Dr. Ivan Misner is the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization. Founded in 1985, the organization now has over 9,000 chapters throughout every populated continent of the world. Last year alone, BNI generated 11.2 million referrals resulting in $14.2 billion dollars worth of business for its members.
Called the “Father of Modern Networking” by CNN and one of the “Top Networking Experts” by Forbes, Dr. Misner is considered to be one of the world’s leading experts on business networking, and has been a keynote speaker for major corporations and associations throughout the world.
Dr. Misner is a New York Times bestselling author, who has written 24 books, including his latest book – Who’s in Your Room?
Let’s talk about the new book, Who’s in Your Room?
Ivan Misner: Here is the concept of the room. Imagine that you lived your life in one room. That one room only has one door. That one door is in an enter-only door. So, when people come into your life or room, they are there forever. You can never get them out. Luckily, this is a metaphor, but if it were true, the question I ask people is, ‘If it were true, would you be more selective about the people you let into your life?’ Virtually everyone has said, ‘Yeah, I would have been a lot more selective.’
So, our question in the book is, ‘Then, why aren’t we more selective?’ I would argue that it is more than a metaphor. Think, for a moment, about someone who was in your room but you got them out. They were toxic, difficult, they had a lot of drama, whatever the reasons are. If they are still in your head, they are still in your room.
And do you draw from psychology?
We interviewed Dr. Daniel Amen for the book, he did the PBS specials on Neuroscience and Psychology. He said, the experiences you have with people put their fingerprints all over your brain. Those experiences, good or bad, stay with you for life. So, you may think you’ve gotten someone out of your life, but if you can still remember those experiences then, generally speaking, your anxiety goes up, and you can think about those negative experiences, they are still in your head. If they are still in your head, they are still in your room.
So, what we explain in the book is about how to be more selective about getting the right people into your room, or your head.
It sounds like the idea not to allow toxicity from people?
Ivan Misner: That’s absolutely right. So, someone may be in your room – in your life – but their baggage doesn’t have to be. For example, your family members, you have no choice. The whole ‘doorman’ concept doesn’t apply, because they were already in your life. So, they may be in your room, but their baggage doesn’t have to be. You can communicate with people in a way that says, ‘This behavior is not okay.’ If they want to stay in your life, they can’t continue to have that behavior.
Tell me more about developing that ‘doorman’?
Ivan Misner: You have to train your doorman on what to look for. It’s your conscious and subconscious mind that screens people from coming into your room. What you train them on is your values.
If you don’t know your values, you don’t know who to accept, or not accept in your life. This is important. The people you accept in your life don’t have to have values that are the same as yours. They do not have to be the same. Diversity is good. But they can’t be dissonant. If they are completely opposite of yours, you are not going to have a good relationship. You have to have values that are resonant. Once you get good with your values and can say, ‘These are my top values,’ then you can train your doorman on who you allow into your life.
Here is a technique to start thinking about what your values are. It is called ‘deal breakers’. You start with the deal breakers in your life… things that absolutely you positively cannot tolerate in a relationship.
What should one do with – or how one should react to – negative people?
Ivan Misner: We have something, ‘benign neglect’. You just gradually neglect the relationship. We all have people in our lives form maybe high school or college or neighbors who, over a period of time, we have just not stayed in connection with them, and the relationship has dissipated over time. It happened by accident. We like them, they were in our room, we had no problem with them, but because there was this benign neglect the relationship just dissipated. Imagine doing that with a plan… We do that through ‘homeopathic doses’ – which is the minimum dose necessary to deal with something.
I find assertiveness training is needed for a lot of people, because they either don’t know how, or they fear the result.
Ivan Misner: But, my sense is that if you just remain calm and professional and say, ‘That’s not okay with me. These are the ground rules of having a relationship with me, and if you are not okay with that, that’s fine. You don’t have a relationship with me. If you are okay with that, you are welcome.’