. Just all of the little, small details that make it a special experience for people.
I’ve been up to that, and I also, am preparing for quite a bit of travel. I’m getting ready to go to Cabo, again, with my business coach. I’ll be in Cabo the week before I’m in Charleston for my mastermind. Quite a bit of travel coming up.
And, I posted about this on social media, so if you follow me there you might have seen this already. I recently lost my last living grandparent. My grandmother passed away in the beginning of January. It’s been a while, knock on wood, that I’ve lost what I would consider an immediate family member. I forgot how much goes into all of that; the funeral, the viewing, everything. So, that really consumed a lot of me, a lot of my attention, a lot of focus.
One of the things I will say, it’s really great whenever I get to see family. Since my paternal grandfather passed away, who I was actually really close with, I don’t see my family a ton. It’s normally at like weddings or funerals that we’re all in the same place, that we all get together. And, family is super important to me. Contrary to what that might sound like, because I don’t see people as often as I might like to, but it is nice to get together.
That being said, something happened while I was with everyone, and it inspired today’s episode. So, I don’t know if this is something that resonates with you, but recently, having this opportunity to be around family members that I hadn’t seen in a while, it’s pretty wild when you engage again with people you haven’t seen. And, when you’ve changed a lot in between now and the last time you’ve seen them, right?
For a lot of people in my life, I’m like a wildly different person because of coaching. Not just what has changed in my life, you know, externally. Meaning, I don’t practice law anymore. I transitioned careers. I started my own business. A lot of people that I saw at the funeral I haven’t seen since before the pandemic. So, my life looks completely different from the outside. I live in a different place. So much has changed, in that manner.
But I’m also a completely different person on the inside. I guess I shouldn’t say completely. There are some core attributes about me that are always going to be the same; things that I love about myself that I haven’t changed. But a lot of stuff is different. And, it’s because of coaching.
So, when I say different, I definitely mean better, here. I am such a positive person now, and I don’t let things get to me. I was always pretty non-judgmental, but I’ve taken it to the nth degree through coaching. And I’m always looking for the silver lining and on the bright side. I’m never in a state of blame. And, man, I used to be the biggest complainer at work, in my personal life, just because that’s what a lot of normal people do; they complain. And, I’m not like that anymore.
I don’t see the value in it. I see a lot of those conversations as what I call “zero-dollar conversations.” Meaning, they don’t add any value to your life. They don’t have any positive contribution. And what I noticed being around some of my family members that I hadn’t seen in a long time, was the energy that they bring with them to conversations.
You know, people say to me very frequently, “Olivia, you’re like the most positive person I know.” And the energy I bring with me, in any room that I walk into, is really high, it’s really positive, it’s really motivating, it’s infectious. People feel better when they’re around me when they spend time with me.
I’m really conscious about that. I mean, it’s the default setting for me now, so it doesn’t require that much work. But I always want to be a value add, wherever I am, whoever I’m with. But not everyone is like that.
And in being around some people I haven’t seen in a long time, I noticed the big difference between how I interact with people, and how I carry myself, and how I operate in the world, and how I think about things. And how they operate in the world, and how they think about things, and the energy they bring with them, and how they spend their time; the types of conversations they have.
So, it really got me thinking. And I’m sure this is true for you, too, if you just take a second to think about it. A lot of the people in your life are probably pretty negative. Most people are, our brain has a negativity bias, so we automatically go there. And, you have to learn how to interrupt it and course correct and change your thoughts.
This is exactly what I teach my clients, through the thought work that I do with them, through coaching. And you also have to be able to understand that circumstances are neutral, right? I talk about that a ton on the podcast. That any situation that you’re encountering in your life, the facts of it don’t have an emotional charge; they’re not positive, they’re not negative; they’re simply neutral.
And you get to decide what you think and how you feel about them. Now, most people in the world are never taught that. And, they don’t know that, so they treat most situations as negative. They complain a lot.
