Difficult Conversations Podcast
Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician
Episode 105 | August 18, 2020
Difficult Conversations and Workplace Violence
Dr. Larry Barton
Risk Management Consultant & Author
Welcome to Difficult Conversations with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Today, we have special guest, Dr. Larry Barton, who is one of the world’s leading experts in crisis management and threat assessments. Currently, he is the distinguished University Professor of Crisis Management and Public Safety at the University of Central Florida. Dr. Barton has the distinction of being named the very first ever Fulbright Scholar to Japan in crisis management. He has remained the highest rated instructor for the past 14 years, at the FBI Academy and U.S. Marshals Service, where he teaches courses in threat evaluation to federal and state law enforcement. He has also written four bestselling books and his book, Crisis Leadership Now, was voted one of the best business books of the year.
Dr. Barton talks about how workplace violence and threats has been the heart of what he cares about, but discusses how COVID-19 has dramatically affected his practice. He explains how the new “normal” of people working from home has caused an increase in stress, fatigue, and sleep disorders as many people could not process the new world of work. Dr. Barton states, “I think we’re at the first chapter of a very long novel. I don’t think we’re in any way, even close to understanding the enormity, the gravity and maybe the opportunity.”
Find out why Dr. Barton says, “HR is probably the greatest unsung heroes of this whole COVID process.” Dr. Barton discusses why communication is so important during any crisis and gives advice on how you can deal with your crisis. Find out one of the most offensive, outrageous phrases that should never be included in any human resources manual. Dr. Barton gives advice to leaders and managers on the “dos and don’ts” of separating an employee. Learn why “saying you’re sorry” is the biggest piece of advice Dr. Orsini and Dr. Barton share. You will also hear a truly great story about reading people, that involves Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and another about Frank Sinatra. And if you haven’t heard, Dr. Barton has a new book which he will talk about. If you liked this episode, please hit the subscribe button to find out more about what we do and how we teach communication. Go ahead and download this episode now!
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Larry Barton (3s):
No, the person may have padded their travel expenses. I’m not trying to say it’s not an important issue, but
the war is nothing about it. This person has to go home with their family, right? And this is what, again, the
people that just praise in HR, sometimes they’re also part of the problem or their supervisor. You know, Janet
Marco, I’m placing you on leave because we’re conducting an investigation. What in God’s name are we
doing? Why do we have to say that? So what I try to say to people is we’re conducting a review and some
people might say, well, that’s too soft. Well, I have to take that word investigation home to my family and say,
listen, I’m on leave.
Larry Barton (38s):
Why am I at home rather than going to the office of the plant every day? So it’s the words we use.
Welcome to difficult conversations lessons I learned as an ICU physician with Dr. Anthony Orsini is a
practicing physician and president and CEO of the Orsini way as a frequent keynote speaker and author. Dr.
Orsini has been training healthcare professionals and business leaders. How to navigate through the most
difficult dialogue each week, you will hear inspiring interviews with experts in their field who tell their story
and provide practical advice on how to effectively communicate whether you are a doctor faced with giving a
patient bad news, a business leader who wants to get the most out of his or her team members or someone
who just wants to learn to communicate better.
Announcer (1m 28s):
This is the podcast for you.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (1m 31s):
Hello everyone. This is Dr. Anthony Orsini. Welcome to this episode of difficult conversations. I’m very
excited to have another amazing guest today, dr. Larry Barton, I’ve had the honor of knowing Larry for years,
he’s somewhat of a friend and a bit of a mentor, and I promise you that you are in for a real treat today. Dr.
Larry Barton is one of the world’s leading experts in crisis management and threat assessments. He
currently serves as the distinguished university professor of crisis management and public safety at the
university of central Florida, barely graduated Magna cum laude in speech and communication from Boston
Dr. Anthony Orsini (2m 6s):
He earned his master’s of arts and international law and diplomacy from Tufts university. And he continued
his education at Boston university, where he earned his PhD in international relations and public policy. Dr.
