The Awkward Art of Having Hard Conversations with Jim and Tyson


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Are you a law firm owner who avoids having tough conversations? In this podcast episode, Jim Hacking and Tyson Mutrux engage in a candid discussion about the challenges of having difficult conversations. They share personal experiences and struggles, and talk about ways to overcome fears of handling tough conversations in the workplace.

Having tough conversations in the workplace is an unavoidable thing, especially if you are a business owner or have a team of employees that you oversee. Jim and Tyson talk about where the fear stems from. For Jim, it stems from the need to control the outcome of a particular situation. If you say something in a certain way, you may be able to control the outcome. But, in reality sometimes things just need to be said in order to not let situations get out of hand. For Tyson, he struggles with sugar coating conversations and not truly letting someone know how he is feeling. This can lead to conversations that never amount to anything significant.

Jim and Tyson share a few ways to approach difficult conversations so you don’t avoid them. One thing to do is try to see things from the other person’s perspective. For example, if an employee did something that you do not like, try to understand why they may have done it to begin with. Maybe they made a decision based on a lack of training or they did not have the adequate resources to do their job.

Take a listen to learn more!

Episode Highlights:

  • 05:01 The challenges and personal experiences with difficult conversations in the workplace
  • 06:14 Exploration of the fear and control associated with having difficult conversations
  • 10:17 Emotional regulation and self-reflection during difficult conversations
  • 13:20 The middle path in handling difficult conversations
  • 14:17 Importance of considering different perspectives during difficult conversations
  • 18:05 Strategies for dealing with dishonesty during difficult conversations
  • 20:04 Importance of active listening and follow-up questions 
  • 23:10 Using a technique to identify and address emotions before engaging in challenging discussions


Transcripts: The Awkward Art of Having Hard Conversations with Jim and Tyson

Jim (00:00.878)
Welcome back to the Maximum Warrior Podcast. I'm Jim Hacking.

Tyson (00:05.273)
And I'm Tyson Mutrix. What's up Jimbo?

Jim (00:08.334)
I'm very excited for those of you who aren't watching this on video, Tyson is set up in his car or his truck and he's across the street from a Hooters. You can see it in the background. He's getting ready to go in for a hearing after our podcast. So it's a very exciting time. We leave no stone unturned in bringing you the best legal marketing and law firm management content on the planet.

Tyson (00:31.771)
That's right, so here's what I'll tell you. This is like the most comfortable setup I've ever had, because I'm in the back of Amy's Grand Wagoneer, because I'm waiting for my truck to be delivered. And so it's a pretty good setup, to be honest with you. It's pretty comfy. The least comfortable thing that I've got going on right now is my neck, because I've been lifting, my neck has gotten too big. So my shirts, all the collars are too freaking tight. So like I'm like strangling myself. So.

That's, cause I gotta have this tie on. That's like my, my, my biggest problem right now is that.

Jim (01:06.592)
You look a little buff, yeah, I have that same problem, but it's not from lifting, it's from eating too much, that my shirts don't fit.

Tyson (01:15.228)
Yeah dude, this thing, it's like so tight. I can't wait to get it off, but I've got a hearing after this and then I'm gonna take this thing off. I've got shorts and a shirt to change into, so.

Jim (01:26.126)
That's what I'm talking about. Now listen, I wanted to ask you about that truck.

Tyson (01:29.468)
Listen Linda, listen Linda, listen.

Jim (01:32.686)
I don't know what that means, but you were sort of live tweeting your experience with the car dealer and specifically, you had hammered out a deal and then they came up with some BS $2 ,197 charge for something. I don't remember what it was for. It was like, I don't know what it was for, but did you end up doing the deal?

Tyson (01:53.726)
I did the deal. I took Steven Lefkoff's advice, which was good advice. He's like, listen, if you got the deal you wanted, they took it off. Because they added this accessories, quote unquote accessories, and they weren't accessories. It was like these, it was like something security etching and all this other crap. And I said, I'm not paying for that. So they took it off, but it seems like, listen, if you got the price you wanted, if it's a good deal, just buy the truck. He's like, okay, I'm gonna buy the truck. So yeah.