Now, I encourage you to start paying attention to this. It’s a little bit like, if you’ve ever seen the show, How I Met Your Mother, they did an episode on people pointing things out to one another. And it’s like, once you see it, you can’t unsee it. It’s like the glass shatters, and there’s no going back. This is kind of like that.
So, I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but I do think it’s really important to notice how negative people are, because it will also help you identify how negative you might be. And the more you notice it, you’re going to also start to notice how you feel when you’re around people when they’re being negative. When people are complaining about other people, or talking shit about other people.
I’m going to go into a list of examples of what this looks like in practice, and the different ways, you know, bringing negative energy with you manifests itself in your conversations and your daily interactions with people. But I want you to pay attention to how you feel after these negative conversations or these negative interactions. Do you feel energized and optimistic and motivated and uplifted? Or, do you feel depleted and drained and pessimistic and discouraged? Right?
For me, when I’m having conversations with people and they’re complaining, it’s such an energy drain for me. It’s definitely not how I like to feel. I walk away from a conversation feeling worse than when I started it. That’s not fun for me. Also, being engaged in really negative conversations isn’t in alignment with the kind of person that I want to be in this world, right?
So, take a second think about like: Who do you want to be in this world? Are the conversations that you’re having with people aligned with that? Is the energy that you’re bringing with you, to all of your situations and encounters in your life, aligned with that?
One of the things that I believe very strongly is that we’re all responsible for the energy that we bring with us. So, that’s why I wanted to talk about this today. I want you to start to take an audit, or an inventory, of the energy that you bring with you.
I think it’s really compelling and powerful to think about: What if everyone did this? What if everyone took a moral inventory, and did an audit of the energy that they bring with them, to every encounter, to every conversation?
And if you became aware that you’re not bringing the best energy with you, and you decided to make a change, what would the compound impact of that be? What would that look like? How would that ripple across our society? It’s really wild to think of that. So today, we’re going to talk about the energy that you bring with you, and we’re going to do this inventory together.
So, the first question I want you to ask yourself is, do you complain? Now, the obvious answer is probably going to be yes, right? We all complain to some extent. That being said, you want to gain some awareness as to how often you complain, and what you complain about. Take a second and think about those two questions. What do you complain about? And, how often do you do it?
Now, I want you to ask yourself, why do you complain? And, be really honest here. Does it serve you? I work with so many clients that actually do believe that complaining does serve them. Because complaining often feels good. It feels cathartic. But it really does not serve you.
Again, you’re normally complaining to someone else, so you’re using your time and theirs. And, you’re not searching for a solution when you’re complaining, right? Problem solving and complaining are very, very different. I’m fine with noting that there’s a problem and then going right into solution mode; that serves you, that works.
But complaining just for the sake of complaining, really doesn’t have any purpose. Now, again, it feels good because you normally get to feel righteous or justified. I always describe those emotions like dark chocolate-covered caramel, they just tend to be a little delicious.
We also complain as a form of buffering. To avoid something else that we don’t want to do, or to avoid some other emotion that we don’t want to feel. For instance, if you’re feeling really powerless or out of control, complaining is a great way to feel better. But again, it’s one of those actions you have to pay attention to.
Because even though you feel much more powerful, and better than the weaker emotion that you’re experiencing, the results you produce from complaining don’t serve you; they’re not going to be good ones. So, does it really make sense for you to do it?
Also, this is a little bit of like a tough love wake-up call for people: Are you complaining because it makes you feel good? And if you are, if that’s what it is, do you like that as your reason? One of the things that I talk about a lot is, what would be different about your life, if instead of complaining about it, about the things that you didn’t like or other people’s behavior, you went to work on changing it or fixing it?
Now, the reason people don’t do this is because that actually takes hard work. It’s really easy to complain. It’s much harder to change things, or focus on yourself. What I also find fascinating is when people complain about other people, when they have absolutely no control over the other person.