Barton has the distinction of being named the very first ever Fulbright scholar to Japan and crisis
management prior to his current position. Dr. Barton served as president and CEO of the American college
from 2003 to 2013. And for the past 14 years, dr. Barton has remained the highest rated instructor at the FBI
Academy in us Marshall service, where he teaches courses in threat evaluation to federal and state law
Dr. Anthony Orsini (2m 46s):
Barton design strategies and solutions addressing workplace violence prevention and crisis mitigation is a
frequent commentator on television networks during and after incidents of public violence for CNN, the BBC
and CNN, BBC, and other news outlets. He is the GoTo man. Larry is the author of four bestselling books on
crisis response. His book crisis leadership now was voted one of the best business books of the year and his
latest book, which I just finished reading and really enjoyed it is titled the violent person at work.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 16s):
The ultimate guide to identifying dangerous persons and is already a big hit in 2018, dr. Bart was named the
recipient of the distinguished service award from the international security management association. The
world’s latest organization of chief security officers prior recipients included the director of CIA, the director of
the FBI and the U S secretary of state. That’s quite a list. Larry, thank you so much for coming on and thank
you so much for accepting this invitation. I’m really very excited.
Larry Barton (3m 47s):
Well, I’m delighted to be with you, Tony, and thank you for the opportunity. Yeah.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 50s):
You know, each week I promised my audience two things that they’ll be inspired and they will learn
something about communication. And I have no doubt that I’m going to keep my promise this week. So
Larry Barton (4m 1s):
I’ll try not to let you down.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (4m 3s):
Well, you and I met about, I think about four or five years ago, and we have so much in common and you
came over to see what I do with breaking bad news and wanted to observe. So you drove into Orlando and
was one of our instructors. And for those people who don’t know our breaking bad news program, trains
young doctors on how to give tragic news to patients and families. And we use videotaped improvisational
roleplaying with professional actors. And Larry sat in and the other instructors looked at Larry and you were
so nice and immediately had such amazing advice for the doctors.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (4m 39s):
Even as someone who’s not a physician, because you’re so good at having those difficult conversations.
And we became instant friends and you’ve been giving me advice ever since. And so thanks for being kind of
a mentor to me.
Larry Barton (4m 51s):
Oh, first I think you really struck something in me, Tony, which I had never thought before, just as a civilian, if
you will, that you know, many physicians and you taught me something, which was, people don’t think about
this, but physicians are really not given an hour in medical school on compassion and empathy and death
notification. You’re a specializations. You know, the curriculum is so robust in every other area, but when it
comes to people’s skills, it’s just something that you either have it or you don’t where you learn it or you
don’t. And you’ve brought that now to be really a center of excellence.
Larry Barton (5m 23s):
So I learned from you just to, hopefully it’s a two way street, so thank you. Thanks,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (5m 28s):
Larry. I want to talk about your books specifically, your latest one, but I really can’t even start until we begin
to talk about what’s going on in the world today. And I’m sure that you are busier than ever. We have the
COVID 19 crisis, which is worldwide and the United States, we’re experiencing some difficulties with racial
relations right now, and tensions are high everywhere. How has that really affected what you do and your
phone must be ringing off the hook?
Larry Barton (5m 58s):
Well, it’s very Interesting. My phone was ringing off the hook until February in terms of daily, multiple calls
regarding really my specialization know people that are posing a risk of suicidal employees, people that are
on a performance improvement plan, someone who threatens to retaliate against their employer, somebody
who might be going through intimate partner violence, and she’s a victim. And she’s concerned that, you
know, the husband is in the parking lot and may come in and basically shoot up the place. So workplace
violence and threats is the heart of what I care about.
Larry Barton (6m 30s):
And I would say, yes, the phone was going crazy in that realm until February, and then not surprisingly with
people working from home for the most part globally, it was a dramatic shift to stress and fatigue and sleep
disorders and people who could not process the new world of work. And so my practice, this is really bizarre.
It’s stronger than ever. And that’s a, I don’t like that. In other words, it’s not a good thing to be able to say
businesses up. It’s a different kind of business.
Larry Barton (7m 1s):
I’m still dealing with the occasional difficult employee and the person who is mentally ill or dealing with some
type of personal or professional stress bullying. You know, you think about all the different situations, but I’ve
had a really readjust my way of thinking Tony and support for employers in terms of dealing with fatigue and
the case load. And whether you’re a supervisor in a manufacturing plant, or you’re working in a hospital
wherever you may be, you’re an accountant, you’re a real estate broker.