Jim (02:12.782)

Jim (02:21.934)
I'm glad he said that and I'm glad you got the trick you wanted.

Tyson (02:24.863)
Yeah, me too. It was one that I was looking for a specific color, specific features, and so I got the one I wanted. It's a black F -150 Ford Lightning, so it's completely electric. And so hopefully in six months I'm not complaining about having an EV, but I think I'll like it. I think it's perfect for what I need it for.

Jim (02:47.15)
Are you gonna be able to charge it at your house?

Tyson (02:50.624)
Yeah, yeah, so there's a variety of options for charging, but I'm gonna have a 240, I think it's 240 volt installed at the house. But then also you can do, there's like a regular plug you can do, but the charging is like five miles an hour, so you don't get a lot of it. So I'll install the 240 volts and I'll get more charging, but then you can charge it completely in like 40 minutes if you're like a supercharger.

Jim (03:20.878)
My buddy has that Rivian thing, you know, that truck. And he, that's Stuart, he always has to drive down to Florida. And he says that it's like, it charges really fast for the first 60%, but then the back 40 % is really slow. So you end up charging more often than they tell you that it's gonna.

Tyson (03:41.089)
There's all these little rules, but if I can get it set up right, I'll never stop for gas. Because I'm not going to be taking it across the country. So I can go pretty much anywhere in the state that I need to go for any court appearances. I can go to most… Really, if you're really thinking about it, if it's more than three hours, I'm going to be flying there anyways. But if it's within that three hours, I can drive there and back without a problem. And I'll charge you at the house.

Jim (04:09.166)
you should get solar panels through your roof.

Tyson (04:12.32)
My neighbor has got solar panels. He's been trying to get me to buy them because his son sells them or son -in -law sells them and he's been trying to get me to do them. But I've thought about it. It'd be kind of nice. He says he's already saving money. It's true.

Jim (04:24.974)
Well now you have the perfect reason to do it. Yeah, now you have the perfect reason to do it.

Tyson (04:29.888)
be good apparently I don't know if there's still tax credits for but I'm pretty sure there are there's a $7 ,500 tax credit for the truck so that's pretty I mean that's pretty damn good

Jim (04:40.942)
That's great.

Tyson (04:42.208)
Alright, let's talk about some business though. Let's talk about the topic of the day, which I'll let you introduce.

Jim (04:49.806)
The topic of the day is having hard, tough, difficult conversations. And this is something that I would say for a long time for me as a person and me as a boss, I liked to avoid. I have historically not liked having hard conversations. And I'm sort of a people pleaser and I want people to like me. And so it's been historically a trait of mine to not want to have hard conversations. I…

have done some work on this and I find myself much more engaged in having much more, many more difficult conversations. So I thought that'd make a good topic for us.

Tyson (05:31.712)
Yeah, you and I talked about this a little bit ago and I told you, I feel like you've always been really good at this and you told me you've not been very good at this historically and I found that really interesting. But I mean, you've always been good to me. We've had some tough conversations with people in the past and I've been on those calls with you and I feel like you've handled it really, really well but you have this fear of them, right?

That's what you would, I think that's the way you put it, but like, yeah. So do you know where that comes from?

Jim (06:02.446)
I get anxious for sure.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think it's actually an attempt to control outcomes. I think it's an attempt to, if I say things the right way, if I don't speak what I think, what I actually think, then I can navigate the situation to a place where I want it to be. I think part of it comes from my dad always liked to have hard conversations. You may recall that when he retired from his firm, he used to volunteer, call me up and say, hey, Jimmy.

you got anybody you want me to fire, I'll come over and do it. Like that was his bag. And so I was always sort of put off by that. But yeah, I think where I've, there's sort of two places I've landed on it. One is I think it's an attempt at control in a weird way. And two, I've gotten much more willing to let go of the result. Sometimes things just need to be said. And you might not know what's gonna happen after you say it, but.

