From Russia with Impact – The ‘Three Da’ Formula

Want to thaw icy relations between yourself and others? Dr. Mark Goulston has a formula that will establish a trusting relationship between you and the people you want to influence.
This is a photo of Mark Goulston, M.D.
Mark Goulston, M.D.

I’m hoping this will be a piece that both CEOs and displaced workers will find common ground.

There is something I know about myself and many others, especially others to whom being productive is tied to being useful and to being worthwhile.

When I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and accomplishing little or accomplishing things that don’t matter, I get down, and I even get depressed.

On the other hand, when I feel that I’m getting traction and that what I do is making a difference and having an impact, my self-worth and self-esteem rise.

Perhaps I should know better, as a former therapist, that having an impact on this world shouldn’t have such an influence on my psyche than simply being a human.

Oh well. Like all of you, I’m a work in progress.

What follows is something I learned about how to have an impact on others. And I discovered this strategy by traveling to Russia.

Some background: My family, my friends and my business colleagues told me I was crazy to go there. Even the State Department warned me (but didn’t forbid me) about going to Moscow to speak to CEOs, managers and HR directors from the Russian Federation during increasingly tense times between our countries.

I was told, “It’s a fraud” and “They won’t pay you and be prepared to be videoed in your hotel.”

I spoke to the agency that was going to book me, Moscow Speaker Bureau, and the event planner, Best Business Ideas.  I had my defenses up.

“Can I contact other speakers who have spoken for you?” I asked Alexey Fedorov, head of BBI.

“Da,” he replied.

I did, and they all confirmed it was legit.

“Will I be paid in advance?”

“Da,” they replied.

And they did.

“Will you take care of my visa, business class airfare and hotel?”

“Da,” again.

And they did.

So there I was, standing in front of hundreds of CEOs, managers and HR directors beginning my solo six-hour, one-day training on listening and empathy. My every word translated in real time into Russian with almost no delay. The speed of the translation was incredible and resulted in my jokes landing. You can see the highlights from this cross-cultural exchange in the above video.

Early on in my comments, I told the audience it would be good for both them and me if I understood them correctly.

I asked the audience, “Are you here today because your work is reviewed based on the results you get, with good results meaning a good review and bad results meaning a bad review?”

“Da,” they responded.

I followed with, “And are you also here because you’re looking for additional ways to get those results from people besides your usual command and control methods because they’re not as effective as you’d like? Do they often cause stress in your subordinates and you?”

“Da, da,” they replied with a little more energy.

Then I closed with, “Finally, if I can offer you simple tactics and tools to get those results that are immediately doable by you without having to be a psychological type like me. Furthermore, if you see that I am not here to sell or persuade you to buy my courses, books or ask anything more from you than what you have already paid, would you consider this was a good use of your time and money?”

“DA!” they replied in a louder collective, enthusiastic voice. With that, I had them at “Здравствуйте.”

Oops, I meant, “Hello.”

What formula did I use to get that impact I wanted?

  1. Understand the situation the person (or persons) facing you are experiencing. In this particular case, they were managers who were evaluated by their results. This got them to the one “Da.”
  2. Now bring them into that situation. I described to the managers that the usual means weren’t getting results. Plus, they were stressing everyone out. Now we are at two “Da’s.”
  3. Earn their trust and get them to where they want to go without the obvious upsell. Communicate achievable tactics and tools that they can use immediately to get those results. This had them at an enthusiastic and third “DA!”

What if you do the opposite of the above?

  1. If you are clueless about their situation: “Nyet.”
  2. If you show little concern or awareness about their situation: “Nyet.”
  3. If you waste their time and possibly even insult them because you lack empathy and understanding: “NYET!”

In closing, I’ll ask if you can apply my three “Da” formula.

  1. Do you or others judge you by your results?
  2. Are you looking for ways to get those results that are more effective and less stressful?
  3. Would you be eager to learn simple, doable, tactics and tools that you can use immediately without having to buy my other materials?

If you are thinking in Russian and saying “DA,” then it looks like I just had you at “Прощай.”

Oops, I meant “Goodbye.”

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Dr. Mark Goulston is an award-winning business psychiatrist, a consultant for Fortune 500 companies and the best-selling author of seven books. His latest, Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with Irrational and Irresponsible People in your Life can be found on Amazon. Catch up on Dr. Goulston’s previous articles here.

Connect with Dr. Goulston through FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn. His books are available on Amazon. Check out his videos on YouTube or take advantage of free resources available at

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