Larry Barton (7m 31s):
You’re the way you look at work and the way that you’re even dealing with your children and your personal
life work balance. You know, we talk a good game about it, but we’ve had to relearn a lot. And candidly, I
think we’re at the first chapter of a very long novel. I don’t think we’re in any way, even close to
understanding the enormity, the gravity, and maybe the opportunity. And I like to know I’m an optimist. I’d like
to think this is an opportunity, but we have to look at it that way. What are we learning about the way we
govern ourselves and our people,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (8m 4s):
You and I worked on a project COVID related with some human resource people that are finding themselves
in situations that they really never were prepared for. And we have a guest coming on shortly from human
relations also. But from your point of view, what advice are you giving them? And how are the human
resource professionals holding up during this COVID crisis?
Larry Barton (8m 27s):
Well, before this call with you today in this podcast, I had a call with the senior HR person for huge company.
And I will tell you what she basically said about her people is they’ve gone from being recruiters, worrying
about compensation and benefits and performance reviews to being caregivers, internal caregivers. They’re
actually calling employees, Tony in the hospital saying, how are you? He goes, many people don’t have as
you and I have a spouse or partner or a so for single people, especially, it’s a very troubling time, whether
they’re at home, possibly sick symptomatic or in a hospital.
Larry Barton (9m 5s):
And regardless of that, a lot of people just worried about their future. So human resource people are dealing
with the uncertainty of, will there be a job for me if the company or the nonprofit can even survive what
they’re going through. So HR is probably the greatest unsung heroes of this whole COVID process.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (9m 22s):
Yeah, it’s been very difficult. I think in years, if I talk to my human resource, people they’ve told me before,
the way they separated people from employment was very legal. They had to do it very particularly now,
chief of human resources are now being renamed, chief heart officers, and compassionate is something
that’s becoming more and more part of their job. I would imagine
Larry Barton (9m 43s):
One of my favorite HR people in the country, she’s in the hospitality industry, but they’ve renamed her chief
people officer. And I just think that’s a wonderful way to look at it, which is human is kind of distant, right? It
sounds a little too formal and businesslike and Harvard business school. But when you’re a chief people
officer that kind of speaks to the compassion that you’re talking,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (10m 2s):
My daughter works in a very large company in New York city and they have a chief heart officer. And when
she told me that was the name of her chief of human resources, I thought that is great. What a great idea.
Cause it really does really does show that the employer cares. So that’s awesome. Let’s talk about your
books for a little bit. You know what I love about reading your books and I’ve read the last two is that,
although they’re very informative, they’re just not to do books. This is how you should do this.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (10m 32s):
Although again, there’s a lot of that in there, but what you do in your books is you tell real stories about real
things that happen and show the consequences of what happens when you do it correctly. And what
happens when you don’t do it correctly. And a lot of that has to do with the communication and how you deal
with that crisis afterwards. So tell me how important in your mind is communication during the crisis and give
us any advice that you can to someone out there who is dealing with the crisis.
Larry Barton (11m 4s):
Sure. Well, part of this, I think kind of parallels what you’ve done in the ERC. Any way communication is the
heart. It’s absolutely the dominant issue in terms not always, but it’s the dominant opportunity as to whether
or not when you’re giving somebody performance review or you’re giving them some kind of insight as to
whether or not they’ll take it well. And I’ll give you a couple of examples. Many of the companies over the
years, Tony, that I work with and you know, I’m on call to them 24 seven. Sometimes they’ll get on a call and
say, Hey, dr. Barton, you know, we’re currently pursuing an investigation of this person in accounting.
Larry Barton (11m 38s):
And in the moment I hear that it’s like kryptonite. I go like, I’m like curly from the three Stooges of Whoa. I
mean, I would so want to say to them, like, what are you MCIs what are you the FBI you’re conducting an
investigation. You know, the person may have patted their travel expenses. I’m not trying to say it’s not an
important issue, but the war is not think about it. This person has to go home with their family, right? And this
is what, again, the people are just praise in HR. Sometimes they’re also part of the problem or their
supervisor. You know, Janet Marco, I’m placing you on leave because we’re conducting an investigation.