Tyson (06:59.136)

Jim (07:03.758)
It just needs to be said and clarified. And I think that's especially true in the workplace where, you know, you're going to do yourself and your team a whole lot of favors by having a harder conversation earlier than later, letting things percolate or spill over because you were failing to have those hard conversations.

Tyson (07:23.808)

I want to go back to the control thing. So what do you think you're controlling if you don't have the conversation? Because I feel like that's the opposite of what you're doing.

Jim (07:36.302)

I'm a very clever boy and I, Amani says I'm really good at figuring out what I want to happen, but then being like 20 steps down the road to get there and like reverse engineering it. And I think that my, in my mind, if I, if I have the hard conversation and I say what needs to be said, I don't know what the outcome's gonna be. But if I pull punches,

and I don't say things, then maybe later I can say something that I need to say or maybe I can guide someone in a different way. I'm not saying this is rational. I'm just saying that this is sort of how my mind works. That sort of, it's sort of manipulative sort of, and when I say controlling, it's…

Jim (08:28.014)
I think that one thing with hard conversations is I was always afraid, especially with my dad, to have there be anger and tumult, right? And so, like, I'd rather just keep my mouth shut and not let things sort of spill over.

Tyson (08:37.216)

Tyson (08:44.224)
So, and I get that, so it's almost like you're controlling your environment by not doing anything and not saying anything in a way. So, in my family, we just didn't talk. It was like we didn't have conversation. So I've, as an adult, had to muddle my way through learning some of this stuff. And one of the major things, I think it was just my upbringing, it was not saying what I truly felt.

Jim (08:51.118)

Tyson (09:12.416)
And that's where I've had to like, I've been okay with having the conversations, but in the past, what I would do is, is I would have the conversation, but never during the conversation would I actually say what I felt, like truly felt. So if I'm talking to an employee, I would say, hey, we need to have this conversation. So we would sit down, we'd have the conversation. And I'd let them say all the things that they felt. And I would kind of like,

I would sugarcoat things, I would say things just to kind of get through the conversation, but not like really get to the heart of it. And where I've gotten a lot better is just saying, listen, here's what I really feel about this. And every time I've done that, it's always gone way better than I would have thought it would have. But like that was what was my struggle was like just, I would get in the middle of the conversation, but never really convey how I felt about the situation.

If that makes sense.

Jim (10:10.35)
That's interesting because I've certainly seen situations where you've gotten hot and I think you're pretty good at calming down and stabilizing and maybe you're going beyond that to just really self -regulating and if I totally get what you're saying. Yeah.

Tyson (10:25.92)
Yeah, so like I will say like one of my strengths is like I'll get hot but before I make any decision or before I really react I mean there of course there's been situations where I've in the moment said things or done things that I probably shouldn't have but for the most part I'll get hot I'll kind of do it in private and then I'll regulate and then I'll go through and I'll make the decision that needs to be made but I do have kind of a short fuse so that does happen sometimes but

If I do have a strength, it's one of those like, okay, let's go into this with a clear head. And I mean, I talk about that with like depots, like we have a client. I won't give a lot of details about him because he's kind of a high profile client, but the client was talking about how, like why is it not okay for me to get mad during the depot? Cause you're not gonna think clearly. Like that's the reason. It's okay to show emotion, but like.

Jim (11:14.446)

Tyson (11:21.664)
You get angry and you don't think. That's the problem. It's just a, it's human nature that you get angry. And so we're talking about these crucial conversations and everything, these really difficult conversations. When you go into these conversations, like if you're mad, if you're angry, you're not gonna be making decisions or saying things that are right. You're not gonna be saying things that you should be saying because you're just not thinking clearly. It's human nature.

Jim (11:48.878)
Well, I'm sure that if you sat down and thought about it, I'm gonna take somebody's deposition and I can anticipate them getting mad. I think you'd be really happy as the lawyer knowing that they're gonna lose their cool, because you're gonna get things out of them that you never would have otherwise. Yeah. Right. Right, so.

Tyson (12:03.168)
Hell yeah, I'm gonna poke the bear, and I like poking the bear. Hell yeah, that's what I'm gonna do.