Like, you always get to choose whether you spend time with someone, whether you engage with them, whether you don’t. Whether they’re colleagues or family members or friends, you always get to choose. And, that may not seem true to you. But you can leave your job if you hate the people you work with. You can stop talking to really close family members, if you don’t think that they add value to your life, and you don’t enjoy your relationship with them.
Everything is on the table. You get to make all of these choices and all of these decisions, and you get to change your mind, anytime you want. But what would be different about your life if you didn’t complain? If instead of focusing on things that are outside of your control, you put all of that energy, all of that mental capacity into focusing on what is in your control, and going to work on making your life better, right?
Again, heavier lift. I’m not going to say that it’s not. But your life would be monumentally better. It’d be significantly different. You’d have so much more of the things that you would want. You would feel so much better on a daily basis.
So, I highly encourage you to take an inventory of how often you’re complaining. People complain all day long, it’s wild. When you start to become aware of this, you will notice that it tends to be people’s favorite pastime, is to complain.
Now, a variant of complaining, is talking badly about other people. So, I want you to think for a second, do you do this as well? And again, I think the answer is probably yes, for everyone to some degree. But I want you to be honest with yourself, are you doing it in excess?
A lot of people do this. It’s one of the things that I noticed, in being around some friends and family members that I hadn’t seen in a really long time. I noticed how they spoke about other people. And, I’m sure some of my family members are listening to this. Sure, they’re probably not going to love this episode, but I think it’s so important to talk about.
I’m talking about this issue from a place of love and really deep, sincere concern, because I want y’all to have better lives. And it’s really hard to have a better life when you’re constantly introducing negativity into your day-to-day life. Into your day-to-day conversations, and into every interaction that you have.
Remember, all of the action that you take is driven and determined by the feelings that you feel. And, you’re not going to feel great when you’re complaining and you’re looking for the worst in people, and you’re talking badly about them; you’re going to feel bad.
Now, I want you, just like we did with complaining, I want you to answer the question, why do you talk badly about other people? Really give that some thought for a second, alright? The answer, I’m going to give it to you, or at least one of the reasons, the main reason; is that you feel significant when you talk badly about other people.
If you’ve never listened to Tony Robbins’ TED Talk on the “Six Human Needs,” it’s phenomenal. Listening to it absolutely changed my life. And, I’ll link it in the show notes. But if you haven’t listened to that, go give it a listen. One of the six basic human needs… We all have all six, but we all prefer two out of the six.
And one of those needs is the need to feel significant, or the need to feel needed. A lot of people operate with that being their top need. And you can totally tell when people prioritize that need, because they’re the ones who are complaining all of the time. They’re the ones who are talking badly about other people.
There’s a couple of different ways to feel significant: You can do really impressive things, and you can build yourself up and make yourself a success. He explains it, to where you build the tallest house on the block, right? Or the other way to have the tallest house on the block, is to tear everyone else down.
So, people, normally, people who are feeling really insecure about themselves, tend to default to criticizing or judging or talking badly about others. Also, if you think that you’re not feeling insecure, you might do this because, again, it feels really good to feel righteous, or to feel like you’re better than other people.
I get this is not a glamorous way to think about yourself, right? Probably, none of us who do this is proud of the fact that they do this. A lot of people aren’t even aware of how much they do this. So, I want you to start slowing yourself down and paying attention. Do you talk badly about other people? What are you saying? And, why are you saying it? I love asking ourselves the simple question of, why it is that we do something? You gain so much intel when you just ask and answer the question, why?
In taking inventory of the energy that you bring with you, I also just want you to pay attention to how negative you are. Are you really negative? You know, are you a person that if someone suggests something, you’re like a knee jerk, no. That’s what I call it. You just automatically default to, no. You think, “That won’t work. We can’t do that. That’ll never happen.”
You’re just really pessimistic. Or, you’re always looking for the downside, or the reason that something won’t work. Be honest, are you a bit of a Negative Nelly or a Debbie Downer, right? I also, for the record, hate that all of those phrases always use women’s names. So, we’re going to have to come up with some gender neutral options.