Larry Barton (12m 10s):
What in God’s name are we doing? Why do we have to say that? So what I try to say to people is we’re
conducting a review and some people might say, well, that’s too soft. Well, I have to take that word
investigation home to my family and say, listen, I’m on leave. Why am I at home rather than going to the
office or the plant every day? So it’s the words we use. I’m talking about, you know, and this is the policies
and not, I think we’ve made a huge impact in the past couple of decades with many, many employers. Think
about the handbook that you have at your place of employment, Tony and many right up to, and including
what’s the phrase termination.
Larry Barton (12m 47s):
Now thinking about it, that’s one of the most offensive, outrageous phrases that we should ever have in a
human resources manual, where we talk about we’re going to terminate you and it’s, to me, that’s like
cancer. It’s terminal. You may or may not come back, but it doesn’t sound good. So I try to say up to and
including separation and people say, well, again, that’s kind of soft. Well, you know what? Separation is a
hell of a lot better. If you’re in a headline or God forbid that person comes back with a gun or a knife or
retaliate or engages in self harm. You know, I would like to think that when you are in front of a jury or in front
of just your own conscience that you review, the inventory of words you use, so communication, the way you
speak, the way you give them an opportunity to hear and process, to not be routine, to not go through a
checklist who actually give somebody a fair hearing before you make a decision, that’s how you reduce the
opportunity and their interest in retaliation, or even just bad melting your company.
Larry Barton (13m 44s):
So even if you’re not interested in workplace violence and how many people, you know, nobody comes to
work thinking someone is going to be violent today, right? Nobody ever has come to work saying somebody
is going to shoot up the place or do something outrageous. Think about rehearse, take your time. Those are
qualities of communication.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (14m 2s):
In a previous episode, I interviewed Kathy Caprino and Kathy Caprino is a life coach for women. And she
has a amazing story. She was a senior vice president at a big firm. And after nine 11, before nine 11, her
president told her to go ahead and buy a big house because she’s got a great teacher. So she did that. And
then after nine 11, she was one of the vice presidents that they decided to let go. And the words that she
remembers is our boss telling her this hurts me more than it does you.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (14m 33s):
And when I speak to physicians about breaking bad news tragedy cancer, I explained to them that at that
critical moment of their lives, that person is going to remember every little thing about what you said, your
body language. And I want to talk about language in a second, but they’ll recall everything in that one phrase
or the word termination will stick with them forever. And so, you know, many years later, Kathy keeps
remembering that this boss, that it hurts me more than it hurts you, is that she just bought a big house.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (15m 10s):
I doubt it really hurt him more.
Larry Barton (15m 12s):
Right? But your whole point here, Tony is really important for people to understand, which is you do recall
that years and decades later, the way you were treated, was it done with compassion was a genuine, you
know, I try to really focus on authenticity and I’m very blunt and saying to people, you and I were given the
gift of intuition at birth. Your mum and dad gave each one of us intuition at birth. What happens in the
workplace is we tend to tune it down. We just want to get back because we’ve got the badge we’ve been
vetted. You know, we’re part of this community.
Larry Barton (15m 43s):
We can, but guess what? If your intuition kind of says, this isn’t going well, or when Kathy was told, this hurts
me more than it hurts you. If her intuition was what a phony might be a really nice person, but that statement
is a phony. It’s just not believable. That can turn a really wonderful trusting relationship. I’m not sure it’s into a
toxic one, but it’s into one that certainly will never be the same. And that’s how friendships, it’s how you lose
people in your family that you love. You know, why, why to brothers and sisters stop talking to each other,
Larry Barton (16m 16s):
Why, why do we cut off neighbors? It’s because of that one moment in time where we just didn’t manage it
properly, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be perfect. Six Sigma 24 seven, but you can’t screw up the big
ones, right? Yeah.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (16m 29s):
Yeah. I’m going to quote your latest book and you wrote, I quote, it sounds menial, but in the midst of this
crucial conversation, the words chosen an even in the way a person is escorted out of the building are
subsequently cited by violent offenders, as something they recall as a key determinant in why they assaulted
a supervisor, their recall can be uncanny. In other words, an ounce of prevention, amazing thought. I think
that that on. So I want my audience to be inspired and to learn something.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (17m 2s):
So what advice do you, You have to the, The leader out there, the manager who has to separate an
employee, what do you tell them? Give me just a few do’s and don’ts
Larry Barton (17m 13s):
Sure, I think it’s a couple of things. One would be, and we’re talking here not about the routine, right? We’re
talking here more about where, again, back to intuition, your gut basically says this person may or may not
take the news. Well, and it might be because of past infractions, their attitude, something they’ve put on a
blog, whatever it may be. But your gut kind of says, this is not going to be a routine separation from the
company. Or even if it’s not a separation, it’s a timeout. You know, we need to go home for a few days and
hula while we conduct our review.