Jim (12:10.734)
That works well in a depot. I don't know if it works that well in a workplace. And I really liked this book, Radical Candor. And when I went to the last EOS conference in San Diego, they had the author of Radical Candor come. And she talked about being direct, not being dramatic, being factual, sort of draining out the emotion or things that are arguable and just focusing on the facts. And a fact can be, you know,

when you did this, it made me feel like that. That's a fact. You can talk about your feelings, but you don't give them ammunition to hit you back over the head with an interpretation. In other words, lay out the fact. This is really what I've been doing. I've been laying out the facts and then getting curious, getting curious. Instead of saying, when you did this, you were an asshole. Instead of saying, when you did this, it made me feel like this or it made me think this or it made me remember this, right? And so,

I think it's important in all of these conversations that you sort of check in and you sort of say, you know, where is this coming from? What's my role in it? How is this triggering me? You know, what is this bringing up from my past? What's been my role in it? I think all those things are really important when you're having these conversations and you do, as much as I hate it, you do have to sort of let go of the result and you just don't know what's gonna happen.

Tyson (13:33.785)
Yeah, I like the part of asking questions too, where you, and a lot of these conversations I'm thinking about is conversations with employees, right, where you're, or it could be business partners or whatever, but it's going in, like you're talking about curiosity, it's like asking questions, and try not to go into it with assumptions, like that's really, really difficult to do.

And then something I saw I saw this whole a year or two ago where someone had posted about like a superpower is being able to see it from the other side's perspective and Like so you're in the Middle East conversations and sometimes you can do this to your detriment. So I'd be careful about this one, but

At least try it a little bit to see it from the other side, from their perspective. Why might they be coming from this? Why might their actions be these actions? Why might they be thinking these things? And that might change your approach to things. So let's say you are really pissed off about something an employee did. Well.

stop for a second, think about maybe why they did the things that they did, and really try to do it. And you might get some understanding, is maybe you do have some culpability in this. Maybe there's a reason why they're doing the actions, taking the actions that they took, just because maybe it's something you did, or maybe you didn't provide the tools of the resources or the training. So really thinking about it from their perspective can be pretty powerful.

Jim (15:06.094)
I think that's really important. And especially as the law firm owner, you always, I think for most failures or mistakes, you have to come, unless somebody is doing something intentional or not following the process, then you have to ask yourself, well, did our, did our, incomplete systems contribute to this problem? What, what did, what role did I have? What, what could I, what could we have done differently? What structurally can we do so this doesn't happen again? Those kinds of things. So we had a situation this week where he had to have a difficult conversation with a team member. He.

made a mistake and instead of completely owning up to it, he sort of threw a bomb at us, blaming us, leadership for something that was completely untrue. And so, I mean, I waited a few days and we had a meeting and like I said, I sort of laid out the facts of everything that happened. And then I got curious and asked him, you know, what were you thinking here or can you see it this way or why would you say that? And it was much more effective than…

being on one of the extremes. One extreme is being super nice and trying not to ever rock the boat so you don't have any hard conversations and at the end of the day you just get pissed at someone and fire them. Or where you're this hothead and you're responding to everything immediately and quickly and sort of overreacting. The middle path is checking in where you're at, seeing what your role is in it, seeing what their role is in it, and then seeing what are the facts of the situation, how can you fix it, how could you have prevented it, how do we work?

in the future to move on and beyond this and then go from there.

Tyson (16:35.873)
You know, one of the things I've found is really powerful too, is if there is an issue that's involving multiple people, in the past what we've done is, we've done this a few different ways, but we've had separate conversations, I feel like that was the appropriate thing to do, is okay, Jim, I'm gonna talk to you separately, Imani, I'll talk to you separately.

But what I've found is that creates more issues than it solves. So what I've found is that actually having everyone in the room at the same time during that conversation, or if it's virtual, everyone on the same Google Meet or Zoom call, because what people tend to do is they tend to tell the truth more when they have the other person in the room as opposed to.

If I'm separate, I'm gonna tell my side of the story is what I'm gonna do. And so having everyone in that room is just a, to me, far better way of getting to the root of the issue than having them separate.

Jim (17:27.278)
Mm -hmm.