Another thing to take into consideration, or to ask yourself, is do you think you’re better than people? And, be really honest here. One of the ways that I see this manifest for people, that’s really subtle, is do you think that everyone else is doing it wrong?
I’ve talked about “should” thinking before, on the podcast. Do you think they should be doing it differently than they are? Do you think that the way that they’re operating isn’t the right way to do things? And that you know the right way, if only they just listened to you? Or, followed what you believe is the best way to operate, everything would be better, right?
If that’s you, you’re probably pretty negative. And, you probably complain a lot. And, you probably talk badly about other people. Again, I love you guys. And I get that this is a sensitive conversation because none of us wants to think that we’re like this. But a lot of people are like this; you probably know plenty of people.
This is a little bit different than, you know how they say, if you can’t identify out of your friend group who a specific person is, then that person’s probably you? This is different than that. This is probably people in your friend group. I don’t want you to think that it’s not you, also, if you can identify other people in your social circles who are like this.
This is a behavior that is pretty contagious. So, if your friends are like this, you’re probably also like this. One of the things that I love so much about having so many friends who are coaches, is that they’re really not negative people. We don’t like to talk shit about other people. We don’t like to be pessimistic. We’re so optimistic. We’re so full of possibility.
We’re having, you know, million dollar conversations instead of zero-dollar conversations. We’re constantly supporting each other; no one’s tearing one another down. We just really don’t tolerate it. It kind of like gets suffocated if anyone’s negative. I can’t even think of someone who’s negative.
And it’s intoxicating to be in friend groups or in social circles like that. Candidly, it’s one of the reasons that I love joining personal development groups like masterminds. Kind of like, The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. Or, I’m in a mastermind with my business coach.
And my other coach, Brooke Castillo, she has a lot of in-person group events. And I love going to those, because I just love being surrounded by people who are so positive. It makes me more positive. I’m already pretty positive to begin with, but I love surrounding myself with that kind of energy.
Now, if you don’t have access to that, guess what? You can create access to that. You may have to pay for it, right? I pay to be in the masterminds and the groups that I’m in. And it is money well spent, because I can’t force the people in my personal life to be any different than they are.
But instead of spending more time with those people, I choose to spend less time with them. Because I don’t like how I feel when I’m around them. And, you get to make the exact same decision. I also think it’s really important for you to think about this; would you want to be around you? It’s a really powerful thing to think about.
Would you want to be friends with you? Would you want to spend time with you? Would you want to engage in conversations with you? If you’re someone who always complains and you judge other people, and you’re critical and you tear them down, and you belittle what they’re doing, and you’re just full of judgment and have nothing nice to say, would you want to be around you? The answer is probably no.
I really think one of the missions that we can all be striving for, is to be versions of ourselves that we would want to be around.
All right let’s talk about a couple of different examples of what it looks like to bring negative energy with you into your daily interactions. I used to be famous for this. So, this is definitely me calling myself out here. I don’t do it anymore, by any means. But I see a lot of people complain in their offices, right?
You sneak into a coworkers office, and maybe everyone’s doing this on like, direct messages through whatever platform your firm uses, or Jabber; that’s what we used when I was in big law. But you’re complaining to people, right? You slide into someone’s office, you close the door, and you’re with your colleagues and you’re talking shit. You’re talking shit about your boss, or a colleague, or your assistant, or clients, or whatever, right? You’re just complaining.
I love when people do this; they also complain about not having enough time. Because it’s like, if you’d just spend the time that you spent complaining, actually doing your work, you’d be in a completely different world. I used to do this. I used to complain with other people in my office, all the time. Whether it was when I was in big law, or when I was working at the boutique firm. And, I wouldn’t get work done.
So, I was definitely not setting myself up for success in that way. I would have been much better served to put that time to better use. So, is that you? And is this the kind of colleague you want to be? Is this the kind of employee you want to be? I look back on how I spent a lot of my time complaining when I was someone’s employee. And man, it just makes me cringe.