Larry Barton (17m 43s):
So a couple of things I try to say to them is first rehearse, rehearse the conversation. Don’t assume this is
going to be a routine conversation because it’s likely not going to be. And that’s where you can kind of
remind yourself of some of the words to emphasize such as your employee assistance program, such as I
encourage you to reach out to me, but I’d like you to do it between two and 4:00 PM in the afternoon. And
people say, well, Larry, why would you give them a time? Well, one of the reasons we’ve learned, you know,
you steal this from psychology. If you say to an employee, you can call me anytime in the next few days, but
please do it between two and four.
Larry Barton (18m 18s):
That’s a test Tony of compliance. Are they going to be a compliant person and respect boundaries? But if
they start giving you voicemails or calling you at seven o’clock in the morning, that’s another indication that
this is probably not going to have a good outcome. So first rehearsal, secondly, kind of set boundaries as to
who can do what during this period of anxiety and the third. And this is what you mentioned in the book.
That’s gotten a lot of attention because I interview offenders. I actually interviewed people that have become
violent and I interviewed them in prison. Interview them as part of my work for the FBI and elsewhere is that
they do recall this parallels, your work in terms of what you do with physicians.
Larry Barton (18m 54s):
They do recall the manner in which they were treated. And so, for instance, let’s say you worked at a facility
30 years and they’ve made a determination that because you sexually harass someone or bullied or racial
slurs or whatever it may be, you’re you are being separated. Can I go back to my locker? I go back and get
the things on my desk. Well, the time to sit there and fumble is not in front of the employee, think about it in
advance and have a process, right? Which might include, you know, Carlos, I’m sorry. We do not allow that,
but you have my promise.
Larry Barton (19m 25s):
I will package up everything in your desk or in your locker. And we will have it delivered to you within the
next day, telling them that and tell him who will be accountable, because they don’t want some fumbler to be
going through their personal things. You’ve given them accountability and you’ve told them how it will be
delivered. So that matters. Also, if you do walk them out of the facility, how that’s done, right? Think about it.
If it’s done at shift change, when you have 300 people coming into the facility, you’ve just humiliated them.
Not just personally, but in front of an audience, it’s like a mini theater.
Larry Barton (19m 59s):
So how you do it, where you do it, what you say to them and from a safety perspective, one more, and I’m
sorry for the long answer, but this is the heart of keeping people safe will be, if you are worried, if your
intuition says this person could be violent to themselves or to someone else, while you’re conducting, think
about this while you’re conducting this conversation, you have someone go out in the parking lot and kind of
walk around their vehicle, just walk around it gently, because I don’t know if in the back seat there could be a
Larry Barton (20m 29s):
There could be a Bible. I mean, there could be, it could be living in squalor. What if this person is literally
living in their car? So that kind of soft Intel can be very helpful, but when you have a security guard, walk
them to the vehicle, just remember you’re putting that guard at risk. If they reach into that vehicle and grab a
pipe baseball or something else. So those are just a few quick top of mind ideas.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (20m 52s):
That’s great advice. And in medicine and in my world, even when there’s a medical error that occurs, if we
teach the physicians how to discuss that medical error, how to be genuine, go in there with a plan. You
talked about having a plan and have your answers ready. It’s amazing to me, how many people that I’ve
trained. And I said, what was your plan when you went into that difficult conversation? I don’t know. I didn’t
have a plan. Like how could you not have a plan like Nirvana? Even if it doesn’t work out, you should have
something ready, but it’s amazing how many people don’t have a plan, but how you discuss a medical error
can make the difference between a lawsuit or in some cases, a hug, right?
