1/ Here’s a list of conversational frameworks I’ve picked up that have been helpful.

Please add your own.

2/ The Magic Question: "What would need to be true for you to...X?"

3/ On evaluating where someone’s head is at regarding a topic they are being wishy-washy about or delaying.

“Gun to the head—what would you decide now?”

“Fast forward 6 months after your sabbatical--how would you decide: what criteria is most important to you?”
4/ Other Q’s re: decisions:

“Putting aside a list of pros/cons, what’s the *one* reason you’re doing this?” “Why is that the most important reason?”

“What’s end-game here?”

“What does success look like in a world where you pick that path?”
5/ When listening, after empathizing, and wanting to help them make their own decisions without imposing your world view:

“What would the best version of yourself do”?
6/ When someone asks you a personal or vulnerable question and you don’t yet have an answer, although you want to answer soon:

“The Quakers have this idea where you don’t speak unless the spirit moves you. I'm waiting for the spirit to move me.”

h/t a friend
7/ When someone confronts you w/ a problem they have with you

A/ Thanks for sharing because I value this relationship + want both of us to get needs met
B/ What I heard was X (summary)-- was that accurate?
C/ How can I contribute to meeting your needs?
8/ When really angry:

“….” Don't’ say anything!

Take a lap. Or cold shower. Workout. Change your mind state before re-entering the conversation
9/ When really angry during the heat of the moment:

“....” Still don’t say anything!

Ask for a pause: “Do you mind if we take a quick break and return tonight? I want to make sure I can fully listen to your story + appreciate where you are coming from.”

That last part is key.
10/ When giving unsolicited feedback

“…” Probably best not to.

Unless you ask the caveat: "Are you interested in hearing feedback?"
11/ When confronting somebody:

Instead of “Why did you do that?”

Maybe: “What was going on for you?”
12/ Discovering ambition:

“If you had a billion dollars what would you do with

a) the money
b) your time”?

This shows where they want to change society and what they truly want to be doing.
13/ "What was your past manager (or friend) like?"

This determines how they'll talk about you in the future--whether they'll view you in a charitable light or not.
14/ When rambling with nowhere to go:

“I’m going to pause right there for reactions”

15/ in group meetings when two people are talking about something unrelated:

“Let’s take this offline”.
16/ When assessing VC/founder alignment in an VC pitch:

“Why not bootstrap it so you can control your own destiny and have more optionality over selling for 50m, 100m?”

Also just a good question for every founder to ask themselves.
17/ Note: conversational frameworks are effective when coming from a genuine place of wanting mutual benefit--seeking win-win.

18/ When someone asks a somewhat vague Q:

"What's the question behind the question?"

More from Erik Torenberg

1/“What would need to be true for you to….X”

Why is this the most powerful question you can ask when attempting to reach an agreement with another human being or organization?

A thread, co-written by @deanmbrody:

2/ First, “X” could be lots of things. Examples: What would need to be true for you to

- “Feel it's in our best interest for me to be CMO"
- “Feel that we’re in a good place as a company”
- “Feel that we’re on the same page”
- “Feel that we both got what we wanted from this deal

3/ Normally, we aren’t that direct. Example from startup/VC land:

Founders leave VC meetings thinking that every VC will invest, but they rarely do.

Worse over, the founders don’t know what they need to do in order to be fundable.

4/ So why should you ask the magic Q?

To get clarity.

You want to know where you stand, and what it takes to get what you want in a way that also gets them what they want.

It also holds them (mentally) accountable once the thing they need becomes true.

5/ Staying in the context of soliciting investors, the question is “what would need to be true for you to want to invest (or partner with us on this journey, etc)?”

Multiple responses to this question are likely to deliver a positive result.

More from Life

"I lied about my basic beliefs in order to keep a prestigious job. Now that it will be zero-cost to me, I have a few things to say."

We know that elite institutions like the one Flier was in (partial) charge of rely on irrelevant status markers like private school education, whiteness, legacy, and ability to charm an old white guy at an interview.

Harvard's discriminatory policies are becoming increasingly well known, across the political spectrum (see, e.g., the recent lawsuit on discrimination against East Asian applications.)

It's refreshing to hear a senior administrator admits to personally opposing policies that attempt to remedy these basic flaws. These are flaws that harm his institution's ability to do cutting-edge research and to serve the public.

Harvard is being eclipsed by institutions that have different ideas about how to run a 21st Century institution. Stanford, for one; the UC system; the "public Ivys".

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The YouTube algorithm that I helped build in 2011 still recommends the flat earth theory by the *hundreds of millions*. This investigation by @RawStory shows some of the real-life consequences of this badly designed AI.

This spring at SxSW, @SusanWojcicki promised "Wikipedia snippets" on debated videos. But they didn't put them on flat earth videos, and instead @YouTube is promoting merchandising such as "NASA lies - Never Trust a Snake". 2/

A few example of flat earth videos that were promoted by YouTube #today:
https://t.co/TumQiX2tlj 3/

https://t.co/uAORIJ5BYX 4/

https://t.co/yOGZ0pLfHG 5/