I’m like, “I wouldn’t want to employ someone like that.” I also think it’s really important to be aware of how your behavior contributes to the overall culture of a workplace. If people see you complain, they’re going to be more likely to complain, because complaining is contagious. You’re giving people permission, and a green light, and letting them know that that behavior is acceptable, or that it’s welcomed, or really, that it’s encouraged. Right?
So, are you like that? Do you complain to other people? And what are you giving other people a permission slip to do themselves? Also, do you want to work at a place that’s really negative? Probably not. So, check in with yourself, are you doing this?
You know, how do you show up in meetings? This is another great area where I see people bring a lot of negative energy with them. They show up, they sit down in the conference room. Maybe, they come in late because they’re pissed that they have to be there in the first place. Because they think the meeting’s really stupid, and they sit down kind of disrupting what’s going on.
They’re on their phone, they’re really not paying attention, they’re kind of annoyed, they’re rolling their eyes at a lot of the suggestions that are made, they think everything’s so stupid, right? Now, be honest, are you this person? And if you are… You know, I think a lot of people do this because they want to be in the cool kids club. And it feels pretty cool to, you know, not give a fuck.
But it isn’t cool. I think the cool thing, is when you give a fuck, when you actually care. Now, I don’t mean care so much that you take everything personally, to your own detriment. But like, there is nothing that’s not admirable about caring, and about being present, and about being fully bought in to whatever it is that you’re working on, whatever the team’s mission is.
And if you really do have some negative feedback to give or some constructive criticism, by all means, do that. Before you do that, go listen to the feedback episode series that I did, so you know that you’re giving feedback in the most productive way possible. But you definitely get to dissent and voice an opinion.
But how are you doing it? Are you doing it in a way that you consider respectful? Or, are you doing it in a way, that if we’re being really honest, isn’t all that respectful?
I also watch people check-out, either because they’re bored, or we do this when we’re overwhelmed, right? You’re scrolling on your phone, you’re responding to emails, you’re not giving the people that you’re in the room with your full attention. And, that has an energy to it. I want you to be really conscious of that.
I watch a lot of people multitask, and I think it’s really disruptive to meetings, to planning sessions, to work that gets done. You’re not fully focused. And I think you do everyone, including yourself, a disservice when you do this. So, be aware of this and work on being more present.
This is one of the things that I teach people when they work with me, is how to be more present. If you know this is an area that you need some work in, being meaningful… I should probably do a whole podcast episode just on how to be more present because people really do struggle with that. But note that this is an area that you want to improve on.
Another example, is think about the phone calls and text messages that you have with friends of yours or family members, right? Are they really negative? Do you call up your best friend and just complain? I used to do this with one of my friends, who I used to work with. We would talk every morning, after she switched to a different firm. And man, we spent almost every morning on the phone with one another complaining.
What a way to start your day, right? How terrible. And again, I know complaining can feel cathartic, but we would just talk shit about a whole bunch of different people. And that’s how you get your day rolling, right? Everything else that follows is pretty much going to follow suit; you already have your negativity hat on.
Are you spending time on the phone, or via text, just criticizing other people, making fun of them, judging them, saying mean things about them, picking them apart? I see a lot of people do this because I’m in a lot of entrepreneurs circles. And the entrepreneurs who aren’t coaches tend to do this with other people. Whether they’re in competition with other people or whatever, they are really critical, and they’re really judgy.
I think those are zero-dollar conversations; no one’s benefiting when you’re picking apart someone else. So, you can always take inventory and audit: When am I doing that? Where am I doing that? And, how can I do less of it?
What would I replace that with? Talk to your friends about, you know, strategy or problem solving, instead of talking about other people. A good litmus test for this, if you lack some awareness on whether or not you’re doing this; be honest with yourself: Would you want people to overhear or read your conversations?
You know, as a criminal defense attorney we used to have, in discovery, everyone’s text messages. It was always mortifying what people would write in their text messages. Think about if people could read your text messages, or overhear your phone calls, would you be proud?