Dr. Anthony Orsini (21m 34s):
And hospitals and lawyers sometimes get this all wrong. There’s a medical error. The doctor’s told that he
has to be honest, or she has to be honest, but he or she walks in with risk management, the legal team, the
CEO of the hospital, and the patients looking at them, what is going on? And I’ve given advice to risk
managements in hospitals before. And I said, listen, I know you want one of your representatives there. But
if you walk into my room as a patient with six guys wearing suits, I’m going to say, Oh my God, what just
Dr. Anthony Orsini (22m 10s):
But if a physician walks in and says, listen, I gotta be honest with you and says it in a compassionate
manner, that patient is much less likely to be super angry, to file for a malpractice lawsuit or everything
worse. So it’s amazing to just have a plan, right? That’s the biggest bite.
Larry Barton (22m 26s):
Yeah. You nailed it. I’ll tell you one strategy that your listeners can definitely steal. And this is part of the
whole reason that I think your program as real value, I do a lot of work in retail and we’ve done. I think a
great service to the, you know, think about a customer service desk at a target, a Walmart, a CVS, whatever.
It may pick a region. Those people get abused every day. I mean, they just, they are slammed their body
slammed. They are verbally slammed. I’ve tried to encourage them, their leadership to allow them to say the
following sentence. And it’s going to sound a little awkward, but just stay with it.
Larry Barton (22m 56s):
And I think your listeners will get it 20 years ago. If you and I went into one of those retailers, Macy’s pick it
up. You were just losing it, right. That person basically did have to take it, but they weren’t allowed to say
anything right now. We are encouraging them to say, I’m sorry. You feel that way. Ma’am I think about that for
a minute. I’m sorry. You feel that way, sir. Now a lawyer. And I’ve had a lot of, you know, a lot of battles with
lawyers. Oh, Larry. We can’t say we’re sorry. Oh really?
Larry Barton (23m 26s):
But guess what? You’re going to really feel sorry when that person has their cell device that you didn’t know
is on and you’ve got a really toxic person on the other side of the counter, let’s empower them. There is no,
no acknowledgement of guilt. When you say, I’m sorry that you feel that way. So this parallels what you just
said, you’re not saying, I’m sorry that we screwed up the app index to me. Right. Or we cut out the wrong
artery. Okay. There’s a big liability issue with that. But there’s no liability in saying, I’m sorry for the way that
Larry Barton (23m 60s):
That is an act of goodness. That’s an act of compassion. And guess what? Tony, when people do it, they
have come back and reported years later, literally the number of incidents and blow back and compliance
calls people calling corporate has gone down. And in fact, a number of people will say to that person, wow,
that’s nobody. Nobody has ever apologized to me. Thank you. So it kind of ends it, it takes away part of the
Dr. Anthony Orsini (24m 24s):
Probably the biggest piece of advice that’s going to come out of this interview today is say, you’re sorry.
Medical errors. Even when a patient dies and doctors were told when they were in medical school, not to
say, you’re sorry, it could be natural causes that. You’re not saying you did anything wrong. And in medical
errors, even if it was something that you did wrong, you cut off the wrong leg. It’s okay to say, I’m sorry. The
system broke down. I’m sorry that this happened. And in fact, in many States right now, the words, I’m sorry,
can’t even be brought up in court.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (24m 58s):
It’s not part of the litigation because we’ve seen that patients cope better short term and longterm and are
much likely to Sue. If someone just says a lot of people Sue, because, and they’re in the courtroom and
they’re saying, I just wanted someone to see,
Larry Barton (25m 13s):
You’re going to find this not I’m using because you know me pretty well, but I, every morning I wake up and I
say to my wife, you know what, good morning. And then I say, I love you. And then I say, I’m sorry. And
there’s growth. And I did this going back 17 years. She’s like, what are you? Sorry? I was saying, you’re
sorry for. I said, because whatever I do today already absolved by saying, I’m sorry. Okay. So you gotta have
a little levity with this. You have to be able to say it and to, you know, for a situation, we mean it. And, but
also understand that this is part of the compassion that you’re talking about saying, I’m sorry for how you
feel. It just diffuses a lot of anxiety.
Larry Barton (25m 45s):
Dr. Anthony Orsini (25m 46s):
Yeah. I agree. A hundred percent. You know, neuroscientists tell us that our hindbrain, our ancient brain
makes millions and millions of assessments on someone’s body language per second. That in less than a
second, you’ve already made an assessment of someone. If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, the blink,
he calls these slices. They’re split second decisions that you make about someone usually they’re correct.