Jim (17:37.806)
I think that's great and it's something I hadn't actually thought of. Have you had any other situations lately where you've had to have difficult conversations? I mean, I've been having more and more. I mean, we had to talk to a vendor about a problem that we were having and we've been finding ourselves in these situations a little more often. And you know, as you grow and you deal with people, you have more situations. So how about you?

Tyson (18:03.556)
No, not necessarily. I had some in December. I had some tough ones in December. And it was… How am I going to put this? You were talking about coming with facts and everything and not emotions. And I think that that is really effective for a lot of reasons. And I'll…

I'll be fairly blunt without giving a lot of details. When you're dealing with people that are not very honest and they just, they tend to lie, coming with facts, just facts, not emotions is really powerful and it's effective. And it, it cuts through, cause if you start to get with the emotion, if you start to, if you lead with emotion or you make it about emotion, then what,

It gives wiggle room right it allows them to kind of weasel out a little bit of stuff And if you're dealing with people that are dishonest Dealing with the facts are really really important And so I've talked about that spy the lie book before one of the things they talked about too is if you're talking to someone and you're you're asking questions, so let's say I mean let's say that an employee screwed up and you're trying to get details and You ask you ask a question like hey Jim You know?

you know, why is it that you spoke to the client that way? And instead of saying, instead of Jim saying, well, the reason why I did it was because she, Ms. Jones raised her voice at me and so I got angry. And so you answer it directly. And instead you say, Tyson, you know me, why would I, you know, I go to church every Sunday. I'm an honest person. I'm someone that.

that treats people with respect, right? So you don't answer the question directly. That's a red flag. That's, okay, okay, that's a cue. That doesn't mean that they're lying, but it's a sign that maybe they're lying and you need to ask some more questions. So when you're having these difficult conversations, these ones that can be really, really tough sometimes, there can be a lot of motion in them even though you are bringing a lot of facts to it. Internally,

Jim (19:56.334)

Tyson (20:17.128)
You're stressed, you're anxious, right? You've got a lot going on. You need to still be able to identify some of these things that they're saying. You need to be listening. You need to be actively listening because they start to give you cues like that. You need to listen and follow up because part of that having these really, really important conversations is listening so you can then ask the right questions.

Jim (20:40.718)
There's another piece to this too that we bring as lawyers and especially litigators and that is we have a toolbox that a lot of people don't have. So you need to be a little bit careful. You need to be a little bit careful that you don't slip into cross -examination on the stand with Colonel Nathan Jessup up on the stand. Like you want to be very, very careful about sliding into that role because it's just so natural and easy. And like you said, you know, that was a tell when that person, you know, tried to…

Tyson (20:48.872)
It's true.

Jim (21:09.678)
obfuscate and point to something else. So I think that's something that we've come to, I've come to realize.

Tyson (21:17.001)
Yeah, that's a good point. All right, we need to wrap things up. Got anything else you want to add?

Jim (21:22.594)
Just yeah, I would say that if you avoid hard conversations Then and if you avoid smaller hard conversations then eventually you're gonna that's gonna lead to bigger harder conversations and if you don't if you don't deal with those bigger harder conversations, then you're gonna deal with real problems, right? so you can really nip a lot of stuff in the bud if you're open and honest and and Gary V calls it

candor with kindness, right? So there's no reason that says candor has to be mean. Candor can be accurate and honest and truthful and unemotional and I just think that the more you put it off, the harder it's going to be.

Tyson (22:07.63)
That's a great point. I'll just add one more thing to that. When you have a situation with someone where you have to end that working relationship, whether it's a vendor or an employee, whatever, that doesn't mean it's gotta be this you versus them or our relationship's over or I don't like you anymore. It doesn't have to be that. You can still do this in a way where there's not anger involved. Will they be angry? Maybe, that's on them.

but you don't have to bring that to the situation. You can make the situation better potentially by not having that mentality. So the us versus them, you don't have to have that. This is coming from one, I can slip into that and I try not to, but I just know that you can do it. I can do it too. I can do better, but you don't have to have that mentality. All right, Jimbo.