Or, would you be embarrassed and mortified and really ashamed of how you carry yourself? If you would be the latter emotions in that instance, be cognizant of the energy that you’re bringing with you to the conversations that you engage in.
Another way that you can start to pay attention to whether or not you’re being negative and bringing negative energy with you, is figuring out; do you dwell? Dwelling is so unproductive. We used to have this rule, when I practiced criminal defense, we had the 24-Hour Rule. So, if you got a bad ruling from a judge or a really unfortunate verdict, you had 24 hours to be as upset as you wanted about it. But then, after 24 hours, you had to get over it and get back to work, and you couldn’t dwell.
I’ve taken that rule that 24-Hour Rule, and I’ve brought it with me into the rest of my life. So, you get 24 hours to be as upset as you want. And then, you’ve got to move on; you can’t sit in it, you can’t dwell, you can’t stew. It’s so unproductive; it doesn’t serve you. And, who wants to be around someone who’s constantly stewing and dwelling; not fun, right?
Now, this isn’t to say that you need to pretend to be fine all the time, I’m not suggesting that. But like the 24-Hour Rule, you can acknowledge your negative emotions, whether it’s disappointment, or frustration, or hurt, or anger. Now, no one else is causing those feelings, you’re causing them with your thoughts. But you get to choose negative thoughts sometimes, and you get to choose to feel negative feelings.
If that’s the case, you’re allowed to experience that emotion. But I don’t want you to do more than acknowledge them, be present with them, let them be there, and then move on. I don’t want you to sit in them. And I also don’t want you to react negatively to them. Most people feel negative emotions, and then they react negatively. You want to interrupt that process and not do that.
Now, if you bring negative energy with you, if you’re engaged in a lot of zero-dollar conversations that don’t serve anyone, that don’t add any extra value to the world, and you want to change this, you have to first become aware of the fact that you’re doing this.
So, you get to answer the questions that I asked you in today’s episode. If you really struggle to see your own negativity, I want you to do one of two things, all right? I want you to ask someone you trust, and ask them to be honest with you, whether or not they think you’re a negative person or a positive person, okay? And if they’re honest with you, and they say that you are negative, you cannot get mad at them. All right? Only ask this if you’re really comfortable accepting an honest answer.
Another thing you can do is rather than polling anyone about what they think, just ask someone that you trust to point it out to you when you are negative. I’ve started doing this with my mom, much to her chagrin, I’m sure. But she is really negative when she drives.
She gets very mad at other drivers. And, I have some thoughts and feelings about her behavior in the car. And instead of yelling at her or telling her she’s doing it wrong, I’ve just decided that I think she doesn’t have awareness as to how negative she is. So, I started to point it out to her.
You can also tally this yourself. Again, it requires a little bit more self-awareness. But I have a relationship with someone who is very challenging for me. And I ended up being more negative in those interactions with this person, than I typically am with anyone else. I don’t like to be that way.
So, one of the things that I started doing when I interact with that person, is I keep note of the comments that I make that I’m not proud of. I keep a little tally. And when you keep a little tally, you’re like, “Oh, I made two comments. I don’t want to make another one. I made three, and I want to stop there.”
You just become so much more cognizant of what you say, and the impact it has on people, and whether or not you’re acting in accordance with the type of person you want to be, or whether you’re out of alignment.
Okay, I highly encourage you to start to become aware of the energy that you bring with you, and do an audit. You can do this every day. Did I have zero-dollar conversations today? If I did, why did I do it? If I brought negative energy with me, why did I do it? Did it serve me? How else could I show up differently?
Asking yourself, and answering these questions, will be life changing, I promise. There is nothing better than bringing incredible infectious, contagious, positive energy with you, when you engage with people in the world. I want you to be proud of yourself, and how you show up with other people. You’re in charge and responsible for your own energy. Make sure you choose wisely. All right?
That’s what I have for you this week, my friends. I hope you have a beautiful week. I will talk to you in the next episode.
Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero, or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.