Not always. And they really depend on the body language and the message that you receiving.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (26m 16s):
Non-verbally when you train people on how to speak to people during and after a crisis, how much of that do
you go into the, you go into their body language to tell them to sit down and things like that.
Larry Barton (26m 28s):
The answer would be no, not the way you just described. And I’m glad you asked, because I think your
listeners will really appreciate this. It’s not really about trying to read a person who does that best would be
police officers. It would be interrogators. It would be those that are conducting formal authorized
investigations, but I’m more interested in, in trying to help people would be where to sit. In other words,
before you bring someone in, as you do in a physician’s capacity, but in an employment setting, when you
preset yourself at the edge near the door with your paperwork, so that the employee you’re talking with
giving counsel to maybe promoting, maybe demoting, have them be further away from you.
Larry Barton (27m 7s):
You don’t want them at the opposite end all the way down the end of the table, because that obviously is
offensive. But the point is presetting the room, thinking about having an exit strategy. If back to intuition, you
think that it may not be a positive. The person might slam their fist, might yell, might turn the table over.
That’s why having security around the corner. Discreetly if need be to intervene matters. So I’m into more of
the situational safety aspects, as opposed to reading people. I’ll give you a ten second story about reading
Larry Barton (27m 38s):
It has nothing to do with rancor, but I think might be of interest to your listeners. But this is kind of a, it’s one
of my moments from I watched somebody do exactly what you’re talking about. Maybe eight years ago, I
hosted a huge banquet at the Kennedy library in Boston presidential library. And the guest speaker was
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. And she was the former Lieutenant governor of Maryland and really smart
person. I’d never met her before. Now, the audience, this is important to the story she’s coming in, getting all
ready to talk about at that point, Obamacare and what was going on with national healthcare.
Larry Barton (28m 11s):
She had her whole presentation, but those are the big black tie bank, but in about 400 people, well, she
comes in and she realizes at the cocktail hour, because if one comment by one person, Oh my God, this is
mostly a Republican audience. And it was, it was mostly a conservative audience. Now she tried him and
she goes, Oh my God are most of these people conservative. And I said, yes, they are. All right. She put her
notes, which are in her pocket book aside, this woman got up 20 minutes later and she just talked about
Larry Barton (28m 42s):
She did a whinging and it was the most amazing, authentic, genuine, because she talked about nothing that
she had visited talking about, talking about Rose Kennedy, her grandmother, and the rosary. She talked
about living in a Kennedy household. She talked about, you know, what? They had to eat naughty. She
talked about the levity of family and the importance of love and compassion. And the point is she did a
complete about face. And I love that because she read the whole audience by one little slice of a couple of
Larry Barton (29m 13s):
And she looked around, she was like, Oh my God, this is going to be a complete disaster. So there’s
different ways to read people. And it’s not always one-on-one. I mean, why does an entertainer, why does a
singer Frank Sinatra who I, you know, I had the privilege to watch him eight times in concert. You know, why
would Sinatra before every, and we’re going back to the paramount in 1940, all the way back into the 1980s.
Why did he always peak around? And you’ve got video of him doing this. Why did he always peak around
the curtain before even Frank Sinatra? Right? The most consummate performer ever.
Larry Barton (29m 44s):
Why did he peek around the curve? He wanted to read the audience. That’s a really insightful to me, slice of
just being human.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (29m 53s):
That’s a great story. I didn’t know about that. That was, that’s a great story. Yeah. So, you know, we talked
about having a plan, but there’s a great example of sometimes your plans not ready and you have to change
Larry Barton (30m 3s):
Dr. Anthony Orsini (30m 6s):
And in medicine, I do that. Sometimes you walk into a room and we’re going to have an episode on program
pro G R I M, and the O stands for observation. And you have to walk in to a room and you have to say, okay,
I had this plan, which you have to have it, but this is not going correctly. You know, sometimes I’m,
unfortunately I have to give bad news to a parent about their child not doing well. And the parent reading the
parent in a he or she is smiling, right? My intuition says, okay, they’re not getting this.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (30m 38s):
We need to start over again. Or I’m giving good news and they start to cry. So you have to think on your feet.