Let's wrap things up before I do want to remind everyone, join us in the big Facebook group. It's growing every single day, so make sure you join us there. Get a lot of great information on a daily basis. If you want to join us in the guild, go to maxlawguild .com. You can join us at one of our quarterly masterminds. Our next one's gonna be Charlotte, and then after that it is Las Vegas, which is gonna be a lot of fun. Jimmy's gonna go crazy out in Vegas, I'm sure. He's gonna go get one of those sports cars and put…

Jim (23:26.414)

Tyson (23:30.063)
bet a bunch on black I'm sure and so you join us out there Mac that's right maxlawgill .com and then while you're listening the rest of this episode with our tips and hacks of the week make sure you give us a five -star review it helps spread the love we would greatly appreciate it. Jimmy what is your hack of the week?

Jim (23:32.334)
Always, always been on Black.

Jim (23:47.918)
I either told you or my team about this a couple of weeks ago and I've been doing it periodically. And we talked on the show today about sort of checking in where you're at before you have these conversations. And I came across, I don't know where, I came across a hack, if you will, on how to get in touch with where you're at. And what the author suggested was you figure out where in your body the emotion is sitting, and then you figure out what sound.

Like you try to channel a sound from that part of your body and then you make that sound. Right? And so this always reminds me of, this reminds me of when my dad, the day my dad quit smoking, my grandmother decided to go to the 905 liquor store to get her weekly supply of beer. And she drove right through the red light and totaled my dad's car on the day he was quitting smoking. So we all had to go in and check on him. About every half hour he was laying face down on his bed and he was just going.

Jim (24:48.654)
he was so mad. So in any event, I've used this for different, and it's weird that if you try this and if you're in tune, there are parts of your body where different emotions lie. So if you can tap into it before you have that meeting, obviously you don't want to do this in public, but it's something that has helped me so far the last couple of weeks.

Tyson (25:09.267)
That's so funny, I'm just picturing your dad. I'm picturing you doing it actually is what I'm picturing, so that's hilarious. That's so funny. So for mine, I've got a… So Jim, do you have jumper cables in your car?

Jim (25:13.55)
Right. Right.

Jim (25:23.662)
Mm -hmm. Yes.

Tyson (25:25.01)
Okay, you don't have one of these things. You don't have one of these things.

Jim (25:28.942)
I don't.

Tyson (25:30.258)
Okay, so my tip of the week, the company, the main company that most people have, I think it's NoCo. I've got a NoCo one in one of my vehicles, but so you don't need jumper cables anymore because jumper cables require another vehicle to jump your car. But you have these little things, you've got these little boost boxes. And the reason why I'm recommending it is because it's not just for jumping your vehicle. It actually comes with cables. It fits in a very small case. You can just throw it in your trunk or in your glove box, some of these. But…

They also double as a battery pack. So this big thing right here is a big battery pack. So if you need to charge on the go, whether you're doing video or laptop, you need to charge it. Like, because you could plug your laptop into this too. It's really, really handy as the go, because as lawyers, we're always on the go. And so, Jim, I can't believe you. I'm going to get you one of these, because they're freaking awesome. But it prevents you from having to pull up another car up to your vehicle to jump start or whatever. But it acts as a flashlight, it's a safety mechanism.

then you can charge your phone, you can charge your laptop, you can charge your iPad, whatever it may be. So, highly recommend it. You can get a bunch of them. I think they're called boost boxes or something like that. But that is…

Jim (26:39.566)
I thought you were going to say they also serve as a way to torture bad guys in the movies.

Tyson (26:45.431)
Well, I don't think they you can do that because I think there's a feature that would probably prevent that from shocking someone so I only say that because I was using it the other day and I it says I was trying to I was actually trying to jump my motorcycle and the the it like it cut off because it like I touched it again piece of metal but Alright Jimbo, that's my tip of the week. Have a wonderful day. I'll talk to you later

Jim (27:16.014)
All right, well, it seems like Tyson may have died off, so I'll end the show. Good being with all of you. Tune in next week and thanks for everything. We'll see you guys next time.

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