The Doctor’s Kitchen Podcast: #107 Building Exceptional Relationships with David L Bradford & Carole Robin

Have you got an exceptional relationship?  And I don’t necessarily mean a romantic relationship, although that’s fantastic if you do, but I’m actually referring to any relationship where you can be your most authentic and vulnerable self. It could be a childhood friend, a work colleague, a family member or spouse. Somebody you can share your true thoughts with. A kind of relationship where you feel fully understood and supported for who you are – it can seem like magic. I’m lucky to say that I have a few of these relationships, but many of us struggle to build these solid connections at work, with friends or at home or perhaps we thought we had one but over time it has degraded?


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Strong relationships and connections have been shown to be associated with higher levels of life satisfaction, health and happiness. So it stands to reason that we should want to foster exceptional relationships?

And the truth is that the process of building and sustaining these relationships can be described, learned and applied. And that’s exactly what my two guests on today’s podcast have done for decades at Stanford Business School’s “Interpersonal relationships”, one of the most popular courses that the MBA programme offers.

David Bradford is Eugene O’Kelly II Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Leadership at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he helped develop Interpersonal Dynamics (“Touchy Feely”).

Carole Robin was the Dorothy J. King Lecturer in Leadership at Stanford, where she taught for more than twenty years before co-founding Leaders in Tech, which brings the principles and process of Interpersonal Dynamics to executives in Silicon Valley. 

Their new book, Connect is a book about exceptional relationships. Relationships that help us to become more self-aware, and compassionate, so we can build deep, fulfilling, personal connections with a wide range of people in every aspect of our lives. And it is quite simply one of the most moving books I’ve read.

We talk about:

  • Why the course is so popular amongst MBA students of all backgrounds
  • How they create epiphanies in a 10 week course
  • Why soft skills are actually tough talks and courageous conversations
  • How it has helped people in business, marriage, team culture, parenting and more
  • The arc of a relationship
  • What’s a pinch and a crunch and why it’s important to address them
  • The importance of having a vocab of feelings
  • How we can use conflict productively
  • Appropriate authenticity
  • Maya Angelou’s quote of ‘ I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’. And how that applies to medicine
  • Their own working relationship – and how it almost went wrong
  • The Japanese art of Kintsugi. Putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art
  • Tools in  the toolkit of building exceptional relationships

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