I think that’s a great story. So I know you’re, you’re a busy man, but I want to talk about your book, your
newest book and what people can expect. I already read it. It’s awesome. And to my surprise, I was in it,
Larry Barton (30m 56s):
Dr. Anthony Orsini (30m 60s):
I think you checked me, cause you said, I told you I’m reading the book, but you didn’t tell me. And I think
you were probably testing me to see if I said, Oh, the book was great, but didn’t mention that I was in it. He
probably would have said, Oh, he’s lying. He never read it. So
Larry Barton (31m 13s):
Yeah, it was two years of work. And I, a lot of people don’t understand how much time goes into writing a
book. It is. And especially this kind of book of business book, because it’s filled with facts, right? So the fact
checking as opposed to a novel, which can go in any direction, but when you are writing a business book
about cases of caring for people, litigation, security, human resources, just the governance of people and
being good to people and also being prepared for crisis management and business recovery. And you’d
better know your stuff. So it took two years and a lot of fact finding, but it was a journey that I loved because
30 years ago, I was not very interested in violence at work.
Larry Barton (31m 51s):
My background was really focused on crisis management. You know, the storm, the hurricane, the
earthquake, the issues of any calamity that could disrupt a business. But about 20 years ago, I really started
to move into this journey because of the postal service killings and many other issues that were happening in
society. And because with the prevalence of guns, we just saw more people acting out with school shootings
and houses of worship, et cetera. So to make a very long story short, I’ve really spent 20 years now, deeply
looking at victimology. Why are people injured at work?
Larry Barton (32m 22s):
Why do people become perpetrators or wonderful employees and very good people, but why did they turn
and trying to understand and demystify for the reader? Because to your point, I’m not a physician, I’m a
behavioral scientist, but I try to really demystify what is mental illness and understanding why we have
counselors and why sometimes people need time off. And those words that we talked about earlier and how
you use them appropriately and helping keep an employer safe, but we lose two people a day on average,
Tony in the United States, they’re killed at work by coworkers in the midst of COVID.
Larry Barton (32m 58s):
Nobody’s talking about that. But you know, in the past couple of weeks, we’ve had three shootings in three
different workplaces. One of them was at a hiring event. Okay. It wasn’t a retaliatory issue of just X employee
was just at a hiring event. So it’s really trying to help people understand. And we’ve tried to unlock the
reasons why people become angry, how you can diffuse them and just be a better employer and stay safe.
That’s ultimately what it’s about. That’s fantastic. And I really did enjoy it. I love the stories. That’s the best
part of it because you don’t, like I said, it’s not just do this, don’t do that.
Larry Barton (33m 31s):
And it brings a real, it’s interesting you say that because I would say, you know, you get a lot of feedback
from meters, right? The one story in that book that probably more people than anyone has said to me, Hey,
Larry, I have either forgotten or didn’t know that story is actually about a psychiatrist in Seattle and we won’t
get into it here, but it’s the story of somebody who is very well vetted, highest credentials. You could possibly
imagine incredible impeccable pedigree as a professional, and yet who was a very deviant and a very
Larry Barton (34m 3s):
So helping to understand that it can be people in all walks of life, right? Not necessarily who’s down and out.
People in all occupations can be deviant. And to try to understand that psychopath, that sociopath, or just
that individual who is on a journey of evil is an important one for us to discuss. That’s great. And your book is
available right now on Amazon and other outlets. And if anyone wants to get in touch with you, what’s the
best way to do it, Larry. Sure, absolutely. Just write to me.
Larry Barton (34m 33s):
My email is email@example.com and I’ll be glad to hear from all of your listeners happy to, well, thank you
so much. I am really honored to call you a friend and I am very excited that you agreed to do this. I know that
you are extremely busy. So for you to take an hour out of your time to speak to my audience, I really do
appreciate that. Thank you so much. Thank you for what you do for all your people, Tony. Great to be with
you. Thank you. If you enjoy this podcast, please go ahead and hit the subscribe button and leave a review
and download more episodes.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (35m 3s):
We have some great guests every single Tuesday. So I want to thank everybody for joining us. And once
again, thank you, Larry. Appreciate it.
Announcer (35m 9s):
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Dr. Anthony Orsini
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